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#47 Boyfriend’s online sex search presents a dilemma / Girlfriend needs coaching


Dear Prudence (Margo Howard): I am a 25-year-old African-American woman. I have been dating a wonderful guy (let’s call him "James") for the last two years. I say wonderful because he is by far the best boyfriend ever. We met in school and been inseparable ever since. I love him and know he loves me. When my last boyfriend cheated on me with an online honey, James was there to offer a shoulder and an ear. With his help, I overcame a lot of hurt and emotional pain.

Anyway, I digress. For a long time I have known the names and passwords of most of James’ accounts, including his email. I have checked his mail from time to time only to find nothing. He was the perfect guy, so for a long time, I didn’t check his mail—until recently. I saw that he had joined an on-line dating service, so I checked that site. It said that he was looking for a "discrete sexual encounter" with someone who preferably had her own apartment.

This is like my last relationship all over again. Here is this guy who says he loves me … and he’s looking for a "sexual encounter." He has shown no signs of disappointment with our relationship. I don’t mean to sound like the typical "Jenny Jones" guest, but there you are. I know I did wrong by checking his e-mail. And I can’t tell him I checked his mail because he said his ex-girlfriend did the same thing and it ruined their relationship. What should I do? NERVOUS AND HURT.

Dear Nerv: You can't sit on the information you have because it will make you nuts. Prudie suggests you fess up about the e-mail "discovery." And tell him that YOUR last boyfriend did what he did—and it ruined your relationship.

If the romance tanks, so be it; better now than later. He may beg your forgiveness and apologize profusely. Then, it's your call... though it's hard to imagine a good excuse for advertising for a horny woman with an apartment.

Prudie believes knowledge is power, and when it's your future involved, it doesn't matter how you got the knowledge. —PRUDIE, DIRECTLY

Gabby's Response:


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Gabby’s Response:

Hi Nerv: I'm distracted by the words, "African-American." If there is a significance I don't get it.

I do get that James is "by far the best" you've had. It speaks volumes about your previous relationships. I don't get "love," except as a concept. When I'm experiencing the experience of love deceit is not in the space. Put another way, what you have been doing with James is not communication, it's called talking. Communication always results in openness and respect and consideration. Talking creates others withholding certain thoughts from you, always for good reasons. In other words, you have not been a safe space for James to tell the truth.

If, on day-one of a relationship, you hold in the back of your mind the option of sneaking into your partner's email, then you create a context for your partner to do their own sneaking. If on the other hand you are committed to integrity then you have given up all sneaky behaviors and as such you can only attract a non sneaky person. Sneaky always attracts sneaky; there are no exceptions to this phenomenon.

Re: "He was the perfect guy." Nope. You both were doing your "perfect person acts." Underneath the acts you both were operating from the philosophy that it's OK to withhold certain thoughts. Unbeknownst to him he was dating someone who would sneak into his email and unbeknownst to you you were dating someone who did sneaky things also. Your argumentative mind, to be right, will say, "Yah, but my sneakiness wasn't as bad as his sneakiness." And, "He sneaked first which caused me to be suspicious enough to do my sneaking." Acknowledge the thoughts and let go of them. They serve as barriers to you getting to the truth about how YOU caused this.

Re: "This is like my last relationship all over again." Yes. Your leadership-communication model recreated it again because you didn't learn your lesson. Even now you blame your first boyfriend because your integrity is such that you can't detect a person who is incomplete. A person who is whole and complete (one who is in-integrity) can always tell when they are in the presence of someone who is incomplete, someone who is hiding something, not telling the whole truth or who has an unacknowledged perpetration. When you are in-integrity you can tell when your partner is out. They have no choice but to tell you the truth, such is the clarity and sanctity of your space; it's so inspiring it supports them in operating from impeccable integrity.

Remember, you're the one who attracts sneaky people. It's your leadership-communication skills that inspire sneakiness.

Re: "Here is this guy who says he loves me." This is a blame statement. Stated responsibly it would read, "Here I conned this sneaky guy, who supports me in blaming my ex, into saying he loves me." At some level he couldn't respect you because once before you had seduced a person addicted to being sneaky. Notice that you did not catch his hypocrisy when he was supposedly helping you heal from your previous drama. At some level you knew, as you know now, that you have no business being in a personal relationship until you get to the source of, and complete, your addiction to abuse, and to creating breakdowns in communication..

Re: ". . . he said his ex-girlfriend did the same thing." This is a victim-blame statement, it doesn't address what he did to cause her to sneak. Also, you don't say if he told you this before you sneaked; either way, you set it up to be caught for prior unacknowledged acts of sneakiness. Look and see who else you've been sneaky with.  Once you see that he's mirroring you, you'll recognize it the next time.

Re: "I know I did wrong." Nope. You only believe you did wrong. Until a child "knows," they only believe what their parents tell them (i.e. that fire burns). A person of integrity who knows they did wrong can't sleep well except that they must clean it up. They have no choice but to restore their integrity. In truth it's suicidal (it detracts from their aliveness, actually affecting their very health) to consciously hold on to a withhold in a personal relationship for even a few hours. In essence the out-integrity, the withhold, burns them. Your mind has manufactured reasons that serve as barriers to you telling the truth. Most people have so many verbally unacknowledged out-integrities that they have become immune to the pain of perpetrations and withholding.

The way out of this repeating cycle is to do The Clearing Process or, do a 3-hr consultation with a communication-skills coach (both are free). Ask for support in locating the specific childhood incident, the conversation, from which you made (probably unconsciously) a decision that total honesty doesn't work. Your mission, Ms. Phelps, however impossible, is to intend to communicate openly and honestly and spontaneously — zero withholds, in your next relationship.

BTW: If I were your father I'd be disappointed to know I trained you to attract and hang around a dishonest person; I suspect that part of what this is about is proving to him that he failed. Imagine how strong and capable you'd have to be willing to be to have a successful relationship? You will always be the leader. Lead in a way that's mutually satisfying.

Your letter will touch many, thank you. —Gabby

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Check back occasionally for minor edits (last edited 2/4/13)


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