If you spend any amount of time on my Examiner page then you know that I write a lot about texting etiquette. Why? Because the technology that brings us together can also tear us apart if we’re not careful. Also, I get a lot of questions in the offline world about errant texts, what they mean and what someone should do to get a handle on an odd situation. So, here’s a “text-gone-wrong” scenario that was posed to me most recently over the summer, but that I’ve been asked for advice countless times. And it’s something that happens so frequently across all genders, that I feel it deserves its own article.
So, my friend (we’ll call him Mr. Concerned), asked me if he was in the wrong for being irked that his new girlfriend was accepting & replying to suggestive texts from one of her co-workers who knew she had a boyfriend. It wasn’t 100% clear through our convos how often the two offenders were texting or just how receptive or accepting his SO was to her co-worker’s textual advances. But suffice it to say that it happened enough to annoy my friend, and he’s by no means an insecure guy or jealous without reason.
Mr. Concerned felt that his SO’s accepting and replying to the texts was disrespectful. But he didn’t want to come across as insecure by constantly harping on it. So, what do you do when you find yourself in a scenario like this? To be clear, if your SO is consistently accepting advances (whether online or offline) from someone without making it known that they’re in a committed relationship, it IS disrespectful. When you agree to enter into a relationship with someone, there’s an unspoken agreement that you won’t encourage sexual advances from anyone but the person you’re dating. If the shoe were on the other foot, you would be genuinely upset. So, unless you’re in thosespecial “open relationships”, accepting advances from anyone other than you’re SO is a total breach of contract.
First, be sure that your SO is positively responding to these advances before you make any accusations.
Being on the receiving end of suggestive advances from people who I wasn’t interested in, I totally understand how an errant text or email can look damning even when the receiver isn’t to blame. So, before you accuse someone of encouraging attentions from others, make sure that they’re actually engaging in something suspect. Because, once you accuse someone falsely, the trust has definitely been damaged and you’ll end up with bigger problems.
Two, clear and effective communication is key.
Note the stress on clear and effective. You’re not doing yourself any favors if you go off and confront your SO with wild accusations or segue into irrelevant tangents. From my days of taking interpersonal relations courses in high school, I was always trained to begin difficult (and potentially confrontational) discussions with “I” and to avoid placing blame. Don’t go on the attack. When you do, you’re pretty much guaranteeing that whoever you’re talking to has tuned out your points and is instead waiting for their chance to jump in and defend themselves. Stay on topic about the specific issue at hand and focus on talking about how you feel when you see your SO encouraging other suitors. Just remember, when you start having these deep discussions, there might be plenty of blame to go around. Remember, often times people act out as an immediate reaction to how they feel someone is treating them (or a lack of attention). If you don’t want to hear these things – DON’T start the conversation.
Three, take a stand and stick to it.
Once you confront someone, you need to stand firm otherwise you lose all face here. Assuming that your SO recognizes the error of their ways and promises to do better, let them know that you won’t tolerate this kind of behavior. Ultimately, the more you continue to accept poor behavior, the more you’re ruining your own self-esteem and re-affirming to your SO that you don’t need to be respected.
Four, decide at what point to cut your losses.
Of course, this is easier said than done. But, if your SO keeps breaking their promise to do better, you need to decide whether or not you want to stay. Obviously, a lot of this will have to do with how long you two have been together and the connection you believe you have with them. To add to my third point, once again DO NOT sacrifice your self-esteem/self-image at the expense to say that you’re coupled up. Clearly if someone is habitually breaking their promise, you’re not in a positive relationship so you’re not salvaging anything healthy by staying.
Still need more tips on how to blend technology and dating? Check out our archives!
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