Savage Love Letter of the Day: Come On, Snoopy

Comments

1
Damn fine advice.
I'm sorry you're sick, Dan. It hasn't affected your writing at all.
2
Sending texts of what he'd like to do with her along with having chaste and familiar conversations with her mom? Yeah, that's messed up. I snooped once in a hopelessly broken relationship when I should have exited and it certainly didn't help, but I wasn't married to them. I don't know what to tell her, but he's probably lying about breaking off contact with them both. I don't know how you casually extricate yourself from that entanglement with a shrug.
3
I don't know, Dan. I'm not saying she should leave. But I think this is more than "oh he's attracted to another woman, just like you're attracted to that cute barista, and this is just some harmless flirting, like the kind you do with that cute barista."

The fact is that if I'm attracted to a cute barista, I may or may not see him when I go to get my latte. If I do see him, I might only have a moment to smile at him before I have to rush off to work or because he's absolutely swamped. We flirt publicly, with others around, at his place of work, so nothing overtly sexual or too explicit gets said. And no one could see this as a private conversation. In fact, even if my husband was with me, I could be a little friendly and flirtatious--smiling too broadly, speaking more animatedly--and it wouldn't be something that anyone could find fault with unless they were really insanely and unreasonably jealous. When I've had barista-type-crushes in the past, my husband or boyfriends have heard about them--enough to infer anyway, that I have a crush on this guy about whom I tell funny stories all the time. It's not secret; it's out in the open, it's clearly not going anywhere. I may know his name, but I don't know his phone number and I'm not calling him. I only see him by chance, not by intention and mutual pre-arrangement. This to me is the nature of a barista-flirtation.
This is different.

This man goes to significant lengths to keep these interactions secret. He has long private phone and text conversations with a woman his wife knows about and is insecure of and the wife has already told him that his continuing to have private conversations with her makes her (the wife) unhappy. He's promised to no longer have such conversations. He's repeatedly broken that promise. At least one of these conversations was explicitly sexual. He's hiding the flirtation. While it may be an innocent flirtation, for the purposes of stroking his ego or what have you, he's not treating it as an innocent flirtation, and he's doing it against the express wishes of his wife, and in violation of a promise he made her.

Maybe you'd say this is similar to a DADT porn policy, wherein the husband lies and says that he's not watching any and the wife pretends to believe him and doesn't go looking for evidence to disprove him. But it sounds as if within this marriage, the kind of real-time, real-life conversations the husband is having with this woman venture into the category of things defined jointly as cheating.

I think the wife has every reason to be upset and a good reason to suspect there's more to this than some innocent barista-crush-style flirtation. Again, I'm not saying that she should leave but I think you were too cavalier and your comparison is a poor one.
4
I usually agree with Dam, but not this time. Husband has life on the side and is lying about it. Dan's advice is, "Pretend it isn't happening ."
5
This is the sort of letter that makes me glad that a) I'm a raving faggot and b) that I made it clear to my husband when we first me that monogamy was off the table and if he wanted that, he should move along.

Nine years later, we're very happy people. I fuck around less often than I would like but often enough to keep me happy.

The LW sounds like a crazy person. If my husband policed my fucking phone calls I would leave in a second. But he's not crazy and it would never occur to him to do so. In fact, I can hold up my phone and say "look at the hot guy who just hit on me on Growlr." And he laughs and says "yeah, he's hot" and he smiles and goes back to Tekken 6.
6
@ 5, Same here. I'm so glad that I'm not in a sexually possessive relationship; the conjugal paranoia and suspicious distrust sound like hell. Thankfully, some people can separate sexual fidelity and emotional fidelity.
7
@5, 6: I don't think the lw sounds crazy. Negotiated nonmonogamy is fine, but the key word is "negotiated." And I don't think this is a straight v. gay thing, either.

This couple promised to adhere to a level of monogamy in which they " agreed our relationship is monogamous and what that means is no interaction of a sexual nature with anyone else—including cams, or chats, or texting. Look at photos on Cragislist all you want, and indulge that porn addiction you acquired as a lonely single guy—I don't care, but keep it out of the real world. "

Regardless of whether or not you like your relationships to work this way, this is the arrangement they made, and he's flagrantly breaking it and going to lengths to disguise that. The lw has spent too much hand-wringing time beating herself up for snooping, Dan tells her that she should ignore all this, and now you are calling her crazy.

8
He's a liar. He made a commitment he didn't honor and he didn't offer her the courtesy of knowing the truth and deciding whether she wanted to continue the relationship under the new terms. She should stop delaying the inevitable and move on.
9
Here's what sticks in my craw: The fact that he has explicitly stated that his previous marriage ended because his wife felt he was being unfaithful, although he claims it wasn't true. That's a damn set up if I ever heard one - now any feeling LW has can be viewed through the lens of "are you a paranoid crazy like my ex??" That's not fair to LW - she wasn't part of that marriage and should not be manipulated into setting her own feelings aside because of what happened in his first marriage.

And the truth is, this guy is being dishonest. She is rightfully questioning the extent of whatever is happening. He gets mad at her because she snoops, she is feeling guilty because she snoops. But sometimes people snoop because something is sitting wrong with them, and they have questions. I'm not saying this is the best way to handle that, but LW doesn't provide much background about the source of her insecurities. Is she insecure by nature - has this happened in other relationships, etc. - or is this only happening in this relationship? Did she start snooping because she was picking up on things that make her uncomfortable, and she was trying to get some answers, or perhaps simply reassure herself? I think those are important questions that need to be addressed. I think anyone who breaks the agreements, and then gets pissed when someone catches them, is not acting with integrity. If he is a hopeless flirt, then he needs to be up front about that, and not pretend to go along with the level of monogamy the LW wants. As far as this mother is concerned, I thought perhaps he was talking to the woman when she was at her mother's house - a perfectly plausible way to camouflage the conversation. At any rate, he is putting some effort into hanging on to this other woman, after he agreed not to. If it were me, I wouldn't be able to tolerate that kind of dishonesty.
10
@7 She polices his phone calls and snoops constantly. Who can endure that level of scrutiny? It's batshit crazy behavior. You cannot know every thing your spouse thinks/wants/fantasizes about. You shouldn't want to know that. It's a level of crazy that I can't possibly imagine enduring (but did 15 years ago and it made me turn into an insane person too).

She claims she likes not having to work full time, but maybe she has way to much time on her hands. GET A JOB, LW. Then you won't have time to obsess about every person your husband calls and talks to on the phone.

In other words, GROW UP and behave like an adult, not some 16 year old girl.
11
Poor baby. Hope you get better soon. Your smart arse, sense of humour is still on the money.
LW; for gods sake. Give all that shit away, please. Men, as we know are useless lying pieces of shits. Whom one can't trust. No, those weren't the words I wanted to put down. Where did they come from?
Jealousy. It is a shit. Jealousy. Horrible, eating away at the heart emotion. Stop indulging it, LW.
And trust your husband, is in His life. Just like you should be in Yours.
Yes. That text he sent to his friend, sounds a little problematic. And yes, sounds like he's still in touch with her. So what? You order him to stop seeing/ contacting her? That would go down a treat.
Not a good feel here. All that snooping. All that mistrust. Him having to hide his friends from you. You sure this marriage is really going ok?
12
IDK the 'he emails her mom too' thing kinda jumps out at me. Whats up with that? It implies a different level of friendship then mere non-serious flirting.

She needs to drop the snooping and the prurient mindset. The question at this point, now that she has the info, is what is the social connection between her husband, the other woman and the other woman's mother. I'd bet it is not sexual, that the flirting is just kicks and giggles a result of a deeper knowledge of each others lives.
13
The hubs and I have a fantastic incredible relationship - end stop. Why go looking for shit you don't really want to know? And if you've got a great relationship, whatever is happening doesn't appear be detrimental and may actually be helping it.

I seriously don't get the mindset that makes people want to find shit that's only going to cause them grief and hurt their relationships. Why purposely look for something to fuck up your good thing?

14
As for the LW, your options are basically to get over it or to confront him. If you confront him, be prepared for whatever you learn and the reality it may be a deal breaker. And if you can't get over it and holding it in will end up being detrimental to your relationship, confronting him seems like your only option. I hope you're ready for what you learn in that conversation. Good luck.
15
@5; I want to be a gay Man.
16
this doesnt come down to hetero/homo intrepretation, but more of a female/male difference . look at the comments and the usernames

generally speaking, men are wired differently when it comes to attraction, sex, thrill seeking, risk tolerance and other traits. this guy has some attraction or thrill he gets to maintain by being in contact with her. or perhaps its some bastion of his freedom or independence he is maintaining.

but yes, theres a small chance he is cheating - quite small, but there is a chance.

the question is if you confront him about this, how does it play out? if you really need to bring the issue up, do it on a day off, when there's no stress. calmly say you noticed that he's still in contact with this woman, and its ok, but you would like to meet her and hang out (the three of you) over lunch or coffee or ? i think you will be able to tell from his reaction, and/or her reaction if you all meet, if theres someting going on to be worried about.
17
The phone call to the GF's mother could simply be that the GF was at her mother's house.

Or maybe the husband has a thing for older women (his wife is 12 years older).
18
@10: "In other words, GROW UP and behave like an adult, not some 16 year old girl."

The husband's the one acting like a toddler.
19
Nocute; and, these rules have served them how?
I'm only on the " Have they got children, Police force" When there's children, whole different ball game, to me.
These two, no children, I'm guessing.
He continued contact with this woman and she continued snopping.

Neither of them have stuck to their own arrangement. Both of them, are untrustworthy . Sounds like big trouble in paradise, to me.
20
I'm with nocutename. They had an agreement (per the LW), he violated that agreement, and then he lied about it. This isn't just something he's thinking about or fantasizing about in the privacy of his own mind - discussing sex acts goes beyond casual flirting and his relationship with the other woman is clearly personal, something they had agreed was out of bounds. If she wants to stay with him she's probably going to have to accept that he's going to do this (and possibly even cheat on her at some point); if she can't do that she should find someone else.

And yeah, LW probably is wound too tight and could stand to loosen up. But this is a guy who has strongly advertised himself as strictly monogamous, claimed to be falsely accused of cheating in his previous relationship, and has lied about his relationship with the OW. He's clearly got some issues.

If Dan wasn't sick he might have remembered that he's excused snooping in the past if it uncovered a real problem; the fact that this guy's price of admission is his inability to be honest about what he's doing or what he wants from relationships qualifies IMO.
21
The other option is to renegotiate their agreement, but I don't think the LW is up for that. Nor does she have good reason to believe that he'd stick to the new terms. He sounds like a boundary-pusher; so does she.
22
Each of them has at least one negative quality each.
From the LW:
Look at photos on Cragislist all you want, and indulge that porn addiction you acquired as a lonely single guy—I don't care, but keep it out of the real world.
She's certainly doing some horndog shaming with the porn description.

Her husband:
No longer able to talk or text with the other woman on his personal cellphone, he's now making calls on his work line. How lovely (spoken with derisive sarcasm) that he has the kind of job (especially in this economy) where he can take the time for long personal conversations on the job. What would happen were his unauthorized calls monitored and he was caught? Depending on his seniority, etc., he might not still have that secure job that allows the LW to not have to work.
23
I'm guessing Dan, you threw MWC's letter out there, cause you just knew it would grab someone's fancy.
Yes, MWC. Have to agree with Dan, your wife sounds a little crazy.
So, what could you do? How to like, stand up to this woman and remind her that your cock is in your pants, not hers.
She's going to divorce you, over an email like that? And you believe her?
And you like to feel desirable to other women? That is not a problem.

Your wife is a little stuck somewhere. Easy to do, especially with children around. People can forget, that they are seperate people- sharing love and tasks together.
My generous, remembering my own crazy jealous mind days with children with a man, suggestion is;
Take this woman off for a fun weekend somewhere. Not some Sleeze place. Go where some top musicians are playing. She can be reminded of human sexuality, thru the beat of those drums. Hell, she might even look at one of those cute men playing, and feel a little twinge in her cunt.
24
@1 i don't know about you, but I didn't see any advice offered in this column.

but anyhow, none of these people should really be with each other. obviously on paper, these are great partners... but this day-to-day stuff, makes it sound like torture.

My advice would be to do your best to put the shoe on the other feet... right or wrong, if your husband was up in your business - monitoring the entirety of your social life, INVESTIGATING any contact you had with someone they didn't already know. You'd be filing for divorce from your controlling asshole husbands. The truth sucks, but AIA, you're the asshole. Can you change? Probably not, most people can't change; but give yourself the benefit of the doubt of ignorance and assume that, if you can see how destructive your behavior is to the relationship (and the odds that your hubbies behavior is, in fact, not [very] destructive), that you can change .
25
Either of the husbands could say, 'You don't want me to flirt with other women. Unfortunately, I now know myself well enough that this is not something I can promise you. I'll never sleep with anyone else, but I need the thrill of desiring other women and being desired. If that's a dealbreaker for you, we are not going to work.' This needs to be on the table. Then the wife can make a clear decision whether to leave.

I loathe pressure to be dishonest about what both parties want, or judging anyone for feeling jealous. I've learned that I can't bear my partner becoming emotionally attached to someone that he's also sexually interested in. Right or wrong, that's the way it is. I could be very happy with a chap like my previous FWB, who could flirt or sleep with tons of women and not pine after any of them, but I wouldn't be able to bear the intense focus of the first LW's husband on one other woman. It doesn't matter who's right or what people should put up with; the key is compatibility in what they want and what they can deal with.
26
@3 and @4 have it right. The barista example stood out to me as a false analogy too. And I don't buy that anyone would go to such lengths to maintain and hide a mere innocent flirtation even after it had come up as an issue in their marriage.

Oh, and LavaGirl @11:
Men, as we know are useless lying pieces of shits. Whom one can't trust. No, those weren't the words I wanted to put down. Where did they come from?
If those weren't the words you wanted to put down (presumably because you know you sound like an asshole), then why are they there? Is your delete key not working?
27
Snooping is a pain, from both directions. Snooping and finding things you wish you hadn't found is a bigger pain. But you've been together 8 years, and this is the first time this issue has come up? Hmmmm.
28
I'm with nocutename and miss piggy. It's a great point that this guy says he was falsely accused of cheating, is super loyal and could never cheat, yet the LW feels he can't be trusted and he did indulge in text flirtation. Wanna bet his last marriage ended similarly? Their relationship is clearly dysfunctional - her snooping is at a level that's scary and abusive too - and if they can't get to a level of radical honesty about what fidelity means to each of them, they need to get away from each other.
29
A snooping spouse really is a pain in the ass, especially when you're trying to conduct a couple of secret relationships, amirite?

@12 is correct -- the husband's long conversations with this other woman's mother shows that something more than a mere innocent flirtation is going on. These two are more than casually involved with each other.

Is the LW crazy? I dunno, maybe. Sometimes living with a liar can drive someone to paranoia and crazy behavior like snooping.

The husband has broken the terms of their marriage through the nature of his contact with this woman and the LW has broken her promise to stop snooping, so they're kind of even. She should just come clean about the snooping and confront him about the other woman. If that's a deal breaker for him, then so be it. The relationship they have now isn't healthy anyway, so maybe they're better off ending it.

PS: feel better, Dan!
30
@26. My apologies. Something just came over me.
maybe,because in some women's minds, there are these thoughts about men?
Discuss.
31
I agree with Ms. Cute & all the other posters who think the husband is up to something with the other woman. Whatever the degree of something it clearly violates the agreement this couple made to each other, whether we think that agreement is realistic for us personally, or not.

I replayed this scenario in my head, imagining one of my three brothers calling me, describing this behavior in a girlfriend or wife of theirs. Do not like; it just sounds shady.

This is one of those cases where snooping is bad, sure - but, the LW's Spider-Sense was tingling. I'm w/ @very_very_vera @9 especially: this guy completely primed this exact situation to occur, saying that his previous marriage ended for cheating accusations..but oh it didn't happen..now don't mind him while he behaves in every way like a cheating person.

I don't snoop, in general. But if my suspicions were as tested as the LW's, IDK that I for-sure *wouldn't*.

Dan, drink your soup! Get better. I'm seconding on reminding you that you've given snoopers a pass when they've turned up evidence their hunches were right. This woman's boundaries may not be your or my boundaries, but they were what the couple agreed to & they seem to have been clearly violated. The wife may be provoking a fight when asking about this..she knows she will..but maybe that's exactly the script from the husband's previous marriage. Mebbe he's a gaslighter. I don't necessarily think they need to call divorce lawyers but you really sounded, to me, like you were basically telling the LW to suck it up. :/
32
Also, it'll likely play out as illustrated by @14 if she confronts him, but I don't think she's gonna be able to ignore it.
33
Why do people take sides on this? It seems to me that these two are perfect for each other: they both promised each other something they had no intention of keeping. They're both liars, they're both insanely insecure, and neither of them can face each other about it.

Here's a suggestion: both of you stay together, to make sure you don't inflict your insane misery on anyone else.
34
Re@11. Having let that gem cross over to words. Yes, I didn't trust my husband. Always felt he was checking his options with other women.
And we had five children together. And this diversion he'd get into, like see how attractive I really am to these other women- took energy away from sharing the work with our children. Took energy away from him really working with me as a peer. He didn't cheat, just this threat felt like it was always there.
Other men, before him? Hard to remember that far back.
35
Cont; of course, what sort of an idiot was I, having children with a man who wasn't quite on board with the real work of working with a woman, in such a big task.
All I can come to, is I expected no
More. The men of my generation, coming of age coinciding with 70s Feminism, still held very 50s mind sets. As did I.
Hopefully, younger people have benefitted from the rise of women's demands to be in on the story.
36
@3: "This man goes to significant lengths to keep these interactions secret."
Why? Because the wife is freaking out about them. Duh! You can tell your partner about the cute barista because your partner will smile and think it's sweet. LW's husband can't tell LW about the old friend/flame/whoever she is because LW will accuse him of infidelity. Like his ex-wife did. Either he's subconsciously seeking out paranoid women, or, perhaps @9 is correct and he's cunningly pre-empting accusations of cheating by making his current wife want to avoid the sins of the last one.

I agree that this LW sounds crazy. Either she trusts him or she doesn't; clearly she doesn't, so the relationship is in real trouble whether he is actually cheating or not. I think the LW should seek help to get over her paranoia. A counsellor could also help her unpick whether there's fire or just smoke, as she's incapable of accurately judging the difference.

And yes, I did just use the word "crazy" to describe a woman in a case where the facts presented (by the woman herself) warranted such a conclusion.
37
@33: High five :)
38
When I hear accounts like this, I want to reassure the snooper: you do not die of being cheated on. There's a sort of cultural belief that being cheated on is the worst thing that can happen to a person; at the same time, many - maybe most - people walking around have been cheated on.

LW: Your efforts probably couldn't prevent him cheating, if he decided to, so sit for a moment with the possibility. What would happen if he cheated, and you didn't immediately know? You would probably find out before too long, even without snooping. Cheating is a big secret, and unless your husband is a sociopath, it would come out. And that would hurt; that would hurt like a mad motherfucker.
But it wouldn't hurt more than tearing apart your marriage trying to find out sooner than later.
Yes, you are saying but I would feel like a fool! I'd be a dupe! No. Nothing that somebody ELSE does can diminish you. If he cheats, it's his failure to keep his vow, not your failure to prevent him from breaking it.
The only way to be absolutely certain that no lover will ever fool you, is not to have lovers at all.
Learn to live with the fear of being hurt. You don't have to act on it or do something to push it away. Do other things. Have accomplishments and friends and follow passions. If you are fully engaged in your life, the fear will diminish on its own.
Which doesn't mean he won't cheat, just that if he does, you'll eventually find out, and you will get through it.
That said, explicitly sexual texts seem well beyond flirting to me, if not quite rising to the level of cheating. We need a new word. Chirting?
39
I am with nocutename and others. The guy seems like he is cheating or wants to.

I like at @16's approach. If his friendship with other women is truly innocent, then invite her for them to lunch.
40
I strongly disagree that the husband is doing harmless flirting.
41
Yeah I'm gonna have to assume explicitly talking about the sexual things you want to do to each ither is more then "harmless flirting". In my experience as a sometimes CPOS (we've all got flaws, right?) I cannot imagine this being harmless in anyway.

That said, it seems super unhealthy all around. My gut feeling is that even if this WAS innocent and even if she never found anything while snooping, she would never find peace. If she found nothing a year ago because there actually WAS nothing, she'd just assume he was hidi ng his tracks well. And if you're that invested in snooping AND as insecure as she is, youre eventually going to find something to be upset about, even if you're married to Mr. Faithful.

To me, it sounds like the age imbalance is something she is unable to reconcile with and she's always going to assume that sooner or later, he's going to trade in for a younger model.

I feel for her, because I don't see any happy ending for her. Either he's a CPOS and she's going to get her heart broken or he's innocent and her insecurity will eventually either drive him away or her fears will become a self fulfilling prophecy.

But if I had to bet, I'd say he's a CPOS
42
It doesn't really matter if he's cheating or not, though it looks strongly like he is or is about to. The critical fact is that she doesn't trust him and she never has and she never will. Her possessive, paranoid snooping and the somewhat incriminating information she has uncovered has doomed this relationship. She will never be happy with him or herself when they are together.

So, she should:

1. divorce him; and
2. get some counseling to help her get over this personal problem she has so that she doesn't doom her future relationships with the same poison.

Or, alternatively, she could do what I did when I undertook rock climbing as a hobby to help me get over my fear of heights, and open up the relationship and attempt to embrace non-monogamy as a way of dealing with her trust issues. Since this marriage is doomed anyway, it might be worth a shot.
43
Oh and ven: my first marriage was to a woman; my second to a man. Saying "my first wife" seems easier than "my first spouse, a woman".
44
He's not talking to her mom! The other woman was at her mother's house, on a safe line (number that won't be recognized). LOL at the thought he's chatting up her mom. Something's going on, but not THAT much.
45
If they both had read Dr. Laura's 'Ten Stupid Things Women/Men Do To Mess Up Their Lives" they would have avoided this altogether.
46
There's no way she is going to be able to stop this behaviour just because Dan says so. She needs therapy to get over this obsession. My guess is that her husband's attempts to avoid being accused of anything make him look guiltier than he is.

I like flirting with other men. Then I tell my partner about it and it gets him all hot and bothered, knowing other men are attracted to me. The reverse also occurs. Jealous is a stupid, useless waste of time and energy. I feel very sorry for both of them, trapped in this ridiculous emotional torture of their own making.
47
@22: "She's certainly doing some horndog shaming with the porn description."

Who cares? She wants him to keep it OUT OF THE REAL WORLD, which is where this becomes a problem.
48
Damn you, @33! You beat me to the "they deserve each other."
49
I wonder if NyQuill amplifies one's impulse to be charitable in a way that favors delusional thinking. While there is obviously no concrete proof, you'd be naive to believe that the evidence favors, beyond reasonable doubt, anything but lies and fucking and more fucking. Yeah, they probably deserve each other, but since she's asking for advice, and infidelity is a deal breaker, the correct advice is: DTMFA. But I suppose if you want her to join you in your cloud of delusion, at least advise her to use protection and get herself tested regularly so that she can intercept the inevitable infections early on.

Hope you feel better (and more lucid) soon, Dan! I hear the bug going around is rough.
50
@Lava -- "This diversion he'd get into, like see how attractive I really am to these other women- took energy away from sharing the work with our children. Took energy away from him really working with me as a peer. He didn't cheat, just this threat felt like it was always there."

It would all depend how your husband went about it of course--how in your face he was with the whole thing--but me I find flirting and etc with someone who is not my wife actually gives me energy, feeds a charge that makes the soul-sucking energy drain of everyday life more bearable. Makes me a better husband/dad. Keeps my spirits up. If I had a wife standing beside me, nagging and berating me for every perceived transgression (never mind snooping through my stuff at a virtuoso level, fuck!), the sludge already in the gears would just get thicker, and domestic life would be that much more of an effort.

None of which is meant to take away from what a conniving asshole this particular LW's husband sounds like. But careful what you snoop for, you might just find it! Sucka. Now what? Maybe she needs to re-examine exactly what it is she fears, and why, and how important it is to her. Then her answer should be clear.
51
@41 armyguy; " Age Imbalence"

Trade in for a younger model.
Well, those are some cultural attitudes one could wish to see the end of.
And yes, they are cultural issues, when it's the man who is younger than the woman.
We do Not hear those attitudes when the man is older. And a 12 yr difference, where the woman is younger,
Is nothing. Nothing.
And you guys, some of, wonder why women are still calling foul.
" trade in for a younger model", like we are fucking cars!
52
I agree with nocutename, it's a different kind of flirtation, and one that makes taking the next step of doing something more much easier. You probably can't take any next step with porn (unless you somehow know or can find who you're looking at), but you *can* take a next step with a texting person. It's a slippery slope and he's already on it, because he's going against the "this is cheating" rule they hammered out.

As a thought experiment, ask why porn is ok, but texting is not. Because there is another live human involved? (Then barista flirting should be off limits, too.) Is it the reciprocity involved that bugs you? Not just that he wants something else, like to look at someone, but that someone wants him back? That can be threatening- so is that what you're reacting to? Really, then that boils down to trust- and hey, we know you have a trust thing, you're snooping- and it says you don't trust what he's ultimately saying, that he loves you and wouldn't leave you for someone else. Of course you already can't trust what he's saying on this texting point, he told you he'd stop and he didn't. So really is it you're afraid he will leave?

SIt with that. Is it a fear of abandonment, or are you jealous that someone else is more important, or as important, or any sort of important and you want to be the only one to him?

Because he hasn't left you. But, he has lied, and someone else is some kind of important to him. And, you snooped, but he continued to deceive you when you found out. And now /you've/ lied- you promised you wouldn't do it any more, and you did. So you're both even on transgressions and lying. Lovely.

So to me, it's not the flirting that's in and of itself a problem (except that you said it was wrong, I know), to me, for me, it's the lying. For both of you. If you'll either one of you lie about this, it makes any next lie easier, too. I'd either put it all out on the table and renegotiate- change this thing that you've agreed on (no texting is flirting) to be allowed (texting is not flirting) and be ok (texting is now allowed), and then he doesn't have to lie, and you don't have to snoop, you know he's doing it. This means you are allowing that another person can be important to him and that it's not necessarily a threat to you, and it doesn't necessarily mean he'll leave you. He can still get what he is from that relationship- it's obviously been important enough for him to lie over it. Why does he need it? Probably more what Dan suggested, he wants to be wanted.

Or agree to do the DADT thing and if he doesn't parade it past you, you agree to not go looking for it, although you don't seem inclined or suited to be able to do this, because you also have a jealous thing. If that's the case, or you don't want to renegotiate, you can take Dan's advice, to ignore it, but for another reason- accept it as one of the lubricating lies long term relationships need- or you can call it a deal breaker and break up. The thing is, you both broke the deal. He lied and you lied. He cheated under your rules, and you snooped. But this choice says your relationship is important enough to take this into account, that he is doing something you don't want, but that you can live with it in order to stay together. Can you? Is it?

Or here's another thing you could try- talk about what he's texting, and text each other instead. Maybe that would reignite something. Or maybe removing the illicit thrill will make it not as important to him, and then you have learned something else- it's the sneaking he likes, not as much the person. I'd like to know if that were the case, either way.

Something is going on here, otherwise there wouldn't be all the lies to protect it. I'd want to suss out exactly what it is, and see if it's the person that's a true threat, or the thrill he feels he needs badly enough to risk his relationship with you. Because you have all the power here- you can decide whether you can live with it or not, and then allow it to happen, or leave. You cannot make him stop, sorry, you tried and it didn't work. Only he can decide to. If he does, great, but be clear on this- you cannot make him. It sounds like leaving would be uncomfortable- you don't have to work full time now, etc- but you aren't saying you're trapped, or being coerced, or have kids to be concerned about, so leaving isn't impossible. Don't talk yourself out of your options. If you choose to stay, don't tell yourself you didn't have a choice. If you can't stand it, leave. Your choice. He's been wrong, and you've been wrong. Deciding who's "wronger" is just beside the point now. Fix it, change it, accept it, or end it.

53
Thinking about what “we agreed” can mean is interesting. Towards the end of my relationship with my ex-from-hell I had more or less given up on any attempt to be heard.
EFH: Alison, could you pick something up at the university for me?
AC: Nope, I’m not in that part of town at all.
EFH: Alison, could you pick something up at the university for me?
AC: Yes.
EFH: [looks at me suspiciously as if she doesn’t believe me]

EFH would of course start snooping and asking questions to trap me into admitting that I wasn’t actually going to pick anything up at the university.

No idea if anything similar to this dynamic is going on, where one or both have a ‘correct answer’ in mind and refuse to hear anything else, but then they spend all their time with tingly spidey senses because Spidey was listening.
54
@16 has the best solution. If husband is truly uninvolved sexually / emotionally with this other woman, then he should be delighted to bring her over for dinner. If not then LW needs lots of counseling and probably a divorce lawyer.
0
Late@50. His style was not what you Described. it was just like a behind the scenes threat. I mean, rearing five kids takes it out of you, right? Might as well do it the best one can.
His vibe , was he was always one step removed from the work. Like it was my work and he was just helping.
The women angle, was a control of me thing. Psychic shit.
As I said, we both born early 50's. Even though Feminism came bursting thru as we hit our early 20s..a lot of our sexual politics patterns had been set .
55
Late, doesn't mean I didn't bring in all my Feminism, Marxism. Anti-Psychiatry etc training to my marriage.
Early 70s, everything was up for grabs, in Australia. Like it was in America. Earlier for you guys, of course.
Seriously though, why should I have had to train a man, as well as look after the children.
My sons have had a Feminist mother, and I can see the difference.

LW: I feel we need to look at this situation from a different point.
You've stepped out of your power. And I suggest you find a way, to get back into it.
A week's Woman's Retreat, might be a place to start.
We all concur. There are trust issues in your marriage. It's the basis of any solid relationship, trust. So you and your man, are in a bit of trouble. As you know.
Going the old confronting route, Will just alienate you both further from each other.
So just, stop the snopping. You don't need to know. Organize to get away to something strong. Buddhist retreat, Yoga or Women's one.
Return yourself to your own power. Then the way forward, may be clearer to you.
56
Late; forgot to mention the cultural
Eruptions in the Music, the Arts. They were very powerful yrs, 60s-70s.
57
Can of worms here. Sorry if I'm late.

He's definitely fucking the other woman. Nobody goes to those lengths to hide anything ‘innocent’.

I found the e-mails and text exchanges between my wife of 10 years and another man. I almost threw up. First she promised it was nothing, then when it kept escalating and I begged her to stop, she promised it would end. It didn't. Sometimes it went on right in front of me, she checking her phone at a protective angle, or deliberately not checking it in front of me. I kept monitoring up to a point. It went on for years. Eventually, I found the videos and photos I can never un-see.

It destroyed my trust in her, my outlook on women, broke my heart, and made be believe you can’t trust anyone (Thanks, honey!).

And Dan, maybe ‘innocent flirting’ means something else within the gay sub-culture. How can you equate ‘innocent flirting’ with your barista with explicit descriptions of sexual activity? Since when is it appropriate to you tell your barista which of their body parts you want to touch with which of yours?
58
They both violated their agreement with each other. I think she should involve someone too, not an advice columnist, but a similar intimate relationship confidante. She may judge his actions less harshly as she judges her own similar actions and their effect on the relationship. I also read the sexting, these things he wants in bed, differently. I assumed he was talking about what he wanted to do with his wife. If that's the case they need to negotiate a better sex life for him. If he was cheating, if he needed her to be faithful to him while he outsourced his sex needs, that's relationship extinction level selfishness in my opinion.

The advice left me thinking Dan had little imagination. If some major precept of his relationship was threatened, if he walked in to discover Terry's new afternoon delight of eating Sarah Palin. Could he forget what he saw and save his marriage? Would it be worth it to forget, since Terry was meeting all his needs the same as ever? Part of marital needs is intimacy, the ability to know your partner and to open up yourself to your partner. I think it would be tougher than he implies to pick up the shattered pieces of a deep belief about your partner. I'd like to hear more of Dan's opinions in this area. I wonder if he believes as I tend to, that as long as you're with someone who appears to be very self aware and genuine, that they aren't capable of nasty surprises. It's not a guarantee though, it's just hedging your bet.

I liked the idea about meeting this other woman herself, to judge the situation best. Also the idea to open the relationship. Reap what you've sown you pair of assholes is a nice thought too although probably not helpful.
59
As is the case with so many marital disputes, the issue is really about something else. The writer's first statement reveals a lot. A 12-year age difference. She most likely is very insecure about this. Is the insecurity over the age discrepancy the true basis of the matter? I think it's likely, since her snooping looks to be making him feel the same way she does. If so, the problem will only increase over time. And this would apply to both her and his behaviors. Since she's the older, the campfire rule applies. She's the one responsible to take the lead in getting to an honorable and healthy resolution.

Unfortunately, her current actions appear to be designed to drive him away. And thus, she also seems determined to martyr herself, and to make make both herself and her husband increasingly miserable over time. If she can't resolve her insecurity, it's her responsibility to end things in a positive manner.

If she's really GGG, maybe some role-play is in order. Each of them could set up alter-egos, with a long, drawn out period of online flirting and phone calls, culminating in a torrid "affair." The issue of the age difference, a subject too emotion laden to discuss in reality, should be addressed as part of the alter-ego role playing. This could serve to bring the subtext to the surface, and allow them to address the issue in a safe, sane, and exploratory way.
60
@LavaGirl
LW should just "think of England"?
61
@57: Yeah, sounds like he's most likely fucking her. You don't tell a person stuff like- "My husband expresses a very bad opinion of anyone who cheats, swears he never would and has told me one of the problems in his former marriage was that the ex accused him of cheating often and he insists was not doing that."

Then send a woman texts about how you're going to fuck her, then send chaste texts to her mom, then lie about all of this to your wife.

@59: This is looking at the situation in the wrong order.

The problems may exist because she married a POS manchild, but her problem is not the difference in ages. It's that he's a lying jerk. How she's handling this isn't great, but now that she knows that he is not ever to be trusted, what matters the most is what she does about it. If she can't deal with that the guy will definitely lie again and well into any new marriages he mistakenly stumbles into, she needs to get out. She's never going to be safe with this man.
62
Use the balance technique: on one hand, put what you get from the relationship, the good stuff, what makes you love him, what you could achieve together. On the other hand, put what makes you suffer, your jealousy, how much would you suffer by breaking up and the other bad stuff. Then try to decide which side weights more. If you decide to save your relationship, follow Dan's advice; if not, break up.
63
I mean "If she's really GGG, maybe some role-play is in order"

It's not going to solve the guy's needs if he's already taken his side relationship to sexual and emotional levels, and it'll just make her more paranoid and miserable. This is a terrible "solution" for their issues and the guy's nebulous relationship with the truth.
64
@62: "how much would you suffer by breaking up"

This is probably going to be poorly weighted, it's tough to predict how great leaving a fatally flawed relationship can feel until you drop that dead weight (moreso the situation than the partner.)
65
@60: say what? My words aren't clear enough for you?
I'm suggesting to LW, that she take her self away from the situation , for at least a week , longer would be better. To a place of healing for her.
These behaviours she and her husband are indulging in, need to stop.
She go away. Feel herself differently.
Like Not Defined By A Man.. And then see what she wants to do with her life.
66
@65
No, your words weren't clear. Sounded very woo-woo. Still do. "Like Not Defined By A Man" as if men are not defined by women. People are all defined by each other.

The idea of getting away from the situation for a week or so is a good idea, Just get some distance etc.

But @16's asking her to dinner to join them both (LW and husband) is also very good.
67
porn addiction

Crazy bitch right there.
68
LW should call her husband's ex and ask her what led her to believe he was cheating. My guess - similar communications with the same woman.
69
@67 misogynist
70
@67: He could always be the Mars Hill style of gaslighter who blames his misbehaviors on "addiction".

Either way, she claims to have no problem with non-mutual sexual gratification through watching porn, and the guy has a stated history of cheating on his partners. His admitting the behavior in this case suggests the likelihood of him lying about cheating on his ex-wife.
71
@68: More cathartic post-divorce, it's not going to help her beforehand.
72
@58: " I also read the sexting, these things he wants in bed, differently. I assumed he was talking about what he wanted to do with his wife. "

Yes, I wondered about that. Given her overall pattern, starting with knowing ALL the passwords and apparently checking everything regularly to industriously root out any wrongdoing, her chosen wording -- "a long text full of descriptions of desired sexual activities" -- kind of stuck out to me as weasel words to inflate the transgression. Surely if he had actually texted that he wanted to do these things with this woman, that LW would have called him out on exactly that in the letter? Because that unquestionably cements the transgression, whereas the wording she chose to use seems conspicuous in its ambiguity.
73
C&d; very woo hoo?
Going on a Buddhist Retreat etc is woo hoo? Right.
Well this letter isn't from a man, it's from a woman. So I talk with her, about trying to strengthen herself, her Mind- so what this man does, is not driving her to become a flaming lunatic.
She stops living her life Defined by what her husband does or may do.
Not suggesting she drop the ball and leave him. Just take in some Healing energy from others, see how that effects her perspective.
She then has to go back and find a way forward with her man.
Sounds like a lot of this relationship is positive. Her suspicions and his shady behaviour, need to be put under a spotlight. By both of them. You know, as adults.
74
Above post ref@66. Sorry C&d, you said woo woo.
Being defined by others, is not an ideal state, I feel. You follow one person's definition of self, you gotta change it for the next.
Best to define oneself..
75
@74
We voluntarily try to shape ourselves to meet others' needs. We can pretend otherwise -- though not sure why -- but such grooming to please others is the basis of personality. Only insane people don't care.
76
C&d, @75.
We have responsibilities to others. That's different.
Being defined by others' , in how one really is inside. Others' trying to contain one. Or, in the case of women, sexualize
One.
Looking after others, of course, we shape ourselves to what is needed.
77
He's contacting the other woman through her mother's landline. He is totally being sneaky and lying to her. And not being very good about it, because a smart cheater would get a burner phone. And she's being sneaky and snooping, but he's giving her some reason to do it. Starting with the whole bit where he's manipulating her through the "my ex accused me of cheating when I wasn't" which makes him look guilty. She doesn't want to be like the ex, but maybe the ex was onto something, huh? He's protesting too much against cheating. He's no better than a religious man who rails vehemently against sex and then is out finding him some on the side.
You need to DTMA. You are obviously miserable, and it sounds like so is he. Otherwise, he wouldn't be sneaking around to talk to this other woman.
78
That level of being controlling is abuse, and that level of being a sneaky sonofabitch is either being a CPOS or close enough to it. I'm with 33; they should stay married, because otherwise someone else might get stuck dealing with their bullshit, and no one deserves that.

No one else, at least.
79
@61: Don't forget that she is also a lying jerk.
80
@79
And you are a harsh judgemental asshole.
81
@80: So am I, which is why I'm so comfortable pointing out that you're an idiot. Feel better?
82
@69 Sorry Sirkowski. I know you can be pithy and awesome too.
83
@81
how are you involved? I wasn't talking to you.
84
@81
WTF
If you are going to be a jerk, be clear about it.
85
As a guy that has fallen into this trap before, I'll tell you that outside validation is a very powerful drug. While I knew my wife loved (and still loves) me, knowing that I was still interesting and attractive and appealing boosted my ego and raised my heartrate. Technology makes these types of emotional affairs very easy. Like MWC, I got caught. We worked through it with the help of counseling and talking and her shedding a lot of tears. I decided that because my wife was the most important thing to me, I cut off contact not only with the woman I was flirting with (but had never met in person, let alone touched), but also some exs from years ago that I was friendly with well before I met my now wife. I alsog gave my wife full access to all of my records such as phone/email/social acounts. She used to look often, but now doesn't as much as she's working to regain trust. I don't regret any of those decisions.

Everyone wants to be wanted. I still have the desire to have that validation, but it's not worth what I have in my marriage, not even close. If the guy can't stop himself, or at least explain himself, or at least be honest about it, maybe he needs to really rethink what's most important, that validation or his marriage.
86
Funny thing - if I were married to a woman who was 12 years older than I was I would be freaking out that I was married to LW1. But being single I can be assured that my relationship with an old girlfriend / former friends with benefits is not the one being discussed. As such I would like to come to the defense of LW1's husband that a) you can stay in contact with an old girlfriend and her mom b) that there can be some flirtation and sex talk and c) that NOTHING will actually come of all of it.

For close to 15 years I have kept in contact with my first girlfriend from high school and we have a similar relationship to LW1's husband. The two of us talk on the phone about once a month and sometimes sex and relationships come up during the call, but the nature of those conversations is like two guys discussing how they played football in high school and how one of them recently joined an ultimate frisbee team - comparing current events and referring back to a shared experience. And since we knew each other from high school, that means I also know her mother and occasionally the two of us will chat as well.

I would recommend that LW1 do the following:
1) Stop the aggressive snooping - If this was a man going over his wife's phone records and emails, I would expect the comments section to be filled with people saying "this is abusive behavior" and telling the wife to DTMFA
2) See a therapist - The level of snooping and jealousy will destroy your relationship either by making you so unhappy and distrusting of your husband OR it will drive him away from you.
87
As a single woman, I wish that guys in relationships would cut it out with the "harmless" messaging that they view as OK because "it isn't going to go anywhere." Unless they were up front about the fact that 1) they were in a relationship, and that 2) their goal was to exchange flirty messages but nothing more, they are being inconsiderate of the single woman's feelings and disrespectful of her time. Do they really think that women who are looking for a boyfriend (or at least something more than flirting) have nothing better to do than prop up their egos by responding to their texts and messages? Have they thought about anyone else's feelings at all?
88
Okay. Enough is enough. I've sat by and watched Dan give the advice that "cheating is better than divorce"---but is it? Really? Why the hell be married or in a committed relationship with somebody when you can't even be honest with them...sure, we're attracted to other people. Can we not just be honest about that? We have to undermine the relationship that we're in by LYING....

It's 2015....we can have/have not relationships. We are not bound by the old paradigm, and frankly I think it's completely chickens**t to cheat, contemplate cheating or have emotionally/sexually charged relationships with other people and NOT be HONEST about it. If you are really such a baby that you can't hear your partner's fantasies, consider--*perhaps* even negotiate LIKE f**king ADULTS how to construct a relationship that WORKS for both parties? Well, maybe we shouldn't be in committed relationships.
I'm really hating this "cheating is better than divorce" because really, it's not...it really isn't. Being a responsible adult comes with some accountability. Lying is a sh***y way to show someone you love and respect them....because you obviously don't.

I've been married 28 years with all the ups and downs that comes with it.....so I'm not just talking out of my a**. I can say that a whole lotta pain comes from lying and being an a**hole, and a whole lotta peace, freedom and love comes from just being HONEST....
89
In a way what she describes is like an anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder. I know that being paranoid about your lover straying is much more common and accepted but I wonder if it could be treated in a similar manner. Reduce the negative effects of the compulsion on her life with therapy or anxiety reducing medication. I have had issues with fixating on thoughts including worrying about impotence (in the middle of sex where I had been performing just fine) and found that a little bit of xanax was enough to turn off the anxiety like a switch and get back to enjoying myself.
90
@85 -- That first paragraph, yeesh. I was going to make an asshole comment about handing your testicles over in penance, but I won't because you have found a solution that works for you, and that's great. As long as that kind of self-denial and mea culpa doesn't set a standard. Fucking monogamy, man. So why is it bad and wrong to get a bit of unconsummated validation from outside sources? Is it because copious tears? That's some powerful logic.
91
@90 it's not "bad and wrong" if you never promised to avoid the "unconsummated validation" (ie flirting). But it may lead to "copious tears." If you want to avoid the tears, you can flirt discreetly and not get caught. Or you can invest time in bringing your partner to see your point of view (talk it out and talk some more and read books together and discuss Savage Love columns together, and hope for the best). Or you can accept being the bad guy in your partner's eyes, but be charming and supportive enough for your partner to overlook this defect. Have I left out any possibilities? I suppose you could break up preemptively.

Also, I've responded to you on the weekly column, just fyi.
92
@90/Latebloomer - It wasn't just flirting, it had gotten close to actually meeting, which very well could have ended in physical contact. Simply, there was a distinct line crossed. The texting, dirty talk, etc went beyond a simple flirtatious moment at the gym or with a barista. Honestly, it was a matter of weeks before it went from emotional to physical, and I'm 100% happy that it didn't go that far.

When caught, I also lied, repeatedly, which never helps anything. If she had written a letter to Dan, my guess is he'd tell her to DTMFA because i came close to physically cheating (couples counselor called it an emotional affair), lied, and lied some more.

It made her feel like I didn't care for her, didn't love her, wasn't attracted to her anymore, etc. Seeing I love her, doing something that brought out those emotions made me feel like shit, and makes me want to avoid bringing out those feelings in the future.

She's OK with porn, we watch it together, she doesn't mind me having female friends (as long as they're not exs), I'm not locked in the house or anything either. You call it handing over my testicles, I call it giving her every reason to start trusting again. It was a matter of making a decision, what was more important, seeking out and getting validation from women I didn't know (but could because internet) or my wife. The choice was pretty simple for me. Maybe for you it wouldn't be.
93
No no, that's all good, noone. Your first post made it sound more like you were indulging in the barista-type flirtation, and she was coming down hard on you just for that. If you're having to lie and you're close to meeting up and doing the dirty, that's taking things a lot farther.

The only part of @92 I have a hard time with is this: "It made her feel like I didn't care for her, didn't love her, wasn't attracted to her anymore, etc." That's such a bullshit, unjustified conclusion, but the false conclusions of jealousy are often considered validation enough to clamp down hard on a relationship, and they have the backing of society because tears. I don't dig it. It doesn't necessarily mean you, the "transgressor", need to smarten up and fly straight, it could mean that she needs to work on her insecurities. All depends on who's getting what kind of backing (from their couples counsellor, for example, who is frequently female).
94
@92, Dan didn't tell me to DTMFA. He told me that I now knew my husband might lie to me if he was embarrassed about something he had done. And Dan told me to decide for myself if that was a defect I could live with, or not.
95
To be frank Dan, this advice sucks. This isn't an innocent flirtation this is an on going relationship. One serious enough that he know the Other Woman's Mom!

And for all the people harping on the snooping I'll point out he flat out lied to his wife and continued with a relationship he knows makes her insecure and unhappy. The fact that he focused on the snooping to deflect blame for his own mistakes is worrying. I'm wondering if the ex really was jealous or if he was giving the same runaround he's giving the LW.

DTFMA.
96
@90 Because everyone knows it's great to base your self worth on outside validation. Which is something that will never, ever, stop or backfire on you.

I agree that trying to prevent any sort of interaction or friendship with the opposite sex is an abusive and toxic behavior that one should run away from. But we're not talking about simple friendships and work interactions. We talking about relationships that require lying and sneaking around. Relationships that noone and the LW's husband know their partners don't like, and that they find them hurtful and threatening.

Not every insecurity can, or should be catered too but sometimes people are jealous for a reason, sometimes they snoop because they know something is wrong as #9 said.
97
I have to agree with #9 & 20 and the others that are pointing out the the guy is a lying POS.
He's broken their "contract" and turned her accusations about him into it being HER problem because she snooped. Dick move #2 (or 3 or 4 or 5 depending on how you look at it).

I'm not condoning her snooping, but what he did there was typical deflection tactic.
(Let's ignore what I did, just look at how horrible YOU are!)

Add to the fact that you have previous allegations from the ex saying he cheated and we might just have a pattern here.

He's obviously not cut out for honesty (and possibly monogamy) and too afraid to own up to it, or he simply ENJOYS the added thrill of "getting away with it".
(When you do that, and don't take the other person's feelings into consideration, it only shows them that YOUR needs are more important than them. Not exactly the basis for a strong relationship!)

As hard as this supposedly simple decision might be, AIA needs to decide whether she can LIVE with this.

It's HER price of admission.

Personally, I'd out of there if he can't start telling the truth.
That's MY price of admission.

(Even if he does "fess up" now, it'll be a very long haul until she fully trusts him again, if ever.
There's an excellent book, "How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair", that states it takes about TWO YEARS from the last lie to re-earn intimate trust.
That sounds about right to me.)

The take-away here?
Everyone needs to learn how to adult.
Communicate truthfully.

How hard is that?

98
Loving the Snoop Dogg advert in the center of the letter. Very pointed. :D

I'm kind of on the fence with this one. I can understand how a feeling that your partner is doing something shady might drive someone to snoop. I can also understand how being constantly accused of cheating might drive someone to cheat. Neither of those are healthy, productive ways of handling either problem, but sometimes people do screwy things. I think they're both acting a bit assholish.

Because I am pragmatic before I'm sympathetic, I'll ask LW: can you stop snooping? The way I read your letter, it sounds like your snooping and obsessive (your word, not mine) insecurity could well be as much of a deal-breaker for him as cheating is for you, so if you're not going to be able to stop, then you may need to think about calling it a day on your relationship. I'm not saying that you're wrong and he's right. I'm just saying that you're unhappy (and I'm willing to bet he is too) and you're not going to make yourself any happier by going through his phone and computer with a fine-tooth comb. And since you can control your own actions but not someone else's, your choices pretty much boil down to a) leave; b) learn to trust him and not violate his privacy; or c) continue snooping and being unhappy. If you can't trust him and give him privacy, then your relationship probably isn't going to be salvageable, whether he's cheating on you or not.

I've no idea if he deserves your trust or not - while *I* wouldn't be too bothered about him flirting and sending sexy texts, it's not my relationship and he did break the rules you agreed on - but I do think that if you can't learn to trust him and give him his space, you're both going to stay unhappy, and that's not a relationship I'd want to be in.

I'm generally of the opinion that whatever you seek, you find. Sometimes you find more than what you're looking for, but someone who doubts their partner enough to constantly go through their private correspondence will find SOMETHING that upsets them - maybe old messages / photos from an ex, or journals with unflattering thoughts about the current partner, or flirtatious texts to a friend. Because sometimes people are jerks. All of us are at times. And we need that space to be jerks in private, whether it's via email or in a diary or blog, or even I'm the confines of our own mind. Having the privacy to sometimes not be our best self acts as a pressure-release valve, allowing us (hopefully) to be decent human beings when we're with our partners. I don't think it's either necessary or desirable to know every single thing that a partner says, does or thinks, which is one reason why I never snoop. If the balance of the relationship is positive, if we enjoy spending time together and laugh and love and talk and have great sex lives, I don't need to know that there are times when he wishes I'd lose fifteen pounds or that he sometimes fantasises about his boss or that he occasionally exchanges flirty texts with his ex. There are things I think or say or do that he doesn't need to know about, too. Every relationship has things that fall into a gray area - things that aren't relationship-killers but that would still sting your partner to know about - and healthy couples keep those things private, and trust each other to not cross a line.

Whether your husband crossed a line is for the two of you to discuss. But it's pretty clear that you don't trust him. And I think you need to figure out whether you'll ever be able to. If he totally cut off contact with his friend, and you never found any indication that he was playing around - would you finally trust him, or would you keep turning over the coin to try and find the tarnish? You should probably try and find the true, honest answer to that. And you should definitely have an honest, frank talk with your husband about what you each truly need, as far as things like monogamy and privacy go. People who aren't getting what they need in a relationship are generally unhappy people.
99
I really need to learn to read the comments before commenting. :)