Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I need your advice on an ongoing disagreement I'm having with my boyfriend, we'll call him "Jack." Jack and I have been together a few months now. Overall I am super happy with him. He's a sweetheart, he's kind, he's super hot, he's so fun to be around, and I can see us together for a long time. But here's the problem. I feel like Jack doesn't trust me. Every time I am on my phone, he asks me who I'm texting and wants to see. In the rare occasion someone calls, he wants to know right away who it is. He is always on my Instagram looking to see who's liking my stuff and commenting.
I know what you're probably thinking — that he sounds controlling. But the crazy thing is, he really isn't. We spend lots of time apart, and he never really seems to care what I'm up to, nor does he ask really detailed questions about how I spend my time or who I'm with. It's really more about the social media stuff, and who I'm talking to.
I do talk to some ex-boyfriends, but they are seriously just friends. Whenever they get flirty or suggestive, I shut it down. Jack really has nothing to worry about. But how do I get him to calm down and back off?
I guess it's true that he doesn't know I talk to some exes, but does he need to know? I feel like there's nothing there but me talking to friends and he would make something out of it that isn't legit. Any advice?
Different people have different comfort levels with maintaining connections with ex-lovers. For some, the separating is more of a slash-and-burn process — delete them from every account, block their number, scrub their face from memory, and move on ruthlessly and hurriedly. For others, maintaining some kind of friendship or even courteous communications feels more appropriate and respectful.
The problem is, once you're dating someone — seriously, monogamously, legitimately dating someone — you do need to be open about these interactions. They might have an issue with it. And you might need to adjust accordingly.
I know what you're thinking: If you're simply occasionally saying hey to old friends, what's the harm? There likely isn't any harm there. The harm is that you're concealing information from your significant other, and therefore putting a layer of dysfunctional dishonesty into the bedrock of your relationship. Who wants that? Ideally, you shouldn't have to hide anything.
That said, Jack needs to trust you, and his high-grade approach to monitoring your interactions sounds exhausting and like serious overkill. My advice: Come completely clean, tell Jack there are some folks you chat with whom you dated eons ago, and if that makes him uncomfortable, you want to talk about why. But in the meantime, it's most important to you that you trust each other, and you want to know what kind of conversations and agreements you need to have to get there. Good luck.
So you tell him, and us, that he has nothing to worry about … and then keep your ex texts on the down-low and give us all something to worry about. No wonder he's paranoid.
Homeboy must have some serious intuition — every time you get a phone alert, his trust alarm starts ringing! Or maybe he's already caught you in some kind of deception/contradiction? And maybe, like you, he wants this all to work out, so he doesn't say anything about it and just gets super sensitive and passive-aggressive about your phone activity instead of talking about what's really going on.
Just one of many possible scenarios, but you'll never know until you ask him and he'll never know for sure until you tell him. So, time for you both to come clean with each other — you about your communication side pieces, him about his over-the-top reactions to your phone interactions.
Then have a heart-to-heart with yourself about why you need to have exes in your life. What's the positive value of those maintaining those friendships if they are causing you inner strife? What's the value if the dudes don't even respect your current relationship by being flirty and suggestive, and if it will clearly cause drama with your current BF if he finds out about it — if he hasn't already?
Want to respond to a recent column, point out a dating trend, or ask Wanda and Wayne for wisdom regarding your love life? Give them a shout at email@example.com.