Mostly Just Bothered and Bewildered
December 12, 2013 1:50 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend internet usage is suggestive of an interest in escorts and other activities to an extent that bothers me.

My boyfriend and I have been together for about a year, live together, and due to similar schedules*, mutual friends, and whatnot, spend most of our non-work time together.

A few months ago, I was using his computer (with his permission, but he wasn't there) and noticed a tab open (one of tons, mostly of work related stuff) of a page to an escort service based in the part of the city where he works.

[You know, just to get it out of the way, since I know the snooping is going to be part of the conversation: while in about 70% of the cases I am describing, I was using his phone/computer with his knowledge and permission, or in an innocuous way (using to look something up, call my phone, etc) I haven't just stumbled upon some of the stuff I'm talking about. I deliberately went looking for it.]

I looked at the history for that tab and it was filled with more of the same. Possibly relevant is the fact that the escort service was specifically offering transsexual escorts. Along with the escort agency, he had also looked at a lot of craigslist casual encounters m4m postings (the male/male subsite).

I was really upset by this revelation, not necessarily for the content, but because of the medium. I don't care if he watches porn, and for the most part don't care about the content (I mean, with the obvious objections of the illegal kind). I'm very open with him about the kind of stuff I watch, and I also know that I've explored my share of porn that wasn't really my thing, but out of curiosity.

What bothered me though was what seemed like the "slippery slope" of what looked like exploring possible avenues to enact these desires, which I am definitely not ok with, at least not without a lot of communication and agreed upon boundaries.

Another thing that compounded my distress was that our sex life had also been in a slump. So I was sort of concerned that I had found the reason for that, as well.

The evening of this first discovery, I confronted my boyfriend. In retrospect, I definitely didn't handle the conversation well. I had spent all day imagining the worst, and understandably, he was defensive and embarrassed. He suggested I was sex-negative and shaming him for his interests, and explained that it is the verisimilitude of the postings/escort sites that is the turn-on- like, amateur porn.

I bought this explanation, because he swore he has never/would never cheat on me and that it's really about the fantasy. I try to be GGG and if that's his thing, I can live with it.

Or so I thought. Last night I got home from a Christmas party, and his phone was in the living room (he was asleep). I am ashamed to say, I snooped again. I looked at his text messages and he had three texts (this is an iphone) in the record, to unknown numbers, with no content. In iOS, if you type in a number to text but do not send or add any content, it won't be saved as a blank text (as far as I know). Which made me think that he had been texting with these numbers, but just deleted the content. I looked up the numbers on my phone and they were all for escort agencies.

I'm really torn about what to do. I want to respect the previous conversation we had, stop snooping, and trust him. But I just feel really uncomfortable, and since our sex life is still in a slump, I can't help but think this might have something to do with it.

Please, askme, should I bring this up again? How?

*his workload fluctuates and at certain times of the year he is busier and sometimes stays late.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (38 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Please, askme, should I bring this up again?



"You're a lying sack of shit. Pack your bags."
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:53 PM on December 12, 2013 [68 favorites]

"Hey, so, I was using your computer the other day, and I noticed that one of the tabs on your browser was for an escort service. What's up with that?"

Also, stop snooping in places you don't belong. It's one thing to see something your boyfriend left on display in a place he knows you could see without snooping, and something else entirely to go through his phone while he's asleep. I would also avoid reading into things you don't know about, when there's plenty there that you do know about.

Just ask him about the escort service thing and forget the rest.
posted by Sara C. at 1:55 PM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

And to clarify: Either he has already cheating on you or he is making plans to. I'm probably a little unlike most people in that I would have extended him the benefit of the doubt the first time, because sure, the amateur porn thing makes sense. But it is now very clear that he was lying to you and contacting escort services.

Motherfuckers only call escort services for one reason. He wasn't calling to see if he could get a gift certificate for a friend.

And he called three of them.

You could confront him about it, but I guarantee you that whatever he tells you will be a lie, so why bother?

You can choose to believe that lie if you really want to, but I have no idea why you would. This man does not respect you, he does not respect your relationship, and if I were you, I would not allow him to keep treating me this way, because I respect myself.

It doesn't matter that you were snooping. Snooping ain't right, and in the future you probably shouldn't do it, but you also shouldn't be dating this guy either because, as I said, he's a lying sack of shit. This sucks and I'm sorry, but you're being played for a sucker and you should probably put a stop to it once and for all.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 2:02 PM on December 12, 2013 [57 favorites]

Trust is something that should be earned. It doesn't matter what words come out of his mouth, it's his actions that you need to look at. He could be endangering your health by having sex with random strangers. You know that, right?
posted by dawkins_7 at 2:06 PM on December 12, 2013 [9 favorites]

Look, I don't understand MetaFilter's proclivity for "having a conversation" with your loved one in situations like this, especially in terms of putting someone else's interests and feelings ahead of your own, or in terms of negotiating with duplicitous, self-destructive liars. This is an opportunity for self-examination, not conversation.

You have a sex addict on your hands. Addicts in general piss on your leg and tell you that it's raining. The more you confront them, the more they promise you the moon. They say one thing and do another. They "spend lots of time with you" but still manage to kick you in the nuts the minute you leave the room. This is just the nature of the disease. Don't take it personally. It's not a reflection on your character.

You might want to move out though. Your feelings have clearly been hurt but when you talk to your boyfriend, you find yourself being called "sex negative." This is vintage denial. If you think you can solve this problem through conversation and Buddha-like patience and understanding, you are in for the roller-coaster to end all roller-coasters.
posted by phaedon at 2:07 PM on December 12, 2013 [34 favorites]

oh, and coming back to add: When I'm curious about how people have sex, I watch porn. When I'm curious about how to meet someone to have sex with, I go on Craigslist. The intent is totally different and I don't think it's ok for him to explain it away by somehow blaming you for being upset about it.
posted by dawkins_7 at 2:08 PM on December 12, 2013 [11 favorites]

Do you want to be constantly snooping on your boyfriend to feel secure? He has shown his needs/desires come before yours.
posted by blueberrypicasso at 2:11 PM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

He suggested I was sex-negative and shaming him for his interests, and explained that it is the verisimilitude of the postings/escort sites that is the turn-on- like, amateur porn.
My suspicion is that he is blowing smoke up your ass. My sister had a longtime relationship with a guy who sounds like your guy right down to the searching CL for "not his usual" sex partner. Maaaayabe not meeting them, but at that level who cares. I would kick him to the curb. If you want to have a last conversation with him I'd have it be more like "I don't think you're being completely truthful with me so I think we have to have a 'what do I expect from you in this relationship via a vis fidelity etc' conversation and I'm sorry if it's awkward but come ON" and then you lay out that you expect him to not communicate with escorts and that if amateur porn is his thing, he can go to the zillion amateur porn sites out there.

Bringing other people non-consensually into your sex life or fetish is not cool. This could either mean you as the person he's sneaking around on (because yes, this is sneaking around) or flirting with escorts when that's outside of what you feel is okay in your relationship. Realistically I think it's more likely that you guys are just a bad fit in that what he wants to be able to do and what you are comfortable with are pretty far apart. My sister put up with a really unbelievable amount of shit (from my opinion) because her guy talked a good game about wanting to be in the relationship but then did shit like this. Life's too short.
posted by jessamyn at 2:14 PM on December 12, 2013 [21 favorites]

Do you really believe that "it is the verisimilitude of the postings/escort sites that is the turn-on- like, amateur porn" after finding out that he's sort of more into it than you initially thought? I suspect that you don't entirely believe that, and I don't blame you.

It's really not unfair of you to say "I don't believe you!" if you don't trust/believe him. If this is how he wants to live his life, that's fine, but you definitely don't have to be fine with it.

Here's my suggestion: re-confront him but let him know that you really do care about his feelings and wouldn't want to shame him for innocuous behavior; however, what he's actually doing is really on the borderline between fantasizing and having sex outside your relationship, and that's by the most generous interpretation.

Let him further know that fantasizing is okay, but acting on fantasies about sex workers or any other people isn't okay. Ask him what he wants from you, or from your relationship, that would meet his needs; if he can't articulate anything, or explain how he'd like to get your relationship back on track, then I think you can begin getting out of this relationship knowing that you were kind, generous and loving to no avail. That you did your best and gave him every chance and he wasn't up for being in an adult relationship.

Or, you could just dump his ass without explanation or discussion, and nobody would blame you one iota. It's really a question of whether or not you want to try saving the relationship or not. It's totally up to you, and it's really about what you want. Good luck.
posted by clockzero at 2:19 PM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

How old are you? Would I be right in thinking that you are female and you believe your boyfriend is straight? (otherwise the m/m thing would be less relevant I think)

If that is the case, it sounds to me like he is confused about his sexuality (or is closeted). He's lost interest in having sex with you and is spending a lot of time fantasizing about casual encounters with other men or transsexuals. That would be a big red flag to me.

So, maybe he thinks he might be gay/bi, he's also probably confused and/or ashamed and maybe instead of getting mad you could be compassionate. Chances are your relationship is pretty much over and he is no doubt treating you badly (eg. calling you "sex-negative" for having an issue with him looking for escorts) but try to be understanding and supportive, perhaps you can help him come to terms with the feelings he's having and you might still have a friend at the end of it. Maybe even still a boyfriend, if you and he are able to talk about it openly (big IF, it will only happen if he's ready to talk about it). If you really want to stay with him and you're ok with it, you could give him the space to explore those feelings properly without having to sneak around so he can find out what he really wants. This could just be a "forbidden fruit" obsession and once he's indulged, he'll get over it and be happy with what he has, or discover that it really wasn't his thing but that's a BIG maybe. Its totally OK to want nothing to do with this and to leave him.

If he continues to deny there's a problem and wont talk about it, even when you're trying to be sympathetic and understanding then there is nothing you can do and you should just dump his ass. In addition to the probably texting escorts thing and the gas-lighting, you're not getting what you need out of the relationship.
posted by missmagenta at 2:24 PM on December 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

When I was in a relationship in which I was being lied to and finding out about it completely randomly and without trying, it occurred to me that I might have a better idea of the truth if I looked at his phone.

That right there stopped me. That's not the person I want to be, and as long as I was with him I was going to be that person. I had to end it with him, not because of what he was lying about, and not directly because he was lying. It was because I didn't trust him, and that is all I needed to know.

I did give him opportunities to earn back my trust, with a list a five or six simple things he could do that would give me confidence that he was trustworthy, but he couldn't be bothered to do any of them.

So it was a simple decision.


But simple.

Sending you lots of positive energy as you confront these issues.
posted by janey47 at 2:28 PM on December 12, 2013 [32 favorites]

Dude, come on. He's not calling escort agencies for the versimilitude/turn on. He's calling them because he's organising to have sex with a sex worker who is not you.

No "conversation" necessary: kick his ass to the curb.

Something similar happened to a friend of mine last year, unbelievably, she stayed with the dipshit for another three months before she woke up and dumped him. It was just three months of extra pain for her.
posted by smoke at 2:29 PM on December 12, 2013 [16 favorites]

People don't call escorts just for the thrill of it, they call escorts to arrange to have sex with them (or possibly best case have phone sex with them, and I'm not even sure that's a thing escorts do). He's almost certainly cheating on you, and he's already lied about it. What else do you need?
posted by randomnity at 2:32 PM on December 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

Frankly if I confronted my partner about finding something like this just left open on their computer for me to discover, and they were all "stop being so sex negative!" I would just break up with them.

The whole point of being in an exclusive relationship with someone is that your sex lives impact each other. It's one thing if you have an arrangement about this sort of thing, but yeah, you have a say, and your feelings matter.

Why waste your time with someone like this?
posted by Sara C. at 2:33 PM on December 12, 2013 [7 favorites]

Even if he just really enjoys calling escort services as masturbation material (and is he doing so AS he calls/texts?), he doesn't seem to care that doing so is over the line for you. It would be unreasonable to say don't think about it, it is not unreasonable to say you don't want escort agencies having his phone number and, if they made the slightest effort to look it up, your address.

I think things have soured in your relationship. How much time you want to spend talking about it is up to you, but to him these activities are more important than your objections to them, and that's how he feels about you.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:34 PM on December 12, 2013

You can do better. You deserve better.
posted by kinoeye at 2:35 PM on December 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

Definitely talk about whatever problems are affecting your relationship. If he's not hiring escorts, you still have a lackluster sex life and now you have trouble trusting him as well. Talk with him about what you want and need.

It's also important to have a blunt conversation about what cheating is and is not. Be specific. Sometimes people rationalize that "I t's meaningless sex so it's sort of okay," or "It's just a blow job, not real sex." On a non-sexual level, is it acceptable for either of you to confide in someone else about things you don't discuss with your spouse? How about if you're talking to a friend about marital issues just to vent, and not trying to deal with whatever it is.
posted by wryly at 2:39 PM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

The desire to snoop is simply a manifestation of the lack of trust and honesty between you and your partner.

The way I see it, there's 2 options:

Have a long discussion with him about his 'kink' and what it means for you, as a couple. It's clearly NOT just fantasy/voyeurism for him. Does he want your consent to have sex with other partners to indulge in this kink? Are you OK with that--would you open your relationship to the prospect of other sexual partners? What can he do to help you trust him--spell out precisely what you need to feel comfortable after these discoveries.

If you're unwilling to do the above (and I certainly wouldn't blame you), then perhaps it's best that the relationship ends. It's not ideal and would cause some logistic nightmares about housing (potentially), but why stay in a relationship that has no basis of trust?
posted by stubbehtail at 2:51 PM on December 12, 2013

Your sex life is in a slump because he is having sex with male escorts. Get tested for stds and move out.
posted by empath at 2:53 PM on December 12, 2013 [35 favorites]

There are totally women who are into this sort of thing. You are under absolutely zero obligation to be one of them. If that's what he wants, let him go find someone who is into that sort of thing and be honest with them about it. GGG is something you try to be after they volunteer to you that they're into something. GGG is not something you try to be after they've concealed it from you and then tried to guilt trip you. That's even if it is just fantasies--so even with the most charitable reading of it, this is still into DTMFA territory.

And I join others in suspecting that the most charitable reading of this is not the one most likely to be true, so even just for the chance, it's time for testing and taking appropriate precautions with your health and your future.
posted by Sequence at 2:54 PM on December 12, 2013 [5 favorites]

explained that it is the verisimilitude of the postings/escort sites that is the turn-on- like, amateur porn.

This is such an amazingly obvious lie I'm amazed his nose growing as he told it didn't put out your eye.

Break up with this jerk and get tested.

To address something someone else said - it's not the transsexual people with whom he's having sex who are to blame. He is the one cheating. Using slurs to describe them is not fair. Let's please not go down that road.
posted by winna at 3:13 PM on December 12, 2013 [7 favorites]

[Take the metadiscussion elsewhere please.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:21 PM on December 12, 2013

Your bf has a secret life or desire that doesn't include you. It is up to you to decide what you want to do with that. I would chuck him out.
posted by ladoo at 3:22 PM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I want to respect the previous conversation we had, stop snooping, and trust him...

Please, askme, should I bring this up again? How?

You want to trust him, but you don't think he's trustworthy.

It seems like you are hoping there's some explanation he could give you, if you just asked exactly the right questions, that would convince you he's trustworthy.

Thing is though, that might not be an explanation that's true.

Not trusting him doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you, it could mean that he's not trustworthy.

Trusting people is great if they are trustworthy, but doesn't tend to work out well otherwise.
posted by yohko at 3:33 PM on December 12, 2013 [8 favorites]

Please, askme, should I bring this up again?

You should definitely bring this up again. It's one thing to prefer to prefer a particular type of porn. It's another to being looking at escort sites and seemingly calling them.


Sit him down and explain what you have done and ask him what's going on with his actions. Appeal to his basic decency and whatever feelings he may have or had for you. Enquire about your risk for STDs (be sure and tested anyway). Ask whatever questions you believe will be bring you the information and closure that you need.

It's doubtful that this relationship can continue, but that's only something you can determine based on how he answers you. If he choses not to answer or gives you lies similar what he's said before or attempts to blame you, then make the decision that you're done with him, as that would show he clearly doesn't care enough about you to at least respect your extremely valid concerns.

Good luck to you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:15 PM on December 12, 2013

This whole thing just doesn't sit right if you look at the whole of it. I think it's time for you to move on. Sure, you can talk if you want to, but it sounds like this is enough of a consistent situation that you won't be able to get it out of your mind and he's clearly still investigating escorts to a degree that you're not ok with. Sure, there's a very small chance that nothing untoward is happening. But, there's a much larger chance that something that will undermine the relationship permanently is afoot.

Get tested ASAP and start looking for a new place or get him to leave. This is not what a healthy relationship looks like.
posted by quince at 4:39 PM on December 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm very sorry this is happening.

I have some experience in this milieu. He's calling escorts and the texting is to confirm appointments.

Agree you should break up with him out and get tested.

There is ZERO alternative explanations here.

He has lied and will continue to lie. Talking is pointless.

Call in your support system and either you move or he does.

Again, I'm very very sorry this is happening.
posted by jbenben at 4:41 PM on December 12, 2013 [13 favorites]

Also. The explanation is so obvious, and the lying so pervasive, that I'm confused over any advice to "talk it out."

Most liars don't come clean when confronted, they continue to lie until they get caught. Most liars (especially cheaters) don't feel badly about hurting you, they feel bad they got caught.


Sure, it sucks when your sexuality isn't compatible with your committed relationship. The right answer is to discuss your feelings and at least move out, not double down by staying together with your partner and have sex with others behind the partner's back.

OP, this guy is all wrong. You deserve better. The sexuality is a red herring. The lying and cheating is the deal breaker.
posted by jbenben at 4:52 PM on December 12, 2013 [15 favorites]

The day you have to make an appointment to be tested for STDs because you don't trust your partner is the day you should break up with your partner.
posted by bq at 5:48 PM on December 12, 2013 [13 favorites]

Get out, get out, get out!!!!!

I've lived it. You don't want to go there.
posted by SarahBellum at 7:39 PM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

It drives me nuts that somehow GGG has become translated to "I'll put up with whatever crazy shit my SO shovels so s/he doesn't yell that I am uptight and sex-negative."

Being GGG doesn't not require that you be cool with your bf hooking up with escorts, and making up crazy excuses to you. Feeling weird about this does NOT make you sex-negative. It makes you lying-negative.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 8:09 PM on December 12, 2013 [25 favorites]

The relationship is toast. Time to leave.
posted by Miko at 8:19 PM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Phaedon and FAMOUS MONSTER have hit the nail on the head.

Look, this guy is gaslighting you, and it's not fucking cool. You sound like an awesome girl, and it shows in your willingness to dole out empathy and understanding for your partner's sexual curiosity/ needs. But listen! You absolutely deserve better.

Let me tell you a story. When I was 19, I was in your shoes. For both instinctual and evidential reasons (read: "good night <3" text from a mutual friend at three in the morning) , I was certain that my boyfriend, with whom I was living at the time, was cheating on me. Pretty much all of the classic signs were there, but I wanted SO badly to give him the benefit of the doubt because I was madly in love with him. Like you, I gave him a few chances to come clean. He didn't. Guess what he did instead? That's right! He made me feel like I was totally delusional.

So, like you, I resorted to snooping. Guess what happened next?? I found a letter, written to the same mutual friend of ours, vaguely alluding to a sexual encounter between them and professing his love for her. I found it when he wasn't home. I had the impulse to pack my suitcase and run to the airport and fly home to my parents without saying another word to him.

Instead of holding my head high and leaving, I called him crying, confessing that i'd snooped. I tried to stick it out, and "fought for the relationship" and lost all sense of self respect that I had. I was at the point where I would've rather died than be the one to end that relationship. That didn't end up working out for me. The relationship ended when my parents came and got me out of the psych ward after a suicide attempt.

tl;dr: If your guy has already explored these avenues without communicating with you about what he wants, he DOES. NOT. DESERVE. YOU.

Lost respect is a very hard thing to regain. It hurts me to say that you, but it's the truth. This guy does not respect you.
Two choices: talk to you about his desires/ needs, or hide them from you and seek out gratification behind your back. Dude made the wrong choice.

I'm 28 now, and one of the biggest regrets in my life remains not leaving the day I found that letter. The greatest gift you can give yourself is self compassion, and that entails ending relationships with people you love if they aren't living up to your standards. Demand respect by showing self respect. Here's another vote for the unanimous consensus of this thread - It's time to DTMFA. He had his chance to explain.

Girl, walk out that door and don't look back.
posted by lettuce dance at 10:01 PM on December 12, 2013 [25 favorites]

First, I am so sorry. Then, everything lettuce dance just said. Many of us have stories like this.

I know; we don't know your boyfriend like you do, but that is not why everyone here sees this more clearly than you can at the moment. You are bewildered because he used your desire to trust and warped your sense of reality. That's the gaslighting people have mentioned, and it is not okay. It's also not something he'll stop doing if you let conversations continue (please, please don't).

Heartbreak is horrible, but mind games are so much worse. Also, confessing after being caught is not confessing, so if he tries that, bear in mind that it's not a demonstration of respect for you but the typical next step of someone trying to keep trust without being trustworthy.

This is painful, but staying won't likely make that less the case. Again, so very sorry.
posted by whoiam at 11:15 PM on December 12, 2013 [5 favorites]

It took me a long time to learn to pay attention to my ex-husband's actions, and not his words.

I definitely didn't handle the conversation well. I had spent all day imagining the worst, and understandably, he was defensive and embarrassed. He suggested I was sex-negative and shaming him for his interests, and explained that it is the verisimilitude of the postings/escort sites that is the turn-on- like, amateur porn.

I bought this explanation, because he swore he has never/would never cheat on me and that it's really about the fantasy. I try to be GGG and if that's his thing, I can live with it.

... I want to respect the previous conversation we had, stop snooping, and trust him.

Stop trying so hard to please him. You bought this explanation? It's a lie. I'm so sorry you have to go through this, but he is not being honest or faithful, and you deserve better.
posted by theora55 at 11:22 PM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Calling/texting escort services is a completely different thing than looking at stuff online. Everyone looks at stuff online. That's fantasy. But what you have here is logistics.

Please please leave. You don't need to "bring it up again." Just move out. He'll know why.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:19 AM on December 13, 2013 [5 favorites]

I am mentally screaming in my head right now "getoutgetougetoutgetout."

This guy is so sketchy, and the fact that he is gaslighting you and trying to claim that you are sex negative is the extra slap in the face.
posted by corb at 10:01 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

You're trying to convince yourself that this isn't really happening. He gave a reasonable explanation to that open browser tab, and if you confront him with the text records, he'll probably have a reasonable explanation for that too. You spend all your time together, when could he meet up with these escorts? And gee, maybe the "slump" in your sex life is just a red herring?

Yeah. No. Its pretty clear to people on the outside of this situation that this is really happening. Your boyfriend is cheating on you with escorts, or is so close to doing so that it is a moot point.

You don't need to bring this up again. You just need to get out of this relationship. I'm the type that will want to analyze every fact, figure out every detail, want to hash out every argument. This is not what you need to do here. You can leave these big questions unanswered. You know he is having/nearly having sex with escorts. It does not matter why, how or when. It is not worth the time, mental energy or heartache to have a big conversation about it. He probably will not be honest with you about it anyways.
posted by fontophilic at 11:05 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

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