Snoop into your own heart next

Published November 9, 2006

My girlfriend and I began our relationship under rather inauspicious circumstances; she was essentially in another relationship for the first month of ours. At the time, I shoved my guilt aside and considered it a fling. But she ended the other relationship and committed to me, and the situation metamorphosed into a real relationship. We have been together over a year now and, unsurprisingly, the circumstances surrounding the beginning of our relationship have come back to haunt me. I still feel guilty about being involved with someone who was in a relationship, and at the same time I am convinced she will cheat on me like she cheated on her last partner. In fact, it's gotten to the point that I am actively snooping to see what she is up to. I know it's wrong, but I can't make myself stop. I am out of control, I have figured out e-mail passwords, I snoop through her things, her cell phone, whatever I can get my creepy hands on. I don't know what to do, I hate myself for doing this, and I want to trust her or at least not violate her privacy. Do I break up with her simply because I can't get over how we met? Do I confess?

Yes, confess. She needs to know to change her passwords, if nothing else. But I believe she also has a right to know whom she's been dating.

It will, or at least should, end your relationship; I use that term loosely here. But I'd be advising you to end it anyway, just to make the implosion official. When relationships are left to fall apart, without decisiveness or illumination, they seem to take a greater toll.

Before you speak up, though, prepare your glass house for a stoning. For just the fling, your guilt was manageable, because . . . then she was the other guy's problem, not yours? Because you'd be able to forget, since you were planning to break up with the ugly reminder? Because then she was just trash, on whom you could shove all your blame?

Was it her acquiring multiple dimensions, vs. remaining a just-for-sex cartoon, that complicated everything for you? From what you wrote, I could argue that you're both loving, selfish, giving, promise-keeping promise-breakers.

Meaning, you're both deserving of trust if able to feel and grow from your guilt i.e., not repeat your mistakes. Meaning, you're both in the range of human.

My guess is, this humanity - yours and hers - profoundly contradicts some profound certainty of yours. It's an issue worth exploring, especially given the extent of your invasion, your self-loathing and your loss of control. Please ask around for well-regarded names and line up some counseling. Now.

I am, therefore I do

When's a good age to get married?

The age at which you find someone so good for you that spending life together is a natural extension of who you are.

First you have to be mature enough to know who you are, which, unfortunately, is often clear only in hindsight (or full-on delusion). But you can catch immaturity and bad choices early, if you're ready to see them - namely, in arguments to yourself or others that you're mature enough or your mate is good enough.

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