Q: Hi Meredith,
I am a 30-year-old woman dating a 42-year-old man (who I will call Jason). We have a wonderful relationship, communicate VERY well, and love each other deeply. We can play together and be serious when needed. We've been together for over a year and living together for the last nine months or so. All in all, the perfect match. So what's the problem? Well Meredith, it's another woman (cue the dramatic music).
Here's some background: Jason started a new job last year, and with the position came new coworkers and colleagues. One coworker is a woman in her early 30s who he works somewhat closely with, but his position is superior to hers. My issue is that this woman (who is single) texts him during off-work hours. Their conversations revolve around personal things, not work-related topics. Nothing incredibly personal but it's still clear she's reaching out just for an excuse to talk. I realize that when you work with someone closely you'll develop a relationship and get to know them, but her texts are downright flirty. The other piece of information to note is that my boyfriend is REALLY good-looking -- and it's not just me being biased; he's one of those classically handsome men that turns heads in restaurants, and his blissful unawareness of his own good looks makes him all the more attractive to me. He is charming without even realizing it and I am pretty certain that she is interpreting his kindness as interest in her.
The texting started last fall. He admitted that it was a little odd she was texting and I let him know that it bothered me. He assured me that it was harmless, and she is just a lonely woman reaching out. However, it continued and although he didn't always mention it to me, I would peek at his phone and see she was still texting. I am very bothered by the fact that this woman knows he is in a relationship and continues to reach out at inappropriate times, like 9 pm on a Friday night. It all came to a head this past New Year's Eve when she was drunk and repeatedly texting him and saying that she was going to call him at midnight, teasingly, "You better be awake old man!" I lost it and Jason and I had a blow-out fight which basically ruined our holiday. Just a side note -- he and I RARELY fight and this was a bad one.
I need you to know that he doesn't lie to me about it and he doesn't flirt back. When I look through the messages it is painfully obvious that this woman is initiating everything. But I find it wrong that he engages in it. He says that he doesn't want to confront her because it will be awkward at work and he doesn't want to make accusations that she could say are not true -- but this is what gets me: Why is my loving boyfriend caring more about making this woman comfortable and allowing this to go on, ultimately making his girlfriend feel completely disrespected?
I never considered myself to be a jealous person and I feel secure in my relationship, but I feel it is wrong for her to be sending him messages when he is lying in bed next to me. It's not about worrying that he is going to leave her for me because I don't believe that is the case. For me this is about the respect that you give another person you are dating. Meredith, readers, am I overreacting or does Jason need to stop this now?
– Feeling Disrespected, North Attleboro
A: It sounds like the real issue here is the amount of time your boyfriend spends on his phone, FD. Is Jason paying attention to these texts when he should be engaged in conversation with you? If he's lying in bed next to you, is he reading and responding to these messages? Did Jason text this woman back on New Year's Eve? If so, why?
I can't speak to this woman's intentions -- it's possible that she messaged 30 people at midnight on New Year's Eve -- but I will say that your boyfriend should be focused on you when he's in your company. He can check his phone, of course, but he doesn't have to respond to unimportant, chatty text messages right away -- or ever. He doesn't even have to read them if he doesn't feel like it.
Perhaps it's best to explain to him that you'd be less annoyed with this woman's messages if he wasn't focused on them during your time together. If he wasn't playing with his phone so much, you probably wouldn't think about her at all.
I agree -- the New Year's message does sound ... flirty. But according to you, everybody wants to flirt with your boyfriend. That's fine, as long as Jason isn't distracted by that kind of attention when he's with you. If you're going to talk/fight about anything, make it that.
Readers? Is this about the woman or the phone? Should he tell this woman to stop texting? Will she stop on her own if he doesn't respond? What should the letter writer do? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.