TV’s Steph and Dom Parker, 53 and 55, draw on their 22 years of marriage to solve your relationship problems . . .
Q: I’ve been in a relationship for nearly a year and I’m totally in love with my partner. But a few weeks ago I saw a message from another woman come through to him while we were watching something on his tablet. He quickly swiped it away from the screen.
Later, I saw she’d also written ‘Me and you baby’, with a heart emoji, on a picture online. I confronted him and he brushed it aside, until he finally told me that they’ve been friends for more than ten years but have never met because she lives in another country.
An anonymous woman asked British TV’s Steph and Dom Parker for advice, after discovering that her partner has been speaking to another woman (file image)
I accepted that, then looked her up on social media and saw he’d been in touch with her again, a few days after he’d promised me he wouldn’t.
Am I being unreasonable in expecting him not to contact her again? I don’t know which way to turn. It’s eating me up inside.
STEPH SAYS: Having read your letter several times, I sense from your shock that this is a first for you.
Please be reassured by the fact that you are most definitely not the first person to have this happen to them. Sadly, this is an all too familiar tale.
As such, my instinct is to tell you to kick him to the kerb. The content of the message is clear. You don’t call someone who is just a friend ‘baby’, and you don’t send them heart emojis.
The other thing you don’t do to a friend is never meet them in ten years. Really? That’s a whole decade!
I’m afraid I’ve never known anyone who is just friends with a beautiful girl they haven’t actually met. So I think you have every right to be concerned.
But here’s the good news: I said my first instinct was to cut him loose, but on reflection I think that’s an overreaction.
Let’s pause, because while this is a curious situation, there is no proof of wrongdoing.
Steph (pictured with Dom) advised the reader to curb her fear and to stop coming across as possessive, if she wants things to go further
First, he’s not restricting his messages and notifications while happily watching a video with you on his tablet.
This tells me the fact that she might message hadn’t occurred to him, and she may not be that important to him. After all, he swiped away the message because he didn’t want you to react. It’s possible there’s not much more to it than that.
However much I understand your reaction, I wish you hadn’t asked him to stop contacting her. I’m not sure anyone has a right to restrict their partner’s friendships, but if they do, it’s generally after they’ve been together a long time and are facing a serious problem, such as a proven affair.
Don’t throw it away over silly selfies
Here’s what I think you should do. If you love him and want it to go further, curb your fear and stop coming across as possessive. There’s no quicker way to lose someone than by telling him what he can and can’t do. After just under a year together, it’s too much, and it’s unrealistic in our world of social media.
If I were you, I’d admit to having been unreasonable; ’fess up to having felt jealous. Give him the biggest compliment he’s ever had, and tell him he’s so important to you and you’re afraid of losing him. Then, ask him to tell you about her, and ask why they haven’t met yet.
When he answers, listen hard and listen to your gut. You should be able to tell if he’s lying to you — and if he loves you. If you hear answers you don’t want to hear, at least you know what to do.
And if not, then don’t throw away a good thing over possibly innocent, silly selfies.
DOM SAYS: You are in a pickle, aren’t you? In a nutshell, what you’re asking is this: is it cheating to message others? I’m afraid the answer is: ‘Yes — and no’. It depends on the messages, the individuals, and their relationship with each other, and with you.
So, first, the message. You don’t say what the first message was, but as for the second comment, I know for a fact that if I received something like that from a friend, my wife would question it (loudly!). So would I, if it were the other way around. Let’s face it, it would make anyone’s antenna twitch.
Dom (pictured) told the reader that her partner shouldn’t have time for anyone else and isn’t acting like he’s in love with her
I firmly believe people can have platonic friends, but they must be just that. I have female friends I’ve known for 30 years whom I chat to from time to time — but of course they are also friends with my wife, and I would never dream of hiding them from her.
When you fall in love, there should be no lies and no secrets. If there are, it’s not love. It’s that simple, at least for me.
It’s possible, of course, that your chap thinks it’s no big deal. He is the recipient of the message, not the sender, so perhaps he thinks it’s harmless. But you’re not wrong to question it.
He tells you they’ve been good friends for a decade or so but have never met. I confess I find that rather baffling. If they are such good friends, why have they never met? And if she’s someone of no importance — just an acquaintance on social media — why is he risking hurting your feelings? It is, at the very least, inappropriate and rude of him.
Worse than the initial message, he promised you he’d no longer be in touch with her, and now he’s lied. He’s not telling you the truth, which means he’s not acting in the manner of someone who is in love with you. To be blunt, he shouldn’t have time for anyone else, and choosing to browse another woman’s selfies is less than ideal.
It would make my antenna twitch
I may be being a little harsh: there is a small chance that there’s an innocent explanation. Perhaps she’s an ex, or someone he used to long for and still thinks about, or even someone he isn’t keen on but who has her eye on him.
But the thing about platonic friendships is that your current partner always has to be on board with them.
In your longer letter, you ask if you’re being unreasonably jealous. I say no. You have a justified and valid concern.
I don’t think you need to jump ship over this, but proceed with caution. Don’t snoop on his phone, but if you see another message pop up, ask him why he’s still in touch with her.
If you have a question you’d like Steph and Dom to tackle, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org