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I'd say hand over the keys to his device and get out. There are a bajillion men who would LOVE to be having an active sex life, let alone such a GGG wife. Don't let his dishonesty turn you into a crazy person. You can't control it, it likely has nothing to do with you, and he's unlikely to change.
Wish we had a Savage Love "Where Are They Now?"
I'm giving this guy the benefit of the doubt. But his lying=another kink is also a possibility
@6 yes he's probably being a bratty sub seeking punishment, but rewarding bratty behavior she genuinely dislikes with punishment will just reinforce the behavior. She should take charge of his exhibitionist kink--that's what he really desires. And she seems GGG enough to do it--it sounds like it's the lying that bothers her, not the photos.
Snooping is also controlling behavior, since people who thought their partner had a right to their own life probably wouldn't do it (what would be the point?). I'm agnostic about whether it's worse than cheating and lying, though. I assume that it's the "controlling" part that upsets people about snooping, in tandem with the assumption that there's not much point to snooping unless you have the intent to punish.
I remember when I was a closeted teenager sneaking around, secret make out sessions in the woods. Sleeping over a friends house and having very quiet sex in the middle of the night.
It was exciting and the danger of getting caught made everything heightened.
Now I don't have to hide. Things are greatly improved. But I can't deny that I sometimes miss the excitement and intrigue of having to sneak around and be clandestine about things. I can easily see it becoming a kink for someone.
Exactly. If violations of trust are another strong kink, he should find it with someone else. Preferably someone who doesn't care and could pretend like she does. Of course, the pretending to care might even not be enough...
But as a grown adult, the effect you have on others should definitely restrain the "power" of those infidelities, assuming monogamy is the agreement. The excitement isn't just that "new partner" feeling, but the shame at hurting your current partner with everything you do. It's not quite the shiniest and most positive kink.
In my case it was the classic "forbidden fruit" aspect that was inherent in having any kind of relations at all during that time.
For this guy he is doing something that, in itself, he has permission to do. But doing it in a way that will get him into trouble if caught. It's not the infidelity itself that is the turn on. It's the excitement over the danger of getting caught. If it was the infedelity itself that was the kick he would have progressed into a real transgression of the behaviours he knows are not acceptable.
So while I don't condone what he is doing, I think the LW should put things in perspective. She put two conditions on him. One spelled out what activities were and were not acceptable to her. The other was that he tell her.
He broke one of the two conditions, but in context he broke the much less significant one. He didn't do anything he didn't have permission to do. He just didn't tell her.
She can take it how she wants but personally if I were her I would count myself somewhat lucky and let him continue without telling him so long as what he actually does isn't violating the approved behavour list. Let him get his thrill by thinking he is getting away with this otherwise innocuous activity. But I would keep snooping. The initial snoop may have been wrong, but I think that if he is sneaking around, then now that she knows about it she is entitled to continue snooping. Life is a series of tradeoffs after all.
I'm oddly not bothered by thinking of that as a kink, or as the price of entry; all relationships are (or should be) a negotiation, so it's assholish for him to get what he wants but not give her what she asks for.
Snooping is about protecting oneself from lies. Snooping by itself doesn't control anything other than information flow.
Given that feeling like you have the authority to punish someone is incompatible with being in a relationship of equals...
I propose a third possibility: he's cheating.
I had a relationship with a very similar scenario: boyfriend had some kinks, I was GGG about them, but was totally okay with him messaging dudes online, as long as there was communication and disclosure.
When I snooped (yes. Bad. Whatever), I found out he wasn't dislcosing. Not communicating. Breaking our terms.
Of course, that wasn't the end of the world. What was the end was finding out he wasn't disclosing these interactions (and hiding them), was because he was meeting and fucking these dudes behind my back (ostensibly, hiding significant risk of exposure to STIs in the process).
Maybe he's just scared to be fully honest. Maybe he's keeping secrets because he's not abiding to your "chat only" rules.
Abstractly. But the way that this is practiced, it is about infidelities, petty and up the ladder.
If it wasn't about violations of trust and set agreements, we wouldn't have this letter.
But it's very, very hard to realize that your partner isn't your property, so not a lot of people figure it out--which is where we get all sorts of weird behaviors, of which snooping is probably one of the least-weird.
That you insist on it and make it a prerequisite for intimate relations doesn't equate it to a fetish.
@26, sorry, disagree. At least in general. It CAN be about infidelity, and in this case sure, there was infidelity in a broadly defined sense. But inherently? No.
I already mentioned my own case, which had absolutely no infidelity involved. It was just the excitement of the circumstances where we could get caught in get into trouble for doing what we were told we shouldn't do. That alone can be what the excitement is about.
Plenty of guys get off on being bad, even when they have no one to be unfaithful to. And so for many, even if circumstances mean infidelity is involved, that doesn't mean that infidelity is what it is about. For many it is just being bad, no matter the form it takes, that matters. And recognizing that can possibly lead to a solution. If you can get them to be "bad" in some other way that the other person finds secretly more acceptable.
Trust but verify!
There are reasons a person faced with the choice of either leaving immediately or checking to see if their anxieties are based on something and then staying or leaving depending on the outcome might prefer the latter. If someone wants a reality check to discover that everything’s ok but is ashamed to admit to probably-unfounded suspicions, they might snoop.
Iow, a person might not feel entitled to punish. They might just feel entitled to make important personal decisions based on accurate information.
That's what I was getting at - Thanks!
I'm not in favor of lying about big things such as cheating. But everyone lies to some extent. There is no happy relationship that didn't get there through a carefully constructed web of minor lies. At some point you reach a gray area of what constitutes a minor vs major lie. There is no hard and fast line you can point to and this is where problems arise.
But also at some point you have to accept that even if you are in a realtionship with someone there are somethings that are none of your business and if you press them about it they are probably going to lie. People who value honesty in a relationship have an equal responsibility to not create a relationship where lying seems like the better alternative to the other person.
We all know, pressure a man to not watch porn and he will promise not to watch porn... and then he will secretly watch porn. Did he violate the rules of the relationship? Sure. Is it a big deal? In the big picture, no. But that doesn't mean the other person can't make a big deal about it, but at that point who do we really blame? He technically shouldn't have made the promise, but the other person really shouldn't have asked.
Things are not so cut and dried in real relationships.
My initial comment was meant to counter the sentiment that snooping is always wrong, disrespectful, or the precursor of vengeance or punishment of some sort. Seems maybe I was not clear about that. In my situation, I felt snooping was warranted, because I was not getting a straight answer, and it was getting to point where it was obvious I was not getting a straight answer. That shit can a make a person feel crazy, and that's what was happening to me. Snooping for me was validating, and it was clear that my guy had some issues he wasn't ready to deal with. That's fair enough, but I didn't see any reason to stick around. I also didn't have a need to punish him for it.
I think there is a difference between snooping just to snoop, and snooping because you genuinely have reason to suspect something is going on behind your back.
Preemptive snooping I think is wrong. Snooping because you feel you actually have something to worry about and your partner is keeping it from you? I think there can be a reasonable argument made for that.
And yes, snooping doesn't have to be about punishment. It can be about gathering the information you need to make an informed decision about your life when you feel someone is keeping that relevant information from you.
The funny part here is that this phrase was borrowed from the KGB by Ronald Reagan, both of whom very much did intend to inflict punishments if they found something they didn't like. ;)
@35: "Snooping because you feel you actually have something to worry about and your partner is keeping it from you? I think there can be a reasonable argument made for that."
That's not different from preemptive snooping, though. Saying "I felt like snooping, therefore my snooping wasn't preemptive" doesn't make it not-preemptive, since feeling like snooping ("feeling like your partner is secretly betraying you") isn't evidence of anything.
I assume you mean snooping that's justified after the fact, but since we're not fortune-tellers, the only thing you ever have to go on is your own feelings, which aren't an indicator of anything other than of how you feel about the relationship.
"It can be about gathering the information you need to make an informed decision about your life when you feel someone is keeping that relevant information from you."
That means you've already decided what the truth is, and are just looking for proof. What for? Outside of a punishment context, that proof is useless, since if you've already decided your partner can't be trusted, you should stop dating, so you already have the information you're ostensibly looking for. I mean, even if you find out that they aren't betraying you in the particular way you suspect, the fact that you don't trust or respect them enough to let them have privacy is already proof enough that the good parts of the relationship are over.
Notice how it never occurs to us to snoop on people that we trust and respect? I think we should all limit ourselves to only dating those people, and skip the ones who seem like sneaky douchebags. If the point of snooping is to answer the question "Should I stay with this person?" then there's no need to snoop--since wanting to snoop already answered that question for you.
I think a lot of this ties in with people feeling like they need "justification" to leave a relationship that isn't working out for them. I think a lot of snooping would go away if we all really believed that not wanting to date someone any more was enough of a reason to stop dating them. You don't need proof that you're being cheated on in order to break up with someone who isn't making you feel right--and people shouldn't date someone who doesn't make them feel right.
I didn't say "feel like snooping". I said if you have reason. Changes in behavior, sneaking around, being suddenly very secretive, being non communicative... That's not "I feel like snooping". That's, "I know something is up that he isn't telling me so I need to find out".
"That means you've already decided what the truth is, and are just looking for proof. What for?"
Um, no, it doesn't. It means I have decided that there is something going on that is impacting me in some way, I just don't know what.
Maybe he is suffering from depression or some other mental illness that is effecting behavior. Maybe he did something that he is scared I will be mad at but I actually would not be.
" I mean, even if you find out that they aren't betraying you in the particular way you suspect, the fact that you don't trust or respect them enough to let them have privacy is already proof enough that the good parts of the relationship are over."
Sorry, again, relationships are far more complex than that. Life, and relationships, aren't that black and white. It might indicate that there are currently problems with a relationship, but if people called the relationship over when such problems come up not many relationships would last more than a few years.
"Notice how it never occurs to us to snoop on people that we trust and respect?"
Actually that's not true. Some people snoop just because. Some people snoop because they inherently don't trust anyone. That's preemptive snooping. If someone gives you some reason not to trust them it is a different story. But the idea that not trusting someone means the relationship is over is a matter of opinion. Trust can be rebuilt. Problems can be solved. Issues can be worked on. But sometimes it takes someone prying to find out what the root of the problem is in the first place. And when you commit to a relationship the other person has a right to know certain things.
"You don't need proof that you're being cheated on in order to break up with someone who isn't making you feel right"
No, you don't. But have you ever invested years, or even decades into a relationship? Have you had your finances, future and livelihood tied to that other person? It's one thing to feel free to just walk away after a few months, or even a couple of years. But the longer you stay together, and the more you build together, the less easy, or desirable, it becomes to just walk away because there are problems. Eventually you reach a point where your lives are intertwined enough that you decide that it is worth dealing with the issues and not just walk away. Not because you can't, but because you value what you have built and think it can be saved.
No one said that having your fears justified means the relationship ends. Sometimes it means you can not begin the work of repairing the relationship. It is your point of view that it is all about punishment and leaving. But you are the only one really saying that. It might lead to leaving, or it might lead to making things stronger. But you can't know until you have all the relevant information.
It's just not that simple. Life isn't that black and white.
My point was, until after the snooping, you don't know if you have reason or not; all you've got is a feeling, and "I feel like snooping" and "I feel like I have legit reason to snoop" feel exactly the same from the inside. Being paranoid feels like people are out to get you; paranoid people can't tell the difference between being paranoid and having good reasons to worry. I mean, if they could, paranoia wouldn't exist in the first place.
"It means I have decided that there is something going on that is impacting me in some way, I just don't know what."
Yeah. I'm usually more concerned about the impact, rather than the cause--if the impact is something you can handle, why snoop? And if it's something you can't handle, then... well, then you can't. To me, that makes the cause kind of irrelevant--if I can't handle being with someone, and bringing it up face to face doesn't fix it, then it seems best for both parties to go find someone else.
"Maybe he did something that he is scared I will be mad at but I actually would not be. "
Yeah, I hadn't considered situations like that (a little outside my experience), or it happening in the context of an already long-term relationship. Fair enough.
"Some people snoop just because."
This seems like a separate issue, but I don't really see a downside to telling those people they're not ready to have a relationship until they've learned to treat other people with respect.
"Some people snoop because they inherently don't trust anyone."
Speaking as someone who sometimes has difficulty trusting people, the feeling of being that kind of person feels exactly like the feeling you get when your partner is actually giving you reasons not to trust them. Permission to snoop when you feel like you have real reasons to is the same as permission to snoop whenever, since "Do you have reason to snoop, or are you just being paranoid" is a question for which paranoid people--due to the nature of paranoia--aren't capable of knowing the answer.
"But have you ever invested years, or even decades into a relationship? Have you had your finances, future and livelihood tied to that other person?"
Yes, and yes (tenth wedding anniversary is this year; we're buying a house at the end of this month), so I've been thinking about that a lot already. If I felt insecure to the point where I start thinking about snooping, that'd mean there are already deeper problems in the relationship than anything she might be doing online. I get what you mean about the sunk costs, though, and having too much invested to walk away.
The problem with lying is that unless it's to be considerate ("you sounded great, and your hair has never been cuter") it's usually to avoid confrontation, and there's nothing appealing or trustworthy about someone who hides things to avoid difficult interactions. Those who want to receive tantric blowjobs while balanced on their heads need to be with people who are okay with having partners who receive tantric blowjobs while balanced on their heads. The only way to find out if you are and continue to be a match is to communicate.
I feel like when people snoop, they're often really just trying to get rid of that feeling, and snooping is overrated as a way of dealing with that kind of suspicious/insecure sensation--even if you don't find anything, there's no way to shake the feeling that you just haven't found it yet, and then it's really easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole where everything you look at might be a hint of impending disaster, or hidden betrayal, or... well, the possibilities are endless.
And if you do find something? That's kind of a trick question, since everyone has something that would make an already-suspicious person even more suspicious if they found it, because that's a pretty low bar to clear. I think the odds that snooping will turn up a simple solution that solves the problem are pretty low. I mean, even if you do find something innocuous that explains what you've been seeing--say, that they're planning an elaborate birthday present--you can never be sure that there aren't more secrets that you haven't uncovered yet. It's hard to get out of that spiral once it starts.
To go back to 37 for a moment,
"It might indicate that there are currently problems with a relationship, but if people called the relationship over when such problems come up not many relationships would last more than a few years."
I think not many relationships do last more than a few years. Speaking just from personal experience, I don't know many people who've had many relationships last more than a few years. Maybe no one. I've only had one, which makes it a tiny minority, and I still consider myself extremely lucky. A lot of relationships only last up until someone gets that feeling, and then they end, and I'm not sure that's a bad thing.
Not that that solves the problem of what to do if you're already ten or twenty years in when you start getting that feeling that you can't trust your partner. That seems like living a nightmare.
I found I could push through that feeling. Just be with it. Examine what might happen if my worst fears were true, and then decide that I could live with that. Over time, the trust came back.
And, yes, snooping (with permission) during the period when I didn't trust him only set me back further. I made much more progress toward rebuilding trust when I stopped looking at his emails etc.
No, not just a feeling. Sometimes you have some form of evidence. Behavioral evidence mostly, but still something happens that makes you suspicious. If something they do or say makes you suspicious it isn't just a feeling. And before I get words put in my mouth I'm not saying anyone should snoop at the slightest provocation. But if there is enough going on that points to something not being on the up and up then a case can be made in my opinion.
"To me, that makes the cause kind of irrelevant--if I can't handle being with someone, and bringing it up face to face doesn't fix it, then it seems best for both parties to go find someone else."
Because some issues can be fixed if you can only get them out in the open. And the other person may be misreading the severity of the situation which prompts them to not want to deal with it head on. Sometimes forcing the issue can end up in a resolution. If not then the worst that happens is the relationship ends, which is what would probably happen anyway. But in some instances a relationship can be saved if you can only get everything on the table in the open.
"This seems like a separate issue, but I don't really see a downside to telling those people they're not ready to have a relationship until they've learned to treat other people with respect. "
Agreed. I'm not suggesting snooping as a matter of course. I am suggesting snooping when there is some reason to be suspicious and trying to talk about it hasn't worked. Also when you think there may be some risk. If you have reason to think your partner is sleeping with someone else and they deny it but behaviors and other evidence points to that being a strong possibility then you need to know if your health is being put at risk by their behaviors.
""Do you have reason to snoop, or are you just being paranoid" is a question for which paranoid people--due to the nature of paranoia--aren't capable of knowing the answer."
Which is a valid concern if you are talking with someone who is paranoid. But just because you suspect something is going on doesn't make you paranoid. I've been with my partner for almost 20 years and have never snooped on him because I have never felt he was doing anything not trustworthy. I think that is pretty strong evidence that i am not paranoid, and if something happened to make me concerned it wouldn't be paranoia.
". If I felt insecure to the point where I start thinking about snooping, that'd mean there are already deeper problems in the relationship than anything she might be doing online. I get what you mean about the sunk costs, though, and having too much invested to walk away."
Deeper problems can also be worked on. But sometimes the work begins with the basic behaviors that are happening.
I'm sorry to hear that. I know a whole lot of people who do. The average length of the current relationships in my circle of friends is between 15 and 20 years. I have relatives who have been married for 40 - 60 years.
I certainly have seen relationships fail and marriages end after long periods, but to me the idea of being in a relationship for 20, 30, 40 years is not remarkable at all. I see it all around me.
" A lot of relationships only last up until someone gets that feeling, and then they end, and I'm not sure that's a bad thing."
If it is a good thing or bad thing really depends on the individuals involved and what they really want. If you want the relationship to survive but can't make it work then it is a bad thing. Because just because a relationship has problems doesn't mean there isn't still some good things about it that the individuals involved still value. Problems doesn't mean that the relationship isn't worth saving if you can.
"Not that that solves the problem of what to do if you're already ten or twenty years in when you start getting that feeling that you can't trust your partner. That seems like living a nightmare. "
It doesn't have to be. It can be the beginning of and even better relationship if you can work through it and make things stronger. Feeling that is only a nightmare if in your mind feeling that automatically means the relationship is over.
If you look at it as just another bump in the road together, something to be figured out and worked through, then it isn't a nightmare. It's just work, but the kind that can have great reward in the end.
You don't spend 20, 30, 40 years together without some bumps in the road. If you value what you have you at least try to make it work.
To be hones if I suspected my partner of being up to something or was behaving in a way that I couldn't deal with, and I snooped and didn't find anything, or didn't snoop at all and he never confessed anything, that would be a much more significant step towards the end of the relationship than if I snooped and found he was cheating.
If I knew he was cheating I could talk to him about it and try to figure out what was going on, what we both wanted, and if we could make some agreements or compromises that would allow things to work.
If I couldn't find a reason for the changes or didn't bother to look then my only recourse is to live with that which I can't deal with or leave.
So if the circumstance is one where I can't see myself remaining if the new status quo is kept then yes, I would snoop. And that may or may not work, but in that instance it could be the only thing that has a chance.
What's to be sorry for? My problem with "not many relationships would last more than a few years" is that they really don't, and they don't really need to. I mean, look at all those people in 15-20 year relationships: of the total number of relationships they've had, what percentage lasted more than a few years? I'm guessing they've all dated other people before finding their long-term partners, and that if you count the relationships they've actually had, very few of them lasted that long.
Example: I've been in maybe 15-20 relationships, maybe more depending what we count. Of those, only 1 has lasted more than a few years. So that's only about 5% of my relationships lasting more than a few years, tops.
I can't see that as a problem. I think it's fine that most relationships don't last more than a few years, because as far as I know, that's the right way to do it--you have a lot that don't work out, then one that does, and you stay in that one. Most people don't need (or find) multiple decade-plus relationships. Almost all of mine ended after a week, a month, a year, whatever; only one made it past the "few years" mark, and that's fine by me. As far as I know, I'm pretty normal for my friends--most of them have been in quite a few relationships, with usually only one lasting more than a few years.
It occurs to me that maybe you meant that no relationships would last more than a few years, which makes more sense to me but I don't really agree with.
Anyway, back to snooping:
"No, not just a feeling. Sometimes you have some form of evidence. Behavioral evidence mostly, but still something happens that makes you suspicious."
It's impossible to tell, from the inside, when you have evidence, and when you just have a random suspicion that makes you see evidence where there is none. That's because it looks identical--in both cases, you're seeing evidence--so the experience is exactly the same. No one knows that they're imagining things, because that's not what imagining things feels like.
The experience of being paranoid is not going "Wow, I feel like I am imagining that people are out to get me." The experience of being paranoid is saying "People seem to be out to get me." If you having an eye problem that's making you see red as grey, your internal experience is not "I'm seeing that red thing as grey," your internal experience is "That's grey."
Telling a person who is either looking at something grey, or having an eye problem--there's no way to tell which--that they should snoop if they're seeing something grey is telling them to snoop in both circumstances.
It's good advice for people who are very trusting and would never feel suspicious without a reason for it, but almost everyone thinks they're one of those people.
"Because some issues can be fixed if you can only get them out in the open. And the other person may be misreading the severity of the situation which prompts them to not want to deal with it head on. Sometimes forcing the issue can end up in a resolution. If not then the worst that happens is the relationship ends, which is what would probably happen anyway. But in some instances a relationship can be saved if you can only get everything on the table in the open."
This I agree with completely. I've been in basically that circumstance myself, and (my) snooping brought the confrontation that might have been necessary. It might not have, though, and could have been extremely destructive (snooping can never offer a negative result--either you find some kind of misconduct, or you haven't found it yet). It can't find proof of innocence.
The way you worded it implied, to me, not that simply most relationships don't last more than a few years, but that you didn't know of many people that eventually did have one that lasted more than that, which is different.
"I don't know many people who've had many relationships last more than a few years. "
Certainly most don't last more than a few years, but most people eventually end up in one that does, and I would expect most people to know plenty of people have relationships that last more than a few years. Sorry if I miss-read your comment.
All said, it's irrelevant if the one that you are in is one that you WANT to last, but something comes up that gets in the way. It doesn't really matter to the person in the situation how many relationships in the big picture don't last if the one they are in is one they thought would.
"It's impossible to tell, from the inside, when you have evidence, and when you just have a random suspicion that makes you see evidence where there is none"
Have to disagree. Sure, there is always more room for doubt when you are working subjectively, but that doesn't equate to impossible, or at least with in the realm of making a reasonable conclusion.
I know the difference between behavior changes, evasiveness and secretive actions and simple insecurities. And I think many people are perfectly capable of telling the difference.
As for someone seeing red as gray, that's simple color blindness, and most color blind people figure out fairly early that they are color blind and understand that they aren't seeing what other people see.
"but almost everyone thinks they're one of those people."
I know plenty of people who know they aren't one of those people, and so pay extra attention to their behaviors. Dan gets no shortage of letters from people who are, in essence, admitting that they are jealous or not very trusting and so are asking his, more objective opinion. I don't think people are as un-self-aware as you do.
"It can't find proof of innocence. "
It can if what you are looking for is something that is predictive. But even if not if the situation is one where you will walk if you can't figure out how to fix it then you have nothing to lose because the relationship will end anyway.