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Ask Lynn-Is he hiding a secret?


Her boyfriend is always hiding what he’s doing online. Does that mean he’s up to no good?

By Lynn Harris

ear Lynn,
My boyfriend and I have been dating for a few months now. He is online a lot. I try not to bother him and respect his privacy just as I would anyone. However, he closes his open windows, especially his email, if I go near him when he is online. What does this mean? We just moved in with each other, and he says he trusts me. I don’t understand why he would act
It’s not that I have anything to hide.
this way. I have this strange feeling, and it’s nagging at me and won’t go away. It’s like he’s conditioning me to be suspicious — and I hate it. Should I talk to him about this? If so, how would I go about it?
– Need Lots of Help

Dear Need,
You know, sometimes when my husband comes into my office to ask a question, his eyes wander to whatever I have open on my computer, and I’m tempted to close whatever’s on my screen, even if I’m just paying the cable bill or wasting time on YouTube. It’s not that I have anything to hide, though I may not be proud of the fact that the 10 minutes I just spent watching a cat flush a toilet are 10 minutes I’ll never get back. It’s just that, hey, that’s my space.

It’s possible, I’m saying, that your boyfriend has a similar reaction when you swing by while he’s online. (Or that he’s in the process of composing a flirtatious email to you or buying you something fabulous online.) Sure, it’s also possible that he has something more nefarious going on — though if it is, wow, he is practically daring you to catch him. Or at least to ask him about it.

So do ask him. Why not? It needn’t be a deposition. You sound as if you aren’t the kind of person who freaks out at the slightest suspicion, but rather — and this is good — someone who simply listens to her gut. You’ve got a nagging feeling that’s not going away whether you loiter near his computer or stay as far away as possible; talking to him at least offers a chance to clear the air. And it’s way, way, WAY better than snooping. (Snooping: Not allowed. Whatever you uncover is inadmissible evidence. If you have suspicions, investigate what’s
If he’s open to a conversation, that’s good.
causing them — not your partner’s Hotmail account.)

How to bring it up? Don’t sneak up on him in the act. Instead, catch him at another time and say, “You know, I noticed — and I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve noticed — that you close windows on your computer if I happen to walk by. I’m really not looking over your shoulder. And I do believe that, especially now that we’ve moved in together, we need chances to have our own space — so I don’t want you to feel like you have to do that. And to tell you the truth, it kind of makes me feel a little uncomfortable. Can we talk about it for a sec?”

See what he says. If he’s open to a conversation, that’s good. Moving forward, without letting yourself become hypervigilant, you can just allow yourself to notice any other behavior that nags at you or strikes you as furtive. If he’s not open to this conversation, you may have a different, or an additional, problem on your hands. Closing windows is one thing; closing off is another.

By the way, no matter what’s going on his computer screen, I’d just like to add that as far as relationship timelines go, you two barely know each other. Only a few months together, and you’re shacking up? Whoa. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just saying it’s a challenge. Being smart and direct about this situation – and whatever comes of it – is a wise investment in your future, with him or without.


Lynn Harris (www.lynnharris.net) is co-creator, with Chris Kalb (www.chriskalb.com), of the award-winning website BreakupGirl.net — you can visit BG's blog to discuss this letter! A longtime journalist, Lynn has written about dating, gender, and culture high and low for Glamour, Marie Claire, The New York Times, Salon.com, Nerve.com, and many others. She is currently the communications strategist for Breakthrough, a transnational organization that creates pop culture to promote human rights. Submit your own dating questions for Ask Lynn via bg@breakupgirl.net. Your question may be answered in a future column.
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