Q: I went through my boyfriend’s phone. All the girls he talked to while we were together are saved in his phone and social media, so while he was sleeping I deleted and blocked those girls. He got mad at me because he’s saying that I am trying to entrap him and that I don’t want him to have anybody to fall back on if we break up.
Am I in the wrong here or if we are trying to start something new should all these people that he’s talked to in the past while we were together be deleted out of his life? I mean there is no trust in our relationship whatsoever because he’s cheated a thousand sometimes on me and yes I still love him and I still want to make it work with him, we have three kids together, so I’m just trying to see if I can get advice from somebody.
A: We’re glad you’re reaching out for feedback and so sorry to hear you’re having a tough time in your relationship.
What stands out the most about your experience is you feeling that “there is no trust” in your relationship. As a marriage and family therapist that specializes in helping couples create strong and healthy partnerships, having at least a minimal amount of trust to build on is essential. Feeling like you can’t trust your partner’s ability to be faithful can create a big divide in your relationship because it usually causes you to feel like you’re not emotionally safe with your partner.
If your partner has been unfaithful in the past, that’s an indicator that he may have some emotional work to do, and if he’s open to it, he could potentially address those issues in individual or couples therapy. I would also explore your feelings around staying in the relationship if he weren’t willing to work on himself or the relationship. If nothing changed, would you still want to make the relationship work?
In the meantime, you said that you love your partner and want to make it work, so are there areas of your relationship where maybe there is some trust? For example, do you trust that your partner will help you around the house, or that the two of you are good communicators? I call these “pockets of trust.” If you can focus on your pockets of trust, that could help you feel more trustful in general, rather than focusing on “pockets of mistrust.” This will also help you cope with the stress that you may feel while you’re deciding what to do next.
On that note, I do recommend practicing good self-care. Infidelity and mistrust can take a toll on a person’s self-esteem. You could try practicing self-soothing techniques like listening to music you love, or using positive affirmations that highlight what you love about yourself; for example: I’m an awesome mom. I have great friends. My friends and kids love me.
Everyone deserves respect and emotional safety in their relationship. Don’t be afraid to explore your situation with your therapist and to ask for a recommendation for a couples therapist, if you’re open to that. Ask your therapist to help you identify what you value most in relationships, as that information can also help you decide if your current partner is truly fulfilling your needs.
Emily Simonian, M.A., LMFT