Carolyn Hax: Lying about texting her ex. Let it go?

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Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Caroline: My partner of 10 months is texting his ex girlfriend. He creates big problems between us because he knows I care about him (yes, I’m insecure!), we’ve talked about it and he lies when I ask him directly. The main issue is trust on both sides, which we are trying to address.

But it hurts me that he doesn’t stop contact even though he knows how much it affects me. I’m debating whether I should keep hoping it stops, or “just” leave it alone and stop worrying about it.

Fiancee: Is “stop worrying about it” an option? Then take it! Immediately.

As for “keep hoping it stops”, when he hasn’t shown any signs of stopping and is lying to get you off his back, that’s a resounding no. Groundless hope = torment.

Forget it. The only productive option is to assume that it will never stop, unless and until it actually stops.

What you do next with that information depends on your boyfriend’s character and your ability to trust yourself.

· First, his character: I actually think it’s good that he keeps texting him for you. Either she’s a perfectly platonic friend and he’s right not to give in to your pressure just because you’re insecure, or he’s still having an affair with his ex and it’s better to be visible to you than to cover it up superficially. You want people to be open, even (especially?) about the bad stuff.

Ideally, he would have the courage to tell you, “No. She is my friend. I will not leave my friend just because she bothers you that she is also an ex. I’m with you now and we have to trust each other or be done.” oh But she doesn’t. It could be that he’s a bad person, it could be that he’s just immature, but either way he’s choosing to lie to you, and that’s really bad news, whether it’s his natural modus operandi or his lousy response to your pressure.

· And the second, your ability to trust: Trust is only self-knowledge. Know what is right with you and what is not; know where your blind spots are; knowing how to compensate for those blind spots; knowing that you’ll be okay if you walk away from someone you don’t trust, or even if you stay and something goes wrong.

You don’t seem to trust yourself enough (yet!) to get a sense of what he is and isn’t trustworthy behavior from him, or mean, fair, or immature. You’re still building, maybe, that basic self-confidence.

Given that you already live together, my preferred advice (take a step back from each other to give your self-knowledge time to develop) is impractical. The close contact version is to take what to know on it, all that you have gathered up to now (not what you want, not what you imagine, not what you hope for, not what you fear, what you KNOW) and accept it as the truth.

If you like what you know, put aside the smaller things and see what happens. That is the “stop worrying” option.

If all you know is that your doubts linger and their actions aren’t helping, then get out of there now instead of waiting for better news.

None of these have anything to do with the ex, by the way. She is just a lens through which you can see your connection to him.

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