Tuesday 17 September 2019

Ask Brian: I discovered my boyfriend on gay dating websites while cleaning his email inbox

Our no-nonsense agony uncle gets straight to the point of your most pressing issues

Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

Dear Brian,

I've been dating my boyfriend for just over five years. We lived together for two and half of these but the last two years we've been living apart after a brief separation but are trying to make things work.

The reason for the separation was that one day when I was cleaning his email inbox for him I discovered emails between him and another man.

It didn't take long reading them to figure out him and this man had been having sex. I was shocked and heartbroken. There were emails going back at least two years, back to the start of our relationship.

Their relationship didn't seem to be just a sex thing either, the other man was talking about plans to introduce my boyfriend to his family and all. He obviously doesn't know I exist.

I don't know if I missed any signs, we became committed very quickly and within a month of dating we were making plans to move in.

The horrors of his email inbox didn't end there.

I discovered he had joined countless dating websites describing himself as gay on his profiles and had been posting messages looking for gay sex on forums.

I confronted him about all this and he wasn't using the websites or sleeping with men any more.

I know this to be nonsense. Despite it all he still claims to be straight.

We separated after this confrontation.

I'd forgiven him countless times for cheating with women but this was too much. He has never had any remorse for his actions.

If I were to go off and sleep with someone else it would be unforgivable in his eyes. But he thinks I should just forgive and forget and move forward like nothing's happened.

Honestly, I feel like I've just been a cover for his family because he's not able to come out.

Do I keep trying to make things work?


Brian replies:

Short answer - no, dear God no.

I need to address a particular bug bear of mine, and that's you snooping on his emails.

I'm sorry, I just don't buy this 'cleaning his inbox' line. You were snooping, plain and simple. And you shouldn't have been.

You didn't stumble into his email inbox while attacking the laptop with your feather duster.

Yes, he is your boyfriend. But that doesn't entitle you to snoop on his private communications. He's still entitled to privacy.

Now that the scolding is over, let's address what you did find on your "clean".

Your boyfriend is a serial, compulsive cheater and liar. He is toxic.

Infidelity can happen in relationships for a variety of reasons, however the least forgivable is probably 'not being able to keep it in his pants' syndrome.

He is sleeping around with both women and men, putting himself - and therefore you - at risk of any nasty STI he might pick up on his bedroom travels.

To me, whether it's a man or a woman he's cheating with is largely irrelevant here, it's the serial and repeated nature of his cheating and his lack or remorse which is the concern.

Why was the cheating with women more forgivable to you than with men to you? Cheating is cheating.

I understand that his cheating with men comes with the added shock that he might not be straight - but it's the same principle, the same betrayal.

He sounds like a classic case of wanting his cake and eating it - he wants to have sex with anything with a pulse, but expects you to be the perfect housewife waiting loyally at home for him?

I don't believe the 'once a cheat, always a cheat' philosophy. Someone can cheat once in a relationship and never do it again. Someone can cheat multiple times in one relationship and remain steadfastly loyal in another. A lot of it is circumstantial.

What I do think is that once someone has broken that trust more than once in a relationship, that pattern will continue and never end.

You can forgive it once, but once you forgive it twice you are condoning a pattern of behavior. In his mind he's got away with it twice, so why stop there? You're a pushover to him.

There is no salvaging this relationship. You need to make a clean break and stop the life support this relationship is being sustained on.

If he wants to sleep around that's perfectly fine  - but you're not going to sacrifice your self respect while he does it. He doesn't get the security of a relationship with the freedom of singledom.

There is nothing to salvage here - his behaviour shows he has no respect for you, and he probably never will.

This has been dragging on for a tortuously long time, you need to move on with your life.


Do you have a problem you'd like some advice on? Email askbrian@independent.ie  to submit in confidence.

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