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i think my boyfriend read my diary
May 1, 2009 9:16 AM   Subscribe

I think my b/f read my journal and is mad at me for what I said. Not sure how to ask him if I'm right.

After a disagreement with my boyfriend I wrote some fairly mean things about him in my journal. Specifically I wrote that he was weak. Actually, I think that he's not as assertive as he could be, but when I'm pissed off and venting in my diary I call it 'weak'.

The journal was in my work bag. Yesterday when I was working out he had to go in my work bag for something he needed. He's been acting weird ever since.

The thing is, if he violated my privacy, he deserves to feel bad, however I hate that he thinks I feel that way about him. And I hate the idea that I've hurt him.

I keep asking him what's wrong but he won't say what it is, probably because he doesn't want to admit to doing this. I'm afraid to ask him directly just in case he didn't read it and I'm just being paranoid.

What in the hell do I do here?
posted by my_thai to Human Relations (28 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ask him if he read it.
posted by fire&wings at 9:20 AM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ask him flat out, "Hey, I keep a journal. Have you seen it lately?" If he's read it, watch him squirm, then explain to him that private journaling is a healthy form of venting that is NOT meant to be taken literally.

Oh, and that there are boundaries even in a committed relationship, and he's crossed them.

If he still acts clueless, you will have to just let it go, and either assume he never read it, or write in your journal how much dishonesty in a boyfriend turns you off. He'll get the picture.

I know you want to protect his feelings here, but he's basically sulking over something you never actually said to him, and you are his girlfriend, not his babysitter.
posted by misha at 9:22 AM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I know you want to protect his feelings here, but he's basically sulking over something you never actually said to him, and you are his girlfriend, not his babysitter.

Well yeah, but that's like saying that affairs shouldn't bother someone if their spouse doesn't tell them that he/she is cheating.

But I second the first part of your post.
posted by InsanePenguin at 9:27 AM on May 1, 2009


"Look, if you can't tell me what's wrong, then we can't address the problem and it will never go away. Since I like you, I'm going to take a guess that you read my journal and saw something you didn't like. If that's not the problem then you can see the lengths I'm having to go to think of the reason you've been acting like this".

Also if he cops, you can probably defend the weak comment, because sneaking around reading journals and sulking without explaining why are kind of weak and lame.
posted by syntheticfaith at 9:42 AM on May 1, 2009 [15 favorites]


Ok, you know what? Rethinking what I said previously, a journal should have a reasonable right to privacy. So yeah, he's being a jerk.

That said, my girlfriend read an email to me once from my father, with whom I am very close. He was very angry with me and attacked just about everything about my life including, you guessed it, my girlfriend. She took this to mean that he didn't like her and it took her a while to get used to the fact that it wasn't true (compounded by the fact that we don't see him often, he lives in Switzerland, we're in New Jersey.) But, everything aside, they're fine now. Chummy, even.
posted by InsanePenguin at 9:43 AM on May 1, 2009


You should ask him if he read your diary, and try to be open minded about it. You can obviously be upset about the invasion of privacy. Don't ask like there's nothing wrong with it. But act like he can talk to you about it and have an adult discussion about it without feeling like his parents are about to punish him. then you can talk about how he can't do shit like that any more if you're going to trust him.

Then, for real, stop keeping a diary. you have a job, a boyfriend, a life. diaries are for children who want to have secrets. you have a boyfriend, and your concerns about him belong in a frank and open discussion, not a diary.

of course, if you insist on the diary, you can always ask him in there, right? then he'll read it and you both win!
posted by shmegegge at 9:50 AM on May 1, 2009


Seems to me you could say to him something like "hey, I feel like you've been acting weird toward me lately. Is there anything up?" The possibility might exist that the weirdness you are perceiving is actually you feeling guilty for having written those things (whether or not he read them). If he says nothing is up, take his word for it and deal with your feeling on your own.
posted by Pineapplicious at 9:59 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Then, for real, stop keeping a diary. you have a job, a boyfriend, a life. diaries are for children who want to have secrets. you have a boyfriend, and your concerns about him belong in a frank and open discussion, not a diary.


This is ridiculous. Many therapists and counselors recommend keeping a diary for working out your thoughts. It's not just for children; it can also be for people who work things out best in writing; expressing anger on paper can make it go away faster. Also, diary keeping is nice in that later in life you can look back at how you felt at a certain time and remember it well.

He was wrong to have read your diary. You need to ask him about it. To feel irrational and angry at your partner on occasion is ok. It doesn't define your deep feelings for him, and you need to tell him that, so he knows it was a moment of weakness for you, too, when you were feeling somewhat mean and wrote those things about him.
posted by bluefly at 10:10 AM on May 1, 2009 [15 favorites]


Then, for real, stop keeping a diary. you have a job, a boyfriend, a life. diaries are for children who want to have secrets. you have a boyfriend, and your concerns about him belong in a frank and open discussion, not a diary.

Really? Diaries are for children who want to have secrets? There are people out there who find writing cathartic and keep diaries and/or journals and/or blogs as a means of keeping said writings in one place.

OP, your boyfriend deserves to squirm a little, because he crossed a line. I'd say go with misha's advice: ask him about it, and explain that sometimes things get said [or written] in the heat of the moment, and that you didn't mean to hurt him -- that you were only venting and pissed and trying to express yourself. I'm sure he's said things and later realized he employed a poor choice of words.
posted by alynnk at 10:12 AM on May 1, 2009


OP, your boyfriend deserves to squirm a little, because he crossed a line.

Whoa there alynnk. Read the question. We do not know that he crossed any line. That is mere conjecture.

Syntheticfaith has it exactly right. If you think he is asking weird because he read your diary, ask him if he read your diary. That should tell you everything you need to know.
posted by bricoleur at 10:31 AM on May 1, 2009


Let him tell you. He will. He's gotta admit that he looked first. But his curiosity/anger will get the better of him and he will admit it and be angry.

Then tell him you love him and that you said those words in a fit of anger and that they do not reflect your true opinion of him. Apply a kiss.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:32 AM on May 1, 2009


Um, "acting" weird, I meant to say.
posted by bricoleur at 10:32 AM on May 1, 2009


You clearly don't trust him to not read your diary.
posted by smackfu at 10:32 AM on May 1, 2009


My point being that it's very possible he would get offended by the "simple", "straightforward" solution of asking him if he read your diary.
posted by smackfu at 10:33 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


He's been acting weird ever since.

Wow. If my bf was acting weird, know what I would do? I would say, "Hey, why are you acting weird?"
posted by iconomy at 10:41 AM on May 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


(but I'm crazy that way)
posted by iconomy at 10:41 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Then, for real, stop keeping a diary. you have a job, a boyfriend, a life. diaries are for children who want to have secrets. you have a boyfriend, and your concerns about him belong in a frank and open discussion, not a diary."

Wow. No, shmegegge. I completely, totally, vehemently disagree. In fact (slight derail) this statement wins the award of "The One With Which I Most Disagree On MeFi Up To This Point In Time." Seriously. I'm an avid blogger, it's anonymous and password protected, and I routinely throw people under the bus in there and it's most cathartic. No fuckin' way is that childish and no fuckin' way does that stuff belong in an 'open discussion.' The blog makes me happier, doesn't harm a soul, and helps me problem solve. End derail.

He may have read the journal, he may not have. So the real issues are (1) problematic communication and (2) trust. Those are pretty heavy hitters and maybe it just took some event like this to bring them to the surface. It doesn't appear that he's going to initiate the discussion, so you'll have to because these things won't disappear off into the great, dark night.

So I'd use syntheticfaith's approach and very directly say that this ain't goin' away until it's attacked and the ol' "nothin's wrong" response ain't gonna work. But this needs to be done in a very lighthanded manner or risk spiraling into a very defensive argument which would distract from the real issues. I would also couch things in "we" terms, along the lines of, "I'm concerned we aren't talking as well as we should and there is something going on between us that is causing a rift and I'd like to fix it." And you'll have your answer there. If he doesn't make the effort to express himself, it really doesn't matter if he read the journal or not because the guy has shut down and checked out of a vital part of the relationship.

Obviously I don't know what your prior disagreement was (in which you found him unassertive), but think about whether that prior conundrum ties into this one: does it touch on trust and communication issues? Think about whether these issues have those common denominators. If he did read the diary, it was wrong, but ask yourself if he read it out of some sort of desperation as opposed to mere curiosity, e.g., to override his inability to speak directly with you about a problem. Is there something in your communication styles that might have prompted him to invade your privacy, if that's in fact what happened? If so, that's really something to think about. When disrespect is easier to commit than direct communication, that's when the relationship really needs to be analyzed.
posted by December at 10:58 AM on May 1, 2009


Ask him why he's acting weird. Don't accuse him of anything. For all you know, you're just paranoid that he read your diary and attributing his behavior to some imagined knowledge of what you said about him. Was your diary open in you bag to where he could accidentally glance upon it, or would he have to have taken at least a few minutes to open the journal, find the recent stuff, and read it?
posted by fructose at 11:00 AM on May 1, 2009


"acting weird" is pretty vague. You do need to tell him that he's making you uncomfortable because of his behavior, and that you're imagining things he must be thinking or feeling because he isn't telling you. You may as well tell him that you're paranoid he read your diary, even though if he didn't that will tell him a)you wrote something in there he might be upset by and b) you don't completely trust him. But probably you should get those things out in the open anyway so you two can work them out.

And of course if he did read it, your fears were well grounded and the talk is all the more important. But even if he didn't, the fact that you think he did, and that you wrote something that's bothering you & that you haven't gotten over with him, are reasons enough to broach the subject.
posted by mdn at 11:04 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Then, for real, stop keeping a diary. you have a job, a boyfriend, a life. diaries are for children who want to have secrets. you have a boyfriend, and your concerns about him belong in a frank and open discussion, not a diary.

I couldn't disagree more. I am an adult who has kept a JOURNAL for 8 years, and have kept writing in it as boyfriends came and went. I use it to keep a record of what is going on in my life, what is important to me, what is bothering me, things I want to remember, etc. It isn't about "keeping secrets". And Fine, if she was/is having an issue with his assertiveness she should be telling him directly as well, but there is NO fault in writing in her journal. You saying that makes me wonder if you maybe haven't peeked at someone's journal without permission and read something you didn't want to know.


Anyway, that aside, I would most definitely ask him point blank, "Yeah, so, did you read my journal?" It is a pretty massive betrayal of trust and needs to be addressed directly. Good luck! And never feel badly for keeping a journal. I am a firm believer in them, have for years, will continue for probably the rest of my life.
posted by gwenlister at 11:06 AM on May 1, 2009


From the question: "I keep asking him what's wrong but he won't say what it is..."

The OP already asked him what's wrong and he won't say. So advice that solely consist of "ask him what's wrong" is not particulary helpful at this point since, you know, she's already done that.
posted by nooneyouknow at 11:42 AM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Then, for real, stop keeping a diary. you have a job, a boyfriend, a life. diaries are for children who want to have secrets. you have a boyfriend, and your concerns about him belong in a frank and open discussion, not a diary."

Just wanted to agree with others above that this sentiment is catastrophically wrong and mistaken! There's actually a growing body of clinical evidence for the major psychological benefits of keeping a diary or journal, quite apart from the vast anecdotal evidence, including in this thread.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 11:53 AM on May 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


If he read your journal, I don't see what good will come of confronting him about it. He's unlikely to admit it, and it will only make matters worse. If he didn't read your journal, and you ask him if he did, it's highly possible that he will be insulted. It's a lose-lose situation, and if he's acting weird and won't talk about it, then perhaps it's best to drop it. Least said, soonest mended, ya know.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:26 PM on May 1, 2009


What in the hell do I do here?

Seriously, have angry sex. Both of you are are pissed and acting weird, yet don't want to talk about it. Might as well get it out of your system.

Or just randomly start talking about your journal and how you use it vent and if he happens to come across it, he shouldn't take those vents too seriously.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:56 PM on May 1, 2009


"Hey did you read my journal? I left it out and the last thing I wrote in there was really mean because we've been fighting, so I wanted to ask in case you read it and felt really pissed about it. I don't mean everything I say in there, it's just a private method of venting."

By the way if he knows you keep a journal I'd give it like a 99% chance he's read it.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:19 PM on May 1, 2009


By the way if he knows you keep a journal I'd give it like a 99% chance he's read it.

I don't understand why you'd say this. My husband wouldn't read it even if it were laying on the table with 'VITRIOLIC RANTS ABOUT MR. DESJARDINS' in black marker on the cover. If I accused him of reading it, it'd lead to a much bigger fight. Personally I don't see the point, but I am one of those (evidently) rare people who don't believe in privacy in a LTR. If he wants to read my stuff, fine.

I agree with Brandon's approach - tell him you use your journal to vent and that you don't mean everything you write in it. Something like, "you know, I was really mad at you the other day when we fought about X to the point where I wrote some nasty stuff about you in my diary just to get it out of my system. But I realized I don't feel that way and I'm not mad about X anymore. I hate being mad at you. C'mere." [big kiss... leading to etc etc]
posted by desjardins at 6:37 PM on May 1, 2009


Just thought I'd join the pile-on in saying that keeping a journal can have tremendous benefits. I don't do it myself, but love-of-my-life does, and my previous girlfriend did, and it helps them both a great deal. Absolutely nothing unusual or childish about it.

And yeah, the "99% chance that he's read it" is also bullshit. Oh, I've peaked in a few journals back when I was a young whippersnapper -- I'm not saying the idea can't be tempting -- but the truth is, most of the time reading someone else's journal is about as exciting as listening to someone you about their dreams.
posted by the bricabrac man at 4:22 AM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Then, for real, stop keeping a diary. you have a job, a boyfriend, a life. diaries are for children who want to have secrets. you have a boyfriend, and your concerns about him belong in a frank and open discussion, not a diary.

Not only is that ridiculous, but it has nothing to do with her question.

I am in agreement that the boyfriend had no business reading anything that didn't belong to him. You have the right to expect privacy. He shouldn't snoop through your mail even if it's open on a table, and he shouldn't read your journal even if he comes across it in your workbag while he's searching for another item.

But now that he is acting strangely, it would be kind of you to offer an opportunity to put him out of his misery. Tell him that you left the journal in the bag and that ever since he went into the bag he's been acting strangely. Ask him if he read your journal. If I were in your shoes I would add that if he read it, I am open to hearing anything he has to say about it, and that if he chooses not to say anything, then I'll have no choice but to consider that matter closed. I would firmly state that the journal is off limits to him and to anyone else, and explain why.

I think that if you are friendly in offering him a chance to talk about it and he doesn't accept, then you shouldn't continue torturing yourself. He created this issue and you're only trying to help him.
posted by Piscean at 6:12 PM on May 3, 2009


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