My situation isn't exactly the same, but similar. My husband when we were dating had a friend that he made over the internet prior to knowing me. This friend was female and made it a point to txt him and instant-message him things that (for a man in a committed relationship) are inappropriate and could be misconstrued as emotional cheating if not more. I found this out in less than graceful form:
So he let me borrow his phone when mine died. I needed a phone for work and so I gratefully accepted the temporary use of his. He left on business for his job. So at one point the in-box of txt messages was full and I had the decision of whether or not to erase the inbox (to make sure that I could recieve work txts) or leave it and email my co-workers that they needed to reach me in other formats. Well, I decided to just go in and delete the txt messages from me about every day things (what's for dinner etc.). Oh the horrors to be found there from Miss Internet! So, naturally, I start to freak out and yes, I will admit I went crazy and started inspecting EVERYTHING. That's when I found something similar to what you have experienced. Exchanges with Internet Girl involving where he was staying, what room etc. etc. references to "if we were both single we'd be married by now" type stuff. That's the tip of the iceberg...So I know how you feel. Thankfully when I asked him about this stuff he told me that it was meant in jest and that he really didn't feel this way at all about Internet Girl. I was livid and ready to walk, as you can imagine. I did have a choice. I could believe him and stick around or tell him to shove it and bail on on 5 year relationship. I chose to stay but demanded (for my own piece of mind) that he sever contacts with this woman. He did it reluctantly, but I told him that either this kind of poo goes or I go. So I'm glad to report that I did "win" that issue. I understand being on the brink of the "should I stay or should I go" question when you make unpleasant discoveries about your mate.
There could be explanations for his text message. It could have been a bout of curiosity that motivated him to see how much such a service costs. He could have been researching for a friend about the service. Either that or he could be visiting parlors like this in his free time. In essence, he is paying for someone to get him off without engaging in intercourse. As far as you know (this was the one service that raised concern, yes?) he is not visiting prostitutes or brothels. While you still don't like the idea of this at least he isn't running around with other girls behind your back,
Happy-Ending Massages I say cross the line between what is not cheating (IMHO) like Strip Clubs, Porn and Nudie mags. When touch gets involved then I personally believe that it is cheating. He probably wouldn't be too excited to hear about or suspect that you were engaging in similar activity for your pleasure. If you feel like it is cheating then you need to ask him about the text.
Here's the hard part: You have to own up to violating his privacy, being paranoid and generally behaving badly. You just have to apologize and acknowledge that you violated his privacy. Explanations here are pointless. I understand where you are coming from and there are probably a LOT of women who understand, but all he will see is that you don't trust him. I know, that's exactly what happened to me. I admit that I was wrong to go poking about. In my view I had "probable cause" to go poking about, but the bottom line is that I did violate his personal property and that is wrong.
So ya'll need to discuss what is and what is not cheating. Its different for every person and then in every relationship. You need to decide how much you are willing to take and what is a deal-breaker for you.
If he is engaging in sexual relations with other women (even paid sex etc.) then he needs to inform you so that you can protect yourself. You need to ask him these hard questions because if you contract something from him due to dishonesty then there will be no hope of survival for the relationship.
I recommend counseling if you want this relationship to continue (its not just for longterm partners or married couples) but you need to have peace of mind regarding the situation so that you can make an informed decision about what to do for your own well-being.
I've been where you are and it worked out for me in a positive way. I sincerely hope that the same is true for you and your partner.
ANSWER THIS QUESTION
I really agree with a lot of what Parisienne says, its very valid. From my end of the experience line, I've never cheated but been with cheaters and those that had a very long history of dating cheaters, much like you have. I'll broach the cheaters first.
Those ones came with quite a few different personality traits. Some were highly suspicious (usually its the guilty who suspect others of being guilty). Others just didn't realize yet that they should really be in a polyamorous relationship and need to be upfront about wanting an open relationship. A recent-ish cheater (about 2 years ago) had been on both sides - cheater/cheatee (if there is such a word), and was highly invasive. She made it a point to obtain my passwords for email accounts and social sites like myspace. I don't hide that I'm friends with many of my exes, and some of them I still genuinely love, but its a different kind of love. Its not being in love with someone, like your spouse or your bf/gf. Its more like a deep bond between friends that have been through a lot and still care about each other a great deal. We will never get back together, and we know why, but our friendship is a great one that doesn't influence our personal relationships with our sweet hearts. We talk (although we don't really do the whole "we'd be married" by now kind of thing, but I can see the innocence in which such a statement can be made), but thats it. No nookie. No phone sex, nothing sexual at all. Well, the suspicious ex saw a message in which I told an ex that I still love her...unfortunately the suspicious ex never looked at the context. Added to that she waited months before addressing the concern. This caused a major rift. Not once did I cheat, emotionally or physically. All I did was console a friend. It wasn't long before she started cheating on me. Had she addressed the issue earlier and been open to hearing and understanding the context then maybe it could have worked out better, but the damage was done.
Now, the cheatee, the ones who, like you, have been cheated on so many times that you are always looking for something to prove your suspicions. My current SO is a little bit like that. She doesn't understand how anyone would want anything to do with their ex aside from a booty call every now and then. Based on her history, I can understand why since no small amount of her exes cheated on her with their exes. My open admission to being friends with most of my exes, and really great friends with a select few already put her on high alert. In time, however, she has learned to trust me because I have never done anything to betray her trust. All her questions are answered with complete honesty, even when she asks questions that she really doesn't want the answers to. Sure, there are things that trigger small jealousy-brush fires, but we've learned how to deal with those together. She understands that those jealousies come not from something I've done, but her own imaginations getting the best of her.
Theres the history, and here is the lesson I've gotten. Its hard for a partner that has never been anything but faithful to feel free in a relationship with a partner that gets jealous easily, or, even worse, is constantly looking for a reason to be jealous. Insecurities are like weeds. They choke relationships. They don't give them room to grow and breath. I understand how it feels to be betrayed, and how hard it is to trust after its been broken. I can imagine how hard it is to not bring those insecurities into the next relationship, and if you have a pretty major pattern of dating people that break that trust then its understandle as to why you question and doubt.
But it isn't fair for the new partner to pay for the previous partner(s) deciet. It is a major violation of someone's privacy to begin sifting through txt messages and emails and other such things. I don't say this because people have something to hide and shouldn't have to worry about others seeing it. Parisienne did the right thing in apologizing for it. Granted, her mistake was very innocent. The cheating ex, towards the end of the relationship, had gotten an Iphone and wanted me to check it out since I was wanting one (she was actually bragging about the fact that she got one in truth). I pretty much knew by this point that she was cheating on me. While looking through the phone and checking out all the things I read about ( one item I really liked was how txts looked more like a thread) I checked the txts and low and behold, there was the solid proof. No, not her planning. I can honestly say she is not that cunning.
So, if you want to get the full info on what the txt was then you need to confront him about it and own up to looking through his phone. Yes, you will have shown him that you just betrayed his trust, regardless of why you did it. This is the only way you will find out what its really all about. He, however, will now no longer feel he can be as open and carefree in this relationship as he was. Now he will wonder how much more snooping will be done to him, how much you really don't trust him, and how much he can really trust you. He will now bare the weight of all the bad stuff done to you by other men, a weight that he has no responsibility to what so over.
The other bad part is that you can't not confront him. You will now be studying and scrutinizing his every move, and he will feel it. It will affect him, and it will affect you as well. It will be like mold growing on old fruit, just festering and getting worse over time and making you see things or believe things that really aren't there.Without dealing with this it will negatively affect your relationship, and you will push away a man that for the most part you believe to be exactly what you want.
Talk with your man. Be open and honest to him. Tell him about your past. Ask for an explanation. Try to work it out. And then try to really let go of your past. If this relationship ends as a result of this then really try and take the time to look back over your life and see why you keep attracting cheaters and liars. Its not the luck of the draw. They aren't the only ones attracted to you. We "call" to us the people that will teach us something that we need to learn. If you have issues that you haven't dealt with then you will continue to attract these types of guys. Take back control of your life, and you'll find what you are looking for.
By the by, the only thing I don't fully agree on with Parisienne is having her man sever all connections with internetgirl. I'm not condemning her request in this instance as I don't know the full history their and I'm not against both her and her man agreeing to that action. Its more the idea of being made to dissolve a friendship that is already established and has its own life that really doesn't affect the relationship (once again, not saying that what was happening there didn't require this). I have very few people I willingly call friend, because they are truly great friends. We have our own ways of communicating with each other that may appear to be an issue to some, but are really just sarcastic or silly or frivolous things between us. Before you go down that route, take a second to try and look a little objectively at the situation. Is the friendship actually disrespectful of the relationship, or are you just scared that someone else is getting something that you aren't. Is he involved in your relationship? If he is, then you are getting the best of him, most likely. Really its all up to you and what you need in a relationship.
ANSWER THIS QUESTION
Oh yeah, in the "How should I confront him?" department, set a specific time to talk with him. Give him a little heads up that this is about your relationship, that it is serious, and that you need him to be ready to give you open, honest answers to your questions. Make sure that you are both in a place where you are alone, no distractions, some place you feel you can both comfortably talk. Set some ground rules before you start, first you say your whole piece, then he can give his reply, no interruptions...stuff like that. Its important that you both agree to these terms and hold each other to them. Now here is the hard part...do not assign any blame yet. Do not accuse him of anything yet. You yourself said this is contrary to what you know of him, so this very well could be something that is way off of what you think it is. Explain the situation from your point of view. Let him know about your history, why you looked, and why you reacted like this. You can even tell him what your first thoughts were. When you've given him your side of things, not blaming him or accusing him of anything as that puts anyone on the defensive, then give him the time to process what you've said and let him reply in his own way and in his own time. Remember, you've been letting this whole situation run circles in your head, and this will be the first that he has any idea of what you are going through. He needs a chance to put his thoughts together and see why your history has compelled you to invade his privacy, and privacy is still important in a relationship. From there you both begin to work things out.
The structure allows for open communication between you both. It gives you both a chance to understand each other better then if you came right out and accused him of frequenting massage parlors, or simply cheating on you. It gives him a chance to understand why you did what you did, knowing that the action was not provoked by anything he did but that he will have to deal with the baggage you've brought into the relationship, and we all bring in some baggage. In the optimists world, everyone finds out that there really was nothing to this and you both will not only gain better understandings of each other but also begin to really build good communications practices with each other.
In the pessimists world, you get straight to the heart of the issue and you get a clearer idea if this relationship is something you really want to spend energy in by trying to make it work, or making a clean cut and moving on with no regrets.
I'm not judging your actions, or his. That is between you both. But this can be a huge springboard to your relationship, or it can destroy it. How you handle the issue really does affect how you move on from here, regardless of how it goes.
ANSWER THIS QUESTION