Dear Melissa, Here’s my thing: I think my boyfriend is lying to me. I think he deletes all his ex’s texts.
This has been going on for thirteen years, and I don’t think it will ever stop. The kids are old enough to tell him there is a problem.
I’m not jealous of her but I just have a strong intuition about it. Sure enough, she texted him yesterday abou nothing important. But he tells me “I always tell you when she texts.” Well, not yesterday. To me, that is a lie.
What I don’t get is he had a bad marriage. She cheated and then moved 3,000 miles away with the kids eight years ago.
But he is so indebted to her, I just don’t understand. I know he has to keep in touch for the kids, but I’m ready to get spyware to see how honest he has been.
She used to text a couple of days a week about anything, even lies like “I have cancer.” He tells me that he is just being friendly. She knows how to manipulate him and he falls for it.
But how can I trust him without screaming at him? He does lie. I caught him in some stupid lies and he has no remorse and just lies to my face. Please tell me what to do.
I’m so sorry you’re having this experience. I know it hurts to be lied to.
There are a couple of things that I recommend:
Have a heart-to-heart talk with your boyfriend about the issue so you both can have an open and honest conversation about why he’s lying, how it makes you feel, and what kind of relationship you really want. If he’s texting his Ex, perhaps there’s a good reason he’s contacting her that you may be unaware of…maybe it’s related to the kids or some other matter. And maybe he deletes it not to hide things from you, but to free up space on his phone or who knows. The important thing is to have an open conversation about it together so you both can talk about what this is really about.
Get clear on the kind of relationship that you really want and what your relationship relationship requirements are. I know you’ve been enduring this for a long time, years. And it’s obviously causing you a lot of stress and anxiety and driving you to consider things like planting surveillance software on his devices.
If you’ve been talking to him about why the lying bothers you and he’s not doing anything about it, meanwhile you’re continuing to get hurt, the most important thing you can do for yourself and your sanity is to get real with yourself about the kind of relationship you really want and make a conscious choice about which path you feel is best for you.
But first, let’s talk about how you talk to him about it if you haven’t already had a heart-to-heart with him.
What I would recommend is get really clear on how you feel about all this and what about this situation really bothers you. Label how you feel. Are you upset about the lying?
What part of this issue is the real problem for you? What need isn’t being met for you?
Is it the lying? Is it the fact that he texts his Ex?
How do you feel his behavior is undermining your relationship?
It’s important to get clear on how you feel (and I know it doesn’t feel good, obviously, but try to identify the words for it and label how you’re feeling) so 1) you can make highly conscious decisions about what to do about your relationship going forward and 2) communicate exactly how you feel to your boyfriend.
And it’s also important because communicating and reacting to bad experiences are different things.
Reacting to an experience of being lied to is different than communicating to another person how being lied to feels.
And that distinction is really important because it could mean the difference between having him hear you and understand you, or having him shut down and get defensive.
So having the clarity and the words for how you’re feeling is key so you can really articulate to him what’s going on for you and how it makes you feel.
And this will give you a greater chance of connecting with him and sorting out the conflict versus only reacting to the pain of being lied to.
For example, if you approach him saying “You’re such a jerk for lying! How can you do this to me? Why are you lying?” he’s going to get defensive because he’s going to feel attacked. And that approach works against what you’re trying to achieve if you’re trying to find out why he’s lying and want him to stop.
However, if you articulate how you’re feeling like “I feel humiliated. I feel shut out. I feel really angry and sad and alone. And I don’t like feeling this way.”
Then once you get clear on what you want to communicate, I suggest having an honest conversation with him about how you feel about all the lying.
And the most powerful way to approach this is to just be simple and direct.
“I don’t want to feel…”
It’s important to make your feelings known and tell him what kind of relationship you want.
For example, you may want to communicate that you want to feel secure…that you want to feel like you can trust him…
Communicate to him that you want a relationship where you don’t have these kinds of secrets, a relationship where you can talk to each other.
Because when you can talk about this openly, then you can both get to the heart of the issue.
Talking about how you are feeling helps you connect with him and promotes a sense of safety for him to open up about his own feelings.
He might even tell you why he lies. Maybe he’s afraid to talk to you about his relationship with his ex. Maybe he feels like he can’t talk to you and so he hides it/lies about it.
Of course, that doesn’t make his behavior right or justified, but what I’m saying here is talking about the issue will help the both of you get to the bottom of it and help you make progress with resolving it because you’ll both gain a deeper understanding about the problem.
In order to resolve this, it’s going to take both of you getting REAL and open with each other about the true issue at hand.
But I also know that this issue is something you’ve been battling for a while…for many years.
If you’ve felt like you’ve already talked to him and have had an open conversation with him, or if he’s not interested in talking, and he’s not resolving the issue, then it really comes down to your values.
If you feel like you’ve tried to talk to him to assert your needs and your feelings, and you feel like you’ve made a conscious effort to understand him and to resolve this conflict together, and he’s STILL lying and still not making moves to fix this really big issue for you, it really comes down to asking yourself:
What kind of man do you want to be with?
If you feel driven to surveillance and putting spyware on his phone and computer, it’s clear that this issue really makes you feel stressed and anxious.
So I encourage you to ask yourself: Is this the kind of relationship that you want?
The bottom line is: Get clear on your relationship needs and relationship requirements. And that clarity will be your guiding light in making tough relationship decisions.
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