Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I started seeing “Mike” about four months ago and we only just became exclusive in February. Like most new couples, we’ve spent a lot of time together, totally in what you’d call the “honeymoon phase.” I have talked about moving in together but we haven’t yet, though we spend most nights together.
Mike works in sales and was recently offered and accepted a promotion where instead of the Anchorage and Fairbanks regions, he now gets to travel a lot through the Pacific Northwest. He is now going to be gone about half the time. I pretended to be excited for him but really I’m not.
I’m really struggling with what this means for us. I know I need to support Mike, but I’m not sure I want to date someone who’s gone that often, and I’m also not sure I trust him. Mike is very good-looking, charming, and he isn’t exactly a relationship guy, and from the first time we hung out, it’s felt like while he always wanted to meet up, I was the one pushing for exclusivity and commitment. Recently I peeked at his phone and was surprised to see he still has two dating apps on there — I’ve totally deleted all mine. I didn’t tell him about my discovery because I didn’t want to admit I was snooping.
Between the newness of our relationship, his general flirtatiousness and pattern of casual hookups, his new traveling gig, and me finding those apps on his phone, I feel like I may be heading toward heartache. But I really like him and it’s been forever since I met someone I wanted to pursue seriously. Advice?
While I understand your hesitancy and anxiety, I need to start by pointing out that the person driving mistrust in this relationship at present is you. You got into his phone and violated his privacy, which is never a good look. You faked happiness at his promotion, which is a version of deception. And you’re making all kinds of assumptions and contemplating decisions without being open with him about your feelings.
You need a hard reset. Relationships are built on trust and communication, not suspicion and silent suffering. Be honest with Mike and also with yourself. Some people just aren’t cut out for long-distance or part-time relationships and if you move forward with Mike, that means supporting his job and accepting the inconsistency and separation that is part of that. If you need a guy who’s around all the time, pushing fast to move in together, and has a track record of a bias toward long-term relationships, then that’s fine. But that might not be Mike, and as much as you owe it to yourself to be true to what you need, you owe it to Mike to be authentic and sincere.
And about the dating apps: Did you two ever agree to delete them? Or was that something you just did to be nice, or because it felt like the right thing to you? Everyone’s dating behavior, norms, timelines and expectations are different. You can’t assume just because he has the apps means he’s using them. Admitting you know he has them means admitting your guilt in poking into his private space, so it’s up to you whether you want to fess up.
Headed toward heartbreak, huh? Sounds more like you’ve taken the wheel, put the pedal to the floor and, after barreling down the Honeymoon Highway offramp, you’re careening to a collision course with a big brick wall at the end of Broken Heart Boulevard. But why? Especially when you could easily pump the brakes, enjoy and celebrate this exciting time with him, and continue strengthening this great-up-until-a-few-days-ago relationship.
You’re assuming a lot right now. That your boyfriend is still scoping out his options even though you’ve been dating for half a year and he committed exclusively to you a few months ago. That he’s eventually going to cheat on and/or leave you because he’s super-charming. That his reluctance to move in with you after a relatively short time together means he isn’t fully committed. That his positive career development is a negative for your relationship prospects. That you’re not good enough for him.
Doesn’t take much additional anxiety or overthinking to shift these assumptions into full-blown beliefs. And once you’re in that space, it’s all over. So, either spare yourself the extra stress and him the unnecessary drama, and move on right now; or have some guts and trust him, get back into that happy space and fully recommit to see where this whole thing goes.
After all of this good, you’re going to let some change destroy everything? Compromise your integrity? Shake you up to a breakup? Memo: Change is always going to come at you in life, in career, in relationships. You’d better get used to it.