She's been with him for two years and yet he still trawls online dating sites - that said, she's afraid to leave...
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I've been with my partner (let's call him Mr X) for almost two years now. I'm in my early 20s and he's in his late 20s, so there's about a seven year gap between us.
He was a bit of a player before I met him and he slept around a fair bit (well, a lot). He still has a "tagged" profile which says he's single and which he logs on to almost daily. He says it's because he likes the attention. He also gets texts from these people.
A wee while ago, I also found an NZ dating profile logged in on his computer... then I found a phone number in the car which belonged to someone with an NZ dating profile. (For the record, I wasn't even snooping. They were left logged in on his laptop, and he was there when I went to plug it into the TV so I could watch a movie.)
Mr X swears that he isn't cheating on me. Having been cheated on in my last relationship, I still feel pretty hurt and broken from that, but I also have some major trust issues. But when I bring this up, it's "my problem" to deal with, not his.
Am I being paranoid?
I've found a place to move out to, but I'm scared and hurting. I think he suspects something's up because he's been overly nice lately too...
No you are not being paranoid, this is not a situation to put your trust into. Your partner is exhibiting behaviour that is concerning for anyone who is wanting to establish a secure relationship, and it sounds like this is what you are wanting. You should clarify your expectations for the relationship with each other - do you both want to be in a committed relationship with clear boundaries?
If he does want to be in a committed relationship with you, then you both need to work out what the boundaries for that commitment are. This would mean changes for him, including stopping trawling for interest on dating sites, and declaring his relationship status on any networking sites like Facebook. He would need to understand how he is part of the issue and how his behaviour is affecting you, and be willing to be responsive to your needs: is he up for this?
There are deeper issues for you both here. You have identified that you have already been hurt in a relationship, yet it is interesting to note that you have moved into a relationship with someone who you know has been a player and who is not protecting your relationship with him. It is as if you somehow are setting yourself up to be hurt again. It would be good for you to consider why you are attracted to partners who might look outside of the relationship with you, or betray you in some way.
He has learned to look outside of his relationships, and he needs a lot of attention from people where there is not the risk of them getting close enough to him that he can be hurt by them. Deep down he is probably quite vulnerable and afraid of committing and getting hurt himself, but he doesn't know much about this area of himself yet. When you raise the issue he says it is your problem, and he is not seeing his part in the dynamic between you. This means he is still in some level of denial about his own part, and it is likely to take quite a bit of work for him to come to a place of change.
If he isn't up for a committed relationship, or you are over it all, it's a good idea to move out. Take some time and space for yourself and work out how you have become drawn to men who will not commit. Next time observe the warning signs and don't try and have a committed relationship with someone who is a 'player', look for a partner who wants a committed relationship with you.
Don't beat yourself up, this is all part of learning about what is important to you in relationships, and what makes for a successful and happy relationship. We all need to learn about these areas, and we all do this learning by having these experiences and growing through them. If you choose to separate, know that separation is invariably painful, but that doesn't mean it is wrong. Find ways and people to support yourself through this phase, and be gentle with yourself.
We'd love to hear your take on this week's issue. Before you comment below, though, remember that this is a real-life situation. This reader has bravely shared their personal life with you; please show them respect by refraining from hurtful or abusive comments.