Dear Dr. Date,
So my boyfriend and I have been together for almost three years now and we currently live together. Everything was wonderful until about October, when I noticed that he had logged onto a site called BuddyPic.
I brought it up to him and he just said that he checks it every once in a while because the picture is from when he was in a band, and sometimes people he knows would send him a message. I was a little miffed but moved on. Then in December I noticed he went on there again, so I figured out his password and logged on to the site.
To my horror, I saw he was flirting with girls and telling them his phone number (to have some "fun") and AIM name. I was obviously very hurt and brought it up to him, telling him that it is unacceptable behavior to do that when we’re in a committed relationship. He tried to explain that he only goes on there and did that because he wanted to raise his self-esteem (since the picture is like six years old and he’s gained weight since) and he gave his contact info to get a reaction from the people he was talking to (who never contacted him by the way). So I was shaken up and feeling like I couldn’t trust him.
Then in January I was feeling like I had to check one more thing before I could ease my nervousness of him cheating on me, so I checked his e-mail. In his sent messages I found that he had gone on Craigslist and answered a posting about a "massage," had e-mails from an erotic company talking about times for webcam sessions and also an e-mail from someone he was talking to on BuddyPic with a picture (not dirty, but he requested one that was "more exciting").
However, these e-mails took place a year ago, so I couldn’t really tie them to his previous issues. I was furious and threatened to leave him because he obviously wasn’t acting like someone in love, but he started crying and told me he wouldn’t do any of that stuff ever again.
There have been no issues since then, but I still feel like I can’t let my guard down and trust him. Am I just being overly paranoid? I want to be with him, but this trust thing just bugs me! What should I do?
—In Love, but Paranoid?
Two wrongs don’t make a right, so I can’t excuse your boyfriend for what anyone would call some questionable behavior. But your blatant disregard for his privacy is even more alarming and should have sent any self-respecting person running away from you, considering you’ve gone digging into his personal information several times without acknowledging it as a problem. Everyone gets curious, but you can’t justify invading a person’s privacy like that, boyfriend or not.
Rather than worrying about whether you can trust your boyfriend, you should both be wondering if you are fit to be in a relationship — the equally important trust issue here is whether he can trust you not to be so invasive.
This may be a broad question, but I was wondering how you define cheating. Does someone have to sleep with another person in order for it to be considered cheating? My ex-boyfriend supposedly "just kissed" someone else while we were still together, and I think that is cheating.
He says it isn’t because he "didn’t love me anymore." We were together for several years, so I think it was just him trying to justify his actions. I think that men and women seem to have different ideas of what cheating is. What is your take on the matter?
—To Cheat or Not to Cheat
Dear ’Cause it’s Your Dog!,
I have to side with you on this one — your boyfriend is just trying to justify his misdeeds. Cheating is not something that you can define in black and white; it depends a lot upon the situation, timing and the people involved. My general rule of thumb is that if you aren’t interested in a significant other anymore, you have an obligation to tell him or her BEFORE going back to the well.
In general, I would file kissing under the "cheating" category, though it’s not necessarily inexcusable. If you’ve done something and question whether it is considered cheating, I’d recommend you tell your boyfriend/girlfriend. Honesty is good.