Every week, Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
Q. My boyfriend thinks I’m a 7: My boyfriend and I have been seeing each other for seven months and became exclusive when he asked me to be his girlfriend three months ago. At first we were only hooking up but found that we were both catching a lot of feelings. We’ve been very intentional about building a relationship that is healthy, honest, and what we both want, so as not to repeat either of our past experiences with relationships that were not those things. So I was shocked when I found a letter to his friend in boot camp. In the letter he said how happy he was to have found me but clarified that I’m “also a 7” and that in the back of his mind he always thought he could “maybe be with someone who looks different.”
He continually tells me how happy he is and how I’m good for him and great in so many ways. He treats me incredibly well and makes me feel good about even the things I’m insecure about. I never would have known he felt this way had I not come across the letter, and I wish I hadn’t read it because it wasn’t for my eyes to begin with. Unfortunately, I can’t unsee it and what he said really hurt. Even knowing he would think about people in terms of rating their attractiveness makes me a little sick. How do I work through this with him knowing I was in the wrong to read his letter?
A: You can acknowledge that you shouldn’t have done it, but you also have to acknowledge the reality of what you’ve learned from it. They’re both meaningful issues. It may be that a part of you does not trust your boyfriend, and you went looking through his things to find evidence to justify your feelings. If that’s the case, then the best way to work through this may be to part ways. But I don’t think you can get through this without talking to him and telling him how reading this made you feel.