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I Looked at My Boyfriend’s Tinder

Dear Chump Lady,

I am 24 years old (F) and last week I realized that my boyfriend (22M) of one year and a half was trying to access his Tinder account. I accidentally discovered an email thread between him and Tinder customer support because he had, for whatever reason, been banned before we started dating. For some background information, we are doing short-term long distance due to some internships in different locations and I also went on a holiday. We haven’t seen each other for exactly a month and won’t see each other until beginning of May.

After I saw this email, I searched “Tinder” in his mailbox and realized that he had also tried to gain access a year ago, at another time where we did distance for about 2 months, for one reason being I traveled home to be with my family after my grandma died. It appears he never got access to his account, but the intention was there.

After discovering this, I requested to access his Instagram and I looked at his messages there and he complied. At a first glance I didn’t see anything, but after digging deeper I saw that even within the last months he was flirting with a classmate, even admitting that he had always had a crush on her.

I don’t believe he physically did anything but it still feels like he is exploring his options. I’m his first actual girlfriend and feel like part of this ‘wandering’ is due to his inexperience. I know our youth is a factor but of course I’m feeling blindsided and betrayed.

I admit that a few years ago I was unfaithful in a long-term relationship (while not officially cheating since we weren’t exclusive anymore, it was still a big betrayal, slept with my ex) and I really did learn since I lost that person and have not made that mistake again.

I’m not sure if I should cut my losses or try to be understanding since I’ve been in both shoes. He’s expressed remorse and regret, now of course that he’s been caught.




Dear Sheila,

You don’t sound secure in this relationship. There are OTHER relationships. You’re 24 years old. The world is your Rockefeller oyster.

I’m sorry to play the youth card right out of the gate, I remember how much being in your 20s can suck. So much uncertainty. So much to achieve with very little experience knowing how to achieve it. So much floundering and experimentation.

Which is also the beauty of being 24 years old. Time’s on your side. You’re a gorgeous young thing. YES, YES YOU ARE. I know you’re reading this thinking I haven’t seen you. You have some perceived flaw, some roll of flesh, some nonconforming bit… Listen to this wizened old blogger lady — RELAX. You’re beautiful.

Know your worth.

If I only had the internal swagger I have NOW, when I was your age? All the confidence borne of a thousand terrible decisions and lives reinvented? To fast-forward that shit? Girl, swagger.

Don’t settle for so little. Don’t grasp. Don’t chase.

If this boy doesn’t measure up? NEXT. There is always a next. Even if next is no one (it’s not. You’re 24.) it’s better than being with someone who makes you feel unsafe.

I realized that my boyfriend (22M) of one year and a half was trying to access his Tinder account.

Before you hack into your boyfriend’s email, ask yourself “Why am I doing this?” And realize you probably have enough reasons to dump him before you resort to snooping. I understand the impulse, and generally I don’t snoop shame chumps here who’ve been in long marriages with profound sunk costs — but you’re DATING. If you felt this guy was inattentive, or checked out, or shady, or you didn’t like his haircut — NEXT HIM.

For some background information, we are doing short-term long distance due to some internships in different locations and I also went on a holiday. We haven’t seen each other for exactly a month and won’t see each other until beginning of May.

Okay, then maybe you’re both not available for a relationship. You need to keep your path open for your education and career success and cannot commit right now. That’s a conversation worth having. You don’t have to default to ongoing commitment.

Is ongoing commitment nice? Sure, if you’re both on the same page. But you’re demonstrably NOT on the same page. Either he’s future faking you, promising something that his actions don’t align with (and you feel off-balance so much you need to snoop), or you’re spackling and projecting a commitment you wish he had (and then when you feel off-balance about the lack of reciprocity you snoop to find out why).

In any case, you’ve now realized that when you’re out of sight, he’s lining up other potential girlfriends. NEXT.

After discovering this, I requested to access his Instagram and I looked at his messages there and he complied.

This is a nonstarter. You don’t trust him. NEXT!!!

Swagger girls have discernment. No grasping. No chasing. No policing. NEXT.

I don’t believe he physically did anything but it still feels like he is exploring his options.

It doesn’t “feel” like it. He is exploring his options.

Do you want to be in a relationship with a boy who is exploring his options? No? Then it’s up to you to decide for YOURSELF that this relationship does not work for you. And end it. Not try to force him to conform into a person who doesn’t want to explore his options. Or police those options. Or make yourself into someone you imagine he could never, ever lose interest in. But to say, “Hey, this isn’t working for ME.” Goodbye.

I’m his first actual girlfriend

And you won’t be his last. And that’s okay. Most people don’t stay with their first person. Does it make the sneaking and lying okay? No, absolutely not. If you’re old enough to date, you’re old enough to be ethical. If you can’t be ethical, then get a blow-up doll or something.

I admit that a few years ago I was unfaithful in a long-term relationship (while not officially cheating since we weren’t exclusive anymore, it was still a big betrayal, slept with my ex) and I really did learn since I lost that person and have not made that mistake again.

Okay, I don’t even understand this paragraph. If you were not exclusive, it’s not cheating. If your boyfriend understood it wasn’t exclusive — or HE didn’t want to be exclusive, and then got upset when you slept with someone else? He’s an asshole with a double standard. And you didn’t lose a boyfriend, you lost a controlling fuckwit.

Or maybe you’re not being entirely honest with me here, (it was exclusive?) and it was cheating and you feel bad about that now and like you have to take shit off a new person. No, learn better, do better.

What seems most likely is that, as a young person, you’re really bad at defining boundaries and having hard conversations about what things are and are not. Everything is fuzzy.

Bring clarity.

That’s what grown-ups do. If things still seem fuzzy, ask questions. If the answers are not satisfactory, take action. Don’t go down rabbit holes of self-recrimination or come up with improbable theories for Why They Are That Way. Fuckwits are usually vague for a reason. Because it obscures hidden agendas and unpleasant truths. They prefer their uneven playing fields.

But when you KNOW YOUR WORTH, you don’t play those games. You bring clarity to the situation.

“I want to be in a relationship with someone who wants to be in a relationship with me.”

Blather, blameshift, gaslight excuse.

“No, that doesn’t square with what I discovered. Healthy relationships are based on reciprocity. This doesn’t measure up.”

Don’t tell him what you think he feels. Just state what you need and what you’re going to do.

He’s expressed remorse and regret, now of course that he’s been caught.

He can save it for the next girlfriend.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
    • Me after reading your comment: Verb. DTMFA. Initialism of dump the mother-fucker already, as advice to a partner in a relationship.

    • “Banned from Tinder? DTMFA.”

      My first thought too.

      How much of an asshole do you have to be to get banned from a hook-up site whose trade is accommodating the needs of assholes? I would bet he was harassing women. That level of asshole. Ah, but he’s young. He’ll gain experience and move up to assaulting women.
      Run run run!

        • Tinder guidelines say they will ban harassers, such as people who repeatedly send unsolicited nude photos to other users, or those who use the application to indulge in trolling and verbal abuse. If people report you for it, they are supposed to take action.
          I did look into it and apparently there have been random bans and bans resulting from people making bogus reports for revenge. However, if he hasn’t had another girlfriend before Sheila, there’s nobody who would get jealous of his Tinder hook-ups and want revenge. So that leaves a random, mistaken ban as the only other possibility besides violating the rules. I’d have to say it’s not very likely it was an unjustified ban, knowing the kind of shady character this guy is. Anyway, the important thing for Sheila is the fact that he’s using Tinder at all.

          • yes, I have reported people that I found out had multiple PPO against them, criminal records – one involving ABDUCTING a woman but the dating sites actually do not ban for illegal or criminal actions against them it is only for conduct on their platform.

      • I’m with you on rejecting the “Ah, but s/he’s young” alibi. I thought about this a lot because some of the teachers and TAs who covered up a criminal assault by staff against my tiny, disabled seven year old son were 22, 23 years old, I didn’t perceive any of culprits as being “young.” In fact, they looked like crusty old colluding battleaxes compared to their very young charges and behaved like nasty hardened criminals when I filed a civil rights complaint against the school. I might have had ten years on that bunch at the time but was outstripped as far as aggression, sneakiness and experienced scumbaggery.

        I don’t believe in trying 14 year olds as adults but the popular factoid that “people’s brains aren’t fully developed until 25” turns out to be an internet myth according to neuroscientists who mock the factoid and can’t even say where that “25” figure was originally drawn from other than a bunch of bloggers and so-called “science journalists” jumping the gun in their excitement over certain advancements in brain imaging tech. Some speculate that the myth was formed as a way to normalize and subdue social panic over an increasing “failure to launch” among twenty-somethings who often act like teens, something dubbed the “great delay” ( But in blind imaging studies, scientists couldn’t actually determine the ages of various brains within a certain range. Some 8 year old’s brains look like those of people over 25 and vice-versa which suggests that the brain regions being singled out as developmental markers aren’t really the locus of brain “maturity,” which seems to be far more complicated than initially believed. It’s not surprising since more is known about the universe than is understood about the human brain at this point.

        In any event, for those over age twenty especially, the “so young” excuse for criminal and interpersonally aggressive conduct doesn’t fly with me. You could even make a reasonable clinical argument about how age is relative to the stunting effect of criminal character traits. Most harmful people can’t climb back over the mountain of their past ill deeds to truly redeem themselves but instead get stuck in loops of disordered thinking where they blame the world and their own victims for their behavior as a way of reducing stigma and guilt. That kind of learned, distorted thinking is seen as intellectually degenerative, meaning there’s little intellectual or emotional development possible beyond that point. Stick a fork in them, they’re cooked.

        You could also make a (sarcastic) evolutionary argument for it. If someone acts like an ape, you might measure them in chimp years where “middle age” is somewhere between 22 and 36. Sarcasm aside, that idea is actually supported by statistics that people with anti-social personality disorders tend to die younger than the rest of the population. It’s not known whether this is caused by high risk lifestyle and “aggressive mating strategies” or if high risk lifestyle and aggressive mating strategies are driven by someone’s perception of limited life expectancy due to underlying disease-proneness or other factors. Studies of people with certain genetic issues that impact lifespan found far higher rates of high risk behavior, earlier sexual activity and more sexually aggressive behavior even when the individual didn’t know they had the disorder or didn’t consciously understand the health impacts of the genetic glitch. The effect was chalked up to “biological intuition.” The same behavior might be seen in children growing up in war-torn or otherwise violent social environments or in violent homes but not consistently. At least in terms of reaction to social environment, individual choice is still determinant. It can still boil down to character.

        • Thank you for the counter to the argument about the maturity of the brain. I learned of this “fact” over 15 year ago while taking pre-requisites to nursing school. I scoffed at the instructor and she asked me why? My reply was what about all of the children who came before us that were apprenticed at the age 10(males mainly) and were working at various jobs around the home to help support their families. I then pointed out to her the plain sects of Mennonite and Amish people. Their children are given expectations by their families and carry them out to help the family. Bad behavior is bad behavior no matter what age

          • I don’t know that historical mistreatment of children is a good counterexample to what is just plain wrong science.

            • True and I agree. But culturally the idea or the romantic idea of childhood started with the Victorian age, which was a the beginning of all the things good and bad that we are seeing today. There are reasons for child labor laws, and the extension of schooling of children. It helps protect them for an extended period and shelters them. I was using that as a counterpoint to her argument

          • I agree. For better or worse, different generations and different cultures have different expectations of children. The “worse” manifestations of this are modern child diamond miners, boy soldiers, child sex trafficking victims, etc., and child laborers of yore. There’s also “tiger parents” prodigy-ing tiny children to the point of burnout or injury in order to gratify adult egos or out of some traumatized survivalist thing (coming from a culture where, if you weren’t somebody important, you’d probably perish so they push their kids to “save” the family).

            But there are positive examples of people in the past being highly responsible and accomplished at very young ages. It’s obviously a balance. That balance seems to be off these days with the generations under age 40 but, according to more in-depth reports, it’s not all due to social media-generated entitlement and laziness. Even my teen kids are annoyed by their generation’s desperation to identify themselves as “kids” for an excessive amount of time. My daughter asked why people pushing thirty are simpering about “reverse ageism” when Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein at 19. But I wonder about the effects of increasingly toxic exposure since Millennials and Gen Z seem to be the sickest, most depressed generation in a long time and also the first in half a century to face reverse life expectancy. Climate change isn’t making people healthier or more cheerful. And those generations in the US were also hit with discouraging events and circumstances at key developmental stages like the ’08 crash and COVID and some really disturbing sociopolitical effects of neoliberal politics (ed and prison privatization and the school to prison pipeline, environmental deregulation, student loan debt, mass surveillance, outsourcing labor, a sold-out media, vast wealth transfer and greater wealth disparity than even medieval times, etc.). But it’s not like past generations had it easy. Something weird is afoot.

        • Car rental companies. A marketing person invented the “Brain not fully developed until 25” “science”. To soft pedal redlining under 25 year old males…but oops had to lump the females in too…wouldn’t want to be realist I mean genderist!

        • I’m very sorry that your son was assaulted by staff at school. That all sounds horrible.

          I also agree wit the “they are young” stuff. When I was 20, I worked in a pediatric critical care unit caring for open heart and trauma kids. I married at 21 and (as much as I chose poorly) I was a really good wife.

          • Unicornomore–
            Your level of responsibility sounds unusual even for Gen X, more like the values and work ethic of the Golden Generation. Some people rise to challenges. Some challenges turn out not to be worth it but the “rising” is what defines you.

            Thanks for the kind words. My son is doing really well now. His past experience seems to have given him a sense of fairness which isn’t a bad thing, especially combined with a sense of humor. I’ll find him vacuuming the house and he’ll say “And my dick didn’t fall off. Amazing.”

            • Im statistically a very late Boomer…so late I was once featured in a news story about being one of the last Baby Boomers. Im not sure where my work-ethic came from but possibly a side effect of very selfish parents who created zero safety-net for me. I just returned from a trip to see them and every minute I share with them is 60 second I want to jump out of my skin and run away.

        • Thank you for posting this. I had to grow up very quickly as a child and have always been annoyed by the “YoU cAn’T eXpEcT a 20 sOmEtHiNg To AcT LiKe An AduLt, dEr BrAiNs ArEn’T dEvELoPeD yEt!” It’s a big pet peeve for me.

          • It bugs me too. Different people mature at different rates, but it doesn’t matter that immaturity is factor in this guy’s cheating. It’s a factor in all cheating, along with a host of other equally charming traits like selfishness and low empathy. The important point is that Sheila shouldn’t wait around in the hope the jerk grows up. At CN we know that a potential life partner needs to be at one’s own level, or at least close to it. If you choose a man/woman baby as a life partner and forgive bad behavior, your partner has no incentive to grow up. You’ll end up doing the adulting while your SO enjoys an extended adolescence at your expense. Been there, done that, got the HPV to show for it.

    • Right, THIS is the dealbreaker. LW, ask yourself how he got his ass booted from a dating app, and then realize the answer is “not for any reason that makes him a good boyfriend”.

  • I wonder what a person has to DO to be banned from Tinder. I wouldn’t know, but I imagine the bar of acceptable behavior there is pretty low. Yet this (supposedly) inexperienced naïf somehow got himself banned, for going on two years now. Hm.

  • Short term relationship, not married, not living together, no kids = easy break up. It may hurt now but in year you’ll look back and be so glad you ended it before you it got more serious and you had a lot more to lose.

    • Katie 💯 accurately describes every relationship I’ve had, up to and including marriage pre-kids. Not worth further anxiety and DEFINITELY not worth getting further entangled. When it gets to this point of disrespect/disregard, it does NOT get better. He may appear to give you what you want if you confront him, as long as you’re still useful enough. But trust me, you do not want the type of relationship this “man” has to offer. This may sound insensitive but there’s something better out there, even if it’s nothing. Next!

      • Replying to self….I should have ended my long distance marriage at the first sign of devaluation, before having kids and becoming somewhat financially dependent due to bearing full responsibility for said kids, while it continued to be long distance well beyond the original agreement.

        Whatever you accept now is what you will continue to get, sorry to say.

        Long distance is tough and many, MANY people are not well suited. Just let him go.

  • Young people (especially women?) often confuse sex for intimacy and commitment. And, while that might be the ultimate goal, it is not equivalent. You don’t have to marry the person you have sex with AND he doesn’t have to promise to forsake all others forever. You just need to both communicate honestly. And practice safe sex. If you are ready for a commitment beyond that, a 20 year old man probably isn’t the ideal choice.

    • ICST, also the social narrative directed at women in general and young women in particular that you must be partnered to have value.
      My daughter (now 25) stayed in a garbage relationship for five years (18-23). And her mom stayed in a garbage relationship for four (45-49).
      Thankfully we both left. I hope OP does too.

      • WW, I can attest that as a single 50-years-old single woman, I still have to weather the “have you considered getting partnered” talks at get-togethers. Tsssssss. I might consider hermit-style solitude 🙄

  • If he is on Tinder and flirting on Insta, you can beat money he is on other dating and social media sites “looking for love”.

    • Right. And probably telling them all “you are my first girlfriend.”

      Knowing that his words are meaningless at best, and most likely outright lies, you can only focus on his actions. And his actions SUCK. Not worth another second of your time or worry.

  • Guarantee he’ll be doing same with some future version of Tinder all his life. These entitled shallow jerks remain just that. My ex started with porn magazines (and I thought most guys did this), graduated to strip clubs, hook up bars, then the internet brought him an entire bevy of cheating options. I caught him cheating with coworkers, but he was also on local dating sites trying to find couples near his work for threesomes. During the time I was having repeat miscarriages. Leave these insufferable shallow users in the dust where they belong.

  • I’m not familiar enough with online dating apps to know if Tinder is a non-starter.

    But unless a young person (of either sex) can also research and commit to a car – purchase price, insurance/maintenance, storage – they aren’t ready to choose a life partner.

  • Your goals aren’t in alignment. While you’re looking to better yourself, he’s attempting to gain access to an account he was banned from previously.

    Raising your bar is in order. Being banned in itself should have been a dealbreaker. It’s evidence enough.

  • I think you have an opportunity to see a red flag and do something active about it – not snooping, but communicating. Also, if you need to police his social accounts in your early dating days, imagine what a future would look like?

    Sure, could very well be that he is 22, inexperienced, curious… whatevs… but he must’ve been smart enough to do some shady shit on Tinder to be banned. Maybe he is just good at the timid forest creature nonsense.

    Use this moment as your chance to practice some very good life skills… setting boundaries… communicating openly… demanding reciprocity… enjoying trust in a relationship.

    Know your worth.

  • I put up with alot of jerky men throughout my 20’s. I wish I had cut more of them loose sooner & concentrated on my own schooling, career & travel opportunities more. Because that’s what they did (or they weren’t doing much at all) expecting me to accommodate them. I think that’s where we really get chumped, we have this defining moment where we are faced with ending the relationship or widen our boundaries to keep ourselves in it. Once a boundary pusher (and they know they’re doing it too) starts they usually keep on doing it. This guy knows the score, he’s just not being honest with you. So two things: he wants you as his main dish, but wants some side action when he’s not the focus of your life (he must not personally have much going on to keep him occupied?) Or he’s looking to replace you because he’s reached his level of interest in you. Either scenario bodes not a good outcome for you. Knowing what I know now, I personally would have the “let’s break up & explore life” convo. If you find him relieved, you know what he was going to do. If you find him begging not to, then he’s dishonest at the core. No way, any guy even at 22, has to be trolling for dates when his GF is gone for a month. I hope you take the advice you would give your BFF going through same sitch.

    • “If you find him relieved, you know what he was going to do. If you find him begging not to, then he’s dishonest at the core.”

      I love that it’s lose/lose regardless of his reaction (like there’s no “then you know he really loves you and just made a mistake!!” Cosmo girl option) because this is absolutely my experience of men before age 25 who show any distancing whatsoever in a relationship. Just leave now.

  • “I admit that a few years ago I was unfaithful in a long-term relationship (while not officially cheating since we weren’t exclusive anymore, it was still a big betrayal, slept with my ex) and I really did learn since I lost that person and have not made that mistake again.“

    I am stuck on this part right here. It does not add up. And IMHO, getting clear on what’s going on with this is really important.

    • I was confused by “not officially cheating since we weren’t exclusive anymore.” Huh? Either you’re together or you’re not.

      Sheila, it sounds like you need to work on your boundaries.

    • Basically what happened was, we had already had the discussion before I left for the summer that since I was going to be going on an exchange semester and that I was young and wanted to explore life, we knew what was coming but we still stayed in touch/he kept a flame burning. Then when I got back, from the summer, about to leave on exchange, he was still there waiting for me. I had slept with my ex over the summer and I fessed up as soon as I saw him. Even though we weren’t together anymore this destroyed him and was the catalyst for him to really move on. I tried to get him back, but he was gone. So even though it wasn’t official cheating, idk, it still felt blurry. that was 4 years ago when I was 21 and one of my biggest life lessons. But I agree, need to work on boundaries!

      • Staying in touch with an ex, but hooking up with someone else does not make you a cheater, not even close.
        Wanting to take a “break” so you could be free to hook up with others while wanting to keep your ex on the hook, so you could go back to him if you wanted to sounds a bit entitled and selfish. But it’s not cheating. If you want to be with someone, be with them. If you want freedom, well, they have the freedom to leave or not stick around anymore.

        • In retrospect I agree, it was selfish, and I didn’t realize what I lost until I was one month into my ‘party/exploration’ phase, which wasn’t even worth it at all.

          • Fwiw, “breaks” do not exist. If you take a break, you’re broken up and the likelihood of a successful relationship (if you get back together) is so tiny that it’s not even worth considering.

            Source: I’m 40. Both myself and my friends went through a million “breaks” in our youth. They don’t work. Save yourself the time.

  • “I don’t believe he physically did anything but it still feels like he is exploring his options.”

    What do you base that feeling on? If it’s based on his word or your hopes and dreams, disregard. He’s clearly a shady guy.

    “I’m his first actual girlfriend and feel like part of this ‘wandering’ is due to his inexperience.”

    Or because he’s an asshole. If he wants to wander, he shouldn’t have commited to you.

    “I know our youth is a factor but of course I’m feeling blindsided and betrayed.”

    Is he too inexperienced to know it’s wrong? No, because he hid it from you. That’s consciousness of guilt and it shows intent to decieve.
    Basic character is set by his age. I was 17 when I had my first bf. I didn’t cheat then or ever.

    Ultimately, who cares what the factors are? You need to ask yourself if you want a bf who “wanders” whether it’s due to immaturity or not. If no, then dump. Or wait around, hope he grows out of it, try desperately to police his dick and put yourself at risk of STDs. Which option sounds more sensible? If he’s already a FW at this age, and one who is obnoxious enough to get banned from Tinder, just imagine what your life with him would be like. Hypervigilance takes a toll of your health. Don’t do it. You’ll find a better bf.

    Unbeknownst to me, my cheater had come on to another woman (and very likely others) when we were both 23 and had only been dating a month. He brazenly did it at a party, one I was at with him, and I had no idea. If I had known that, I’d never have married him. You, otoh, have the advantage of foreknowledge. Don’t end up like me, finding out 30+ years later that I wasted my life on a cheater. If they have a wandering eye/dick at that stage, when they are allegedly so besotted with you, imagine what they’ll do when you’ve been together for years.

  • So I did a search because “banned from Tinder” sound really not good. What I turned up said that it’s HARD to get banned from Tinder. You have to be reported multiple times to get banned. The main reasons are:
    1. Sending unwanted or inappropriate messages to other users, either using explicit language or making sexual advances.
    2. Creating multiple Tinder accounts or using bots to boost your profile in order to gain more matches or swipes.
    3. Spamming other users with unwanted pictures, messages, or links.
    4. Using fake or stolen photos in your profile.
    5. Impersonating another person on Tinder.
    There are a few other reasons you could get banned on Tinder, including using hate speech, sending sexually explicit messages or sending messages that simply look like spam.

    Whatever your soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend did, it’s not good.

    NEXT that jerk.

    • Thanks for looking that up. I shouldn’t have glossed over the banned from Tinder. I read it as a distraction, from the issue of he’s on it, period. But yes, banned is Next Level Red Flag.

    • LW, please know that this is known as Spackle around here — “I’m his first actual girlfriend and feel like part of this ‘wandering’ is due to his inexperience.”

      Inexperienced at commitment? Obviously.
      Inexperienced at trolling women? Even Tinder says he’s over his limit on that.

  • I remember my 20s as being the years of trying to figure out who I was. I had no idea I could say NO. I had no idea I had the right to have boundaries or even what they were.
    Three things that I concentrated on. My friends, my boyfriends, and when I thought about it, school work. One thing stands out to me right now. I remember how much more fun I had with my friends than I ever did with boyfriends. I could laugh until my stomach hurt. I never did that with those guys.
    Enjoy your youth. Give yourself time to get some firm boundaries in place. They will be what keeps you from saying YES when you should be saying NO.

  • “I’m his first actual girlfriend and feel like part of this ‘wandering’ is due to his inexperience.”

    The only experience he’ll gain if you don’t dump him is that this wandering behaviour is no big deal.

    • Insightful, HC. We really don’t do people any favors when we enable negative behaviors by giving in when they mistreat us. Life is learning. A person who mistreats another really should have to live with the natural bad outcome of doing that. It’s in the natural order of things. ⭐

      • My FW will never live “consequences” ..he is proud of what he “got away with for decades…makes him feel clever…thoroughly in gets pleasure from…hurting me emotionally…he really likes who he is. No consequences.

  • She could tell him that neither of them are ready for an exclusive committment. Be honest and say it’s too early for that.

    He’s on Tinder seeing what else is out there. That said it all.

  • hello! Thank you for responding to my submission. I think I know deep down that this isn’t going to work but I’m on holiday with my family right now and I know if I end it now, I will be hyper-fixating on it for the rest of my trip.

    Then I have two months until I finish my master degree and really want to focus on finishing my thesis without dealing with total heart break right now. So a discussion is to come, but I’m putting it off.

    Also, I wanted to point out that I wasn’t snooping on purpose, his gmail just opens first when I check my own mail because I have his password to access another site that goes through his Google account.

    I appreciate all the words and I know deep down what needs to be done, but we can’t communicate properly til we’re face to face anyways.

    Regarding the tinder banning, there actually is a phenomenon where people find themselves getting banned randomly. People can even report them out of spite. Also, his exchange with the customer service made it seem like he really had no idea what he did. Anyways, don’t know why I’m defending him.

    I’ll be taking your insights to heart and contemplate them over the next few days.

    Thank you <3

    • Glad you’re taking it to heart. Middle-aged me is looking back to my similar story at your age and deeply wishing a CL had been there for me at that time for sure.

      I support you making your own choices. You’re the captain of the ship of your life. I just want to add one perspective to consider in your post here.

      I get how a conversation and breakup would bring a lot of stress now and it isn’t the right time to deal with that. I just wonder, is it truly very likely you’ll be avoiding pain or heartbreak by staying in a distracting situation that will gnaw at your guts day after day while you attempt to focus on such important things?

      There’s this antiquated business metaphor about how if you have to eat a frog, it’s best to do it at the start of the day so you don’t spend all day worrying about how later you have to do it anyway. Eat the frog first, and the rest of the day your mind is clear becauaw the terrible task is over.

      Maybe – just something to consider – maybe this is a time when it really is best to just “eat the frog”. Maybe sad feelings would distract you less than sad feelings (you’ll have them anyway) plus avoidant feelings plus dissatisfaction plus betrayal as more and more lies cross the table.

      (I applaud your breakup ethics, of course. There’s a time and place for that sort of conversation. But we have phones and videochats these days. You might be recorded, so speak accordingly, but if you have your mind made up and keep yourself calm and your messages simple and brief — no excuses or negotiation — any recording is a minor risk.)

      • Plus one for eating the frog. (I like that metaphor (if it isn’t a simile; I can never remember which is which)). It reminds me of how I used to try to deal with my kids when they were naughty – get the telling-off done, and then you can all enjoy the rest of the day!

        I must be very old-fashioned. When I was in my early 20s, and separated from a girlfriend (usually by travel or university holidays in those days, before mobiles or internet and with parents who had very negative views on using the telephone, as opposed to just owning one) I used to spend a lot of time writing letters and looking forward to receiving them, and, you know, looking forward to seeing them again. Ah, such naivety 🙂

        • It’s neither a metaphor or a simile, actually — it’s probably more of an analogy. Most of us share pretty casually here, so I used the term as most would use it casually. I do like specificity of language, but not so much in getting grammar exactly right. Same goes for spelling. And typos. And limited English proficiency. We can’t edit. so we roll with the linguistic punches.

    • Whatever you do, use multiple forms of protection, both from pregnancy and STDs. Stop making excuses for this guy. People are “randomly” banned from Tinder? Uh huh. If you and he are exclusive, his banning wouldn’t matter. Who cares how or why or with whom. Read the room. He’s shopping women, not shortbread recipes. Let him go. You and he are not going to go the distance. He’s not the one. Don’t waste another minute of your youth.
      He was Mr. Right Now, not Mr. Right. Finish your degree. Drinks lots of tea, cry if you want, but finish your degree solo. You’re a part because you’re on vacation, then apart because of internships. Just end it already. Don’t contribute to drama. Get all your personal stuff back from him. Then go home and send a text.
      A Tender Tinder Message: SO, I’ve had some time to think, and it’s best we part now, without drama or fanfare. I want to finish my degree with happy memories and a clean slate for my future. Infidelity, whether on Tinder or Instagram messages or wherever is not part of a healthy, loving, respectful relationship and I’m cutting my losses.
      Don’t waste hours exploring his sorrow, and his reasons, and his promises and blah, blah, blah. Use that time to finish school. A degree is forever; he is not.

      • If I could give my younger self any advice, it would be it’s not our job to fix men or help them grow.

        Pour all that energy into yourself: YOUR education, YOUR growth.

        • This is especially pertinent to a 24-year old woman dating a boy two years younger.

      • Agreed, oh please. Allowing time for the break up talk means Sheila will allow more time to be open to be love bombed, confused, and conned by this guy.
        Sheila doesn’t owe him anything more than that kind sentence, gently put.
        Sheila, you do owe yourself a shield, to protect yourself from his ranting, pity party, or whatever. No contact is a great shield.

    • You sound pretty pretty savvy & smart (you reached out to Chump Lady after all) so I have no doubt you will make the best decision for yourself. Have a great rest of your trip & best of luck with your thesis!

    • Realize that many women (and men) have caught HPV and now have anal/oral/cervical cancer from sexual activities

      Don’t risk your health having unprotected sex

    • Him being on Tinder is itself a dealbreaker. You don’t need to know why he was banned or if it was an accident. He’s cheating on you. There’s no reason for someone in a committed relationship to be on Tinder at all. None.

      • And FWIW, I don’t buy the “he got banned by accident” excuse.

        Men and women get banned from Tinder for largely different reasons: Women for turning men down, men for harassing women.

        Don’t twist yourself into pretzels trying to justify that your boyfriend is the exception to the rule. He probably isn’t and there are enough dealbreakers in your letter as is.

        • I don’t buy it either, but mostly because I know liars latch on to statically improbable excuses.

          You have high-risk HPV after 20 years together? It was probably dormant in your system.
          I was out all night and didn’t call you? My phone died but I didn’t want to drive drunk so I slept in my car in the freezing cold.
          You found condoms or blue pills in my stuff? I use those to masturbate

          When I found my ex on a dating site while I was out of town he said he signed into it because he “thought we had met on there and wanted to re-read old messages” from me. 🙄

          Now the red flags fly for me when I’m given an improbable explanation. I mean, statistically what are the odds that he was banned for no reason? Possible? Yes. Probable? Absolutely not.

          • “…liars latch on to statically improbable excuses.”

            Okay, there’s the latest quote I want to put on my wall!

            I remember being on the other end of that with the “he couldn’t get it up so we didn’t go all the way” excuse. Of course, she was still perfectly willing to, and that was the true takeaway, just like this guy’s clear willingness to take a tour of other potential options.

            That’s what I keep hearing in these responses — the details matter a lot less than the clear intention. Believe that the intention was there and isn’t going to go away, because it’s characterological. That’s how these things seem to work, basically 100% of the time.

            • I constantly have to remind myself that guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” is for the courtroom. I spent decades wanting some type of ironclad proof, and staying with him on logical technicalities.

              Sure he was online cruising for dates – but he wasn’t successful!
              Sure he propositioned a friend of ours – but she turned him down!
              Sure he has a secret duffel of weird sex stuff – but poor thing, he’s just ashamed of his sexuality!

              But, like you said, intention matters. If someone was shooting at me, but they missed, they are just as guilty no matter where the bullet landed.

          • Ahhh…the excuses for the blue pills….I found them toward the back of our shared medicine cabinet. He wasn’t even trying to hide them very well. When I asked about them, he said that the doctor who performed his prostatectomy prescribed them to ensure blood flow to the region after his surgery. And I bought it!! Only later did I question (to myself) – isn’t there blood flow to the region regardless of whether you take the blue pill? Of course there is! He later moved them to the glove compartment in his car, and it still took me another two years (and a lot more lies) to finally give up on him. Looking back, I still can’t believe what I allowed to pass unchallenged. I’m not upset with myself because I don’t consider being chumped my fault, but I do have to laugh at how utterly chumpy I was.

            • Doctors do prescribe medications like sildenafil (Viagra) after a nerve-sparing prostatectomy. These medications work by increasing blood flow to the penis, which may restore the ability to have an erection.
              I was there when the doctor told my ex this information after his surgery.
              Maybe the one time your ex was telling facts & not snowing you.
              I do hope all cheaters’ dicks fall off from overuse.

              • He wasn’t having sex with me, though, and since it never occurred to me that he was cheating, I spackled that the pills were somehow needed to keep extra blood flowing to the region for healing purposes. Just shows the extent to which I was willing to sparkle. Never crossed my mind, not even a momentary flicker, that he might be cheating.

    • At the very least, save yourself from the possibility of STDs if you wait longer to break up with him.

    • Sheila, you are worth so much more than this mofo. Chump Nation has your back. This guy is not worth your time. You are going to rock your Masters and all that comes after!

    • “Anyways, don’t know why I’m defending him.”

      Spackling because you think you may have a unicorn.

    • Ah, Sheila, you are giving the care and consideration to him that he has not and never will give to you. That’s where Chumps get sucked in to setting up patterns that last a lifetime of grief and pain until they see what they are doing. The reasons for not acting always sound persuasive. I’m 63, with a lot of life experience as a lawyer. It’s fair to say that I am and always have been an intelligent woman. In September 2019, only a few weeks after my dad’s death, my husband of 26 years came back from a week away (with his girlfriend it later turned out). He walked into our garden on that beautiful, sunny day with his arms open as if to hug me and said my name followed by ‘I’m leaving you’. I had spent 26 years rationalising, making excuses, turning a blind eye, being understanding etc. Like you, I spent my precious life which could end tomorrow, next year, or in this moment, parenting a man child. I am only now learning how to parent myself. I hope that you leave your man child with strength and dignity and sooner rather than later. The time will never be right unless you make it so.

  • In my early twenties I married the guy who cheated “for the last time ” because I believed him and I believed in the fairy tale and I did not listen to the voice inside my head telling me to walk away.
    38 years later with many kids and grandchildren and too many “last times” to count, I am finally in the divorce process.
    Walk away, don’t look back and listen to the voice inside your head. It’s telling you the truth, he is not.

  • 16-30 year old me DESPERATELY needed your advice, CL. Spot on. Every word.

  • Sheila, it seems like this man-child is going to need constant supervision to assure his fidelity. That means never going without him on trips, always going with him on his, whenever he goes out “with friends” you will need to be there, and God forbid you leave him at home while you run errands.

    This person cannot be trusted. It will not get better, it will get worse.

    Oh, and get ready for the sad sausage routine. Get your armor on. If consequences aren’t enforced NOW, he absolutely will only learn that he can get away with this.

    Even IF he changes his behavior, will you really ever trust him again? And what kind of foundation is that for a long-term relationship? What if you were to have kids with him, and, OMG, actually paid attention to them?

    This may be a good time to determine what your INVIOLATE boundaries are. And make them specific, not vague. “I need my partner to not flirt with other women”, then define flirting. Etc., so forth. Last Friday’s post was about Red Flags, and this guy has them in spades.

    Get away.

  • I don’t have a social media presence, or care to have one. Chump Lady is my one and only blog. I consistently read here because it helps me stay focused on my goals and part of a worthwhile community. When I was younger, in between marriages, I tried a dating app. It was exhausting, and full of annoying “matches” who lied a lot. I was sad that so many people are lonely, and they cannot safely seek out other lonely people without being subjected to a pack of hungry jackals. The sites I’ve heard about that are just for sexual hook-ups are even more foreign to me. I can only relate them to an old sad movie I watched in my younger life called looking for Mr. Good Bar. It had an unhappy ending.

    I understand that I am old school, but I am older. I gained some of my wisdom the old-fashioned painful way. I just don’t believe in instant gratification. Well, maybe ice-cream or chocolate, but they, too, have a price! But searching for another partner while you supposedly have one is just wrong. Don’t declare yourself committed if you are not. Enjoy your freedom while you are young and don’t be in such a hurry to mate for life. You develop and change and grow a lot in the course of a few years. When you legally become an adult, you are just at the start of your transformation. I didn’t like dating multiple boyfriends, either, but even if you date one at a time, it does not mean you are destined to be a long-term couple. You are finding out if you BOTH are compatible and ready to make a significant change in your life. Finding your declared partner still is active on a dating site is a sure indicator he/she is NOT ready for that leap.

    There is nothing wrong with being the one who says Good-Bye. It was very empowering for me to say that to my now ex-cheaters. Let them live in the world of the Eternal Dating/Hook-up application. That world seems very empty and unfulfilling to me. My suggestion is to seek out organizations of people who are interested in the same things you are– the things which bring you joy. At least you will be with like-minded people. If you find some-one to date there, at least you will have something in common. I am in the last part of my life, and I can assure you I am happier now than I ever was when I was young and “dating.” Much, much happier than when I was married to lying cheaters. I know my advice goes against the grain of the advice I received when I was young. I thought I was looking for “The One”. I picked more than one wrong one. I thought I had to be part of a couple. I have found that being independent and free has many rewards. Keep your options open and enjoy your youth. Listen to Chump Lady’s excellent advice.

  • Dear OP

    I listened to too many excuses. I so wanted to believe that FW truly loved me. He did not.

    You don’t owe this man anything. No explanation…..nothing.

    Walk away now. Save yourself the heartache in the future that I feel will inevitably come and be much bigger than it is right now.

    If I could jump into your shoes right now (I’m much older than you and am now through the grinder – not the dating app but sunken costs and divorce) I wouldn’t even bother to explain. A quick ‘hey Bob, it’s over, take care’ is probably all I’d send. Then block him on everything.

    You take care and live your beautiful life.

  • My advice? Enjoy your 20s single. See the world. Focus on your education. Figure out who you are and exactly what you want. There’s plenty of time. And regardless, even if you do want a serious, long-term relationship, this guy ain’t it.

    I’m exceedingly loyal and married my first boyfriend. I wasted all of my 30s on a man who ended up cheating on me and abusing me.

    Don’t believe his excuses either (like he has “no idea” why he was banned). My ex had a convenient excuse for every red flag. I made the mistake of believing his explanations because I WANTED to believe there was nothing to worry about. There was. Also, it shouldn’t matter if he’s banned from Tinder. If he’s exclusive with you, he shouldn’t be trying to reinstate his profile ANYWAY. Huge red flag.

    If he’s “inexperienced” and wants to sow his oats a bit or isn’t sure how to behave in an exclusive relationship, you are under no obligation to be the one to teach him what’s appropriate. Find someone whose values align with yours, who’s goals are compatible with yours, and who is ready for a relationship based on honesty, loyalty, and commitment.

    • For those in their 20s, it’s also worth remembering not only that the brain is not fully developed until around age 25 but also that learning who you are and what you want from the big wide world is still going on (and sometimes goes on for a long while). It’s not just cutting loose a cheater, in this case. A 22-year old male has no adult life experience; there’s no way to evaluate how he will do on the job, how he handles money, how good he will be as a partner in terms of sharing cleaning, cooking and laundry. An “inexperienced” person in the dating pool is one thing; it’s another when this person hasn’t launched into adulthood.

  • Girl, I wouldn’t fight this hard for a husband, let alone a short term, long distance relationship. Stop investing in this loser.

    I know you’re young, but are you HEARING all the red flags in your letter when you type it out? He’s cheating on you. He’s banned from Twitter, which means he’s a dangerous creep you need to get away from. You don’t need to know why, you just need to recognize he’s horrible and get the hell away from him.

    He’s not “inexperienced”, he sucks. Never make excuses for men’s bad behavior. Men aren’t stupid little children who don’t know what they’re doing.

    If a man hurts you or betrays you, he meant it and he meant it for you specifically, because he hates you. Not because you’re not good enough, but because he sucks.

  • Several major red flags, and also get yourself tested for STI’s asap. It takes some really weird juju to get yourself banned from Tinder and it will only get worse as time goes by.

  • Let me add some of my stupid or rather my inexperienced to this cake mix. I married my first husband at 21 he was 20. We dated since we were 16 and had grown up together. At 16 17 and onward, my husband -to -be was jealous, held me underwater when he was a LIFE GUARD since I was apparently flirting with other boys in the pool. I cried and he apologized. I knew he must love me!!!He was known as a bully and had friends who drew racist cartoons in the back row in high-school. He had to leave college because his grades were poor and he was goofing off on his parents dime. I MARRIED HIM ANYWAY. I spackled and believed he would change with me and maturity..we shared a religion of abstinence so I thought i had to stay pure and marry young. All that. IMO looking back. CHARACTER DOES NOT CHANGE.My then husband never got better, it all got worse culminating in a 3 year affair during a 2 month separation due to our jobs and a planned move. He left me in the delivery room. I do not believe a cheating pattern or a budding tinder habit gives way to light and love and commitment. I believe, from my own experience that porn leads to poor communication( if they could communicate at all) and zero openness later. If someone is learning lessons, they speak about these as great insights, not hiding, lying, blame shifting. When a rose is budding it does not morph into a daisy. It is what it is as a bud. Of course I did not know that deeply. With my second cheater, he appeared kind and pure as the driven snow. He abhorred cheaters because his first wife had cheated without mercy on him. But what I did not know till years later, that he had a porn addiction. I also did not know that hidden and later admitted emotional affairs were the gateway to the real thing. I did not know that a habit of masterbation that accelerated, could lead to ED ( research this– of course it is IMO also)which leads to more desperate attempts to regain what you are losing. Mental illness and the progression of a character that could lie, cheat, blame shift, future fake, bread crump, etc. .showed me that these poor character traits and coping mechanism PROGRESS and sadly in my case . …DID NOT IMPROVE but got worse with age. I stand by this now with 2 cheaters under my belt. Progressive bad habits and characters do not improve with the years. CL is way way ahead of the pack, trying to help us stop the ocean of sewage we are exposed to. As an older woman, I appreciate such a herculean effort by CN and Tracy to support us as we make sense of our choices and do better each time. I salute CN for all you do but to Tracy Shorn, I’d take my soul to her for repair work. I have my God of love and healing also, but Tracy is my angel with shoes on. Keep rockin us with such amazing snarky wisdom. It is the solid truth. IMO🙂!!

    • Oh, this is so smart. Poor character (lying, cheating, laziness, racism, bullying) usually does not get better with age. “Progressive bad habits and characters do not improve with the years”; this is true for so many behaviors, from abusive drinking or drug use to porn to financial irresponsibility. Some people grow up and learn to take responsibility for all sorts of things; many of them are on this board, being responsible adults! Others attach themselves to responsible people and then stay immature and dishonest. The guy who hold you underwater for flirting at 16 breaks your arm at 25 and beats you unconscious at 30.

      People are either growing, improving and learning by facing failures and challenges honestly or they are getting worse. No one stays on a plateau, really. The person who had shallow values at 15 and stays on that shallow way of life is actually a worse person at 60 because in the school of life, that person isn’t learning anything–isn’t learning empathy or unselfishness or gratitude for life’s grace. It doesn’t matter how much money they have or what worldly success they attain. Under those superficial aspects there is a person’s character, which is either getting better or worse.

      • Yes, and particularly when that bad behaviour is reinforced or rewarded (“I intimidated my partner and gained more control/got my way” vs. “I intimidated my partner and they left” (but usually they’ll find some reason to justify why they are still in the right anyway – disordered thinking) they are not growing in good ways, because the feedback loops they are getting are strengthening negative pathways. Either way, do yourself a favour, and potentially them a favour, if they are open to learning, and show them that their behaviour is not of the kind that will lead to better outcomes. And if they don’t learn? You’ve gotten away from someone whose bad behaviour will only escalate.

    • This comment. I met one of my fuckwits in college, and he was already a practiced sociopath, a pathological liar, and a serial abuser who got off on hurting women.

      At 21 years old, he already had a trail of destruction behind him and knew how to turn entire social groups against his victims for purposes of stalking and emotional terrorism. One girl transferred schools and fled across the country.

      Again, he was only 21! I shudder to think what he’s like now in his 40s and feel sorry for the woman he married.

  • Writing to CL is a great first step in the direction of leaving this guy.

    So many of us wish we could go back in time and take a different path, to say NEXT if a relationship didn’t feel quite right, to know our worth and not accept being treated “less than.” You represent our younger selves.

    Please heed the collective wisdom here. You deserve more. Expect it.

    Good luck.

  • “Don’t settle for so little. Don’t grasp. Don’t chase.”

    Dating is not marriage. You date to find out whether someone has the character and the values you want in a partner. In this case, the answer is “poor character” and (at best) immaturity. It’s fine to be “exclusive” if you really like someone you’re dating and want to try out the next level of “how does this relationship work if it’s exclusive and every day contact, whether in person or by text/phone. But the minute someone lies or cheats–NEXT!

    This goes for all of us, age 15 to 85: “Don’t settle for so little. Don’t grasp. Don’t chase.”

  • I LOVE that a 24 year old had the presence of mind to come here asking for advice. I never would have done that.

    My 20’s were quite wild. It’s when I thought I had the world by the tail and consequently made most of my biggest mistakes. I spent the better part of my 30’s working to grow up and start learning from those mistakes. And as CL said, if I knew then what I know now, WOW, I would have been able to conquer the world…or at least my small part of it anyway.

    As usual, CL’ s advice is dead-on and I wish I’d had someone to school me on these things when I was her age. But then again, I probably wouldn’t have listened. Which I think is my point. At her age, it’s OKAY to make mistakes because without them, you don’t learn the lessons you need to tackle those things effectively in your 30’s and beyond.

    So to you Sheila, try to listen to what CL is saying because it’s GOLDEN advice, but don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t quite up to hearing it yet. You WILL be soon enough.

  • One of my red flags is that I can see the potential good in anyone. Another is that I think I can make anything work if I just try harder. Chumps need to stop waiting for a partner to catch up or catch on, or get with the programme. It makes us slow our lives down and waste our own potential. Looking back, I should have focussed on my own education and then travelled, but my FOO left a huge void inside me that set me on a quest to find the love to fill it and make everything alright. I wish I had had the emotional strength and sense of self to build my skill set and put me first and not spend my time fixating on when I’d find a person to make the pain go away. Now I’m in my early 50s and feel like life could have been very different if my focus has been different. 24 is so young, and you have the potential to really set yourself up now if you make good choices on the decision tree. Do it, your future self will thank you.

    • Heard and word! If I had spent ALL THAT TIME AND ENERGY that I spent on trying to make my last relationship work ON MY OWN DAMN SELF AND EDUCATION AND CAREER, I might be president right now. My propensities to make things right and try and help him absolutely got in the way of my own success. What a frickin waste, in hindsight. Sure, I know better now and am doing better now, yada yada, but I seriously lost like 15 years worth of personal and professional growth. Not to say that my life now isn’t great and that I won’t make it greater even still, but I’ll never get those years back, or that youthful momentum back. I spent them unwisely.

      • Would like to have back a good many of those years I spent excusing fuckwit behavior.

        Leave fuckwits in the rearview.

  • THAT is some awesome advice!!! I wish I, too, had my swagger at 24 that I do now…lol.

  • I feel like there should be a banner that runs right below “Leave a cheater, gain a life” that reads, if you’re writing me for advice, dump him/her.

    Also, if I had a do-over of my 20’s, I would have been Queen of the World. Don’t date people who give you that icky feeling in the pit of your stomach.

  • Ghost and block. Concentrate on your major responsibility. Right now that’s finishing up your degree, not policing some FW who sits in front of hookup apps with his dick in his hand.

  • Text him a quick goodbye.
    His qualities aren’t what you want in a partner.
    Move on to better.
    22 isn’t old enough.

  • A little update…
    Right now I feel like I just don’t have the strength. Days before I found out all this, I had gotten a lip filler procedure done. Now they are fully healed and I’m really disappointed by the results and need to learn to accept them because with more and more research, I’m discovering this stuff lasts a long time and the filler dissolving agent isn’t safe and has disfigured people. Now I’m dealing with the regret of messing up my face at 24 years old, and he’s been really supportive. I didn’t even truly need it looking back, I just wanted a subtle plump. Now I’m both heartbroken and full of regret and I don’t think I can handle dumping him right now.. :’(

    • Hi Sheila, I’m sorry to hear about the filler. You’ll take the actions you need to when you’re ready. You don’t need him, ultimately, to be the source of your self-esteem around looks, around desirability, around whether you’re a good person worth committing to. It sounds like you could spend time figuring out what YOU want to commit to and what makes you feel fulfilled. Once I started asking myself, “What is it that this guy is giving me, that if I knew I could have it without him, would help me be less dependent on him?”, my relationships began improving. There are many reasons I never learned that I could be the one to decide that I am wonderful enough, hot enough, smart enough, cool enough, chill enough, whatever. I am only learning how to be my own validation in my late 40s. I WISH I’d begun in my 20s. I hope the same for you. Listening to Coming Home by Najwa Zebian was helpful.

    • He’s being nice about the fact that you feel bad about lip filler. That’s a low bar for supportive. You still know he’s chatting up strange on dating apps. Does saying nice things about your lips really make up for that?

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