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Is my boyfriend cheating on me or am I being paranoid?
June 21, 2008 2:46 PM   Subscribe

Is my boyfriend cheating on me or am I being paranoid?

I was fooling around with my boyfriend's cellphone and accidentally came across some suspicious text messages between him and this girl (whom I only know of) on the other side of the coast. Some are pretty innocent messages but there are some that raised red flags:

Girl (from 2 months ago)
Meet me at the hotel?
Party in my room!
I was smoking and I thought of you. lol
What are you up to? Besides talking dirty

Bf (this month, his cellphone only stores sent msg for a week)
I kind of missed ya.
Keep up the good work there and stay hot. Lol

He went to the same city where she lives about 2 months ago for a business trip. This is also the same timeframe when the girl wrote about the hotel and party in her room... except when he came back, he told me that he went to her parents' house (he met her through his parents, who are friends with her parents).

Some of the other text messages sound like they're just friends except he tried to delete ONLY messages from her on his cellphone (but failed because he didn't empty his Deleted box). I used to pick up his phone for him if I was closer to it but now he just rushes to the phone instead of waiting for me to hand him the phone.

Also, usually we also eat lunch but he cancelled on the day of because of "work". Later, he told me that he just went on a cigratte break and went back to work. I found out it was the day he told the girl to stay hot and later called her.

Ever since he came back from the trip, he went from being very mean to me to being a sweetheart and back. He would purposely say hurtful things to me like, "well, my friends probably hate you because you're (____)" or bring up how I am unfair and mean to him with examples from years ago. Then a week later, he's back to being a loving boyfriend.

His father cheated on my boyfriend's mom and twice on his second wife while my boyfriend was living with them, so there's a pattern of cheating in his household. I've also noticed that he now clears all the history on his internet browsers.

We've been really good now for about 3 weeks now and I didn't suspect cheating at all until I found these text messages this morning. I am being paranoid? Or is there a strong possbility that he's not being faithful?

Throwaway email: bemyst@gmail.com

(Please don't say that I am wrong for snooping. These are bits and pieces that been building up over the past 2 months but I never took note until stumbling on the text messages. Thanks.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (46 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
> What are you up to? Besides talking dirty

I vote yes. Or at least planning on it.
posted by null terminated at 2:50 PM on June 21, 2008


I think he probably cheated on you. But how are we supposed to know for sure? We can't. Sure sounds bad though.

I was fooling around with my boyfriend's cellphone and accidentally came across

Yeah, dang accidents.
posted by Justinian at 2:55 PM on June 21, 2008 [6 favorites]


If those are the messages you "accidentally" found on his cell, I say there's not enough to say either way. Nothing you listed is all that bad. He could be cheating on you, he could be planning on it, or he could just be a flirty guy.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:56 PM on June 21, 2008


He would purposely say hurtful things to me like, "well, my friends probably hate you because you're (____)" or bring up how I am unfair and mean to him with examples from years ago.

Does it matter if he is cheating or not? Don't put up with that kind of shit.
posted by heatherann at 3:03 PM on June 21, 2008 [25 favorites]


Two things seem a bit odd:

I was fooling around with my boyfriend's cellphone and accidentally came across some suspicious text messages

vs.

Some of the other text messages sound like they're just friends except he tried to delete ONLY messages from her on his cellphone (but failed because he didn't empty his Deleted box).


You suspected he was cheating, you have evidence. If you did accidentally come across the messages, why the problem asking him about them? I think you know what you want the result to be. Go ahead and dump him. In your next relationship, good luck.
posted by kellyblah at 3:06 PM on June 21, 2008


I was fooling around with my boyfriend's cellphone and accidentally came across

It wasn't an accident. You know this.

And yeah, he's either cheated on you already or is thinking about doing so, most likely. There is an outside chance that he's just enjoying some harmless flirting, but that doesn't seem particularly plausible here.

You need to talk to him, not us.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:08 PM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Have you often been told that you are unusually paranoid?

If not, these gut feelings usually mean that something is up. With any evidence to back them, I'd say yes. Sorry.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 3:10 PM on June 21, 2008


This is suspicious behavior. I'm all for privacy, but when someone starts hiding information suddenly, it usually means something. Further than that, he's being emotionally hurtful. That latter part is enough regardless of cheating, as heatherann says.

You don't need either of those hanging over your head, they'll only continue to poison the relationship. Listen to Dan Savage and DTMFA.
posted by Saydur at 3:10 PM on June 21, 2008


I'm with heatherann. With passive aggressive bullshit like that coming out of his mouth, the only reason you should be worried about him cheating is to figure out whether or not he's given you something. Anyone who dredges up the distant past to throw spitefully in your face isn't worth the emotional investment.
posted by Caduceus at 3:16 PM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


First off, you did not accidentally find those messages. You were snooping because you were suspicious, and I can't say that I blame you all that much, under the circumstances. I will tell you, though, that being dishonest with yourself has never helped anyone be in a good relationship. Stripping away the denial and being honest about your own motives, needs, and feelings is the first step to being in a healthy relationship.

In any case... there's no way for us to know, but I vote for for "yeah, probably cheating." But even if he's not cheating, it sounds like a fairly unstable, unsatisfying relationship to begin with. Why be with a guy who runs so hot and cold anyway? The first time he pulled that "my friends probably hate you because of x" shit, you should have kicked him to the curb. DTMFA and look for a nicer guy.
posted by scody at 3:17 PM on June 21, 2008 [5 favorites]


He would purposely say hurtful things to me like, "well, my friends probably hate you because you're (____)"

Jesus, that alone is grounds for kicking him to the curb. Also, yes, he probably cheated on you. DTMFA.

Oh, and pre-emptively dump anyone who sends this kind of text message to you or anyone else: Keep up the good work there and stay hot. Lol How such retarded, witless communication ever gets anyone laid I will never know.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:18 PM on June 21, 2008 [29 favorites]


I wouldn't even ask. Just leave him. Look at it this way, he's mean to you, and you don't trust him.

What a combo. You can do so much better. In fact, even alone you are thousands of times better off than with a man who would tell you his friends hate you (and then give you his theory on why!?!?!)

DTMFA (OMG I've never given that advice on AskMe.)
posted by bilabial at 3:25 PM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


He went to the same city where she lives about 2 months ago for a business trip. [...] Ever since he came back from the trip, he went from being very mean to me to being a sweetheart and back. He would purposely say hurtful things to me like, "well, my friends probably hate you because you're (____)" or bring up how I am unfair and mean to him with examples from years ago.

Cheating or not, you should break up with him for being an douche.
posted by Mike1024 at 3:26 PM on June 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


jeez, can we lay off anonymous about the 'accidental' discovery. yes, dump him, whether or not he's cheating, he sounds like a dumb low loser, and yes, he's probably cheating on you too. dump, then go run a triumphant victory lap.
posted by bluenausea at 3:29 PM on June 21, 2008


Ever since he came back from the trip, he went from being very mean to me to being a sweetheart and back. He would purposely say hurtful things to me like, "well, my friends probably hate you because you're (____)" or bring up how I am unfair and mean to him with examples from years ago. Then a week later, he's back to being a loving boyfriend.

Here's the thing: If he were to write an AskMe about you, it'd say that you are unfair and mean, constantly. For years now. It'd probably say that you are paranoid, that you snoop on his cell and on his computer, and that you are constantly asking him if his friends hate you. I mean, sure, rah-rah empowerment, but it sounds like both of you are being MFs that should be DA.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:31 PM on June 21, 2008


Wow, text messages with no context. Just as a data point, I've very most definitely exchanged much more "suspicious" (and definitely dirtier) messages with friends that I also-most-definitely was NOT sleeping with, nor intended to. Who knows what running jokes are going on, and so on. Like 23skidoo said, there's flirty. If flirty is too much to handle, yeah, you're paranoid or possessive or both.

Similarly, "My friends probably hate you because you're (____)" does sound pretty awful... but again the context-free nature of that makes it hard for us, even the professional world-class conclusion jumpers among us, to know that it was awful. Even that nasty-sounding remark could be harmless. Imagine:

You: Why do your friends hate me? Why do your friends hate me? Why do your friends hate me? Why do your friends hate me?
Him (laughing): Well my friends probably hate you because you're repetitive!

BUT, I'm also with the consensus here on the whole deal. The overall behavior you sure sounds like someone hiding something, because as you say he wasn't so private before.

And overall, it sure does sound from the tone (?) of your message that you yourself are looking for a reason to dump him, anyway.
posted by rokusan at 3:32 PM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


bottom line... there's no trust in the relationship, just end it and move forward...
posted by HuronBob at 3:35 PM on June 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


I mean, sure, rah-rah empowerment, but it sounds like both of you are being MFs that should be DA.

DA=done already? Dumbledore's Army?
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 3:52 PM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


DTMFA. That way he can be rid of someone who goes through his cell phone looking for text messages and is dishonest about it.

And you can be rid of someone you don't trust. Better for the both of you.

BTW, if you ask a stupid question like "why do your friends hate me?" when you know they really do hate you, answering "my friends hate you because (foo)" is not mean or purposely hurtful, it's an answer to the question you asked. You framed the conversation yourself with your question. Don't expect him to reframe the conversation in a different way. Just something to keep in mind in your next relationship.

While I may sound rude, just based on your question you both sound like you suck at this particular relationship and should move on.
posted by wierdo at 3:56 PM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


You're asking whether you are onto something, and whether you should act.
You are, and you should.

You've saved the money of hiring a P.I. to discover and prove what you already knew.

TEAM DTMFA for the win!

(this doesn't mean you shouldn't try to talk to him, but I'd try steeling yourself first, and accepting that at the end of the conversation(s), he's still dumped)

you deserve better, both from him and yourself.
posted by Busithoth at 4:16 PM on June 21, 2008


He's a cheater, you're a snoop and a liar. Or, as you are maybe starting to realize, things aren't so black and white. Sometimes people have incredibly valid reasons for doing or saying things, and if you come to him with your assumptions totally reinforced, you won't hear the truth even if he decides to share it.

What is going to turn this into a fight instead of a discussion is that you are going to have to admit hat you snooped and apologize for it. And not by saying, "I'm sorry, it was wrong-- BUT..." But nothing. It was wrong, and you have issues to work out. Hopefully he won't be so disgusted that he'll refuse to be honest or gentle with whatever information he has.

You two are playing these games with each other because one or both of you isn't fulfilled. Facing that together is a lot better in the long run than tallying points and figuring out who was the wrongest.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 4:43 PM on June 21, 2008 [9 favorites]


There's nothing wrong with snooping if (and only if) you already strongly suspected your partner of cheating.

There's a chance those messages could be innocuous - it's impossible to tell. You could either wait until you get some firmer evidence, or perhaps more healthily ask him outright.

Good luck.
posted by idiomatika at 6:05 PM on June 21, 2008


If you don't trust him, you probably shouldn't be with him. Maybe he cheated, maybe he didn't, it doesn't really matter because you're thinking about it now. You can try and forget about it (good luck with that) or you can talk to him, taking care NOT to mention you "accidentally" found text messages you find suspicious, just that things feel "off" is there anything you should know? etc. It SOUNDS suspicious but what has that ever meant, really?
posted by heavenstobetsy at 6:10 PM on June 21, 2008


It doesn't matter whether he cheated. What matters is that your relationship is built on sneaky behavior by both of you.

End the relationship.
posted by wfrgms at 7:07 PM on June 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


bottom line... there's no trust in the relationship, just end it and move forward...
posted by HuronBob at 6:35 PM on June 21 [1 favorite -] Favorite added! [!]


I wish I could favorite that response about 20 more times. I've been where you are Anon, but in MUCH worse circumstances. I almost want to out my own anonymous AskMe so you could understand...

HuronBob just gave you some advice that will save you about a year's worth of pain, self-esteem, and years taken off your life.

Please heed everyone's advice when they say DTMFA.
posted by matty at 7:59 PM on June 21, 2008


I'm going to go against the tide - I think it could have very easily been harmless flirting. Regarding the deleting messages, he clearly realized that if you saw them you'd be concerned. Any reason he'd suspect you're checking out his browsing history and his phone?

That would irk me and make me more likely to delete it. My mom likes checking out people's browsing history and whenever she visits, I delete mine - not because there is anything there, but just that I consider it akin to nosing through my closets - not appropriate behavior.

As I see it, you've got three problems:

1) You don't trust him and are snooping. This is bad for the relationship in general. I get it, I'm curious too, but you have to keep yourself from being too nosy.

2) He may be cheating

3) He's been treating you like crap.

Problem 3, for me, is the most compelling, and I'd join the groundswell of support for DTMFA. Find someone who you trust and treats you with kindness and love.
posted by arnicae at 8:07 PM on June 21, 2008


You cannot control what someone sends you. You can control what is sent to you. His response to her text seems generic and trying to put her off. He could have tried to delete her text msgs and tries to answer his phone because she is pursuing him and he does not want it. Maybe she is "stalking" him.

Thew rush to judgement by the previous posters and the DTMFA crowd seems premature.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:16 PM on June 21, 2008


follow-up from the OP
Thanks for the comments.
I want to clarify besides a week after he came back from the trip,
he's been great and normal. It was just about a period of a week where
he was being very rude and hurtful.

billysumday
Perhaps I did not phase this well in my question but I am asking if my
suspicions are reasonable or not, not asking if anyone is absolute
certain that he is.

Acer_saccharum
I never had anyone told me that I'm paranoid but I was worried in this
case because both incidents are so out of character. It's a 3 year
relationship and both are a first.

23skidoo, wierdo
I never asked him why/if his friends hate me. I mentioned to him that
I am not too comfortable hanging out with his friends since we don't
have a lot in comnon before. This is how I knew he was intentionally
being hurtful because he said this out of nowhere.
posted by jessamyn at 8:40 PM on June 21, 2008


"Ever since he came back from the trip, he went from being very mean to me to being a sweetheart and back. He would purposely say hurtful things to me like, "well, my friends probably hate you because you're (____)" or bring up how I am unfair and mean to him with examples from years ago. Then a week later, he's back to being a loving boyfriend."

This is what really cinches it for me. Some people don't deal with guilt very well, and often if someone is cheating or flirting with the idea they will start to feel guilty, identify their partner who they have cheated on as the "source" of their guilt and start to treat them poorly (or worse as the case may be.) If he just came back from a holiday, stress is unlikely the explanation.

It could be that just some time away from you made him start to view things differently. The fact that, cheating or no, he's back now probably means he values your relationship, but I'm not so sure.

Fact of the matter is that cheating or no you kind of have to go with your gut.

You may feel like you should stick it out but in my experience if both of you don't have your heart into making things work and making the other happy then it's better off to save your dignity. Putting up with bullshit from a partner can wreck some serious emotional damage, and as messy as a breakup can be, saying "no more" can be very empowering, especially if he's as much a douche as I get the impression.

Sorry, I know you didn't come in here asking if you should dump him, and that DTMFA is what every askmefi relationship thread says, but I'm leaning towards it here.

Lastly, text messages out of context are *not* a good basis for a suspicion. If you had the suspicion previously, and the text messages were back and forth and pretty damning, sure, but texting is impersonal, flirting by text can be more so.

Quick question: Does your partner flirt with other girls? If so, have you discussed it? Does it upset you? And do you flirt with other guys?

Cos that could be all that this is, and he could have just been shitty for some silly reason after he came back from his trip.

Good luck.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 8:51 PM on June 21, 2008


Are you any good as an actress?

If so, call her up. Offhand I can think of two tacks you could take: 1) "He told me everything, you filthy hussy, and I want you to know he's mine now for good! Hands off!" and see what she says. 2) (more calmly) "He told me everything, and I wanted to ask you. Why did you do it? You knew he was dating me." And see what she says. Either way she's likely to incriminate him without realizing it.

Of course, you may not be the kind of girl who likes this kind of drama. But I think you probably can be, at least long enough to find out what you need to know.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:57 PM on June 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


He would purposely say hurtful things to me like, "well, my friends probably hate you because you're (____)" or bring up how I am unfair and mean to him with examples from years ago. Then a week later, he's back to being a loving boyfriend.

Drop him like a hot rock. And get tested for VD cuz I would bet $large sum of money.00 that he is dipping his wick elsewhere.
posted by Foam Pants at 8:58 PM on June 21, 2008


No one knows that the OP asked whether his friends hated her! She didn't say that at all!

Look, he's lame. I have friends who I flirt with, and my partner knows it, but going to their hotel room alone to have a drink and then lying about it is beyond flirting.

Who doesn't pick up their partner's phone and look through it occasionally, just out of curiosity?

I don't see how it's a huge violation of privacy. I really don't know what someone would want to hide from their partner, but share with someone else.
posted by sondrialiac at 9:02 PM on June 21, 2008


I am asking if my suspicions are reasonable or not, not asking if anyone is absolute certain that he is.

Your suspicions are definitely reasonable.

At this point, speculation is useless, because it's simply mental torture. Did he or did he not? Well you can overanalyze his every action and electronic tail, or you can simply ask him and get this over with.

It will be a rough conversation to say the least, but it's your only option.

Good luck.
posted by Menomena at 9:26 PM on June 21, 2008


If he hasn't cheated on you yet he's in the process of getting there. Your sense of that is what's prompting you to check out things like his browsing history and text messages. His response is to try and control the drift. How long the two of you remain together is a matter of conjecture, but from my experience in similar situations I think you have about 3 months or less. At least for the first round. Good luck.
posted by ptm at 9:26 PM on June 21, 2008


Good God.. he's lying to you and you're lying to him. But your lies are worse, because you suspect the truth.

I'm jaded here... but I think I know you. In a way, I AM you.

You will ALWAYS find ways to try to verify what he says to you. It keeps you in the moment. You will never trust him, but you will say you love him, and you will find a new beginning over and over and over. You will find yourself in love and think that you've settled the situation to your satisfaction. And then something will happen, and you'll re-examine everything all over again.

You'll check his phone again.. hell - you'll figure out his password to his accounts. You'll monitor him and check him daily. That will give you control, but it will NEVER give you HIM. And it will never give you love.

The relationship is over.
posted by matty at 9:52 PM on June 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


Is he definitely cheating on you? No way to tell. On the scale of least to most innocent: He may be sleeping with her, he may be planning to, he may be flirting, said flirting may or may not be harmless, this may be some sort of private joke for which you have no context.
posted by desuetude at 11:00 PM on June 21, 2008


Yeah, he's probably cheating on you. And you're spying on him, which means you already distrust him and will continue to violate his privacy and distrust him forevermore. Just break up already. No one needs this type of drama.
posted by SassHat at 11:33 PM on June 21, 2008


I used to pick up his phone for him if I was closer to it but now he just rushes to the phone instead of waiting for me to hand him the phone.

Guilty.
posted by dhartung at 11:40 PM on June 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


Who doesn't pick up their partner's phone and look through it occasionally, just out of curiosity?

Not to perpetuate the off-topic, but lots of people. Aside from the issue of whether he is cheating (I agree he probably is) I think the OP would do well to define her boundaries as a partner in a different place-- and this doesn't help, really. As matty said, stuff like poking around in his phone and computer will become a compulsion, and it's really unhealthy, not normal. The OP deserves better for herself, whether she dumps her current boyfriend or not.
posted by miss tea at 5:22 AM on June 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Guilty.

Seconded.
posted by Wolof at 6:13 AM on June 22, 2008


Cheating.

Definately:

Meet me at the hotel?
Party in my room!

posted by jkaczor at 9:29 AM on June 22, 2008


It really doesn't look good for you. The rushing for the phone and never letting the phone out of his site is very familiar; in my case it was the ex dealing drugs AND cheating.
posted by kenzi23 at 9:54 AM on June 22, 2008


Who doesn't pick up their partner's phone and look through it occasionally, just out of curiosity?
People who trust their partners. I've never done this. I have, however, picked up a phone and glanced at the display before handing it over, and would consider it suspicious behavior if my partner suddenly started lunging for the phone rather than letting me hand it to her. Likewise if she suddenly started deleting browser history. He may or may not be cheating or have cheated, but he's acting guilty, which means he has reason to feel guilty. OP doesn't trust him and is snooping rather than confronting him. The trust in this relationship is shot.
posted by notashroom at 9:57 AM on June 22, 2008


If you feel the need to snoop...trust your instincts. In a healthy relationship the urge to snoop should be a rare thing. I don't look at my man's phone because well...I think it would be boring. We have good communication and trust that he is not hiding anything.

But I always checked my ex's phone and looking back it was a symptom not just that I was wrong for snooping, but also that our relationship was already on the rocks and making me uneasy. He would quickly look at his phone and silence it when people called and he would close all his IM windows on his computer when I came in his room. No wonder I snooped.

It's amazing to now be in a relationship where the phone rings and I am not beset by anxiety. I feel so much trust when he says "hey, can you look at see who it is?" and I can just be "oh, it's your friend X." Instead of a furtive silencing and I asking who it is and my ex saying "no one." That sucked.
posted by melissam at 2:49 PM on June 22, 2008


I'm afraid he's saying mean things to you (dredging up the past, saying his friends dislike you) because he is trying to rationalize to himself what he has already done.

My suggestion: Don't let on that you suspect or know anything at all. Keep the text messages to yourself.

Then, take a day off from work, do some nice things for yourself, maybe get a pedicure, buy something nice to wear, have a delicious lunch.

And then show up at his office looking fabulous and tell him you've been thinking about your life, and you've decided to make some changes for the better."

And then dump him right then and there, and never look back. Don't let him think you left because he's a cheater. Let him KNOW that you left because you are a smart, sensitive woman who deserves the best and who can do so much better.

Because you are, and you do.

God bless.
posted by 4ster at 7:31 PM on June 22, 2008


OP, sorry for assuming. The guy is obviously a dick, regardless of these other issues if he would say "my friends hate you" in response to your question. Even if his friends do hate you, he could easily have put it more nicely. I still don't think you should be snooping through the man's phone and browsing history.

In general, if you have an issue, ask him. If you don't like his answer, it's time to move on.

In this specific case, you'd better really like this dude if you plan to work through the issues you two have. You'd be better off parting ways.

Now on to the chatfilter..

sondriliac wrote: Who doesn't pick up their partner's phone and look through it occasionally, just out of curiosity?

Me, unless I'm specifically asked. That's not to say I won't look at the external screen should the phone ring or receive a text message. That way I can say to my SO "(so and so) (texted/called) you." She's not very good about noticing these things. I'm not going to go snooping for content, though.

I suppose there are occasions I use her phone, with permission, to take a picture and then send that picture to my tablet, which requires me to look through the picture gallery on that particular phone, but I can't say I'd be happening upon the contents of any texts or call logs while I'm using it, beyond the aforementioned "who."
posted by wierdo at 2:00 AM on June 23, 2008


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