Savage Love: Retroactive Blessings 

Without snooping, I came across texts between my wife "Mary" and a guy "Jeremy" of a very sexual nature. While I would be okay if she were doing this and I knew about it, this has been going on since before we met. (We've been together 10 years.) She says she has never met him in person (despite communicating with him for more than a decade!) and this was the only thing she was doing that she thought would have been out of bounds. I'm not okay with her being with other guys, but I know harmless flirting can be a release. Still, I have issues with anxiety and depression, and this is definitely triggering me. I do not want to snoop and I want to trust her, but I am having a hard time with both. Prior to this, it never occurred to me that Mary would do anything that had a whiff of dishonesty about it. But her having kept this from me for as long as I have known her has made me question that. I don't want to keep bringing this up to her, but I am struggling with it. What do you think I should do?

— Upset In The Midwest

I think you should get over it, UITM.

Easier said than done, I realize, particularly with the twin burdens of anxiety and depression. But if you would have been fine with this had you known, the best way to prove that to her is by giving it your retroactive blessing.

You're right, UITM: Mary shouldn't have hidden this from you. But she assumed — incorrectly, as it turned out — you would have a problem with those texts. It was a reasonable assumption on her part, since swapping flirty texts with a stranger is regarded as "out of bounds" by most. While this makes Mary's failure to disclose look a little worse, we live in a culture that defines absolutely everything as cheating — don't get me started on the idiocy that is "micro-infidelities" and the idiots pushing that toxic concept — and as a consequence, people not only lack perspective (oh, to live in a world where everyone regarded harmless flirtation as no big deal!) but also the language to honestly discuss our need for a little harmless erotic affirmation from someone who isn't obligated to find us attractive, i.e., not a spouse or partner.

Put yourself in Mary's shoes for a moment. When should she have told you about Jeremy? What would you have done if on the third or fourth date, she looked up from her menu and said, "I've been swapping flirty texts with this guy for, oh, the last several years. I have no interest in him in real life, we've actually never even met in person, but I enjoy his texts and would like to keep swapping texts with him. I hope that's not a problem." You would have dumped her on the spot, right? She didn't want to stop, she didn't know how to talk about it, she hesitated, and ... a decade went by.

If there's nothing else — if no other shoes drop — give this your retroactive blessing.

I am a transgender man, and my girlfriend is a transgender woman, and we have hit a plateau. Intimate time is rare, communication is minimal, and although I care for her deeply, I do not like her as a person and no longer want to get married. I have considered asking if we could open up the relationship, but I doubt that is the solution. How does one end a long-term relationship?

— Help Relationship Transition

Whatever you do, HRT, please —please — don't ask to open up your relationship when what you really want is out. People who want out but ask for open inevitably get out in the end. People who want open and ask for open and get it tend to stay. But since most couples in open relationships aren't public about it (most are more comfortable being perceived as monogamous), people hear about the insincere requests that preceded a breakup and conclude all requests are insincere.

Anyway, HRT, how does one end a long-term relationship? One uses one's words. If "I love you" are the three magic words, then "I'm leaving you" are the three tragic words. Seeing as intimacy is rare and communication is minimal, it shouldn't come as a shock to your soon-to-be-ex fiancee.

On the Lovecast, come hang out with the lesbians of the Lez Hang Out podcast: savagelovecast.com.

mail@savagelove.net

@fakedansavage on Twitter

Read the Savage Love Letter of the Day at thestranger.com/slog

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