I Read my Boyfriend’s Emails

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I’m writing because my boyfriend and I have a lot of problems in the one year we’ve been together. Six months ago we went on a “break” because I wanted to live with him but he didn’t want to live with me. Even though I didn’t want to end it, the arguments we had over the living together issue seemed to push him to the point of wanting to leave.

After two horrible months of being on a break, things turned around and my boyfriend decided he wanted to be with me again. But around the time we went on a break, I figured out how to read my boyfriend’s emails. I know it’s wrong and I shouldn’t have, but I was at my wit’s end because I just wanted to be with him and didn’t know what to do.

In his emails, he writes most candidly to his best friend. Even before we were having problems, it seems he and his friend liked to joke about him not being with me. It’s a running theme in all their emails to each other that I’m a ball and chain and that his friend would prefer it if my boyfriend were single like him.

A lot of things I’ve read have made me really uncomfortable. Like my boyfriend describing how “hot” these two girls he ran into were. Or his friend joking about my boyfriend getting as much “break up” sex from me as he can. I also learned that a girl actively pursued my boyfriend while we were on a break and his friend encouraged my boyfriend to sleep with her while he was still sleeping with me; in the emails my boyfriend jokes about how hard it was for him to turn her down (in real life, he’s told me about this girl, but acts like he was never attracted to her, etc).

Beyond all this, the WAY my boyfriend and his friend talk to each other disgusts me. I know men talk to each other differently than they do with women, but it really makes me wonder what my boyfriend’s true personality is, because his personality through these emails with his friend seems so completely different.

What saddens me through all of this is that I would never talk about my boyfriend to my friends the way he talks about me to his one best friend in these emails. I think in some way his friend feels threatened by the prospect of my boyfriend being with anyone, and the two of them like to play into this together. It’s almost as if my boyfriend relishes being able to tell his friend bad things about me, as if to prove being in a relationship is silly and he’ll soon be single again.

I’m not sure what to make of it all and would really love any advice. I know I shouldn’t be reading my boyfriend’s emails, but it’s hard because now I feel there’s something about my boyfriend he isn’t portraying to me, like I’m not getting the full truth. I also feel hurt at all the negative things he and his friend have said about me.

Thanks so much if you do end up responding.

A: Thank you for asking. It is a tough question because of the way you received the information. But you know that already, and the details are too intense to ignore. First let me say something about how men talk to other men about women they are involved with. Men who respect and love their wives and girlfriends see the relationship as an extension of themselves. They don’t trash a woman they love. They might be upset, confused, frustrated, angry, and talk to their friends about what to do, but they don’t go trashing a woman they care deeply about. That tends to happen when there is little or no commitment.

It sounds to me like your boyfriend may not be mature enough for a commitment. But the real question is what do you want to do about this? He has secrets from you and now you do from him.

Couples counseling may be important because if you decide to confront him about reading the emails you can have the advantage of a professional there to guide you through. The risk of not confronting him is that you will carry a resentment. Individual counseling would be important for coping with that. The find help tab at the top of the page will help you locate either a couples or individual counselor in your area.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). I Read my Boyfriend’s Emails. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/02/21/i-read-my-boyfriends-emails/