Snooping: Where to draw the line with a fiance with trust issues?
September 12, 2016 2:39 PM   Subscribe

I am about to have a serious discussion with my fiance as I have recently discovered that she has been going behind my back to login to my facebook account to monitor my activity. It appears this has been going on since July and there have been multiple logins. Therefore, I would like to ask the internet for advice on how to properly confront this type of behavior.

1). We had a bit of a whirlwind romance. We met Labor Day weekend 2015, were inseparable, got engaged by March 2016, and have a Wedding Date of June 2017. I'm 32, she's 26.
2). She's the first to admit she has "trust issues" stemming from past experiences of infidelity from past partners. In addition, her father has a history of substance abuse and goes through periods of emotionally neglecting her.
3). Although I have a squeaky clean conscious and have not engaged in any questionable behaviors whatsoever--I try my best to be supportive and make her feel loved, it seems like her insecure and jealous behavior has been getting worse as time goes on--not better. She is getting more "clingy", the amount of time I spend away from her (outside of work) is almost non-existent now, God-forbid I even converse with a member of the opposite sex who she does not know-- even in her presence, and as a result I'm feeling more and more suffocated.
4). My discovering that she has been going behind my back to actively login to my FB account using my email & password has only confirmed my greatest fear that she's horribly insecure and it has flooded me with doubts about our pending nuptials and has caused me to start to have doubts about spending forever with her. As a result, I feel myself emotionally withdrawing a little bit lately.

My question: I love this girl but I CANNOT deal with extreme jealousy and insecurity as it just contaminates relationships for me. With our pending nuptials only 9 months away, what kinds of things can I do/say to try and remedy this situation before it's too late? I would like to know what it is I'm doing that might be contributing to this problem. I get hung up on the fact that relationships are supposed to be hard and couples work through things so I don't just want to throw in the towel. But I feel myself in need of an intervention sooner rather than later to get this relationship back on the right track.

Thanks, in advance, for all feedback related to this situation...
posted by ThomasJefferson to Human Relations (44 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Do not marry someone you do not trust, or who does not trust you.
posted by kindall at 2:43 PM on September 12, 2016 [82 favorites]

My feeling as someone who used to be more like this (clingy, insecure) and now is not so much, is that a lot of the root of this stuff is some sort of anxiety and that, like other mental health issues, people are responsible for managing their own issues (with loving support from the people who care about them).

So if I were you I think I'd go gently into this one. Change your password for FB and sit down with your fiancee and tell her that you think this is troubling and that it doesn't work for you and that you are here to support her but that she needs to get a handle on things. It's exhausting being with someone who is a never-ending pile of needs. However, it's more useful for you to focus on behaviors that need to stop (snooping, intense jealous-acting when you talk to other women) and you need to not give in to her fears (i.e. by not leaving the house) and the two of you can have some conversations about what normal behavior within your relationship looks like.

Because look, you're going to hear from a lot of people who have varying levels of what they do and do not deal with within their relationships but you guys have to decide for yourself what works for you. A common pattern is that one partner gets anxious/jealous, but then the other partner gets cool/dismissive and then that just cycles and keeps getting worse. So like you say you don't spend time away from her now and imply it's because she's clingy but you're part of this dynamic and you will need to work on modeling what you want the sort of you-normal to look like for you guys.
posted by jessamyn at 2:48 PM on September 12, 2016 [82 favorites]

There is literally zero reason why you have to get married in 9 months. Postpone the wedding, work on your issues together. Premarital counseling and individual therapy might be a very good idea. Maybe the wedding is off the table until the two of you find a healthier dynamic.

This behavior would be a dealbreaker for me personally, but clinginess and insecurity is one of my giant pet peeves and other people might feel different about it.
posted by phunniemee at 2:51 PM on September 12, 2016 [38 favorites]

Couples therapy.

I guess you could try showering her with compliments. Also, you may not have had time to develop that deep bond that comes only with time and having seen her at her absolutely worst (and still be attracted to her after.) She probably feels like part of you is swept up in a fantasy romance, and she may not even be wrong. Like she has to be perfect for you or whatever. Have you guys seen each other when you're sick, sweaty, disgusting, otherwise really unappealing? I mean, I kind of think this dinginess may be a sign that something is not right, and it's not great that it's suddenly turning you off. It would be fine if it was suddenly turning you off if you were dating for 3 months. But you're engaged. You should be past all the dealbreakers and at the point of accepting each others human weaknesses. Is there some reason she feels she can't come to you with these insecurities?

A lot of people are going to say she's messed up in the head, you did all you can, she cray cray, run away now, and all of that. Heck, maybe they're right. But I kind of see this as a marker if you will of true deep gross intimacy that marriage requires. Just get in there and muck around and share your demons. Even her insecurity demons. Hash it out. Really go through it and still love her. If that doesn't work, you're screwed. But I am somewhat optimistic that it may work. Maybe she's crazy, but maybe you're just two flawed people who haven't hit the really comfortable part of intimacy yet, you know?

All couples vary but most engaged/married people I know would basically be fine with spouse logging into their Facebook. NOT the lying and hiding though. But the logging in, no problem.
posted by stockpuppet at 2:52 PM on September 12, 2016 [6 favorites]

jessamyn's advice here is really great. I think you need to sit down and have a very specific talk about boundaries in the relationship, what type of behavior is and is not acceptable, how much time each of you expects to spend with another, what type of contact with opposite sex friends is acceptable and so on. On some level, this is an exercise on whether she can set and live with what you see as reasonable boundaries at all, and whether you find those acceptable either now or in the future. Most people can work through these as they go, with an agreed on baseline. I don't think you're in that situation. I think you need to set boundaries up front.
posted by cnc at 2:56 PM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

First: the wedding has to be off the table, completely and totally postponed indefinitely, until and unless this is resolved. Both individual and couples therapy is a good idea. Secondly: change your Facebook password, of course. If she has your email password, change that too --- in fact change ALL your passwords across the board.

And if she refuses to accept any of these things, the wedding has to be off permanently.
posted by easily confused at 3:08 PM on September 12, 2016 [13 favorites]

Postpone the wedding until she sorts her stuff out on her own in therapy, and if she doesn't want to do that you need to look at ending it.

Like, this is totally fixable and it's not uncommon for 26-year-old women to have suffered from being women in this messed-up world, but she's got to work on it. Herself. Because she wants to not be that person, not just to keep you. If she can't do that, she can't be a partner to you.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:13 PM on September 12, 2016 [10 favorites]

To the extent that this in anxious/compulsive behavior and intrusive thoughts about you cheating, it might also be useful for her to consider seeing an individual therapist and/or psychiatric professional. Antidepressant and anti-anxiety meds can be one useful part of an approach to change this behavior.

(Certainly not all anxious or clingy significant others fall into this category, but it may also be useful to approach this with the belief that's she would like to change this behavior as well, but doesn't have all of the tools to do so.)
posted by mercredi at 3:22 PM on September 12, 2016 [4 favorites]

Is she in therapy? Because you can't make an insecure person feel secure by saying the right things or doing the right things. If the person is inherently insecure (i.e., not insecure because you've been lying to her or acting unethically), then the only one who can make her feel secure is herself. It's like, if she doesn't see herself as lovable, she'll just think you're being manipulating (perhaps kindly, but still manipulating) when you tell her that you love her. No matter how often you say it, she won't believe it until she believes it herself. I agree with jessamyn and Lyn Never very much.
posted by janey47 at 3:23 PM on September 12, 2016 [12 favorites]

Chiming back in to say that my guess would be that postponing the wedding would end this relationship. I would attempt to work things out before resorting to postponement.
posted by cnc at 3:55 PM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

1. I feel you on this, because I, too, started officially Being In A Serious Relationship with someone in September of last year, and now we're engaged and the wedding is in 6 months. I don't think you can put a timeline on love, and if that's what works for you, go for it! That said, it's pretty clear from literally every other thing in this question that your fiancee doesn't trust you. Which is a huge signal that she's not ready to get married and the above whirlwind courtship isn't "what works for you".

2. "I have trust issues" is the first step toward working on your trust issues. It isn't an excuse for a certain behavior. It does not in itself make inappropriate actions OK. If your fiancee recognizes that you are trustworthy, her behavior is what is problematic here, and she needs to get better at this, great! You're solidly on the way to figuring this shit out and marrying the woman you love! If she sees "look I know I have trust issues" as a way to keep crossing boundaries with you, nope. (FWIW I also sometimes have trust issues about certain things, and am working very hard on that aspect of my personality in advance of our impending marriage. Also, I would never in a million years log into my fiance's social media accounts to check up on him.)

3. Waaaiiiiittttt a second.


I think there are two sides to this story. I think your fiance isn't acting out because she "has trust issues". I think you guys are in a pattern where she wants to spend time with you (for good reason, you guys are engaged to be married and thus will be spending a lot of time together for the rest of your lives), and something about this causes you to have a kneejerk reaction of OH NO CLINGY FIANCE NEED SPACE RED ALERT. Which would 100% set off my "trust issues" spidey sense if I were your girlfriend. If my fiance -- who loves spending time with me and has never accused me of being "clingy" -- suddenly started wanting to spend a lot of time alone, stopped inviting me out with him, and had a lot of opposite sex friends he wanted to spend time with instead, I, too, would start to think that something was going on.

Now, obviously if you are not getting up to anything behind her back, you resent this and feel like it's all her fault. But really, you both share the blame. Spend more time with your fiancee. Stop trying to isolate yourself from her or hide things (even super incongruous things). Be more open with her, not less. If the issue is genuinely that you feel like you don't have your own free time away from her, be transparent about it. Tell her "I love you, but I also need social time with other friends/alone time to just veg out/whatever my actual needs are." Tell her specifically what you are doing during this time. For example, my fiance is part of an RPG campaign that I'm not participating in. Every Saturday he goes to a friend's place and plays this RPG. It's a mixed gender group, and he's told me everyone else who plays, I've met them, the whole thing checks out. It's never occurred to me to question whether this gathering is really real, whether he goes straight there and comes straight home, the nature of his relationship with everyone in the group, etc. Because he's really open about the whole thing rather than being secretive or weird about it, or refusing to answer the questions I do ask with something like "I need space" or "stop being so clingy".

If the above scenario seems like a fantasyland to you, you're not ready to get married.

4. What she's doing isn't OK, but your response to it is also indicative of the fact that you guys aren't ready to get married. You don't have to spend every second together and tell each other everything, but if your impulse during conflict is to withdraw, become evasive, withhold affection, and accuse her of being clingy, this sounds like a flash in the pan fun times relationship, not something that is heading toward marriage. Which is fine, but in that case you probably shouldn't be engaged.
posted by Sara C. at 3:56 PM on September 12, 2016 [12 favorites]

Even the most stable couple in the universe ought to go through premarital counseling. You guys aren't an exception.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:21 PM on September 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Well, I am not going to tell you what to do, but I'm married and if my husband wants to use HIS Facebook he has to log out of mine, since I leave myself logged in all over the place. So to me, as a married person, him looking at my Facebook is...I don't care. Ditto my phone, my email, whatever.

I would also query how you "know" she has been logging in. I know someone who got the police involved because her husband's ex was logging in to her Facebook as ostensibly demonstrated by the IP locations on the "active session" list. Turned out it was just a funny thing that mobile phone networks do, all the active sessions were the owner of the account, routed weirdly via some elsewhere places by Vodafone, and they looked pretty dumb in front of the police....
posted by intergalacticvelvet at 4:24 PM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

She is getting more "clingy", the amount of time I spend away from her (outside of work) is almost non-existent now

If you're spending almost all your non-working hours with her, she has zero reason to be clingy or jealous and you should ignore the advice of the poster a few comments above, who told you to "spend more time with her"(!!). If your take on the situation is accurate, you're not the problem here. I think you need to tell your fiancée that you cannot live with this kind of mistrust and surveillance and that you need some alone time and time to see other friends, and that the wedding is off the table until these issues are resolved. Be specific about what you need from her. Tell her exactly what you want her to stop doing (i.e., the Facebook espionage, the freaking out whenever you talk to another woman even in her presence), and how much free time you need per week. Tell her you'd like her to get counselling. You can offer to go to counselling with her if that will make her more likely to go. Cancelling the wedding will give you some leverage.

Honestly though... I doubt you're going to be able to work this out. I've known a few people like this who have problems with clingyness, jealousy, and mistrust and who demanded constant reassurance from those close to them, and they were basically black holes of neediness whom no amount of compliance and self-sacrifice on the part of their partners ever satisfied, and they never improved. Do your best to get your fiancée into counselling, because she needs it, but this situation probably isn't fixable because your fiancée won't be able or willing to change. and you will probably ultimately need to leave or spend the rest of your life trying and failing to pacify an insatiably needy person. Yes, relationships can be hard, but every relationship has to have a bedrock of mutual trust, respect, and care, and if you don't have that all you're doing is building a house on sinking sand.
posted by orange swan at 4:27 PM on September 12, 2016 [16 favorites]

Are you emotionally open with her? Is it possible for her to tell when you are happy, sad, angry just by the tone of your voice, body posture, and facial expression, or are you someone who keeps his feelings to himself except when he puts into words what he believes he ought to be feeling? Because if you're doing the latter, insecurity is a pretty natural result.

I'm definitely not accusing you of this; just asking. Because stoicism can be very attractive when you aren't actually engaged to someone, though it's awful to partner with. And people who comport themselves as stoics often don't appreciate when other people express their emotional needs, which makes it worse.
posted by amtho at 5:14 PM on September 12, 2016 [8 favorites]

For me, snooping in Facebook would not be a deal breaker. I would definitely confront her about it, at the very least. I had a snoopy boyfriend in the past, and worked through it by giving him all my passwords and permission to use them. He stopped.

I would be more upset and not tolerant about point 3-- but I need a lot of alone time and I have a lot of male friends. That strikes me as a much more serious issue.

*But* as you can hear here in this thread, many think that's normal in a relationship. You might need some work together to decide what level of "together" makes you happy. My ex thought that normal was doing Everything Together Always (his parents had no individual friends literally at all. only couple friends.). I couldn't do it. It drove me nuts. But for him that was part of the picture of what a "real" relationship looked like.

Even if you don't go to counselling, maybe you should sit down and think for yourself what happily married looks like for you. Really describe it. In detail. And then think whether this woman is the person who could be a partner with you in that picture. Loving her is not the same thing.
posted by frumiousb at 5:43 PM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

With our pending nuptials only 9 months away, what kinds of things can I do/say to try and remedy this situation before it's too late?

A wedding date can be changed and no one besides your fiancée can tell you what would make her feel more secure. So start talking, and be willing to be flexible about the date. Maybe she's freaking out too and pausing things for a sec might help you both recalibrate.

Based on your description, it sounds like you feel you're spending more time together than is ideal, but I get the impression that you haven't really discussed that with your fiancée. Why is that? Premarital counseling is never a bad idea, but if you're not a pro at communicating your big picture desires and concerns, then I'd say it's imperative.

Hopefully your fiancée is on board. And if it comes out that you're right about her anxiety, then hopefully she can get help. Do not think of premarital counseling as fixing her. She may have some flaws to manage, but everyone does. Premarital counseling is to help you both work together better.
posted by ghost phoneme at 5:46 PM on September 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

If my fiance -- who loves spending time with me and has never accused me of being "clingy" -- suddenly started wanting to spend a lot of time alone, stopped inviting me out with him, and had a lot of opposite sex friends he wanted to spend time with instead, I, too, would start to think that something was going on.

sorry, was the original question edited in some way between the time this comment was posted and right now? i don't understand where this description of the OP's behavior is coming from?
posted by poffin boffin at 5:47 PM on September 12, 2016 [34 favorites]

Ooookay. So she's definitely been cheated on before and snooping has paid off for her in having that confirmed. That makes it harder.

Right now you don't spend any time apart outside of work and she's snooping in your Facebook and probably everything else for that matter. Does she still not trust you even when she has her eyes on you as much as she physically can without following you to work?

I'd ask her: what on earth is there that I can do to make you feel like I won't cheat on you? I'm reminded of a conversation I had with an ex long ago about his ex who would have happily locked him in a tower if she could. Would she finally feel safe and secure if you were locked in a tower? Never had exposure to any woman ever including your mom? If she read your e-mail and eavesdropped on your calls constantly? If you wore a chastity belt? I'm sounding like I'm being smartassed about this, but seriously: if NOTHING you can do is going to reassure her that you won't cheat (and I'm assuming that in your entire relationship she hasn't found a darned lick of evidence that you are), then the problem is her. And she needs to know that because she needs to start working on that in therapy.

I don't know about getting married or breaking up or what here, but it's going to erode your relationship if you feel like you are in jail all the time and she still doesn't trust you one bit not to cheat on her. Postponing a wedding while she goes to therapy (and perhaps you too because marriage counseling is a good idea) is probably your best move here to see if she CAN get over this or not.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:55 PM on September 12, 2016

the fact that relationships are supposed to be hard

No, they're really not, especially after you've known each other only a year. They can be hard, which is not the same thing at all as saying they're "supposed to be hard." In my own experience, a relationship that's plagued with problems is a relationship that's just not working. Don't try to talk yourself into accepting behavior that's unacceptable to you by telling yourself that all relationships have major problems like this. They don't.
posted by holborne at 6:03 PM on September 12, 2016 [18 favorites]

Definitely talk about this asap. Consider slowing things down, including delaying the wedding if it is necessary.

As an example of what could potentially happen if you don't: you'll both share the same prison cell that is your partner's anxieties. You'll stop hanging out with your own friends, and you'll feel guilty every time you have to leave your partner - even if it's to go out of town over the weekend for a funeral.
posted by destructive cactus at 6:18 PM on September 12, 2016

So she's definitely been cheated on before and snooping has paid off for her in having that confirmed. That makes it harder.

I had an alcoholic, occasionally drug-addled ex do horrible violent things to me. This does not give me a pass to go around acting as though my SO is liable to start beating me. I went to counselling, spent a while single to unpack the things going wrong with me that led me to fetch up in a crap "relationship" like that, and generally dealt with and fixed the resulting trauma to a point where...well, yeah. There is no chance the lovely bloke I am seeing now is going to suddenly turn violent. Ditto with every other guy I spend time with.

This does not mean I was not jumpy in the aftermath of the abuse, and skittish -- I would make up excuses to turn down one-on-one visits in my home for a while, etc.

But it would have been dreadfully unhealthy to go around getting married at the point where I was making up excuses for why I'd meet an old male friend at the restaurant down the way instead of alone at my house and so on.

Mrs OP may or may not be able to work through her issues. She definitely shouldn't be getting married with them still in full spate, and the fact that she doesn't recognise that is a red flag.

I get hung up on the fact that relationships are supposed to be hard and couples work through things

Love is labour, yes. When you marry you should expect to go through horrible things like the deaths of loved ones (sometimes prolonged, gory, very painful, expensive deaths), health issues that may see one or the other of you wiping the other one's arse for them, and go through all the horrors normal life flings at people as partners, even if you would rather flee to Tierra del Fuego than clean up one more chemotherapy barf.

But while one should support a partner dealing with a mental health issue -- and I do think this level of "I'm going to marry this man but I don't trust him for shit" is reflecting a mental health issue -- the person with the mental health issue must be doing the heavy lifting themselves. Thanks to a b12 deficiency I fetched up with unexpected and groundless anxiety and depression issues. Not fun for my partner, or my child. I'm on medication, I'm seeing a professional regularly. It is my partner's job to be patient and supportive while I try to finish going through this -- but it is my job to see that my problems do not lead to my treating people badly, and my job to seek out and comply with treatment. Because there's nothing he can do if I can't be bothered to help myself, except for sit around and be treated poorly (or leave). Not acceptable.

That she cannot handle you talking to a member of the opposite sex is some pretty weird stuff. How on earth are you going to have a wedding -- presumably you will have female guests that you will want to greet?

It will get old fast being Mr Crazypartner. Others will notice the relationship dynamic. Invitations to do things with friends will dry up. You will end up stuck in a marriage with an abusive dynamic, and further and further isolated from your support system. And, if you want to have children? Guess how much they love parents with untreated mental health issues! You will have to take on the work of parenting AND the work of trying to help mitigate the damage caused by their troubled mother, and by the poor example of a relationship the two of you will set if things continue on as is.

I would postpone the wedding, tell her she needs to address her past via professional help instead of making you pay for it over and over forever, and that if she isn't going to be able to work on having a healthy relationship with you, you're not going to be able to magically make that happen yourself, and it wouldn't be fair to either of you to marry with that being the status quo.

Side note: I would be extremely cautious about birth control. An accidental pregnancy right now would do a lot to wreck the lives of all concerned if she is not the sort to calmly make an appointment for an abortion. And, at 26 with a man one wants to marry, having an abortion might be rather more difficult than having one at 16 or 46 with a random boyfriend. So...yeah. I'm not casting aspersions on her, just -- mind how you go on that front.
posted by kmennie at 6:31 PM on September 12, 2016 [7 favorites]

This is not a big deal. Seriously. Somehow in this culture, with its many opportunities for infidelity, and with people following up on these, and with a 50% divorce rate, any signs of insecurity shown is seen as a green flag to leave a relationship. My cousin had the same issue where her dear husband was cheating on her and it was devastating for her. As a result she trusted men less and less. She then met "John" who didn't see this as a threat or as her lack of trust in him but as something she had to rebuild with his help. Key words-"she" and "his". It takes 2. Many years later they are happily married now and their trust in each other is stronger than ever before to a point where even when she sees women trying to hit on him she finds it genuinely amusing.
However you are marrying someone way too fast. Regardless of this issue you haven't had enough time to know her at all. You both need time to build something, specially trust and your rushing things like this will only make things worse.
posted by metajim at 7:13 PM on September 12, 2016 [6 favorites]

Evaluate what to do after you've sat down with her and had a serious, emotionally open, loving discussion about this behavior and how you two can constructively work toward a solution. Is she willing to engage? Are you willing to help? The solution depends on you guys, and we won't have the answer to that. But being able (or unable) to work through this kind of a challenge will let you know whether or not you guys have the foundation for a stable partnership.
posted by sallybrown at 7:19 PM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Relationships are not supposed to be hard! They are supposed to be the comfy place where you get each other through the hard things together. They do take work, but in the sense of attention, and care, like that, not like "oh god I have that report due on Tuesday" kind of work.

You get to have a life outside of your relationship. Friendships, work-mate-ships, stuff you do without your person, whether it is solitary stuff like "I'm going for a run" or social stuff like "I meet with friends every other week to play a geeky board game." You get to have privacy (not the same as "secrets."). That means nobody gets to break into your social network accounts and snoop: that is not okay.

As you've described it , it sounds to me like she's got anxiety issues that are totally legit and not related to you and the relationship she is having with you, and to me this means she definitely needs to be the main person in charge of fixing the issues because they are mostly or solely hers. You can't fix somebody else's stuff, and you really can't fix it when their stuff is not even about you. Premarital counseling/couples' therapy is not a bad idea, at all, but she ought to be in her own individual therapy as well.
posted by rtha at 7:21 PM on September 12, 2016 [13 favorites]

relationships are supposed to be hard and couples work through things

To this point: no. Love is easy. Being on the same team should be the easiest thing in the world. Having each others' backs on a good day should be effortless.

One of you being sick is hard. One of you losing a job is hard. When parents get sick or siblings have a bad run of luck or your dog has explosive diarrhea for six weeks or your neighbors are homicidal meth addicts, that's hard. Compiling the love and the togetherness and the coping strategies to survive those things is when the hard part is supposed to kick in and you crush it, or at least punch it a few times. The hard stuff is the hard part, the rest of it is supposed to be good.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:48 PM on September 12, 2016 [6 favorites]

I wonder how people would have reacted if the genders were switched.

For me, I immediately went to "you're not allowed to see friends or TALK to other women? This sounds abusive." Isolating people and having major major jealousy behaviors like your fiancee is describing do seem to meet the level of emotionally abusive to me. It's not OK to isolate you from your friends and/or expect you to spend 100% of your time with her. I think you need to have a serious come to jesus conversation with her and demand that she get her shit under control.

Also, I'm not sure you should be enabling her behavior by going along with the idea that you can't speak to women ever. I think this is something you can and should push back on and see how she reacts. If she can't get a handle on this, well... do you want to spend the rest of your life never being able to speak to another woman, even if she's standing right there, no matter how mundane the topic? That seems crazy to me.
posted by zug at 11:22 PM on September 12, 2016 [15 favorites]

I think people sometimes have the idea that they can only break off a relationship if the other person is somehow bad or at fault or abnormal. That is wrong. I personally believe that you are asking for a reasonable level of trust, and your fiancé is asking for an unreasonable level of reassurance, but it doesn't matter what some stranger on the internet thinks. What matters is that right now, neither of you can offer what the other one requires.

You might, therefore, try framing it in those terms. "I love you, and I understand why you have trust issues, but I cannot be in a relationship without trust. I was already feeling like I was simply not capable of offering you the level of reassurance you need, and that was before I found out you've been logging into my Facebook account. Now I feel hurt and betrayed, on top of everything else. I don't think we should get married until we know that each of us can give the other what they need. I think we need to postpone the wedding while you find a good therapist who can help you work through your trust issues, and I don't think we should set a new date until we are confident we can give each other what we need."

This will not be easy for you to say and it will not be easy for her to hear. But if she isn't willing to listen, then she is telling you that she is never going to change, and this is going to be your life forever, and you will each be married to somebody who cannot offer you what you require.

And, honestly, you might consider therapy for yourself, as well. The level of suspicion you are putting up would be a dealbreaker for me personally, but talking it through with a qualified professional might help you figure out whether it's a dealbreaker for you.
posted by yankeefog at 2:44 AM on September 13, 2016 [9 favorites]

Snooping: Where to draw the line with a fiance with trust issues?

At this point I think you need to end the relationship and get yourself into therapy to figure out why you've tolerated her suffocating your life so much. Spending all your time with her isn't healthy, how did that come about it? Figure that part.

As to the email thing, change your passwords and then explain to her what you've done and why. Don't be kind and understanding, but matter of fact. It's very simple, she's going behind your back, so you're changing passwords. She doesn't trust you, for reasons that have nothing to do with you, so she needs to figure her shit out and quit dragging you down.

But it's hard for a person to change and she's probably not going to take this change kindly. That's not your problem. No really, it's not your problem. You can't fix it or solve it, that's her job and currently she's taken a leave of absence from it. Draw your line, don't budge and only agree that things can go forward if she gets help.

Do not be afraid to end this relationship, it's a disaster in the making
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:09 AM on September 13, 2016 [7 favorites]

I have been your fiancée. This is the truest statement in this thread:

Because you can't make an insecure person feel secure by saying the right things or doing the right things.

You cannot control her emotions. There are no magic words. You are throwing love into an abyss and nothing, nothing will ever be enough. You can spend 24 hours a day with her, but then she will be wondering if you really want to do that and whether you'd rather be doing something else (and of course you would).

She needs therapy and lots of it. And it will take a long time. I agree that postponing the wedding may be tantamount to breaking up with her but it could also be a wake-up call that her behavior really is this bad.

My ex, like you, tried a lot of things. He tried transparency (he didn't care if I logged into his accounts or rifled through his phone), he tried to spend more time with me at the expense of his hobbies, he didn't spend one-on-one time with his preferred gender, he texted or called when I was anxious about where he was or what he was doing. Eventually he became really resentful of all this, and I cannot blame him. The crazy thing is that I am 110% sure he never cheated, and 95% sure he never wanted to. It wasn't the precipitating factor, but my behavior contributed to the dissolution of my marriage.

I'm still not really over that level of anxiety about relationships and I'm still in therapy. YMMV; maybe she will get through it because she's younger and has had less time to form habits. But, just like with an alcoholic, she has to want to change and there is little to nothing you can do besides encourage her to get help and be supportive when she does. I'm sorry. This is hard for both of you. I assure you that she doesn't want to be like this and she probably feels very guilty that she is unable to stop.
posted by AFABulous at 7:20 AM on September 13, 2016 [11 favorites]

I think your fiance isn't acting out because she "has trust issues". I think you guys are in a pattern where she wants to spend time with you (for good reason, you guys are engaged to be married and thus will be spending a lot of time together for the rest of your lives), and something about this causes you to have a kneejerk reaction of OH NO CLINGY FIANCE NEED SPACE RED ALERT. Which would 100% set off my "trust issues" spidey sense if I were your girlfriend.

There is a difference between withdrawing from a partner who wants to spend time with you, and isolating a partner from nearly all friends and especially anyone who is of the opposite sex. The OP has stated it is very specifically the second scenario, so I can't help but consider that you are projecting your own issues/fears onto his situation.

Onto the question: you cannot fix another person, and you cannot make them feel more secure. That is up to them. If you try to, it will lead to unhappiness on both your parts. You can only give so much, and nothing will fill the hole of insecurities if she doesn't do the work on herself.

Snooping for me is a HUGE deal. I would never consider it. I would be absolutely livid if my husband did it. Why? Because being a couple doesn't negate one's autonomy completely. Now, some couples like to have a narrow separation, and others like to keep things much wider apart. There is no right or wrong, as long as one partner isn't controlling the other and both are happy, but you need to ask yourself if you are comfortable spending your life with someone who has a much narrower margin of personal space than you do.

There is absolutely zero reason why you cannot put the wedding on hold while you guys navigate this issue.
posted by Windigo at 11:42 AM on September 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Don't marry her.

If you want a look at an example of what this sort of thing winds up looking like years down the road, we have case histories here on the green.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:21 PM on September 13, 2016 [5 favorites]

Ask her what kind of privacy settings she thinks your relationship needs or should have. Ask if she'd like to see or understand anything in particular, or if she's worried about anything you're doing. Maybe ask her if she would like an open passwords relationship. (In threads like these, this perception is an outlier.)

In my marriage by mutual un-finagled consent, we had an open password system that meant our laptops and phones were never locked to each other. That's not the way a lot of people responding here feel about privacy but that's how some relationships operate by practice, or design. He and I regularly used each other's devices. He had no problem picking up my phone to look at pics or see a train of messages about anything - usually logistical stuff - and I had no shudders of 'oh noes, privacy!'

So, I think the effect of that style of marital overlap has affected the way I've seen dating prospects going forward. When I see my lover hurriedly close Windows or shut off his phone or whatever, it seems not like 'oh I'm just being private' but more like 'I'm hiding something'. I've had to say 'I get folks are different, this is what I've come from, and this is what that looks like? I can respect your privacy, but it pings me when I see you do this.' If things are honestly and clearly discussed, you feel on the same team etc nothing needs 'snooping.' Sure, people are insecure, but *some* people see 'privacy' as 'concealment' for a range of reasons, not just because they're fucked in the head.

Fact is, locked or unlocked passwords and personal devices are, infidelity is not bound by these things. If my partner was wobbling and wanted to know anything, he could ask and I'd show him. This happened rarely. It occurred to me twice in 16 years to 'snoop' and both times were because something was going on, something my gut told me was wrong. Both times were openly requested when we were sitting together and I asked for reassurance about a particular person. The level and frequency of him messaging her all day bothered me and I asked him if I read their messages I'd be perturbed. He showed me and I was. Then we dealt with that problem.

On another note, have you thought that your girlfriend might also be having the jitters about marrying you? In the last two months this behaviour has presented itself, and the wedding could be looming in her mind too. If she didn't do it before, maybe she didn't feel so attached to outcomes. Now she is and she's second guessing your suitability for her. Trust is important both ways, she could be worried that your whirlwind romance to wedding timeline is not right for her either. Often snooping is a way to quell, dispel or prove gut feelings of a wrong fit. As others have pointed out, often people in relationships need The Reason to end things. They can't trust their gut and fall prey to second guesses.
posted by honey-barbara at 1:35 PM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

It has flooded me with doubts about our pending nuptials and has caused me to start to have doubts about spending forever with her.

I love this girl but I CANNOT deal with extreme jealousy and insecurity as it just contaminates relationships for me.

If I were your friend I would look you straight in the eye and say "Postpone your wedding". You are running out of time before postponing the wedding goes from "oh, you postponed the wedding" to A Really Big Messy Inconvenient Public Deal.

She is getting more "clingy", the amount of time I spend away from her (outside of work) is almost non-existent now, God-forbid I even converse with a member of the opposite sex who she does not know-- even in her presence, and as a result I'm feeling more and more suffocated.

Where have your own personal boundaries shown up? Do you feel comfortable pushing back? I understand not wanting to upset your fiancee, but it is not helping in either the short or long run.

Have you told her you are going to do things by yourself, and then done them? Are you afraid she'll cry and make you feel bad? Are you afraid it makes you look like a bad person?

I think your situation is what couples therapy is made for. Do you have insurance? Does she? If finances are an issue, call some local offices and figure out how they charge. This should definitely, definitely be something you do ASAP and I would be recommending it even if you thought everything was peachy-keen, especially since it was such a whirlwind.

Therapy together would be so good not just to address her anxiety but also for you in terms of how to face it as well as asserting your own boundaries.
posted by amicamentis at 8:07 AM on September 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who took the time out of their busy schedules to share some advice. Your perspective on the situation is truly enlightening.

To clarify a few points brought up in the answers section:
1). She is inherently insecure because I have done nothing even remotely close to triggering insecure tendencies. In fact, I go over and beyond trying to be transparent and make her feel secure. For example, I purposely leave my phone unattended to indicate I am not hiding anything, whenever I do go out with friends and she's not around (which only happens nowadays when she has a girls only obligation such as a bridal shower or something like that), I let her know exactly who I'm with and whenever we change locations. That's why it shook me to the core that when I did find out she was actively logging in to my fb account, because no matter how hard I try, she still must think I'm up to no good for some reason.
2). she does show the potential to change problematic behavior, that's why I'm optimistic she can work on this. Early on, occasionally she would call me names and tell me to shut up or F off, but I have stood my ground and told her multiple times I will not tolerate that behavior. I've noticed she's gotten better at losing her temper.
3). The whole feeling like a hostage Is the feeling that is most worrisome to me. I obviously care a lot about her but think balance is important to maintain a healthy relationship. The vibe I get from her is that she wants me by her side 24x7. And we've had talks about my need for alone time with friends and her response is "I would never tell you that you can't go out with your friends". But the signals I get from her speak otherwise. She'll bombard my phone with texts when I'm out without her, she'll demand I call her for various reasons, she basically makes it so I can't enjoy myself...Then whenever i stand my ground and call out her problematic behavior, her defense is always "well if you think I'm this bad of a person, why are you marrying me". I never know how to respond to that...I'm at the point where I couldn't even imagine playing a round of golf alone with my friends on the weekends. it's a very insidious process andI'm not sure how the dynamic got like this.

so my question is, since Things are still fairly fresh that's why she Wants to spend every minute possible together, and that as time goes on...things will evolve into a more healthy dynamic, i.e. she'll want to start having some alone time with her friends....or are the behaviors I'm explaining truly alarming and not going away anytime soon.
posted by ThomasJefferson at 11:20 AM on September 16, 2016

since Things are still fairly fresh that's why she Wants to spend every minute possible together, and that as time goes on...things will evolve into a more healthy dynamic, i.e. she'll want to start having some alone time with her friends....or are the behaviors I'm explaining truly alarming and not going away anytime soon.

You've been together for over a year now, and she hasn't changed - or, no, wait, in your question you actually say she has gotten WORSE over time:

"She is getting more "clingy", the amount of time I spend away from her (outside of work) is almost non-existent now, God-forbid I even converse with a member of the opposite sex who she does not know."

I know you would rather just do nothing and hope this problem will go away on its own, because you love her, but that is 100% not going to happen.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:33 AM on September 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

Don't marry her. You guys seem pretty fundamentally incompatible. Stuff like "how much time should we spend together" should be easy. It doesn't matter who is at fault. You shouldn't marry someone when your instinct is to pull away, and she shouldn't marry someone she can't trust enough to let out of her sight.
posted by Sara C. at 11:45 AM on September 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

Early on, occasionally she would call me names and tell me to shut up or F off, but I have stood my ground and told her multiple times I will not tolerate that behavior. I've noticed she's gotten better at losing her temper.

You don't get to tell somebody over and over that you 'will not tolerate that behaviour.' You do tolerate that behaviour -- you've stuck around. You continue to tolerate that behaviour, and you've made it clear that 'I won't tolerate that' is a totally meaningless threat.

That she TELLS YOU TO FUCK OFF somewhat SLIGHTLY LESS than she used to is not a positive, healthy sign. It is a sign that she is a mess and that you need to get away with her, as you are willing to repeatedly tolerate pretty ridiculous amounts of abuse from her.
posted by kmennie at 4:36 PM on September 16, 2016 [6 favorites]

she's gotten better at losing her temper.

This sentence just kinda gave me the willies, whatever it means.

But also, if she's prone to cussing you out, that's another bad sign in addition to the default cheaterbrain she has going. Listen to AFABulous about this one--only she can get over that shit, there's nothing you can do to make her happy.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:07 PM on September 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

Your update does not make me less concerned. At the very least, you need to postpone the wedding while she works her - and yes, her issues are hers - issues out. In your place, I'd be breaking up because that kind of behavior (namecalling, controlling, keeping constant tabs when you are out) is beyond my personal pale. This is a seriously unhealthy dynamic and all your love and loyalty isn't the fix for it.
posted by rtha at 5:19 PM on September 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

The thing about marriage is, when you decide to get married you are saying, "yes, this is all fine. This is good, it makes me happy, it's what I want, and I'd like to go ahead and sign up for a lifetime of exactly this, thank you."
posted by taz at 11:16 PM on September 16, 2016 [12 favorites]

Having grown up with a parent who was a rageaholic control freak, the idea that someone is "getting better" about a habit like name-calling concerns me. The position needs to be that you don't do stuff like that, period. Otherwise they get the impression that any kind of apparent effort to make an improvement is going to be acceptable. My family member's refrain right after a blowup or after someone tried to set limits was, "But I'm getting better, aren't I?" Sure there may be some degree of improvement, but if you know a blow-up is a possibility, does it really matter how many there are? Also with us, there was a sort of mythology that they were doing this because they were vulnerable. Not sure how much of this fits your situation but I think you might look at the extent to which you have bought into this. Which is very easy to do and I'm not trying to say it's your fault in any way.

Which brings me to kids. You feel like you are in prison, and you are an adult. Being a kid in a house with a parent who acts like that is horrible. Don't do that.
posted by BibiRose at 7:41 AM on September 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

After your update, I think you need to call this what it is - abuse. It's way beyond mere insecurity. Here's part of an abuse checklist. I've bolded the things you have mentioned; I'm guessing there is more you havn't mentioned. Here is the entire checklist, which includes several other categories. Even one or two of these things, if it happens more than once, is reason enough to consider leaving. No one deserves this.
Restricting Freedoms:
Tells you that you can not do something
Jealous about who you see
Monitors your time, makes you account for where you were
Does not allow you to leave the house

Makes it difficult for you to get a job
Restricts your use of the car
Tries to prevent you from contacting family
Alienates you from family and friends
Turns children against you
Keeps you from getting medical care
Withholds affection to punish you
Tries to turn people against you

Says things to spite or insult you in front of others
Puts down your physical appearance
Makes out you are stupid
Criticizes your care of children/home
Calls you names and swears at you
Tells you you are crazy/irrational
Accuses you of having an affair
Ridicules family or friends
Does not show concern for children's needs or concerns
Gets angry when children cry or make demands
Goes through personal things ie: purse, drawers, pockets
Frightens children's friends so they stop coming over
posted by AFABulous at 10:43 AM on September 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

I agree with AFABulous. This is sounding more and more like abuse or at least a very unhealthy relationship.
posted by daybeforetheday at 2:39 AM on September 30, 2016

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