My boyfriend and I got into an argument earlier in the week because if I saw him liking girls pictures (supermodels asses) So I spoke to him and told him I didn’t like it, and that it was disrespectful to the relationship and just made me feel quite insecure.. He apologized and we talked about it, explaining how it can be avoided, and worked through things. So later on, days passed and I decided to look. So when I looked on his account (tumblr) he had dms sent to girls, saying that they were beautiful and/or they had a pretty smile. So I got upset and started yelling at him and crying because I felt like this was a type of cheating.. and so we talked about it, he told me why he did it or at the time he did it. And he says that it’s his dark mindset he’s in right now - he feels like he’s losing himself and he can’t control his life ATM. So I took that all into consideration and I didn’t forgive him, but I said maybe we could work through it. But I feel like I’m naive for letting him back so quick - I mean I didn’t let him back, but the way my friends are saying it sounds like I’m this love sick puppy or something. Like I do know it’s wrong, and I wouldn’t put myself through this, but I don’t feel like I made the wrong decision, if that makes sense - but at the same time I don’t want him to think I’ll let it slide…I don’t know what to do :( Any advice?

It’s up to you, and only you, to decide what’s best for you - if you want to stay with this guy, you have the personal agency to make that choice. That said, it sounds like this relationship is in a pretty rough place. If you’re interested in salvaging it, I think you need to get really specific and goal oriented, identifying the problems and ways to address them, rather than just rolling with this mess of emotions and unmet needs. Here’s my analysis - you’re free to interpret it any way you’d like:

Problem One: Your partner is doing things online that you feel qualify as cheating

You two need to seriously talk about this and figure out where you can align your values on this. Is it just that he’s looking at supermodels’ photos? Or is it that he’s interacting with them by liking and messaging them? How does he see it - does he see it as just consuming content, or does he feel kind of cheater-y about it? Going forward, what do you two agree is the best way for him to enjoy this type of content?

Problem Two: You have a low enough level of trust in your partner that you’re looking at his online accounts

If this is a thing you two do in your relationship, if this is the level of openness you two have agreed to, then that’s fine. If not, then you need to identify where the trust breakdown happened and immediately take steps to address it. This might mean you need to apologize for violating his privacy, even though what you found when you did means he’s also in a position to apologize for something as well.

Problem Three: Your partner seems to have made a commitment to you to stop doing something, and then kept on doing it secretly

I think it’s important to separate the thing he was doing and the fact that he was lying and hiding it from you. If he felt that your request for him to stop was unreasonable, it wasn’t okay for him to pretend to agree with you and say that he would stop, and then just do it behind your back. That speaks to him not taking you and your feelings seriously and thinking that he is so right that he can just ignore what you’re saying while pretending to humor you. This is an issue of respect more than trust, and you need to address this.

Problem Four: Your partner is refusing to take responsibility for his behavior, making himself the victim of a “dark mindset” and claiming that he “can’t control” his choices

This, to me, is a glaring red flag sort of hidden in a story that, on the surface, is about him liking and messaging supermodels, but really, is about your partner being accountable for his choices and the way they affect you. If you confront your partner about something they did that hurt you, and they insist that they couldn’t help it - that’s a major problem. Either he’s being manipulative and refusing to take responsibility; or he’s really in such a dark place that he has lost control of his life. Both are deep, serious problems that need to be addressed immediately.

You two need to work together to make a plan for how he can get out of this position where he feels he isn’t in control and is making choices he doesn’t want to. What has brought about this dark mindset? Perhaps he needs to see a doctor or a therapist. Perhaps he needs to take decisive action to relieve a source of major, destructive stress: a job or career change, a medical issue addressed, a financial or court-related problem solved with the help of a professional, a living situation adjustment, etc.

If he isn’t interested in working with you to identify and resolve the source of this dark mindset, that’s a problem. He can’t continue to insist that when he does things that hurt you, he’s also a victim, he also doesn’t want to do them, you two are trapped together in this cycle of bad choices and apologies, and not work toward a solution. That’s emotionally toxic and manipulative. If this is a pattern with this person, get out.

Problem Five: You haven’t forgiven your partner, but want to stay together - there’s a balancing act of “what you did isn’t okay, and I need you to understand that, but I’m not clear on how I’m communicating that besides just staying mad.”

There is a lot of space in between “this is a dealbreaker and I am leaving you over this” and “this is no big deal, whatever” - but you need to be intentional about being in that in-between space. The goal should be some kind of resolution. Simply staying mad indefinitely will lead to simmering resentment, passive-aggression, and acting out of a desire to “punish” your partner for his transgressions.

Find a way to be clear and communicative about your anger - “this wasn’t okay, and I’m still hurt, but since we’re not going to break up over this, let’s figure out how to work through it.” Maybe you just need some time, maybe you need a sincere apology with a strategy for avoiding the same problem again, maybe you need him to help you feel heard and understood about what bothered you. Figure out what you need and then ask for it.

Problem Five Point Five: Your friends don’t seem to like this guy

I said at the top that you, and only you, get to make your decisions. And that’s true. And there are cases when someone’s partner is lovely and their friends don’t like them for bogus reasons. However. A lot of times, your friends have a more well-rounded view than you and can see patterns you’re ignoring. If your friends think you’re giving your partner too many chances or making too many excuses for them or letting them get away with things that impact you negatively, they might be right. Consider talking to someone you trust about this relationship situation - not just the supermodel pics, but how good this guy is for you overall - and taking what they say into consideration.