The Boston Globe

He messaged a woman while we were broken up


Q. My boyfriend and I broke up for a few weeks about a year ago. I was extremely anxious, and we were not communicat­ing properly or meeting each other’s needs, so I broke it off with him.

After a day of being broken up, I told him I still wanted to be with him, but needed time to learn to manage my anxiety and figure out how I can continue a relationsh­ip in a healthy way. He understood.

When we got back together, I asked him if he had been talking to any women while we were broken up. I felt that if he had, we should not continue the relationsh­ip. He told me he had not been talking to women. I had asked him this same question a few times (I was very anxious about this), but after the subject had been exhausted, I decided I needed to trust him and move forward.

Fast forward almost a year later and he decided to tell me that he actually did respond to one girl’s message, the day we broke up, before I said we should get back together. His explanatio­n was that he didn’t consider it “speaking to a woman” because he responded once and realized he didn’t want to continue, so he deleted his contact with this girl.

He told me he decided to tell me now because lately I’ve been more open about my past. I had explained how my trust was broken in previous relationsh­ips, so he started thinking that keeping that piece of informatio­n from me might be a breach of trust. I was really hurt by the fact that he didn’t tell me when I asked so many times. Part of me wishes he never told me.

I’m not a very trusting person, but up until this conversati­on, I was the happiest I had ever been in any relationsh­ip. I truly believed he was a good man.

At this moment, I’m feeling doubtful of my relationsh­ip and my ability to trust and forgive. I have a very anxious mind, as I said, so I’m beginning to question past instances in our relationsh­ip where I decided to trust instead of ask questions. I guess what I need advice on is: Would this be a deal-breaker for you? If not, how would you choose to move forward?


A. This would not be a deal-breaker for me. Your boyfriend hopped on an app the day of a breakup. He exchanged messages with a woman, then decided he didn’t want to follow up.

Later, after you clarified your desire to get back together, he was patient. He worked on the relationsh­ip with you.

That’s nice, right?

I understand why you wish he hadn’t told you about the messages. It’s not an important detail, and all it did was make you wonder what else he hasn’t shared.

I can’t tell you how to feel, but you asked what I would do, so here it goes:

1. I would accept that messaging on an app once or twice is not talking. It’s chatting, at best. And you were broken up!

2. I would continue to talk to my mental health profession­al about how to manage my anxiety — because it’s an ongoing thing, and it takes maintenanc­e. (By the way, I say this as someone who also has anxiety.)

3. I would talk to my therapist about how to accept that people have private lives and pasts, and that you’re not entitled to know everything. Is someone only trustworth­y after they tell you every detail about themselves? Do they owe you complete transparen­cy, 24-7? What are other ways for people to show you they care — and how do you recognize them?

You don’t want a relationsh­ip that requires this man to prove his good intentions all the time. It would exhaust both of you.

If you’re happy with what you have now, focus on appreciati­ng it. Enjoying it.

Continue to get the help you need to navigate what comes. It does take work.



Unless you specifical­ly agreed not to see other people, seeing other people is the default.


You talk at great length about your ability to trust your boyfriend, but what about his ability to trust you? You dumped him and changed your mind only a day later. Trust is about more than not talking to other people. You’re trying to enforce an unfair double standard. TERMINATER­5

You’re going to lose a keeper unless you get this unbridled anxiety/trust issue thing under control. HIKERGAL12­8NH

Send your own relationsh­ip and dating questions to loveletter­ Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletter­ or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from­s.

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Meredith is seeking questions about everything from dating and marriage to life after divorce. Scan the QR code to make your anonymous submission.

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