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Annie’s Mailbox: Snooping reveals his e-mail with ex

Dear Annie: I am a 26-year-old woman, recently engaged to my live-in boyfriend. The other day, I came across an online conversation he had with an ex-fling of his. I know I shouldn’t have snooped, but the word “marriage” came up and I got curious. In the conversation, he said she would always have a piece of his heart and told her that “in another universe,” he would have married her.

I feel completely betrayed. My boyfriend says the conversation was private and was meant to bring him closure so he could continue to move forward comfortably and confidently into our marriage. And besides, it was none of my business and I could not possibly understand. I am furious. I feel this was inappropriate and hurtful. I no longer trust him and am having a great deal of difficulty moving beyond this.

My last three boyfriends all cheated, and one was also physically abusive. I suffer from extreme PTSD. My therapist told me it was a miracle that I was able to take steps toward trusting another person. Now I am back at square one. Am I foolish to stay with my fiance after he did something like this, knowing it would hurt me? Or could this, in fact, have been a conversation to gain closure, as he said? – Boston

Dear Boston: We are inclined to give your boyfriend the benefit of the doubt, although he should not have kept his correspondence a secret. You and your fiance need to have a long talk, perhaps with your therapist, about how fragile your sense of security is and how he needs to be transparent in his dealings in order to cement the trust between you. If he is open and honest, it will bolster your confidence in the relationship and you will not feel the need to snoop.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@