The Setting: My girlfriend’s bedroom. It’s the day after her college graduation.
The Mood: Totally normal. We had just returned home from a dinner date.
The Situation: She’s in the shower and I’m using her laptop to watch Netflix.
ALL OF THE SUDDEN… an iMessage from her “best text friend” appears in top right frame of the laptop…
“Best Text Girlfriend” — this is a self-proclaimed term I’ve given to that friend. You know, the one your girl texts with non-stop on her phone everyday, but only sees in person once a year…
When I ask about this friend, she doesn’t elaborate on the topics they talk about. Naturally, it makes me curious/suspicious. I assumed my girlfriend wouldn’t notice if I took a peek at their latest thread. I mean after all, it DID pop up right in front of me! What could they actually be talking about anyways, corn…?
So I did it: I opened the thread, and looked at my girlfriends texts.
This was a mistake.
What I find is not exciting or interesting…and it’s definitely not corn. In fact, it’s pretty troubling. Over the past few days, my girlfriend told her text friend a variety of deeply — and I mean deeply — saddening things about me, and our relationship. Things like:
“I don’t get it, he’s acting weird about the future…”
“I don’t know what to do, this isn’t working for me anymore….”
“I think I’m just gonna break up with him soon.”
I read over the conversation 50 zillion times, trying to find a silver lining, but I was too heated to even rationalize. I thought, “We have an awesome relationship, why does she want to end something good?”
There was the same sense of betrayal Ned Stark experienced from Joffrey in King’s Landing.
When my alleged ‘girlfriend’ got out of the shower, I transitioned from boyfriend to courtroom prosecutor. I presented the evidence: item 1-A, the message thread I had just memorized over the last 15 minutes.
I could tell she was extremely embarrassed.
Then, the apologies started:
“I know it must’ve hurt…”
“But I never meant for you to read them…!!”
Oh, thanks for the ‘clarification’ on that one! Jokes on you because I DID read them! Right? Right?!
She continued, “and I know it was mean to send those things, but you need to understand I’m frustrated with the way you’ve been acting.”
What. The. F.?!?! I’m a perfect child of perfectness born on the perfect relationship island of sovereign mutual copacetic partnerships…!
Well, at least that’s what I thought…
But fellas, I’m gonna admit something to you: I was dead wrong.
This article isn’t about her text. It’s about the reason why it was sent in the first place. She was frustrated enough with our relationship to text a friend her honest feelings…but not me. Not her boyfriend…
Turns out that for the past month, she felt pestered by me asking about our future. I was constantly seeking reassurance — she scheduled to graduate school a year ahead of me, and I wanted to know that we’d keep dating long distance. But I didn’t realize how much this had started to bother her. Apparently, it was something I brought up almost every single day.
How annoying is that?
I mean, I’d be pretty frustrated with someone if they kept asking me the same question over and over again without listening, too.
Aside this, she was still the one who couldn’t be honest with me. Bottom line: We both were sabotaging our relationship in different ways. I wasn’t recognizing my own insecurities, and she wasn’t telling me the truth about her feelings.
Sadly, it took me snooping through a conversation she was having with someone else for us to finally address our fundamental issues. But when we finally talked it out, we came to 4 very important conclusions that guided our relationship from that point forward:
1. LISTEN: THINGS SHOULD BE SAID ONLY ONCE
Try to make asking a question only ONCE a goal in your relationship. This forces one person to be a better listener, and the other person to be a better communicator. If you only get one shot, you’ll do a far better job of listening (or answering) the first time.
Think of it this way: don’t you just hate it when your girl repeatedly asks you about ‘what you REALLY did’ last night with your friends? You’ll have a conversation that looks something like this:
Girlfriend: What’d you do last night?
You: Nothing…just played some video games…
Girlfriend: No, what’d you REALLY do last night…?
You: Seriously just played some video games.
Girlfriend: That can’t be it…what did actually you do?!
You: Omg nothing! I sat on a couch playing Super Smash Bros with my male, completely heterosexual (and possibly questionable) friends! What do you want me to say, that we hooted around with a bunch of strippers and blew huge lines of cocaine?! Jeeez! Leave me alone!
It’s almost like someone is forcing you to be guilty. But when you only get one shot, you end up giving a better answer the first time — which she’ll be more likely to believe.
2. BE HONEST: TELL THE TRUTH, EVEN IF IT SUCKS
What a concept! Honesty propels positive relationships…who would’ve thought!? But if that’s such a widely known concept, why is it that almost every single couple lies to each other about SOMETHING, or has shit they need to hide from their partner…?
Because we have egos, and because we hate hurting our loved ones. Thing is, being honest is the only way we won’thurt our loved ones. It would’ve been way better if my girlfriend just came to me first rather than talking to her friend. But she thought doing that would hurt me. And I’ll be honest — it would’ve, a little. But not nearly as much as it hurt to find out the way I did.
Honesty is the best policy. Don’t be afraid of the hard talks…even if you end up crying like this:
…or even this:
3. DON’T LET A BUILD UP BECOME A BLOW UP
Because of a lack of listening and honesty, our relationship was a tea kettle on high heat. Shit was brewing. But when I read the text, it ignited a fire that caused our brewing problems to just explode.
The expression of “talking things out” is a cliche, but for a reason. Talking takes trust and respect that you and your girlfriend need to establish together. That’s what relationships are about, after all. If she stomps on your feelings when you say vulnerable things, then she’s not the right person for you in the long run. All you can do is trust that being honest WILL lead to a resolution.
Had my girl and I actually done this, I wouldn’t have gotten so pissed over something a juvenile as a text message.
And lastly, for the love of god, TALK IN PERSON. Don’t let things get muddled or confused via text, email or carrier pigeon.
4. DON’T READ YOUR GIRLS TEXTS
It’s disrespectful. Her conversations are HERS to have. In most circumstances, the texts are NOT about you. More importantly, if they weren’t sent to you… they aren’t meant for your eyes.
Looking at someone’s phone is just plain rude and childish. I’m sure you hate it when a little kid takes your phone without asking — even if they just want to see if you have Angry Birds.
Now, one could argue, “well you read her texts!”
True: I looked at my girlfriends texts. But, one could also argue that if I didn’t read her texts then we would’ve continued being passive in our own ways. Even though looking at her texts brought forth important conversation, I still stand behind my argument that it is NOT a good habit.
If you want to set the stage for trust and respect in your relationship, you should never feel the need to look at each other’s phones in the first place.
If you’re feeling insecure, make a date and take the time to have a conversation about it rather than leaving things unsaid or guessing what she might be doing/thinking. The trust and confidence you’ll build together by doing this thefirst time will be rewarding and devoid of emoji’s and gif’s.