I was dating a guy for about year when he told me he didn’t want to have sex with me anymore, but wouldn’t give me a concrete answer as to why. A few months later I found out he had read my journal (ugh) where I was comparing sex with him to sex with my previous partners.
Obviously his feelings are hurt and now I don’t know how to talk to him about it because I am just as upset about my invasion of privacy. Do you think it’s worth it to try to explain the things I wrote?
I’ve got a lot of questions (as I’m sure you do, too).
One: How long has it been since this happened? If it’s been under six months, it might be fair game to re-engage if that’s what you decide to do. If it’s been more than that, let old wounds heal sans the salt (“Baby, you’re not WORSE at sex than her — you’re just DIFFERENT”). There are just so many potential landmines to accidentally step on in that conversation and it might end up doing more damage than repair.
Two: What are your theoretical goals for re-engaging in this conversation? Do you want to really let him know how pissed you are that he read your journal? (Fair — I’d be really upset, too). Do you want to ask him to take some steps towards reconciliation like apologizing for the violation of privacy? Do you feel guilty for having (clearly unpopular with him) thoughts about your sex life? Do you want to apologize for hurting his feelings?
Three: Was he always untrusting of you? Did he believe that he had reason to snoop in your journal? What was he looking for, do you think? Or was he just snooping because that’s just … what he does? Like oh, it was on the stack of magazines by the toilet so I thought I’d just flip through and see what’s going on in the deep recesses of your mind? I mean, is that someone that you really want to be in a relationship with, or might this be a blessing in a prettttty thinly veiled disguise?
Questions aside, my general thoughts on this is that we’re comparing apples and oranges here. The apple is that you wrote your personal thoughts down in a private place that you thought was protected by the assumed trust and boundaries in your relationship. And he broke that trust and blew through those boundaries (I mean does “Don’t read my journal” really need to be an overtly stated relationship rule?).
No one is entitled to know all of your innermost thoughts and feelings except for you. And I guarantee you that you’re not the first person in a relationship to have comparative thoughts about the evolution of your sex life and sexual partners.
For most people, a journal is a place where you are working something out before integrating it into your life, sharing it with another person, or taking action. It’s a work-in-progress meant to be personal before the (sometimes roughly) finished product is revealed.
You didn’t intend to share these (maybe messy) thoughts and feelings with him. You didn’t Tweet them. You didn’t use those thoughts against him. And you didn’t feel as though they were relevant to share. Seems within bounds to me.
And now the orange. This person who you’ve been dating for not a small amount of time thought it was okay to read your private journal. And then keep that relevant secret from you. And then took direct action in regards to your relationship without filling you in about why, even after it sounds like you repeatedly asked him to help you understand.
Do people do sloppy relational things when their feelings are hurt? They sure do. But reading your journal seems like a spontaneous violation that’s more about him than about you. So, do I think it’s worth it to explain yourself to him? I’m gonna go with no.
Yana Tallon-Hicks is a relationship therapist, sex educator, and writer living in the Pioneer Valley. You can find her work and her professional contact information on her website, yanatallonhicks.com.