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Two Sense: Can Sexting Be Forgiven?

Illustration by Caitlin Kuhwald

I went through my boyfriend’s phone and found dozens of vulgar sexual texts from many girls going back a year (we’ve been together six months). Some had graphic pictures. Apalled, I confronted him, and he denied sleeping with or even meeting any of them. He said he considered it a form of porn and that he’d been meaning to stop.  He was very ashamed, but things aren’t the same. I’m so hurt. I see him as a hypocrite, perv, and liar—yet I want to work things out with him because I love him, and I know that he loves me. Can this get better?

He Said: Your boyfriend is a hypocrite, a perv, and a liar—but hey, nobody’s perfect! Sexting is cheating, and the fact that he feels regret and shame confirms that he owns his problem, which is good. Also, it doesn’t sound like you found any indication that he met these e-sluts in person before or after you two were a couple. It’s quite possible that he never intended to have sex with any of them, although it sounds like he could have. That, too, is relatively encouraging.

Your boyfriend betrayed your trust and hurt you. As a result, he feels terribly guilty, and you feel tentative about continuing the relationship. Between his desire for you, his guilt, and your distance from him, he’s got plenty of incentive to step up his character and his game. So put him on probation. Tell him that if he’s ever unfaithful to you again, you’ll find out, and he will be so gone, you won’t even remember his name. Keep your guard up, and in the back of your mind, be ready to move on. But give him half a chance. He just might do you right.

She Said: I’m sure it was horrifying to see those texts, but from a wider perspective, it doesn’t surprise me much. I’ve noted from both firsthand and secondary experience that men tend to exhibit a shadow side to falling in love. While a part of them adores their new woman, another part resists, struggling in desperation not to surrender and to keep options open. This often results in an episode of cheating or some other sabotage early in the relationship.

Some guys need wake-up calls in order to transition from bachelor to committed partner. A trauma like this is usually just the ticket. There are two questions at this point. One: Is he deeply sorry and ready to give up the sext-porn for the love of a good woman, or is he just playacting because he got caught? Two: Can you forgive him and let yourself trust him again in the long run, assuming he doesn’t repeat the behavior? You have to answer both these questions from your gut. Yes means you should stick around, albeit cautiously, and see what happens. No on either count means you should leave.

Confused? Heartbroken? Curious? Send your questions to twosense@7x7.com