Ask the Therapist: Help! Craigslist is Ruining My Relationship

Dear Therapist Jennine,

I am at a crossroads in my relationship and I don’t know what to do. A few weeks ago I was at my boyfriend’s house and got on his computer to check my email. When the browser popped up, I noticed that he had been browsing the San Diego Craigslist page… for casual encounters.

I got really mad and accused him of cheating on me. He says that he only browsed the ads and never followed through with contacting anyone, so he didn’t technically cheat. We have been having problems lately, but I never thought he would consider hooking up with someone else. I don’t know how to trust him again, or if I should.



Dear Confused,

It sounds like you’re facing a really challenging and emotional dilemma in your relationship right now. It takes a lot of courage to seek counseling advice in such a vulnerable moment. Catching your partner browsing San Diego Craigslist is not a normal oops – it has the intention to hook up with others. Let’s unpack this together and explore your options moving forward.

Your feelings are valid

Even though your boyfriend says he didn’t have sex with or meet someone else on Craigslist, you are a bit in the dark about what actually happened. It is totally normal that you feel confused, betrayed, angry, and unsure of what to do next. As a couples therapist, we see this often. The flood of emotions can be debilitating. The thing you do know for a fact is that he has been browsing the internet for casual encounters on San Diego Craigslist. The fact is – you are hurt.

Online web surfing is alarming and causes a rupture in the connection because it was hidden and you didn’t get to have consent. Unfortunately, this now causes all the trust to be lost. He may say, “Nothing happened,” but words have lost value. The fact that he was looking at the San Diego Craigslist casual encounters can erode trust and create doubts about the future of your relationship.

Have a conversation

Since you found the San Diego Craigslist casual encounters, you will need to have an honest conversation with him. Don’t put him to a “test” and ask a few questions. Couples counseling is something you may want to begin immediately to help you have important and constructive conversations. Simply be honest about how finding the sites causes you to struggle currently.  As for whether or not you can trust him again, it will take time to rebuild trust if you decide to stay in the relationship. When your boyfriend violated the boundaries you thought were clear in your relationship, your secure attachment suffered a wound. It sounds like there were already other relationship issues before this happened, which can make things even more confusing.

Make a commitment

Committing to each other to work on the relationship is going to be important, and you may not be ready to do either stay or go. The relationship can’t move forward and repair trust unless both people are really on board. If he doesn’t feel genuine remorse for his behavior or care that he hurt you, it may be better to move on.

If you both express an honest commitment to improve the relationship and your boyfriend shows a genuine understanding of why you’re hurt, have honest communication about what changes you need to see in the relationship. Let him do the same. Even though you’re upset with him, let him be open and honest about what led him to consider stepping outside of the relationship (without blaming you or the relationship). If you both decide you are willing to work on the changes the other person has requested, make a game plan for specific actions you can both take to hold up your end of the bargain. Let your boyfriend know that it is essential for him to follow through on his promises so you can slowly rebuild your trust in him.

Sitting with a couples counselor may be the best way to rebuild your secure attachment. A relationship therapist provides an impartial mediator to hear both sides of the story and give suggestions about how you can start to rebuild the trust in your relationship.  Good luck to you during this time.

How to Stop Sites Like Craigslist from Causing a Break-Up

A lot of the couples I see in my counseling office are having issues because of the internet. The internet is bringing light to issues that already exist. It’s like someone is walking around with a tequila bottle in their pocket, unable to stop and become habitual. Facebook, Twitter, Tiiktock, and San Diego Craigslist — these are just some of the sites that get mentioned in the counseling sessions. My advice is always to set boundaries and stick to them when it comes to online activity.

Using Social Media

It’s important to set rules for your relationship when it comes to social media. You don’t want craigslist causing a breakup. How much will you talk about your relationship on sites like Facebook? What types of pictures will you post? Are you still friends with an ex on social media? Figure out a set of boundaries and stick to them. If you are private messaging an ex-boyfriend or liking every status he posts, your current love may decide not to stick around.

Browsing Ads

It probably goes without saying, but browsing online dating sites or personal ads is a major relationship deal breaker. Sometimes I have clients who share that a spouse has been on San Diego Craigslist or similar sites looking at ads for casual hookups. Just avoid these sites at all costs. If you are turning to an outside source for something that is lacking in your relationship, it is time to either talk to your partner about your discontent or move on from the relationship.

Watching Adult Videos

Adult websites and even adult videos on sites like YouTube are another touchy subject in relationships. When in doubt, set boundaries for what you’re both comfortable with, and don’t deviate. When a man is caught viewing adult content online, his partner can feel betrayed and as if she is not enough for him. You don’t want craigslist causing a breakup, nor do you want any video feeds doing the same.  Be proactive in your relationship.

Remember, it’s okay to take your time to make a decision about the relationship. Trusting your intuition and prioritizing your emotional well-being and mental health is key. Whatever you decide, know that you are strong and capable of navigating this crossroads in your relationship.

Need help setting boundaries for online browsing in your relationship? Schedule an individual or couples counseling appointment today by calling 619-558-0001.

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It’s been nearly 20 years since I first became interested in studying psychotherapy. I began practicing the scientific approaches to psychotherapy in 1997 and I was hooked from then on.

I earned my Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family psychotherapy in 2004 and I am currently licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist MFT (LMFT#47653) with the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS).

I focus my practice upon the empirically-based and proven research methods of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

I’ve seen these techniques consistently get results and I truly believe they are the most effective at creating positive, long-term change.

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