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Archive for January 19th, 2023

The Real Red Flag

My boyfriend of 3 yrs frequents local escorts and hookup websites and doesn’t erase his browser on our shared PC. I’ve confronted him about it and he threw the whole, “if you don’t believe me about not searching and what not then YOU have trust issues”.  He even said he didn’t even know what site I was talking about.  Lies.  What’s your take on this?  I want to trust him but this is a red flag.

Trust is not something that can merely be given; it must be earned.  And your boyfriend doesn’t seem to be making much effort to earn it.  While it’s certainly possible he’s just searching escort sites to look at the nude pics, it seems unlikely unless you know for a fact that he hasn’t got enough disposable income to actually hire escorts (and even then, it’s not like there isn’t plenty of free porn on the internet).  And the “hookup” sites don’t even have that catch.  Furthermore, while escort transactions are professional and therefore no threat to your relationship, the same cannot be said of amateur dating.  But whether he is or isn’t stepping out is far less important than what I see as the real red flag here: his apparent lack of respect for your intelligence and sense.  A guy who doesn’t erase his browser on a PC he shares with his girlfriend is either a fool or thinks his girlfriend is, and for him to respond to questions with weak denials tends to point toward the latter.  As for “If you don’t believe me something is wrong with you”, that tactic is such a classic of beginner gaslighting it probably appears in Chapter One of Partner Abuse for Dummies.

Look, if he was merely masturbating to porn, I’d tell you it was nothing to be concerned about.  And while it’s certainly possible that this is a similar fantasy-activity (because human sexuality is astonishingly varied and complex), his guilty reaction seems to hint otherwise.  As I said above, it’s not that he’s looking at other women, which is typical male behavior signifying absolutely nothing other than that he has a penis.  It’s that he reacted to your questions with lies and blame-shifting, which wouldn’t bode well even if it were about something other than sex.  In fact, I’m going to suggest you think about your other interactions with him; is this the only area in which he seems to be behaving dishonestly, or is it part of a pattern?  Because if you come to the conclusion that he cannot be trusted in general, not just about sex but about other aspects of your partnership, perhaps it’s time to consider whether the two of you may not really be right for one another.  Because while breakups are never easy, they’re usually a lot easier (and far less acrimonious) at the 3-years-living-together mark than at the 10-years-married-with-children mark.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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