Wendy is on vacation, so we’ll be posting some of her more popular past Dear Wendy columns (that some of you may have missed!) to get you through the week.
I have been with my boyfriend for almost three years now. He is 24 years older than me and naturally we have our up days and down days. On Saturday night while he was asleep I went onto his cell phone and found a picture of another man’s penis on his phone. I am not allowed on his phone without asking him first and didn’t know how to confront him about this pic. So on Sunday morning I asked him if I could resend an SMS to my phone and “mistakingly” went into his pics. But before I could see it he deleted it. I asked him what it was and he said a car. I told him he was lying and I know what I saw, he just said, “Why would I have a pic of another man’s penis on my cell?” Now I’m totally confused and worried at the same time. What do I make of this and how do I handle the situation? By the way, I sent a copy of that pic to my phone as evidence. — Worried Snoop
The first question I have is: what compelled you in the first place to look at his phone while he was sleeping? You must have had prior reason to distrust him. People don’t just wait until their partners fall asleep and then snoop through their phones or personal belongings because they have insomnia and the only thing on TV is an episode of “Oprah” they’ve already seen. You had reason to snoop, either because of past indiscretions, questionable behavior, or because he actually told you you’re “not allowed on his phone without asking him first.” I mean, who says that? Oh, right! Shady people who have double lives they want to hide from their significant others, that’s who!
The first red flag in a relationship isn’t actual evidence of shady behavior — in your case, a photo of another man’s penis on your boyfriend’s phone; the first red flag is a seed that’s planted the moment you suspect shady behavior, the moment your gut says, “Something isn’t right here.” Cheaters, liars, users, and abusers rarely exhibit bad or odd behavior completely out of the blue. There’s almost always a series of missteps and mishaps, like little bread crumbs that, depending on how long you’re willing to follow the trail, will guide you all the way to the witch in their house. Well, WS, you followed the trail all the way. You’ve found his witch. What more do you need? Run! Run as fast as you can from that house of his before he traps you forever. And next time don’t let the crumbs lead you all the way to the front door before you realize where you’re headed.
About a month ago I ran into a guy at our local bar who I went to high school with and have known for 14 years. We ended up dancing all night, kissing and hooking up at the end of the night and I thought, “OK, one-night stand … whatever.” But we ended up dating and I can say he’s been very, very sweet…. up until a week ago. He’s gone from wanting to meet my parents to not even returning a text message. I have talked to him about it and he says, “I’m not glued to my phone like you are,” and I have to end up just showing up at his house and letting myself in with the keys that he gave me!! You wouldn’t believe this is the same guy I was dating a month ago. Do you think he’s just seeing how far I will let him walk all over me? Is he stringing me along? He knows that I have a really big heart and I hate being mad at anyone. — Keys to his heart
Woah, back up, Nelly. A guy failed to return a text message and you show up at his house unannounced and then let yourself in with a key?! He probably can’t believe you are the same person he started dating a month ago. The appropriate response when someone neglects to return a text message or phone call in a timely manner is not to charge into his apartment unannounced, but to try again later. If he continues to ignore you over an extended period of time (we’re talking hours to days here, not minutes) or stands you up for a date, then, and only then, do you have reason to get in a huff. You still shouldn’t let yourself into his apartment unless you’ve knocked repeatedly and have reason to suspect something may have happened to him.
If it was just one text message he didn’t reply to quickly enough, I’d tell you to check yourself. If it’s a series of messages he’s been ignoring, then I’d thank your lucky stars you’ve been made aware of your incompatibility only weeks into the relationship rather than months down the road when you’re more attached. It doesn’t matter why he suddenly lost interest in you — maybe he felt you were too needy, maybe an old girlfriend reappeared in his life, maybe he met someone he likes better and wanted to pursue things with her — what matters is that he did lose interest and he didn’t have the decency to be direct with you. When someone stops returning messages with no appropriate explanation, consider that an indirect message that he’s moved on. Give him back his key and do the same.
Let me start off by saying I love my fiancé. We’ve been together two years and plan to marry when we graduate college. But I’m second-guessing marrying him. He tends to be controlling and mean and very immature. And we’re 19. I’ve only dated three other people, and I’d like to shop around some more. How do I tell him this? — Unsure
As quickly and clearly as possible.
*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.