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Kind of in a pickle. Straight white male, in a cis relationship, and I am thinking that maybe my GF is cheating on me, but I have no caught-in-the-act solid proof. We've been together for almost four years now, and after we moved in two years ago, our sex life kinda took a nosedive after some life problems we both had. But I thought we were just at a "new normal."

A couple months ago, while she was drunk, she was plainly texting a guy right in front of me while we were getting ready for bed. She passed out, and I scrolled through the texts, and it looked like they were setting up for a meet-up. The next morning I called her out on it and we had a big fight. Went to counseling a few times, and things seemed to improve.

Lately, she's become more distant again and frequently asks why we aren't having sex as often as we used to—and I plainly bring up that she doesn't want to engage, or else she rejects my advances, and so nothing happens. A few days later, again, she left her phone unlocked and I scrolled through the messages and found more messages with the same guy. Nothing as risqué this time, but he definitely expressed his desire for her, and she said the same thing back. They might or might not be meeting up again in the near future.

A few questions. Should I allow this to come to a head and try to catch her in the act? Or should I tell her I saw her texts messages again? Either way, is the only way to go forward to break up, or is there any hope left that we can salvage this? I know that snooping is wrong, but after the rather obvious lack of hiding anything when she was drunk the first time, I've been harboring worries.

Snooping On Suspect

I'm generally if inconsistently anti-snooping. It can create unnecessary drama, it signals to your partner that you've got trust issues, and you can discover things you might be better off not knowing. But, hey, sometimes snoopers find out about secret second families or crazy sexual risk-taking or donations to rightwing orgs—things they needed to know about people they needed to dump.

And here you are, SOS. You've done a little snooping and you've found your girlfriend wants to fuck some other dude. You didn't find proof that she has fucked this dude, only that she'd like to and clearly still thinks abotu it. So what do you do? Just as a thought experiment, SOS, let's say you stopped policing your girlfriend for evidence that she wants to fuck this other guy (because she clearly does) and instead let her go ahead and fuck him. What if your girlfriend fucking this other guy improved your sexual relationship? Believe it or not—and many people choose not to—but that sometimes happens in the wake of an affair and/or when a couple in an erotic rut decides to open up their relationship. Other times it’s the first step toward a breakup, sure, but there are times when it results in the couple rediscovering their desire for each other.

But if giving her the freedom to fuck this guy resulted in your sex life improving as a couple, SOS, would it be worth it?—Dan

I'd rather we stay together, but I don't want her to be with me out of some sense of obligation. When we first got serious, we both made it clear to each other that if we felt that things weren't working out, we'd end it. I got some thinking to do.—SOS

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Ending a relationship if things aren't working out is a good idea, SOS, but if you're going to end it anyway... why not open it up first? It could be the hallelujah pass that saves and improves your relationship or it could be the beginning of the inevitable end. But if the end is inevitable—which you can't know for sure—you've got nothing to lose by opening it up.

If I were in your shoes, SOS, I would give her permission to fuck this guy, wait a week or four, and see what happens. She may freak out at your suggestion—she'll probably freak out—but she clearly wants to fuck this guy. Right now you symbolize, “No, you can’t," to your girlfriend. That’s a desire killer. If you symbolized, “Yes, you can," to her, SOS, her desire—for you, to be clear—could kick back into gear. Or, then again, it might be dead and gone for good. Only one way to find out.

Listen to my podcast, the Savage Lovecast, at www.savagelovecast.com.