The moment when you find out that your partner is on Tinder hurts. Maybe your single friend spotted them while getting her swipe on, or you had a hunch and searched for their profile yourself with the Swipebuster app. Regardless of how you found out, the discovery still stings. We know that not everyone on Tinder is single, and while there are plenty of other uses for the app, like Tinder Moments, the immediate worry when you find out your partner is on it is that they’re up to no good.
Whether you’re just in the beginning of a relationship that you were hoping was headed toward monogamy, or in a more long-term sitch, it’s never easy to learn that your S.O. is browsing other potential mates. Not only can it make your imagination run wild about what they might be doing, but it can make you seriously question your trust in them — something that can be a total relationship killer. So when you find yourself in this super tough situation, how in the world do you deal? We asked Vienna Pharaon, owner of Mindful Marriage and Family Therapy in New York City, what steps you can take to tackle this issue head (and heart) on.
1. Take a breath. The first thing you should do is take a step back and give yourself a little bit of time to make sense of what you’re feeling. This means you shouldn’t immediately seek out a conversation with your boo. “It’s easy to be emotionally flooded when we find something like this out. When we’re emotionally flooded, it’s hard to articulate the right message. So slow down, identify what you’re feeling and take a little bit of time to regroup,” recommends Pharaon.
2. Decide if you should have a conversation. If this is a new relationship (maybe you even met on Tinder), then it’s fair to think that one of you (or both!) could still be online and meeting people. But it’s important to recognize that if this discovery triggers a negative feeling, it means that a conversation needs to be had.
“You should always communicate if something bothers you. It would never serve us well to keep that information silent. If something hurts us, we need to honor it and voice it,” says Pharaon. If you’re in a monogamous, long-term relationship, the decision whether or not to bring it up is pretty simple. “It doesn’t matter what you’re using Tinder for — if it creates doubt and insecurity for your partner, it’s never appropriate. It sends the message that they’re not prioritizing the relationship or creating that emotional safety and security.”
3. Pick a time to talk to your partner. Think carefully about a time and place to have a conversation that’s comfortable, private and minimizes distractions. Pharaon mentions that “right before bed, out with friends, during their favorite television show… all not the best times.” Let your S.O. know that you want to talk to them, and then ask them if there’s a time that works.
4. Focus on you. The way conversations start tends to be the same way they end. If you start off on the attack, your partner is more likely to become defensive and shut down or fight back harder. Approach them from a calm place and communicate how you feel. Pharaon recommends beginning with something like: “I’m not really sure what to make of this, but it came to my attention that you’re on Tinder. I don’t want to make assumptions, but I feel embarrassed and confused as to why you’re on the app. It makes me doubt where you and I stand, and I worry that I can’t trust you. Can you help me better understand this?”
5. Know that there is hope. This kind of issue isn’t an automatic relationship death sentence. According to Pharaon, when we are vulnerable and share how we are feeling, our partner has the opportunity to meet us there, understand our hurt and then grow from it. “We are capable of trusting again. We are capable of growing and transforming,” she says. “I’ve seen couples come back from infidelity over and over again. There’s no reason that, if done correctly, a couple can’t bounce back from online infidelity. The truth is, a lot of the time couples find themselves feeling closer and stronger in their relationship after they successfully work through infidelity. There’s a lot to learn and understand, and if both people are willing to ‘go there’ and put in the work, they can actually find themselves in a much better place afterward.”
(Photos via Getty)