Is it wrong to check your boyfriend’s e-mail?

Headline from the MSN.com homepage. My commentary? I think it’s sad that trust simply does not exist in this world anymore ## but for good reason.

Dear Prudence,I am a 25-year-old African-American woman. I have been dating a wonderful guy (let’s call him “James”) for the last two years. I say wonderful because he is by far the best boyfriend ever. We met in school and have been inseparable ever since. I love him, and I know he loves me. When my last boyfriend cheated on me with an online honey, James was there to offer a shoulder and an ear. With his help, I overcame a lot of hurt and emotional pain. Anyway, I digress. For a long time, I have known the names and passwords of most of James’ accounts, including his e-mail. I have checked his mail from time to time only to find nothing. He was the perfect guy, so for a long time I didn’t check his mail until recently. I saw that he joined an online dating service, so I checked that site. It said that he was looking for a “discreet sexual encounter” with someone who preferably had her own apartment. This is like my last relationship all over again. Here is this guy who says he loves me, who says that he wants to marry me … and he’s looking for a “sexual encounter.” He has showed no signs, positively no signs of disappointment with our relationship. I don’t mean to sound like the typical Jenny Jones guest, but there you are. I know I did wrong by checking his mail. And I can’t tell him I checked his mail because he said his ex-girlfriend did the same thing and it ruined their relationship. What should I do? I am stumped because I really don’t want to go through what I went through in my last relationship. Please help. —Nervous and Hurt

Dear Nerv,You can’t sit on the information you have because it will make you nuts. Prudie suggests you fess up about the e-mail “discovery.” To counter his argument that his last girlfriend did this and it ruined the relationship, simply tell him that YOUR last boyfriend did what he did—and it ruined the relationship. If the romance tanks, so be it; better now than later. He may beg your forgiveness and apologize profusely. Then it’s your call … though it’s hard to imagine a good excuse for advertising for a horny woman with an apartment. Prudie is a believer in the old bromide that knowledge is power, and when it’s your future involved, it doesn’t much matter how you got the “knowledge.”

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