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innocent text or more to worry about?

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Wisedup posted 9/19/2017 17:46 PM

Southbound, you are a good, intelligent and obviously caring man. I apologize for assuming you weren't familiar with SI terms, as I didn't bother to look at your register date.

I know that some of what I wrote strays from traditional thoughts on relationships, openness and the like. My thoughts are just that: my take on it. You're experienced enough to know what to do with your situation. I just expressed to you what I've witnessed in the past with my own experiences and also those of close friends. Some trends and outcomes are undeniable and warrant research. And after my most recent failed relationship, boy did I do the research. It nearly killed me and I refused to walk that path again.

You hit the nail on the head regarding social media. The crap that goes on there is continually being downplayed and minimized by those who are addicted to it. It's the new sexual marketplace, pure and simple. The singles bar of the 21st century and beyond. Whatever you decide to say or do, don't waver from your steadfast notion that social media "likes" are the new millennium version of footsie. That's exactly what they are.

I truly hope the best for your situation and relate to you completely on a generational level. It's a whole new world out there. Keep us updated.

M1965 posted 9/19/2017 17:50 PM

SB,

Well, maybe a happy medium would be to mention a couple of things without mentioning any insecurities about them. Just mention them as things you have noticed. Keeping it cool and casual, mention date night and the fact that you know he was at her place much later than she admitted to. But keep it low key; a "I'm just saying..." approach, and don't take it further.

Then bring up the fact that she reached out to him, and suddenly he's back liking all her posts. Again, just as an observation, with no stuff about insecurities. Mention them purely as observations, and do not get drawn into long discussions about them, or expand on them. Be cool as a cucumber; "Just a funny thing I noticed...", and then move on. You will be surprised how powerful seeds like that can be. By mentioning that you are aware of a few things, without expanding on them, she will go away and think about them, probably more than if you talk them through at length.

I'm wondering if this middle-ground approach might show her you're nobody's fool, but you aren't mentioning insecurities or what you need, or even accusing her of anything. Just saying you noticed stuff. Perhaps being observant but enigmatic would be an approach to try?

Whatever happens, we all want the best for you, and you need to go with what feels natural for you. I'll be interested to hear how you decide to play it.

PS - I hate so-called social media. It destroys a huge amount of relationships, and Facebook is being cited in a lot of divorce cases now (I heard a fascinating radio documentary about modern relationships that mentioned the role of social media in relationship breakdowns).

[This message edited by M1965 at 5:54 PM, September 19th (Tuesday)]

Wisedup posted 9/19/2017 18:20 PM

I really like M1965's "aware but not insecure" approach. It's indicative of how sometimes the best solutions to a problem aren't found at the extremes, but in the middle. Maybe tease her a little and be faux-cocky like "I see OM is sniffing around and orbiting. Poor guy, he doesn't know what he's up against". Then chomp on her neck and get her giggling. You let her know you're not blind but not worried either.

Side note: Again, M1965, I meant no disrespect to you or your advice. I was simply dissenting and presenting another point of view. As a rational person myself, your words were spot-on and should be seen as honest, genuine and loving by women. I've simply seen too many instances of men laying it all out there and getting their asses handed to them. I'm just really tired of seeing that happen is all. Tired of men being in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" predicament.

southbound posted 9/19/2017 18:42 PM

Thanks again, both of you.

I think I'm going with the middle of the road approach. If I thought for a second I would show weakness or issues or seem needy, I wouldn't. But I am confident I've been through the ringer enough to be hardened against becoming that guy in the conversation. It all lies in the willingness to walk away if need be. (and frankly, if we end up with a life-long marriage, I know i will not be able to keep it in me that I think they slept together and why. So might as well get it out now:) I don't fault her for that at all from a fidelity standpoint, I might've done the same thing. But I fault her for not being honest about it, knowing I would have to bump into/interact with the guy occasionally at the gym)

As you guys have astutely picked up on, this isn't about cheating (as far as I know), it's about boundaries and knowing what puts relationships in danger.

Not what I want to do at all. I don't want to walk away. I think this woman could/would make a great wife. She has so many great qualities.

But as part of that "vetting" that someone mentioned, it's her ability to recognize the dangers to a relationship and act accordingly and put us above all else that is important.

How you treat and get treated when you're wrong, and how you think and act when your significant other is not around, those are the markers of successful relationships. Seeing her response to this conversation is my goal, and hopefully she will not disappoint.

(of course, if some twisted truths happen to come out and I've been blinded for months and they've been doing it all along, all bets are off and I'll be back here for different words of wisdom, haha)

I'll keep ya posted.

ps - social media is such an enabler of so many relationship blunders. I freakin hate it sometimes.

[This message edited by southbound at 6:45 PM, September 19th (Tuesday)]

M1965 posted 9/20/2017 04:30 AM

SB,

I really like your outlook on this. Honestly, I am 52, but I am still learning the ins and outs of relationships and how to play things to achieve the best results. If I am ever faced with a situation like this, I want to be able to approach it like you; hopeful, but realistic, and knowing what is and is not acceptable to me. I really think that the hard part in dealing with these situations is figuring out the right angle and how to frame them. Once you can figure out the right angle, the rest of the discussion usually falls into place.

I think Wisedup is right, the best solutions in life lie between the extremes. In a situation like the one facing you, I guess one extreme would be wild accusations and dumping her, and at the other extreme, saying nothing and pretending you know nothing.

Wisedup, honestly, I am fine with what you said. What we are all trying to do is come up with the best solution for southbound, and that means kicking ideas around and debating their pros and cons. My initial suggestion was a bit textbook 'open up about your needs', revealing too much vulnerability for this stage in the relationship. I went that route because it was something a female friend of mine got me to do when we had a falling out. Like a lot of guys, I tend to say nothing about what hurts me, I don't want to reveal my 'weak' spots, but she got me to tell her why certain things had upset me, she apologised, understood, and said that it was good I opened up because we could sort it out properly rather than leaving it unresolved. It made its mark on me, because it was so alien to me to open up like that, but it did resolve the issue in that particular situation. However, I think you are 100% right that being that open at this point in the relationship would be the wrong approach for southbound, and I have learnt from that. I took no disrespect from your input, and I thank you for it, because it has taught me a useful lesson.

SB, you say a lot of nice things about this lady, and I think that when you have your discussion with her, it is important to mention those good things too. If I was trying to take a positive angle on it, I would go with something along the lines of, "I am not saying these things because I am angry with you, but because I think a lot of you. If I didn't think we have the chance for something good and special, I wouldn't bother saying anything." I'm not sure if that's revealing too much, but I think it might help frame the discussion and your mentioning of potential issues in a positive light, rather than a negative one.

God, this stuff is difficult sometimes, isn't it?

I hope that whatever you chose to do, it went well, and that the lady understands that a man wanting to defend a relationship means it has value to him. You sound like a good guy, and I hope she realises that.

nekonamida posted 9/20/2017 08:43 AM

As you guys have astutely picked up on, this isn't about cheating (as far as I know), it's about boundaries and knowing what puts relationships in danger.

This is really the heart of the issue. I'd also like to point out that lying due to fear as an attempt to manipulate the outcome of your talk is an immature quality. As an adult, she should have accepted that telling the truth may have resulted in not getting back together but look where you have ended up now with her lie! In a spot far worse than if you decided not to date again in my mind.

The other real issue is that lying about it and flirting with the other guy was crossing boundaries even when you were in a relationship including now so if you let this go, expect more boundaries to be crossed and unfortunately, there's a real chance of this developing further into an affair. I hope your conversation goes well but if it doesn't, I hope that you can accept that she has some qualities that are not healthy for any relationship let alone marriage and act accordingly. You're lucky that you found out about this now and not years down the road after marrying her.

trailwolf posted 9/20/2017 12:57 PM

i would be very cautious , something here seems very suspicious !

southbound posted 9/20/2017 13:10 PM

The conversation went well overall. After a night to sleep on it and some more thought today, I'm cautiously optimistic.

I approached it very conversationally, informally. With no anger or other emotion. Neutral observations, genuine questions, and a tone that hopefully would keep her from going on the defensive.

It wasn't easy for her to not be defensive and I could see that. It's a very natural reaction for most people to feel judged or attacked or backed into a corner. And with the ambiguous and grey area things we were dealing with (at least some of them), I paid really close attention to how I set the tone for the conversation so we didn't get off track or devolve into argument.

Ultimately, she owned up to how the text was a bad decision, and how, from my point of view, it was something that would be really bothersome. She was able to separate from herself and look at it as you guys did when you read everything from me. Quite apologetic, remorseful to a degree, and not combative. Not all positive, but better than defensive, hurling accusations back at me, and gaslighting.

Without me asking, she took her phone and in front of me blocked his contact on her phone, dumped him from facebook, and (curiously) deleted their conversation on her phone. (Not before I made her show it to me. at first she started to claim he texted her first, but I asked her to show me and it was "oh well I guess I texted him first"). That part bothered me. She knew damn well she texted him first, who doesn't know that? Which means she was about to put the blame on him for reaching out if I had let her get away with it. Ultimately, that could've been all for show. I realize that. But now his name is supposed to be on her blocked list, so if I ever find it off there, that's pretty much a smoking gun that NC was broken (more on that later)

I discounted whatever her explanation was going to be because ultimately like I said, it was her reaction I was more curious about. The explanation was believable enough, but just like with the end of night incident with other dude, she can tell me whatever she wants, I can neither prove nor disprove it (unless the dude somehow told me at some point). So it's somewhat academic and doesn't matter overall, her explanation. Like M said yesterday, I can either choose to accept it and live with it, or call it a deal-breaker and move on.

Still a few things I don't understand (plan on covering those this weekend), and she did minimize details about the guy and the events back in February. I called her on that, didn't let her whitewash anything, and let her know I saw through a lot of that, even if I did understand why a person would minimize.

I also told her I knew how late he was at her house and it's hard to come to any other conclusion other than they slept together and she lied to me. She took that, seemed to understand, said "I do not lie to you" and ultimately claimed they were passed out.

I left it at that but she at least knows now that I have to take it on faith what she says. She also knows how it looks and that's a tall tale to swallow. Plausible? Sure. It was a wild party and I know lots of people got too drunk. Also plausible she's lying and praying that I never find out? Of course.

Again, if she did, can't fault her too much since we weren't technically back together until the next morning (when we met for coffee and talked). And I made that clear to her. "If you say you slept with him, understand I can't be upset about that. I know that you were still free from obligation to me that night. I'm not going to be mad. What I can't abide is dishonesty about it".

So now she's got two stakes in the ground that they didn't have sex, so if somehow it comes out in future that they did, she's got a big ol X on her for dishonesty.

Finished up talking about boundaries and then tabling the conversation until more time when we're alone this weekend. It was a school night, kids were in bed, and I started out by saying we probably aren't going to solve this in one sitting. So, we'll talk more this weekend. At the end, she asked me point blank, "what do you want or need from me to make you feel safe and show you that we're on the same team". I told her I didn't have the words right then and there but I would come back to her this weekend with thoughts.

Even if I couldn't answer, I thought it was a good sign that she seemed willing to do what I might want to make sure crap like this doesn't trip us up again. One thing I am going to ask for is a lot more transparency on phones and social media. We didn't get into that but I plan to. We're talking about marriage and blending families and our kids will be affected. Damned if I'm going that far with someone with zero access to their electronic devices. I don't care what anyone says. "But privacy, Southbound!" Bullshit. "privacy shmivacy". This isn't about privacy. It's about secrets. We all know that very well! She has shown she'll keep secrets on her phone, either deliberate secrets or naive ones, doesn't matter. I have no desire to go through and read all her stuff. I don't have time. But I do want her knowing I could if I wanted to.

She needs to live, like I do, with the mindset that her significant other can see into that part of her world. She knows my phone code, I don't have one on my ipad, and imessages and other are synced all over the place. I have nothing to hide. She can look at it whenever, and knowing that genuinely does affect my behavior online. It helps hold me accountable to the lifestyle I'm preaching to her.

Work in progress, people. Thanks all again for your insight. I might be back for more on this:)

M1965 posted 9/21/2017 16:46 PM

Hi southbound,

Many thanks for the update. It sounds like you really framed it well, and got your points across without any hint of being needy or vulnerable. You covered all the bases you wanted to, with a follow-up planned for the weekend to expand on a couple of areas, which is great. I think what can make or break these kinds of discussions is the ‘why’ of them. Had you approached it in an accusatory way, or with any anger, there’s no way it would have gone so well. Thinking through what you wanted to say beforehand, and the tone and angle you were going to take, paid dividends. And the other thing is, you didn’t just bottle this stuff up, which never works, because it always comes out at some point, frequently the worst time, and often at high volume. I know, because I’ve done it! One lives, and one learns.

The way you couched it, ‘let’s sort this out, because I think you’re special, and I think we could have a future together’, puts the whole drive of the thing in a positive and productive light. And she obviously picked up on that, because without being asked, she did the blocking and deleting on her phone, and instead of being defensive, she asked what it would take to prove she is on the same team as you. Honestly, that is great. She accepted how and why the text and other stuff was not desirable, which again is a good sign. And yes, I know that we can be uber-cynical here sometimes, and some might cry, “Snow job! Snow job!”, but I don’t get that vibe from your description of how things went.

“…at first she started to claim he texted her first, but I asked her to show me and it was "oh well I guess I texted him first"). That part bothered me. She knew damn well she texted him first, who doesn't know that? Which means she was about to put the blame on him for reaching out if I had let her get away with it. Ultimately, that could've been all for show. I realize that.”

I think you’ve got a good, balanced outlook on that. Yes, she did try to make herself look better, but that’s kind of natural, and given how much else she took on board, and accepted was not for the best, it’s not like she doesn’t have a good understanding of things. We always have to accept that people may BS a little bit if they realise they have done wrong, but when you picked her up on it, she admitted it. The point with this is that it establishes a healthy dynamic between you, where she will see that if she attempts to fib, you won’t miss it, but you also won’t bite her head off for it, and you will – within reason – accept it as a, “No, Mom, I don’t know where the cookies went” kind of response.

Similarly, you picked up on the minimising, and let her know you knew, but you didn’t do it in an over-the-top way, or get angry, which again will help her feel like it may be ‘safe’ to stop minimising. The thing is, you don’t know what the other men in her life have been like, and if she was ever with a guy who had a short fuse, she may have learnt to minimise as a way to cut down on flak. And yes, I do know how some may see that as starry-eyed, rose-tinted optimism on my part, but it’s possible. Also, if she was minimising, you have to ask yourself why. The cynics would say she was trying to trick you, but given the drift of the conversation, and her apparent interest in you as a long-term partner, it’s natural that she would want to minimise the other guy. If the shoe was on the other foot, and a woman we wanted to be with started asking us about another woman we had seen a few times, what would we say? Would we big the other woman up, or would we say something along the lines of, “Oh, she was nice, but we didn’t really hit it off”. That’s not a ‘wicked’ lie, it’s simply trying to express the significance that the woman has to us now that we have a chance to be with a woman we feel is more special.

Also, if she really had strong feelings for that other guy, what would be the point of telling you she wants to be on your team, of admitting that some stuff was not great, or could look bad? Because she wants to start a relationship with you based on lies, and actively deceive you for the hell of it, when what she really wants is to be with that other guy? If she wanted to be with him, she’d be with him. Who she wants to be with is you, but what you are working through with her, quiet rightly, is where the guy needs to be in her frame of reference if you are going to be together (which is to say, at a distance, and no contact).

As for that late date night, I think that’s one that you may as well leave to the past if you want to have a relationship with her. There’s really no point to beat it to death, and it will cause too much bad feeling if you keep insisting that she is lying. The bottom line, as you say, is that nothing can be proved, and she is now moving in the right direction as far as that guy is concerned, and as far as you are concerned. I know some may cry “Rug-sweeping!”, but you have to measure what you might gain, by what you might lose. You aren’t cruel, or a bully, but imagine if you kept browbeating her until she either cracked and admitted she slept with him, or just said she did (when she didn’t) to get you to shut up. How do you think she would feel about you after that? Like I say, we must always measure what we might gain by what we might lose. “Hooray, I finally got the truth, and all I had to do was emotionally brutalise the woman I love”. If it were me, like you, I would take it on faith, even if being sceptical, and be philosophical enough to accept that whatever happened, it is not worth beating her up (metaphorically) for. The bottom line is, if she is sincere about wanting to be with you, and about distancing herself from that guy, that night doesn’t have to be a bone of contention between you.

“At the end, she asked me point blank, "what do you want or need from me to make you feel safe and show you that we're on the same team".”

I’ve been thinking about that, and it would be hard to imagine a more positive thing for a person to say after the discussion that you had. Why would a person say that, unprompted, if they didn’t mean it? Because they are a wicked psychopath who is luring you in so that she can break your heart? Or because she actually means it? You know her, and I think you already know the answer to that one!

My thoughts about what you could say in response this weekend would be something like:

“What I would like is for us to draw up a set of rules and boundaries for our relationship that will protect it and make us both feel safe and secure within it. This won’t be my rules, or my boundaries, or yours, they will be ours. A team effort. I want this to be something we work on together. Just as I want to feel safe, I want you to feel safe too, so please tell me what you need from me. What are the things men have done in the past that hurt you or made you feel uncomfortable? I want to know, so that I can make sure I never do them.”

Maybe that sounds like something from a Hallmark card, but I think that if you can make it a two-way thing, it will stop it seeming like it is you imposing something on her, but make it more like something you are building together. She must have had stuff done to her that she didn’t like, and discussing that would be no bad thing, would it?

Once you establish that atmosphere, the subject of greater digital transparency loses any knee-jerk issues of ‘privacy’. They key is to explain the benefits of openness, which really is fundamental to most relationships. The horrible thing about ‘social media’ is that it is actually anything but social. It allows people to create their own private little worlds, into which they retreat, and which they sometimes defend without realising what they are losing out on by doing so. For some, the virtual world becomes a place where they can do anything without any risk of damaging their lives in the real world…Until it does, sometimes catastrophically. I could write at length on this subject, I see a lot of unhealthy stuff going on, but this isn’t the time or place for my philosophy!

Also, you say:

“We're talking about marriage and blending families…”

I think it is important that these discussions about boundaries and relationship protection are interspersed with discussions about other subjects, specially positive stuff like marriage and the future. It should not predominate things, it should become a part of the wider picture of your planned future together. And please do give it a rest regularly and just have nice nights out together, making a fuss of her and appreciating her.

It sounds like you have a very good foundation to work with, and I am sure I speak for everyone when I wish you well with it. And if you do stop by with an update sometime, that would be great.

Take care, southbound.

M

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