File photo: I know you’re thinking I should talk to him, but I can’t. I don’t think he’s ready to face it. Picture: AP

Dear Sugars,

My boyfriend and I have been in a monogamous relationship for over a year. Recently, I snooped on his phone and learned that he’d been on a site where men solicit other men for sex. My boyfriend answered one of the ads in graphic terms that he’s never used with me. It didn’t look as if anything transpired beyond that, yet I feel stuck.

I didn’t confront him, but I talked to him about sexuality and told him how normal it was to fantasize. He asked me if I was trying to tell him I was bisexual. I said that I only wanted to be with him, and he said he felt the same way. He was so at ease during our conversation that I believed him, but I’m terrified that he’s unable to tell me the truth because he’s buried it. I’m afraid he’ll go farther and cheat on me. I’m afraid he wants to be with men (though I know that looking at a site such as this doesn’t make him gay or even bisexual). I don’t want to lose him. I’d rather love him through this than be without him.

I know you’re thinking I should talk to him, but I can’t. I don’t think he’s ready to face it, and I’m not ready to admit my snooping. I’ve decided all I can do is keep the lines of communication open. I want him to feel comfortable, and I also want him to know that he can be honest with me. He’s a good man with a great heart. Is it normal to have sexual fantasies about things that we have no intention of doing? How else can I walk through this with him? Is it okay for me to be patient, keep the communication open, and trust him, or are we doomed? - Snooper

Cheryl Strayed: Yes, it’s normal to have sexual fantasies about things we have no intention of doing, Snooper, but your boyfriend’s activities don’t fall into that category. You didn’t discover that he has sexual thoughts about men; you discovered he engaged with one online. I understand it’s painful to confront your boyfriend about the uncomfortable truths you discovered, but you must.

Steve Almond: I understand your desire to avoid confronting all the hard truths here. But the reason you snooped on your partner’s phone in the first place is because you suspected ... something. Deferring a confrontation with the truth of what you found won’t make it go away. It will only compound the feelings of guilt, shame and betrayal that you are both furiously trying to deny. You owe it to yourself, and to your partner, to have a candid discussion - or a series of discussions - about this. The path to the truth almost always leads through shame. But it doesn’t have to end there.

New York Times