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Dear Swipe This!
I recently rekindled a relationship from years ago. We have been together for almost three months now, and we seem to have picked up where we left off. A lot of steps we’ve taken might seem rushed to some, but with us, it’s been flowing. We’ve both expressed love (he expressed it first) and we’ve been temporarily living together (not officially, but he stays over for days). He picks me up and drops me off at work, and we spend most of our days together, whether we go out or stay in.
However, we used to be friends on Facebook and now we’re not. When we first started dating, I would get mad at some of his posts because I felt like they were sending the wrong message to other women, aka it seemed like he was still single. He ended up blocking me, and then told me he deactivated his account. He eventually deleted it but went back to using a different, old Facebook account. I sent him a friend request on that one, and he blocked me again, so I made a fake account and now I can look at it.
Everything was fine until recently, when I saw he had posts that may express he’s single. My question is, should I be upset and talk to him about it, or just let it go? One part of me wants to tell how I feel because he says I don’t express my feelings enough. On the other hand, I feel like I’m thinking too hard about it and should let it go. I would love some feedback from someone on the outside of this!
Secure and Spoiled
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Dear Secure and Spoiled,
I normally start my column with a heaping dose of empathy. But in this case, I need to be extremely real with you. And I know this may not be what you want to hear so I am going to say it as sweetly as I can.
Dump him. Sweetie, dump him.
If you were a friend panic-texting me about this guy I would be sending you this beautiful image of Britney Spears over and over again until it was seared into your brain.
Dump him. Dump him! You. Must. Dump. Him.
If you choose to stay in this relationship, I guarantee you it will not get better from here. You have already described a pattern of escalation: You confronted him about a behavior you didn’t like and instead of working with you to resolve the conflict, he evaded it. He could have comforted you. He could have owned his part in this. He could have worked with you to find a solution that would work for both of you. But he didn’t. He decided to simply erase the conflict by blocking you. But you can’t erase an unresolved conflict and so, your frustration lingered and grew and you went on to stalk him for more evidence of the very behavior that made you feel so upset in the first place. Of course, you didn’t like what you found! It is very rare that we internet-stalk people we mistrust and like what we see.
I realize you have feelings for this guy. And I realize he may, at times, make you feel very loved and cared for. It must have been thrilling to hear him tell you he loves you again. It must be very comforting to know he’s there to drive you to work every morning. But if this is how the two of you handle conflict—by lying, running, snooping, chasing, and avoiding—I can’t imagine a future in which the two of you will share a happy and healthy connection. On the other hand, I can envision a future filled with too-good-to-be-true highs and miserable lows. So, please, please, please, before you spend one more day investing in a partner who refuses to be real with you, ask yourself if that’s something you’re willing to sign up for.
I am sure this isn’t what you want to hear. You wrote to me asking if you should keep your anxiety to yourself or let it out, and I’m telling you to make a dash for the exit. If you’re willing to invest so much time creating fake accounts and scouring Facebook for evidence, saying goodbye to this guy is probably the last thing you want to do. And I can empathize with that, because I don’t believe I’ve ever let go of someone without clenching and clawing and wringing a connection out for every last drop of love I could squeeze from it. Sometimes it’s easier to get more entangled with a conflict than it is to do the simple thing of letting go.
But consider this: What you’re holding onto isn’t him. It’s the fantasy of who he could be. Or perhaps of who the two of you could be together. And that fantasy is something simple, pure, and good. And, while it won’t come to fruition with him, that doesn’t mean you can’t have it. You deserve the kind of love you’re craving. And you can get it—if you loosen your grip on this old flame.
And when you do, you’ll have to reckon with yourself.
You named yourself “Secure and Spoiled,” but when I read your words, I see someone who feels deeply insecure and operates from a place of lack. I wonder who taught you that the best way to deal with insecurity is to cover it up. I wonder how old you were when you learned that asking for honest communication is asking too much. When did you decide that romantic partners cannot be trusted? And what would it take for you to let go of those beliefs and build something new?
While I was reading your letter, my mind wandered back to Facebook and the way it used to be. Have you seen their new ads? The ones where they promise they will be “better.”
When I joined Facebook in 2004, it was a simple platform for connecting with college friends. It was an uncomplicated tool where you could share pictures, exchange messages, and write silly messages on an ever-changing “wall.” Oh, and you could “poke” people. That part was always odd. But hey, it was fun.
And then it got complicated. So complicated. Facebook added new features to keep us engaged and encouraged us to share more and more of ourselves. Facebook started mining our data, selling our data, and even made unethical choices that impacted the 2016 election.
What they did was a huge breach of our trust. So this apology video feels to me like a lackluster non-apology from a bad boyfriend. It doesn’t make me want to trust them or share myself with them. It makes me very, very skeptical that they are capable of changing at all.
And yet, I could see myself wasting away hours on Facebook, not because it’s fulfilling or even very meaningful. But simply because it can be a pleasant distraction from all the things I need to take care of, from uncomfortable truths I don’t want to face, from sitting alone with myself, my loneliness, my fears, and my anxiety. But when I give myself the attention I give to Facebook, uncomfortable as it is at first, all those unpleasant feelings in me start to shift and move. I may hurt or cry. I may find deposits of unexamined anger. But they move through me and I start to feel lighter and happier. I start to feel more loving and more generous. And when I realize I’m capable of giving that kind of attention and care to myself, I realize others can offer it to me, too.
I’m not saying you need to delete your Facebook in addition to deleting this dude. What I am saying is when you share yourself intimately, you deserve to feel valued, cared for, and respected. You deserve to do that with those you can trust. And, yes, you may have your own set of trust issues, and you may struggle to voice your feelings, but you don’t have to hand your life over to someone who will tell you what you want to hear while doing what he wants to do behind your back. You have a right to a relationship with someone who is careful with your heart. And if you want to find someone who knows your worth and treats you right, the beginning of that journey starts with you.
So dump him. Please, goddess, dump him. And if you’re feeling petty, go ahead and block him right back. Trust me. You’ll feel lighter once you do.