He Was Still On The Dating App

We chat at 1 p.m. today. Also, I’m looking for updates. If you’re a former letter writer, please send an update so we know how it all turned out. You can send your updates to meregoldstein at gmail dot com. Make sure you include your original email address so we know it’s you.


Hello Meredith, I’m looking to gain insight from a third party here. Readers, please go easy on me.

Early spring, I met a great guy online. We are both in our late 20s. He was everything I was looking for in a partner: sweet, caring, smart, funny, thoughtful, and sexy. We dated casually for a couple of months but we both knew we wanted a relationship.

July 4 weekend he took me on a trip to visit his friends. The entire weekend I felt so cared about and included. It was wonderful. At the end of the trip we had the “relationship talk” and decided to make it official. Since then, we mainly spend weekends together (he works evenings and overnights in a hospital) and maybe get dinner one day during the week. I love how I feel when I am with him.

The big bomb that just dropped happened last weekend once we got home from another weekend away together. I had borrowed his phone to look at pictures from the weekend, and as I scrolled through to find the photo app, I saw the dating app that we had met on in the spring. It was still on his phone. “Fine enough,” I thought. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions that he was still using it, but when I confronted him about it he admitted he had used it after we became official, mainly to scroll through and see what was on there.

What is really killing me is that he admitted to asking a girl out for drinks 10 days prior to our weekend together — this was also the day before he said he was falling in love with me. It crushed me. He said he never went and never intended to actually meet up with her; he just wanted to see her reaction. I’m taking this as a gigantic red flag.

I do believe they never met up (she never responded to him). But if she had responded, I’m not totally convinced he wouldn’t have gone. Why would you ask someone on a date without the intention of actually meeting them? We have talked about it a lot and are currently taking a break to clear our heads and figure out what we really want. I explained to him that he needs to decide whether he wants to be with me or to be single. Deep down I do want to be with him. Cheating aside (I do consider this cheating, he was more reluctant to call it such), I know he is the type of man I can see myself with years down the road. He has also admitted that he has insecurities from when he was younger and he was looking for validation from other females. I guess I’m wondering if something like this can just be a blip in the beginning of a relationship. I’ve never been cheated on (to my knowledge) and always thought of it as a deal-breaker. But I’ve also never dated a man I’ve had this great of a connection with either. Do you think this relationship is salvageable?

— Conflicted, Boston MA


There are probably a lot of people who will tell you that this red flag is too big to ignore, and that it’s best to walk away. They might be right, but I will tell you that it is possible to rally from mistakes made at the start of a relationship. In your case, it all depends on what he does to recover from his bad behavior. The possibility of losing you should overcome his desire for quick attention. The dating app should be deleted, and he should go out of his way to focus on what’s in front of him.

There are two pieces of good news here (sort of). First, it sounds like he’s been pretty honest about what he did with the app. He confessed details that he could have kept to himself (like the drink date), and he seems pretty self-aware about the mess he’s made. That should help when you guys continue the discussion.

Second, your gut is steering you in the right direction. You’re not making excuses for his behavior or ignoring the problem. You’ve asked the right questions, and you’ve chosen to take space so you can get real answers. If he comes back and it doesn’t feel quite right, you’ll know.

There’s been a lot of talk about dating apps like Tinder over the past week (thank you, Vanity Fair). My big issue with them is that can overwhelm people with too many options, and that the attention can be addictive. If you and your boyfriend decide to give this another shot, find out what he plans to do about his need for validation. Because that desire to be liked by strangers probably won’t go away.

Readers? Can this relationship be saved? Thoughts on that need for validation?

— Meredith

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