My Husband Is Seeking Out An Old Flame–Should I Talk To Him About It?

Serious young man sitting with laptop computer isolated on white background

My husband and I just recently got married. We pushed our marriage date up 5 months because not only did we find out we were expecting but he was going to be accepting a new job out of state, and we had to move before our wedding date. Lots of changes in just a few short months.

Things have been great up until I saw accidentally that he was searching for a former flame on Google on his cell phone her name was the last thing in the Google search, and when he handed me his phone to look something up it popped up, yet I was too scared to say anything just had a gut wrenching feeling. The reason this bothered me so much was because just a year and a half prior to this incident I caught him sending suggestive/flirty text messages – also him suggesting they should meet up, and of course she responded with great joy!

Now after some coaxing he admitted to it, felt guilty, and I put my foot down he could no longer talk to her. They never dated, and she’s about 8 years his junior. She was casually hooking up with him right around the time I met him – she seems to be the girl he just can’t shake!

After all that we got back on track and our relationship was as solid as ever. He even told me although he admitted to being very nervous to when she texted him 6 months after the original incident. He showed me the texts, and he explained to her that he couldn’t talk to her which she replied in a bitchy manner “say hi to your girlfriend.” You could tell she was hurt and that he felt bad, but I praised him for his honesty and loyalty.

My question is WHY her? Why now? Does he truly wish to be with her, what’s so special about this girl that he has to look her up and think about her, he isn’t concerned AT ALL with his former girlfriend whom he actually dated, what makes this girl so special and should I bring it up to him?

I’m SO glad you wrote to me before you fucked up your marriage.

Since I have been with my wife — somewhere going on 6 1/2 years now – I have looked up EVERY SINGLE GIRLFRIEND I’ve ever had on Google.

You’re making a mountain out of a molehill and I see no indication that you have any doubts about your conclusions. In your mind, your husband looked up a woman on Google and therefore your relationship is in danger.

In my mind, he looked up a woman because he was curious about her. End of story.

Confession: Since I have been with my wife — somewhere going on 6 1/2 years now – I have looked up EVERY SINGLE GIRLFRIEND I’ve ever had on Google.

What does this “mean”, Laura?

Does it mean that I long to be in ALL of those bad relationships (even the toxic ones that I write about continually in this space)?

Does it mean that I’m dissatisfied in my current relationship (even though I have an idyllic marriage that I regularly cite in my coaching)?

Does it mean that all of those exes are special to me in a way that my wife is not? (even though I haven’t talked to any those exes in many years)?

No. No. And No.

It means I sit in front of a computer for 10 hours a day, random thoughts pop into my head, and Google is a pretty useful tool for indulging such flights of fancy.

It’s interesting that you go to the worst-case scenario first. This says far more about your self-esteem, your insecurity, and your lack of trust in your husband than it does about your husband’s actual actions. As I’ve said a million times before, you shouldn’t marry someone that you don’t trust, but if you DO marry him, you’d BETTER trust him.

Your husband may be in possession of Pandora’s Box, but unless he is currently making extracurricular plans with women in his past, he hasn’t actually opened it.

I know this “incident” is playing tricks on your mind. Chances are, you’ve already looked through his cell phone and browser history. Hell, you’ve probably already broken down and told him the damning evidence you’ve found.

If you did the same thing to me — if you presented me with evidence I looked up my ex on Google, I would just shrug and say, “So?”

So, I was curious where she was living.
So, I was curious what she looked like.
So, I was curious whether she was married with children.

So fucking what?

Your husband may be in possession of Pandora’s Box, but unless he is currently making extracurricular plans with women in his past, he hasn’t actually opened it.

If I were you, I’d just leave this one alone — forever.

And maybe check your own browser or Facebook history to see if you’ve ever looked up any men from your past. I’d be shocked if you didn’t. But even if you didn’t, please accept that thinking about something and doing something are far different acts.

Once you start playing thought police with your husband, your relationship is on an irreversibly downward spiral. He is allowed to look up old girlfriends, he is allowed to wish you were thinner, he is allowed to think in his head that he has no patience to hear your long, meandering story about your girlfriend’s dog.

The only crime would be acting on these impulses.

Your email to me, Heather, was based on nothing more than seeing a woman’s name in a search engine. Not only is there no smoke, but there’s no fire. If you really want to take your relationship to a higher place, go tell your husband that you no longer “forbid” him to talk to this woman.

I predict that will make him feel 1000 times better about your relationship than your unfounded paranoia about his search history.

Join our conversation (116 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    And maybe check your own browser or Facebook history to see if you’ve ever looked up any men from your past.   I’d be shocked if you didn’t.”
    I have.   I am curious about the men from my past.   Doesn’t mean I want them back, it doesn’t mean anything.   I am just curious and I love that I have access to Google so that I can check it out.
    I have contact with two of the guys I use to date.   I am friends on Facebook with one and chat on the phone from time to time with the other.   I am not in a relationship at this time but I would be offended if I was and I was ORDERED to cease all contact.   I am pretty easy going and believe in being open honest and KIND with my partner (when I have one), but I am NOT compliant when ordered.

    1. 1.1

      Both Laura’s and Mr Katz’s positions are well taken. There are certain people in life that we cannot ever actually seem to “get over”. The present feels always at risk from these specters who, for whatever reason, didn’t take strong enough hold during their time to be forever partners, yet do not themselves move on. In Laura’s case, her husband’s ex, who pops back into his life now and again. And to whom the husband is not unreceptive.

      Mr. Katz is also 100% receptive about the insecurity part. Laura is insecure, but she has good reason to be. The marriage was rushed, the ex keeps coming back, the husband kept hooking up with the ex “until they started dating” and he didn’t, on his own tell the ex to get lost. The husband is insecure because he’ keeping the door open. The ex is insecure because she doesn’t want to do the work of getting and keeping her own relationship so she’s got to hang on to the old days. This is a mess.

      Laura does not have the right to dictate to whom her husband communicates and. Ice versa. Both your choices should respect each other. This is marriage not grade school or a job where one is the employer. Grow up. Mr. Katz is also correct in that it is 100% normal to wonder about people in your past. Normal even to reach out and say hi. Big trouble to reinitiate an intimate relationship but by the time you get there, well you’ve had big trouble for a while.

      The best way to “keep” someone is to have the mutual understanding that you are both truly free at all times and that you both stay because with each other is where you want to be.

  2. 2

    I am another person who googles or facebooks exes. It really is morbid curiosity most of the time. Don’t start the cycle of distrust, it will ruin your marriage.

    1. 2.1

      What do they say – curiosity killed the cat !
      Whilst l have looked up exes, i came to the realisation that they were not for me l’d closed the door- there was obviously a reason they weren’t in my life any more.
      An ex of mine was “curious” when l found out that he’d been looking up teen porn on my computer – it’s dangerous ground.
      Some times when things get difficult or boring people are more in danger of taking a walk down “memory lane ”
      maybe thinking that the grass is greener.
      Real love = commitment, 100%, he needs to make a decision on this .
      I’d be having the hard conversation, personally., or you may be living in a horrible limbo – always wondering. Alternatively you could have a conversation with the “ex” so letting her know that you know – if she continues to have dialogue with him – you know that she’s up to no good.
      This may also be telling if he persists in communicating with her.

  3. 3

    I’m in FB/e-mail contact with exes (and people I dated that never really made it to GF status), and even see them socially from time to time.   One ex is now married with children, the other is still single.   I help them out from time to time when they have a problem/question that’s in my bailiwick.   I really don’t even consider them to be ex-girlfriends most of the time–they’re just friends.
    What people like the LW always seem to forget is that people are exes for a reason.   Just because you’re in contact with one, doesn’t mean you want to get back together.

  4. 4

    Evan- I think relating your situation to the OPs is comparing apples to oranges. In your case, you were curious as to former girlfriends and looked them up on Google and left it at that.  That’s pretty uneventful. No harm with that.
    But in this guys case, his behavior surpasses just Googling someone. He actually made contact, flirted and suggested a meet up. That is far from uneventful. I don’t blame the OP for being concerned. You didn’t contact and flirt with and offer to meet an old flame. Her man did.   Major difference.

    1. 4.1

      I completely agree with you. If he’s trying to meet with her that could possibly be trouble

    2. 4.2

      Yes! Totally agree. There is history here of mistrustful actions with this same old flame. This is not a mountain–and I didn’t get the sense from the writer that she was making it Ionesco–but her concern is warranted.  

      1. 4.2.1

        “Into one,” not “Ionesco.”

  5. 5

    FYI….second to last paragraph you change the OPs name from Laura to Heather

  6. 6

    Checking up on him is not going to stop him from cheating.     If he is going to cheat he will.    
    I tend to believe in the old saying “Where there is smoke there’s fire” Just be aware

  7. 7

    I look up my old flame from time to time too!   It’s shear curiosity.   I don’t want him back.   I don’t want to rekindle.   I just do it.   I am sure he probably looks me up too.   We were both very interesting characters with a bright future ahead of us.

  8. 8

    @Teresa #7: I agree you can’t stop someone from cheating if that’s what s/he wants to do; however, you can sure save yourself a lot of time and embarrassment if you’re proactive and find out s/he IS cheating rather than waiting around while they date behind your back until they find someone else they’d rather be with. I know you all HATE the snooping thing, but when there are red flags flying all over the place, I’m NOT going to sit back and waste months of my life while he fools around on me (or God forbid YEARS of my life as some people do–and those are the people who are 100% confident their partner would never cheat which makes them easy to cheat on). I’ve had too many friends who’ve stuck their fingers in their ears while their husbands/boyfriends bonked half the city and I had to listen to “Oh, (Blank) would NEVER cheat on me! We’re 100%!” Fast-forward ten years and all she’s got to show for her non-snooping loyalty is gray hair and wrinkles. There’s no need to go looking for something when there’s no reason to, but as a general rule men and women don’t TELL you they’re cheating–you have to find that out for yourself if you want to save face and get the hell out before it’s too late.

    1. 8.1

      So very, very true

  9. 9

    Maybe…just maybe… It’s not the husband Laura doesn’t trust   It’s the GIRL. And she may have every reason to feel that way.

  10. 10

    I am 99% on your side.   I have facebook-stalked exes and have friends/family members that are still “friends” on social media with some of these people.   I get the curiosity thing, and in fairness do not think that my (and many people’s) curiosity is any different than it would be if you were looking up an old friend from high school, etc.
    It’s a person that WAS important at one point in your life, and you want to know what is going on with them.   I also give points to her husband for letting the OP know when the woman texted him again and giving full disclosure.
    Where I hesitate is that her husband had feelings for this other woman at the time of their meeting and he never really found closure on these feelings, and that in some way he is blaming the OP (his wife) for him having to dismiss her and not having the ability to find resolution.
    Honestly, I find men much more involve in fantasies.   I have had an engaged man that I had worked with YEARS prior contact me to say he was engaged (I said “Congrats!”) and he said “That’s why I’m contacting you… We never really got to date or give us a chance because you were in a relationship when we knew eachother” (I said “There was no ‘us’, Bye!”).   I’ve had an ex (and I have MANY female friends who have some ex) that refuses to let us go.   He contacted me YEARS after breaking up (and being in contact), and said “I don’t understand if we aren’t getting back together…” and I even recently dated someone who had a   weird obsession with his ex.   He lied to me about their breakup by saying he broke up with her for a job in another city. (Truth: She broke up with him 6 times, and refused to see him in person alone for about 2 years, as they had mutual friends).   He told me this while breaking up with me, and added “I’ll be jealous if you get a new boyfriend, the way I was when (aforementioned ex) got a new boyfriend” and I go “Was this while WE were dating?”… “Yes” it’s while we were dating.
    Men are notoriously weird.   I get that you say “Men look for sex and find love”, but there are many men that cling to some fantasy or idea of this perfect girl and perfect love that is not based on reality.   Possibly because women have these emotions so young and are burned a few times by their early 20s, they learn quicker to stem their “love” feelings in reality, men are late-comers and have some romantic comedy notion that they cling to into adulthood?   
    Do I think her husband is going to cheat or leave her for this woman?   No.
    Do I think there is abetter tactic for both of them than just “Drop it”?   Yes.
    I think the OP could tell her husband, “Look, I know you were into her.   I don’t mind that you were, but I just am curious what your interest in her is.   It bothers me a little, although I totally trust you.”

  11. 11

    It is hard to say what is going on Laura, but I suspect all the recent changes may have something to do with it. You are feeling very insecure and emotional right now because of your pregnancy, and you need solid assurance that your man that he will stay by your side, much more so than if you were not pregnant. If you weren’t pregnant, you may have been more empowered and confident about things, but you can’t now and are feeling very very very helpless and hopeless. And emotional.
    Maybe your man is feeling very insecure too. He now has a child and wife-to-be to take care of, and a new job to worry about. He now has responsibilities that he never had before, and he may feel a bit overwhelmed. His “curiousity” about his ex may be him harking back to a time when he was carefree and every bit enjoying his single responsibility-free life. Remember he never dated this woman and he never had any responsibility for her or her happiness. I really think he may need professional help to get over whatever he is going through right now. Normally an expressed curiousity about an ex is no big deal – but this can take on significance during a period of his life where he is going through major changes or upheavals.
    If he is a good man and he know he is a good man, he will do the right thing – but he needs the help to get him through this phase. If he is not honourable, then you will need whatever professional help you can get emotionally and psychologically, seeing that you are currently pregnant and your options are very limited.

  12. 12
    Heather K

    I wouldn’t worry about the google searches.   Maybe your husband is google searching because he’s wondering why this girl contacts him and he’s a little baffled.   Who knows.   I would only worry if he has active plans to meet up in a weird context – or if he’s making active plans.   Or if he expresses some desire to be with this girl.   Otherwise I really wouldn’t worry.

  13. 13

    Evan, I cracked up at your first paragraph… Your whole blog is spot on — yet I fear you may write from a mans mentality that comes from absolute integrity and a perspective of this nature since you have behaved that way, he doing similar things is also person who can be simply curious. Perhaps he does and she doesn’t have much to worry about. Case closed. But. What if that is not the case and she has some genuine concerns? Her feelings are not inadequate simply based on how other respectful men choose to behave. Or so, in my opinion.
    In a case like this, only the two people in it can decide. No one can really advise. My suggestion is to really sit down with yourself calmly and quietly ask yourself if this is something to really be concerned about. Deep down, you will know.  
    I have seen many successful married men in action who are happily married or content at home who, nothing to do with their wives, still hit on other women. Then there are those who simply do not like our fine coach here. That’s why as Evans states know that you know that you KNOW and trust who you marry. It’s probably the most important decision one will EVER make and perhaps why little patience for maybe a little searching shouldn’t cause such disturbance if you trust your mate.
    Only you know which is which and which makes you feel good inside or feeling like your stomach is going to come out your ass because you get a bad feeling. its up to you. Xo.

  14. 14

    I guess I’m the odd man out once again.   If they’re my ex, their out of my life, period.   I don’t want to know anything about them or their life.   I don’t care to look back only to move forward.

    1. 14.1

      I’m female and feel the same as you.

  15. 15

    I had this same conversation with my boyfriend tonite. Granted, we are not married, but have known each other for a very long time. We dated 10 years ago and there was some lying on his part back then about women. This time around I think he is more mature and honest than he used to be, and understands what it did to our relationship.
    Fast forward.. We went on a week trip to Canada last week to his cabin on a beautiful lake and watched a movie about alternative treatments for cancer. He is in the medical profession. While we were there we also booked   9 symphony concerts online to see together in the city we live   this coming year. So it’s not like we don’t plan on being together!
    His ex girlfriend who was a problem for me a few years ago when she found out he was interested in me again has contacted him recently that she has cancer. He texted her at the cabin and told her about the dvd we watched on alternative therapies and she should  get it. She started texting him back, “Are you going swimming. etc. etc.?” He answered her back and THEN she texted him, “Remember you sister doesn’t like screwing in the cabin!” I don’t know if it was some kind of joke or not, but it didn’t feel like it to me. To his credit, he didn’t answer it, but I don’t like this sort of communication at all and I told him so. I also told him because she had been a problem between him and I(she changed the password to my email account somehow 2 years ago), that I don’t want him communicating with unless it is medical. I think I have that right, I told him directly how I feel and I believe it has been a strengthening point for us because now he is very clear on my feelings. He says he understands totally and will abide by my wishes.
    Sometimes I think it is good to clear things up with you guy so he understands how you feel and what you are willing to put up with. I was gentle with this, I was not hard, but it sure makes a woman feel better if she knows that her guy understands her feelings on this matter. So I don’t think   it is necessarily bad to bring these things up if you do it in a gentle way that the man can hear.

  16. 16

    Evan, and many of the posters here, seem to be missing the fact that he was sending this girl flirty messages a year and a half prior to the Googling–while he was in a relationship with his now wife. This wasn’t just use of a search engine out of curiosity. I am friends with nearly all of my exes and remained so even when I was in a long-term relationship. I’ve also encouraged the same in my boyfriends because I think it shows character to still be able to see the good in those you chose to spend time with even though you parted ways romantically. But in this case, it seems that a little caution is indeed warranted.

  17. 17

    There is a good reason this woman is not a real threat: she is interested in him, yet he chose you.   He married you.   Focus on that. He never even dated her.   This for me says it was a bit of lust, no more, and will fade completely the less attention you give to it. That’s how I would approach it.

  18. 18

    I don’t know why everyone’s being so casual about this. You act like no one ever cheats. News flash: THIS IS HOW IT STARTS. If you tell your guy you trust him 100%, all that does is open the door for him to pursue the opportunities that will come his way over time because he knows you’re not going to  be looking for the signs. He can do it right under your nose  while you live your life in La-La Land. (And this goes both ways–women do it too).
    This guy was once caught ACTIVELY seeking to meet up with this F*** Buddy (read: No Strings Attached), and now the OP has caught him AGAIN trying to look her up. He just happened to get caught BEFORE anything happened (that we know of).  The FB sounds all too happy to indulge whatever his fantasy is and you’re all coming down on the OP like a ton of bricks? This guy isn’t just curious–he clearly would hang himself  if the OP  gives him enough rope to do so. If a third party has caused marital strife, ALL therapists/counselors will tell you that there are two things that must occur: a SINCERE apology, and all contact must be severed with the third party. So the OP is only doing what trained professionals would tell her to do if these two were to go to marriage counseling. But I guess y’all know better than trained professionals.
    If she wants to empower herself AND save her marriage  she’d do well to let him know she’s no dog he can kick  around. She WILL be alert and aware, and  when his wiener ends up where it doesn’t belong he’ll be out in a heartbeat. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with letting your partner know what you will stand for and where you draw the line, and it sounds like this is what the OP is doing. I respect her for that. I do NOT respect people who convince themselves their partners would never cheat and then act all surprised when they do. You can’t STOP it from happening, but you don’t have to just LET it happen, either. This is HER life; he just happens to be in it and she needs to be proactive and empowered. If she heard rumors her job  might be eliminated, would you advise her to  just kiss her boss’s @$$, or start sending resumes and exploring other options?   That’s what I thought.

    1. 18.1

      Thank you, Wendy! Thank you for living in the real world. Why do people are always blindfolded by the fact that’s how it starts?

      1. 18.1.1

        You are absolutely   right Wendy. I wish people realize , so others are not wasting time and letting go , instead   paying attention. I wonder how her husband feels if she did   same action, as he is . Just wondering …

    2. 18.2
      Karmic Equation

      Hi Wendy,
      There are certain things in an exclusive relationship where you keep silent about something UNTIL IT HAPPENS. Because some things are ASSUMED as part of an exclusive relationship. Fidelity and trust are two of those things.
      No man or woman should HAVE to say to their bf/gf “I expect you to be faithful to me” of “I expect you to not lie to me”. If you find yourself wanting to or having to say that, then you’re in a relationship with the wrong guy or YOU are the wrong kind of person to have a relationship with, because you’re demonstrating you’re a fearful, distrustful, insecure person.
      Just because you give full trust to a man, and are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, doesn’t mean that you turn a blind eye to shady behaviors. For example, at the start of your relationship your man doesn’t groom and doesn’t wear cologne…then a year into your relationship he decides to manscape weekly and wear cologne and dress better, then you can ask “You smell great. Why the new cologne and manscaping? I liked the way you were.” And then pay attention to how he answers your questions. You’ll know if he’s up to no good by HOW he answers (mannerisms).
      Just because you trust him DOESN’T mean that you STOP PAYING ATTENTION to his behaviors.  
      Moreover, if your instincts are making you uneasy, pay attention. Now the problem is that insecure people an uneasy almost all the time. So insecure people CAN’T trust their instincts because their instincts are warped by their insecurity. That is ANOTHER reason why women need to overcome their insecurities. Insecure women will distrust trustworthy women and self-sabotage a good relationship.
      If you find you CAN’T or DON’T WANT to overcome your insecurities, then trust blindly BUT PAY ATTENTION.
      Have the courage to walk away with no proof (e.g., no snooping!)
      If your instincts tell you that the guy is “cheating” then dump him immediately.
      Why? Because either he IS cheating OR YOUR insecurity is rearing its ugly head and you’ll be doing him a favor by ending the relationship before he has to.
      Staying in a distrustful relationship is not good for either party. Simple.


      1. 18.2.1
        Karmic Equation

        Oops typo…
        I meant “distrust trustworthy MEN” not “distrust trustworth WOmen”

    3. 18.3

      Exactly. I felt the response to the OP’s problem was very narrow minded so thank you for your comment.

    4. 18.4

      Very well said!!! Thank you!!!!

    5. 18.5

      Brilliant reply! Somehow it’s always banked as “no big deal” “everyone does it” “it’s harmless”! Or my favorite   “it’s the woman fault for looking” ! News flash…. it is a big deal when it hurts the one your with and sets up distrust ! Thank you for speaking the truth instead of following the blasè attitude !

  19. 19

    I’ve also looked up exes on the internet out of curiosity with no intention of ever contacting them. I’ve done the same with long ago  friends, former co-workers – something sparks a memory, I    wonder “where are they now?”, but am never interested enough to actually try to get in touch.
    Laura writes:    “ The reason this bothered me so much was because just a year and a half prior to this incident I caught him sending suggestive/flirty text messages — also him suggesting they should meet up, and of course she responded with great joy!  

    He admitted it, felt guilty, you put your foot down about him not contacting her. Now he’s looking her up on google. Given this bit of not-so-distant past history I’d be bothered too.
    The bigger question I see is why are you writing for advice on the internet instead of talking to your husband about it? It’s HIS answers (and body language) that should tell you what you need to know. And it’s HIS reassurance you need.

  20. 20
    Karl S

    I’m curious about the fact that you both moved for his job out of state. Does that mean that you are quite far from where this woman would be located? That would help sway me back to the “idle curiosity” argument, unless he’s really determined.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *