I Snooped Through My Fiancé's Phone, And Found Out He's Doing Coke — WTF Should I Do?

Hello, world. My name's Stephen LaConte, and this is Hey Stephen — a cozy little corner of the internet where BuzzFeed readers like you can DM me for advice.

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Today, we've got this woman, who went through her fiancé's phone and discovered that he's been doing cocaine with his friends when she's not around, despite a promise they made to each other to never do hard drugs. Should she confront him, or stay quiet since she found out about this through snooping? Here's what she wrote to me, via Instagram:

Screenshot of a DM

My reply...

You solved your own problem at the end of your message — you do indeed need to talk! What's happening right now is a breakdown in communication between the two of you, and it sounds like you both own some of the responsibility for it. He's hiding his coke use from you instead of being honest, and you're snooping through his phone to get answers instead of asking him directly. Both of those things are harmful to your relationship, but the same remedy could fix them both: an honest and frank conversation.

So, let's talk about how to approach that conversation with your fiancé. I think you need to be forthright about everything you've discovered, which should involve admitting to (and apologizing for) snooping through his phone. It's not clear from your DM what prompted you to snoop in the first place — whether you had a specific concern that he was using drugs, or were just curious about what you might find in his texts. Either way, I probably don't have to tell you that snooping was not the right move. If there were legitimate concerns about his wellbeing, they should have been taken to him directly. I think you need to own up to violating his privacy, acknowledge that it was wrong, and commit to not doing it again.

A woman on her phone
Antonioguillem / Getty Images/iStockphoto

But once your own mistake has been properly accounted for, it is more than fair to address his. And, for the record, I do think it was a violation for your fiancé to hide this information from you! He's a grown man capable of making his own decisions about what he puts in his body, but if you two had a mutual commitment not to do certain drugs, he should have honored that (or, at least, communicated to you that he wasn't going to honor it anymore). This is an advice column, not D.A.R.E., so I won't get into all the potential risks and damages of doing coke, but suffice it to say, it is reasonable for you not to want it in your relationship, and to take issue with your partner using it.

Ultimately, it should be up to every adult to understand the risks of a particular substance and make their own decision about whether or not to take it. But I think it's good for couples to be generally aligned on that stuff — not because you have to indulge in the same vices as your partner (you certainly don't!), but because you will usually end up having some proximity to whatever substances your partner is taking. Some couples might decide that softer stuff like booze, weed, and shrooms are fine, while harder drugs are a no-go. Some couples might have good reason to keep their relationship strictly sober, while others might be perfectly happy having no limits whatsoever. There are no right or wrong answers, so long as both parties are clear about their own needs, and able to accommodate the needs of their partner.

A couple fighting in the kitchen
Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images

And that brings us to the two central questions I think you and your boyfriend need to discuss in your conversation together. The first is: What exactly is his relationship with cocaine? How often does he do it, what does he get out of the experience, and why is he hiding it from you? Is it because he knows you wouldn't approve of even rare, limited usage, or has he been covering up a more serious addiction, one that might require professional help?

The second question is: Are either one of you willing to compromise on your current position? As it stands, you want a relationship free of cocaine, and he wants to do cocaine. One of those things has to give, or your relationship will. Is he willing (and able) to stop doing coke, in the interest of respecting your boundaries (and, y'know, being a whole lot healthier)? Or, conversely, are you willing to look past occasional coke usage on his part, maybe with some new boundaries and rules in place? (At the very least, it would be reasonable to ask that he never bring it into your home, that he significantly limit how often he does it, and that he follow some basic precautions to decrease his own risk while using.)

A hand holding a little baggie of cocaine
Rattankun Thongbun / Getty Images/iStockphoto

I'd like to think that after 11 years together, you'll be able to agree on a solution that leaves both of you feeling respected, happy, and reasonably safe. (And honestly, if he won't budge at all on his coke usage to save a decade-long relationship, that might point to a more serious issue on his part.) But if you can't come to an agreement, think carefully about whether this is the right person for you to spend the rest of your life with. Breaking up would be a painful outcome, but not nearly as painful as staying in a relationship where one of you sneaks, and the other snoops. In your DM, you describe your relationship as an "open book." Now's the time to put that to the test. Good luck. I'm rooting for you.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and find more resources here.

That's all the advice I've got for today's DM'er, folks. You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter @stephenlc. And if you happened to miss last week's column, read on!

Last week, we heard from this woman, who's unsatisfied with her current relationship and has started flirting with another man to fill the void. They're planning to meet up, but first, she wants to know: Should she ask her boyfriend for an open relationship so that this won't be considered cheating? Here's what she wrote to me, via Instagram:

the message from a 30 year old woman saying that she's been flirting with someone but wants to know if she should ask her 52 year old boyfriend if they should be in an open relationship before meeting this new guy

My reply...

There's no "wrong" reason to open up your relationship — except this one. Non-monogamy is a valid option when both partners come to a mutual agreement (like, together) that seeing other people would be okay. It is not so valid an option when one partner has made secret plans to have sex with someone else and needs to find some sort of way to justify it. You've been flirting with this guy behind your boyfriend's back, sexting with him, and trying to hook up with him, despite the fact that your relationship is monogamous. That behavior constitutes cheating. You can't reverse-engineer your relationship into an open one just to lessen the severity of those actions.

Now, if you'd broached this topic with your boyfriend before stepping outside of your relationship, that would've been a totally different story. If you'd recognized that you were not sexually fulfilled in your relationship, but were otherwise content to stay in it, then you'd have been well within your rights to sit your partner down and ask for a remedy — whether it came in the form of a renewed commitment to intimacy together, couples counseling, or yes, a non-monogamous relationship. You certainly don't have to stay in a situation that makes you unhappy, but you do need to transition out of it in a way that is honest, communicative, and fair to your partner.

woman on her phone while in bed
Osakawayne Studios / Getty Images

There's also the fact that your "ask" here wouldn't actually be much of an ask, would it? You say that you plan to meet up with this guy whether or not your boyfriend consents to it. So, really, framing this conversation as "asking" him for an open relationship would just add another layer of deceit to the whole situation. You're not actually interested in gauging your boyfriend's feelings about an open relationship; you're interested in having sex with someone else regardless of how he feels about it. You should not present this to your boyfriend as something he has a say in when you've already decided he doesn't. That would be a lie.

As for what you should do, well, I think you should break up with your boyfriend. You're unfulfilled in your relationship with him. Your incompatibilities are significant enough that they have you actively pursuing an affair (and by the way, if the disparity between your respective sex drives has anything to do with the fact that he is 22 years your senior, that problem is likely to get worse with time, not better). Notably, your DM doesn't mention anything you particularly love about your boyfriend or any positive aspect of your relationship together that would make it worth fighting for. And frankly, it's clear that you don't have much respect for this man, given how ready and willing you are to cheat on him. So, cut him free. You'll both be better off in the long run.

man and woman sitting apart from each other at the edge of the bed
Delmaine Donson / Getty Images

One last thing I should point out: The question in your DM technically wasn't about whether or not you should ask your boyfriend for an open relationship. It was: "Would asking him cause suspicions if he says no and I continue the affair?" Hopefully, I don't need to explain why that is the wrong question to be asking here. (And I certainly hope it would cause him suspicions because that would be the correct instinct for him to have!) But suffice it to say, if you really thought the dilemma before you was how to best hide your upcoming affair, then I think you desperately need some clarity on the situation you've put yourself in. Take 10 steps back from this. View it as an outside, objective observer. What do you see? What would you tell the woman in your shoes to do?

Many couples in open relationships use the term "ethical non-monogamy" to describe their arrangement. Clearly, you've got the non-monogamous part down pat, but the ethical part needs some work. And until you're willing to address that, with genuine introspection and honesty on your part, I don't think you're ready for a relationship of any kind — open, closed, or otherwise. Focusing on yourself isn't such a bad thing. See where it leads you. Good luck.

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THE FINE PRINT:

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PS: If you've got any advice for today's DM'er, sound off in the comments! I'll be reading...

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