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Dear Nicola...

Confidential’s new agony aunt, Nicola Mostyn, offers words of wisdom

Written by . Published on October 15th 2010.

Dear Nicola...

Nicola Mostyn

Friday 8 October, 2010

Obsessed with my boyfriend’s ex girlfriends

Dear Nicola

I can’t stop obsessing about my boyfriend’s ex girlfriends.

I noticed on his Facebook account that he’s still friends with about six women he dated before me. The thing is, they’re all clones of each other and none of them look like me.

So I guessed his password and now I log in all the time just to check out whether he is talking to them. We are happy and I do trust him; he hasn’t given me any reason to doubt him. But I still can’t stop myself logging in to check out the conversations he has with them, to see if he is having a better time talking to them than he does with me. I haven’t found anything incriminating yet but I feel like I can’t stop reading until I catch him being unfaithful…

Nicola replies:

You say that you trust your boyfriend. Clearly, that’s not true.

Maybe half of you does. Probably your rational, secure half believes that your boyfriend is a good man, that you have a happy relationship and that you trust him not to cheat on you. Sadly, the green-eyed half – the one that’s persuading you to read his messages and torture yourself about his supposed (or potential) infidelity - isn’t so convinced.

Surely there can’t be a person with a pulse who hasn’t felt a twinge of paranoia at some point in their relationship? It’s just that there are now so many more platforms for deceit to worry about. Instead of examining collars for lipstick we can stalk people on social networking sites, scroll through text messages or create fake online ids to root out scurrilous behaviour. Obsession? Yeah, there’s an app for that.

The problem with jealousy is that the solution doesn’t lie in your boyfriend’s behaviour, or his ex-girlfriends’ messages, but in yourself. You can’t control other people, and by tapping into and monitoring his messages that’s what you’re trying to do.

This reminds me of the Cure song, How Beautiful You Are, which is based on a poem by Baudelaire. Its protagonist is devastated to realise he doesn’t remotely understand his adored girlfriend; that “No-one ever knows or loves another.”

I think it is possible to love someone, but when it comes to a partner’s behaviour, I don’t think you can ever really know. You just can’t. Even if you never find one shred of incriminating evidence on Facebook, how do you know that he hasn’t set up another account, or isn’t sexting anyone, or that he isn’t dropping round to poke his exes in person?

I say this not to inflame your obsession, but to highlight the simple truth: if your boyfriend wants to be with those other girls then he will, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. Becoming wound up in your own obsessions by constantly checking for proof for or against your suspicions can only have one effect – to damage your self esteem and so, eventually, your relationship.

So let’s introduce your rational self here. Even though you can’t predict anyone’s future behaviour, you can take a good guess based on what you know about your boyfriend. If you have a good relationship, and he’s a good guy then the chances are he’ll behave honourably.

After all, if he wanted to be with those girls, why did he split with them in the first place? You say they all look like clones of each other? Well doesn’t that prove that he was looking for something different, and that he found it in you?

If, despite what you admit is a happy relationship, you can’t shake the feeling that you’re not enough for him, then, rather than logging in every day to eavesdrop on your boyfriend shooting the breeze, your time might be better spent working on your own self esteem.

It’s usually better to accept something about yourself than make it into something shameful. So, if you can bring yourself to do it, tell your boyfriend what you’ve been up to, admit that you’re feeling wobbly about his past relationships and ask him to talk about how he feels about his exes now. Then request that he changes his Facebook password as proof to him and yourself that you have faith in your relationship.

If you can’t face confessing that you’ve been snooping on him, then draw a line under your behaviour and stop reading his messages. You say you trust him. Now prove it. Trusting someone does not mean: “I’ve checked your actions and there’s nothing dodgy so I feel ok for a while.” Trusting means: “I take the leap of faith that you will treat me as respectfully as I treat you.” There’s no app for that.

Disagree with our columnist's advice? Have your say below....

Post your problems, anonymously if you wish, to:

Nicola Mostyn
Manchester Confidential
Suite 2B, 2nd Floor Quay House
Quay Street
M3 3JE

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