"I discovered my partner's secret online dating profile. What do I do?"
I never thought I’d be the one writing to an advice column but here goes:
I have been married to the love of my life since June, but we traveled a very rocky road to get there (think Carrie and Big from ‘Sex and the City’). We have endured several break-ups and subsequent reconciliations over a number of years. He has done some shady things in the past, including having a whole other secret relationship during the first go around. At another point when we were causally dating, I unknowingly played the “other woman” to his regular girlfriend. After that debacle, I took a great job, moved to a entirely different time zone and was done with him and happily moving on.
Then the unthinkable happened. He realized I was “it” for him. He showed up in my new city and planned an incredible, fairytale proposal. I thought everything was going to be perfect—that he had changed and my dreams had finally come true! (Insert eye-roll here, right?) So, imagine how I felt when a dear friend of mine called me to ask me if my husband had a twin. Umm…NO! She was wondering because he hit her up on Tinder!
I confronted him and of course he pled innocence and curiosity as his excuse. But if he were truly happy then he wouldn’t be curious, right? He travels every other week for work and all I can think about is what—and who—he is he doing during that time. Especially since he has fooled me in the past. This is all making me feel like a crazy person!
HELP! What should I do?
—The Honeymoon-is-Over in Minneapolis
First, let me say that this is the second letter this week I’ve received on the exact same topic (the other guy was on OKCupid, but same diff). In the last column, we discussed the temptation of stalking old loves/new crushes on Facebook, but your troubled scenario is taking the lure of secret online love connections one heartbreaking step further. And it’s not OK.
Your husband is pleading innocence and curiosity. But he hit up your friend on Tinder—that’s not lurking—it’s interacting! Let’s not worry right now about whether he is or isn’t truly happy, because I’d rather focus on whether YOU are truly happy. I don’t know if he’s actually cheating on you or just playacting online—either way, it’s not your fault. His behavior is about him and whether or not he is a trustworthy and reliable partner who is in it for the long, and sometimes hard/boring/unromantic, haul that is marriage. Sure, everybody loves grand gestures and being swept away, but that’s not the stuff of daily life.
What I’m wondering is if, during his hemming and hawing about it being NBD etc. etc., he ever said anything along the lines of, “I adore you, it was a stupid thing to do, I’m so so sorry, PLEASE FORGIVE ME.” Basically, did he take any responsibility for doing something deceptive and destabilizing to your relationship? Did he contextualize it with his past cheating habit and recognize how that might make it particularly scary and confusing and upsetting for you? Because that’s what it’s going to take—major introspection and honesty on his part.
You strike me as a strong woman. Yes, you feel “crazy” and confused right now—who wouldn’t?. But you aren’t falling to pieces. When he cheated before, you picked yourself up and carried on with your life. So, I think you should stand up to Mr. Tinder and really break down why this was not acceptable and why it hurts. I suggest you write out what you want to say first so you are very clear headed before you confront him. If you feel scared or unsure, consider speaking with him in the presence of a counselor or therapist.
No one should have to spend their marriage worrying—please hold on to that thought.
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