My girlfriend says different things to me and her other partner about marriage - but I only know because I looked at her phone

My partner and I have been poly for fourish months and have been together for 5 years. I know you are never supposed to do this, but I went through my primary partner’s phone because I had this crazy feeling after she suddenly told me she didn’t know if she ever wanted to get married and that she didn’t have any real feels for the guy she’s been seeing. But now I’m going crazy because just yesterday they were texting that they love each other and would love to marry one day. I know I should’ve never even looked, and I wish I didn’t. But now I’m going nuts. And I don’t know what to do. And I know doing crazy stuff like that just fuels the fire, but I felt like she was hiding things during our own conversations and I couldn’t stand it. Please help.

Looking at the language you used in your letter, you used the word “crazy” three times to describe how you felt and behaved, said that you’re “going nuts,” that you “couldn’t stand it,” and that there is a “fire” being “fueled.” It sounds to me like you are experiencing some intense emotions that feel totally overwhelming. It can feel like you’re at the whims and mercy of your feelings, and that you have no choice but to act on them. I know what it’s like to have a desperate need to soothe your pain, but unlike a burn that you want to get under hot water asap, not immediately acting on the urges of a powerful feeling won’t harm you in the long run.

I would advise you to check in with yourself about whether this is a larger pattern with you, in your relationships and elsewhere. Consider seeing a therapist who specializes in helping people choose responses to their feelings, rather than reacting as if they are driven by those feelings. You can also find a lot of self-help or DIY books and workbooks on this subject. It feels so much better to be in control of your actions rather than feeling backed into a corner by overwhelming emotions, trust me.

To address this specific situation, I’d ask yourself what, exactly, you want. Is it to know the truth of her inner desires and intentions regarding marriage? That might not be possible - you can’t peer inside her mind, and she may not even know herself. Is it a more honest conversation about how this new polyamorous relationship is impacting your plans and hopes for the future? A re-orientation of boundaries and expectations around communication openness? Think through your goals and what you’d like to find out from her, then ask her those clear, specific questions.

Think about where these “crazy feelings” of mistrust are coming from. She told you how she felt about marriage, but something in you didn’t believe her. Why did you suspect that she was telling her other partner different things? What might be going on in you, or between you and your girlfriend, that’s bringing this up? Why is it important to you that she’s saying the same things to both of you? Is marriage an issue you foresee coming up soon, or is this more a “principle of the thing” that makes you worry about her overall honesty with you? Think through what, exactly, is making you feel so threatened and upset, so you can address that with her. Try to keep the conversation focused on the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the emotions and needs at play, rather than the details around who said what to whom and when.