I've been seeing my boyfriend for about six months now. This is my first relationship, and it's been entirely long distance and online. Recently he decided to move closer to me and we've discussed being completely exclusive, which we hadn't been before. The problem is that he's had online relationships in the past and uses the Internet to interact and flirt with other girls. He's always adding new women to be his friends on MySpace and Facebook and IMs with them throughout the day. I know he's not physically cheating on me, but it sure feels a lot like it.
When I've confronted him previously, he just tells me that they're all friends and there's no attraction or flirtation. I've been telling him for months to stop, and only now when he's going to be moving close to me does he start deleting them. He says that he loves me and he's ready to make things work, but I'm not sure I can trust his online behavior. I have issues with trust, and the Internet is just full of endless opportunities for him to do something terrible. I'm scared, but I don't want to lose him. What do I do?
— Nervous Nona
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Dear Nervous Nona,
It certainly does sound like your boyfriend has been doing a lot of flirting so I can understand why you'd be feeling concerned. I can't attest to your boyfriend's behavior since I don't know the details, but if you weren't exclusive previously then it's likely he felt free to interact with other girls online. What worries me more is that you've been putting up with it for six months, and yet now that he's finally ready to be exclusive and put these other girls behind him, you're suddenly worried about staying with him.
It's certainly possible that he could continue to talk to girls online, but it's also possible that he's been completely honest and is actually ready to be committed. So I don't see it as a matter of staying with him, but rather deciding if you want to take a leap of faith and try trusting him. Either way, it's time to figure out why you're more willing to be in a situation that you don't like than one that is likely to be much healthier. That said if you do decide to give it a shot, don't disregard your instincts; learning to trust yourself is the first step in trusting others.