Dear Kiki: My partner won’t stop texting flirtatiously with her ex-fiancée. What can I do?

Questions about love and sex in the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area can be submitted to, or anonymously using this form. Questions may be edited for clarity and length, and may appear either in print or online.

Illustration by Jav Ducker

Dear Kiki,

Should I be okay with my significant other personal messaging and having phone conversations with her ex-fiancée? I was given total transparency and told that absolutely nothing was going on beyond friendship and that I could read their conversations anytime. Finally agreed to read a messenger conversation which shocked said significant other but the phone was turned over to me reluctantly while trying not to look fazed, to which was found a million selfies of them looking their hottest for each other, my s/o being told, “Tell me I’m HOT!” to which my s/o replied, “Of COURSE you are!!!”

My s/o was being sent photos of the island of which the ex-fiancée is a pastor, an army chaplain. “All these sunsets—All for YOU.” The ex-fiancée pastor sending my s/o recordings of their sermons on marriage, then telling my s/o “I have sermons on SEX for you, too, but it might be awhile ‘til I can get it ready to send you.” and my s/o responding, “Ohhh, I can WAIT!!!”

I showed my s/o all the selfies and said “I never got any of these selfies from you. NONE of these hot pictures of you. What the heck.” … My s/o told me, “Do you WANT me to be with my ex??
Look, you can believe me when I say you’re the only one I want to be with and have a future with, or you can NOT believe me, and we can part ways and never see each other again. If you want to be with me, this topic has to be off limits. I don’t deserve to be accused of something I’m not doing!! If I didn’t want to be with you, I wouldn’t be!”

I have never been jealous of any other relationship; I’ve never had reason to be. But I do not like this. Do I just put up with it all? I have softly brought it up two times since then and have been abruptly told, “We are NOT going there.” Guess I just wait and see and enjoy my time with this person? Just an annoying thing I have to put up with? Or ignore? I don’t want to be a fool, but I love this person dearly in all ways but this one!

Your thoughts?

—Not the Fool

Dear Foolin’,

I’m going to lay it all out there. Without hearing both sides of the situation, it’s impossible to know for sure. But the behavior you are relaying is controlling and abusive, and you don’t deserve to be treated this way.

Here’s what raises red flags for me:

You were offered transparency and then criticized when you took advantage of it. This was a “test” that you “failed.” We do not test people we love, we test people we’re looking to control. Now that you have “failed” this “test,” your partner gets to feel justified in their behavior. After all, you didn’t trust them, so you’re suspicious, you’re judgmental, etc.

The statement, “Do you want me to be back with my ex?” You may have been paraphrasing, but ultimately, this is another attempt to turn the situation back onto you in an attempt at absolution.
The demand that the question be dropped. IMO, nothing should be off the table in a relationship with healthy communication. I’m sure there are exceptions to that rule—but those exceptions should not include something that puts you in distress. If you’re upset, you should be free to talk about why.

Now, I’ll reiterate that I haven’t heard both sides of the story. Certainly, in the raw facts, your s/o is right: They shouldn’t have to relinquish close friendships for the sake of a relationship. And, if they’ve never been unfaithful, then you should trust that they will continue to be faithful.

But they have a role to play in easing your concerns. Your s/o needs to remain true to themself, but without the blame, accusations and stonewalling. You might find that better communication can come from going to a relationship counselor together.

Only you can decide if it’s worth pushing through this discomfort that you feel in order to salvage this relationship. You need to decide for yourself if the “annoyance” is worth the joyful parts.

xoxo, Kiki

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 289.

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