Relationships are tough, we all know that. Advancing in your career can be tough too. When those two clash - situations that are already difficult issues get borderline impossible. I'm no relationship or career expert, but it's pretty much accepted wisdom that being petty and playing tit-for-tat games in either situation will get you nowhere. Maybe that's why people were so passionate about how they responded to a late 20's couple whose pettiness was enough to stun even Reddit.

The man was away on business and wasn't very consistent in keeping communication open with his girlfriend. She assumed he was cheating and decided to try to sabotage his job. It failed, but now he wants to punish her by forcing her to cancel a vacation .

Here is his post:

I was abroad for work with minimal access to phone/internet except at the hotel, and she knew that. One night I was out late drinking with colleagues. No funny business was going on, honestly just drinking, having a few laughs and discussing our line of work. Girlfriend assumed I was out cheating, which while incorrect, it's not totally unreasonable to assume either as I'd probably worry too if she didn't contact me frequently if the situation were reversed. Edit: my point is not that I think it's acceptable to assume I was cheating, but just that if she wants to question what I was doing and where I was then I don't think that's a big deal, and I might ask similar questions if the situation were reversed.

Anyway, instead of asking where I was or even making a fight when I got back to the hotel and we skyped, she contacted my employer before I even got a chance to answer. As revenge, she sent a screenshot of a joke I was once made that would be considered by most people as way too offensive to be said (i.e. something politically incorrect).

Note that she was not offended by the joke and even found it funny when I said it a few months ago, but her intention was to harm my reputation. Now she has done permanent damage to my career. I won't be fired, but I work in a tight-knit technical community, and my reputation has been tarnished. Probably a few people would even laugh at this sort of joke, but in the current era it's very taboo.

Otherwise she and I have no problems. I told her there needs to be a consequence if she wants to stay with me. I worked damn hard and made sacrifices to get a PhD in this field, and now there is permanent damage just because of her incorrect assumption, and it's not something like an office job where I can go work somewhere else and be forgotten at the old place. I fully realize that what I said is reprehensible and disgusting for all but 10% of the population who will laugh at any dark joke, but that said, it wasn't her role to betray me over it. I mean if she disagreed with the joke and thinks I'm a scumbag, then yeah ruin my career, but that was not her motivation, she just wrongly thought I was cheating and wanted to do the most effective damage.

She now admits that she was totally in the wrong. I can't just forgive this so easily though, as it is permanent damage and not just something that embarrassed me. In exchange, I made her delete our chatting history on all apps so it can never happen again, and I will be more careful with my words. I have never been the type of asshole guy to ever check her or any ex gf's phone etc, but I have demanded her passwords for all chatting apps to verify that it is deleted so that next fight she can't do the same thing again.

I also told her she should cancel her upcoming vacation with her friend. Note that I stayed around for a week after my work abroad finished, and she also totally ruined my vacation by putting a damper on the mood, so it seems fair. I'm not forcing her to do anything, as she is free to break up with me, and she totally agrees that there needs to be some sort of consequence for what she did. I also offered that she can find another way to "balance" the situation instead of cancelling the trip, but she has not proposed anything.

Am I being too harsh? I am open to suggestions.

tl;dr: Girlfriend wrongly assumed I was cheating and harmed my professional reputation in a major way and ruined my vacation. I cannot just simply forgive it, so I want her to cancel her vacation with a friend as a "punishment". Am I being too harsh?

Yeah, that's a lot to take in. Reddit, in typical Reddit fashion, was not afraid to tell him exactly what they were thinking. Here are some of the top rated comments, edited for language where needed.

Beyond Repair

You don't need to punish her. You need to walk away.

Partners don't seek to hurt their significant others. This relationship is broken beyond repair. There is no getting even, only getting away. If you ever reach a point where you want to "punish" your SO, then the relationship isn't healthy anymore.

- Dolomite808

Marry That Girl

Otherwise she and I have no problems.

Oh, well in that case marry her. Are you out of your mind? She tried to burn your career to the ground and maliciously went behind your back on a hunch. You need to run, not walk, away from this relationship.

And your next move is to "punish" her by telling her to cancel her trip. What kind of vindictive people are you two? Of course you should get married -- oh! and have lots of children that you can punish and torture! WOW. *note: this is sarcasm.

- substiccount

Neither Are Stable

Neither of you sound totally stable, if I'm being perfectly honest. Yeah, what she did was insane, but from the other information in your post, it sounds like there's weird power dynamic going on that allows the use of 'punishment', which pretty much guarantees a sh*tstorm of a relationship.

At first I was like "Ok, ok, that's bad of her" but then all that other stuff... Demanding she delete all the chat logs and giving him complete access to everything "to confirm". Taking away her vacation. Dude.

I'm willing to bet that "joke" was more just cruelty they both enjoy engaging in because they're both trash people.

- purplesez

Fruitloops and Crunchberries

I also told her she should cancel her upcoming vacation with her friend.

Your reaction to this is super f*cking weird. She's not your child, she's supposed to be your partner, your equal.

She's clearly a fruitloop and you need to break up! In my opinion, she would still have been out of order even if you WERE cheating. This is your career. Your life's work. And she tried to ruin it. She's toxic and if she didn't ruin your life with this, she'll try to ruin it some other way.

She's a fruitloop, but homeboy you're definitely a crunchberry. Seems you're are evenly matched, to be honest.

- cupsandmugs555

How Old? 

This is another for the "you two are HOW old?" file.

But since you asked, I'll add my two cents. This relationship is horrifying on many levels.

1.) I can only imagine what your daily life is like if a few hours of not texting her results in your girlfriend believing you are cheating and you thinking its totally normal for her to think that.

2.)The fact that the word "punishment" is even being used in a serious context here is appalling.

3.)How about instead of deleting apps and forcing her to give you passwords you just don't say bigoted/sexist/perverse/racist/whatever things about whoever you insulted and belittled with your "joke?"

I would end this relationship and start working on learning to be a mature adult before trying to have a grown up relationship with someone.

- DanielsMuse527

Stay Together For Everyone Else's Sake

Don't break up. She was immature and cruel, and you are hell bent on being immature and cruel in response instead of walking away. If y'all stay together you can't inflict this insane toxicity on other people.

- I-go-to-bed-at-9

Vengeance Is Not Healthy

I haven't seen anyone else point this out - if you're so concerned about your reputation...once your gf tells her friend why she's canceling, that friend is going to have to scramble to find a replacement. Which means the friend is going to have to tell this story to a bunch of people.

All the assumptions people are making about you on this post that you don't like? Those are the same assumptions the people who know you in reality are going to make.

This is a two-wrongs-don't-make-a-right situation. What your gf did is super messed up. You should either break up with her (which is totally justified! I'm not defending what she did) or go to couple's therapy. This vengeance thing is not healthy and it's going to hurt you both in the long run.

- helloiamarobot

You Are Not Her Parent

Okay, what the f*ck. First of all, it is not within your right to punish her. You are not her parent. I will repeat: you are not her parent. You are her partner. You two are supposed to be equals and treat each other with respect and not set out to hurt each other intentionally.

What she did was awful, reactive, and petty. So - BREAK UP. You are not any better than her by reacting in the way that you are. You are being just as awful and reactive and petty.

BOTH OF YOU are immature and have major issues with trust, respect, and boundaries. This is a TOXIC relationship. End it now and both of you need some therapy and growing up.

And just as a side note, if it offends 90% of people - IT'S NOT FUNNY. Don't make jokes that are racist, homophobic, sexist, etc. Then you won't have to worry about anything like this ever happening. Because now if your coworkers see you in a bad light because of it... well, you kind of earned this reputation by being the kind of person that makes those jokes to begin with. Now they just know about it.

- sleepis4theweakkk


OP come on. Time to be an adult. Read your own post. You don't punish a partner. You either hold them to boundaries or you leave. It isn't that you're being harsh. It's that you're being juvenile.

This partner is reactive, illogical and petty. That won't magically go away. And what I think is problematic?? She isn't at all deserving of niceties right now but you appear to be very willing to leverage her major misstep as a way to get this relationship more in your favor. The talk of consequence and punishment is telling. Boundaries make sense. Punishment doesn't. Don't fall into that trap where you feel like you've got control just because she messed up badly. It's broken. It's done. It is time to move on.

- ladyughsalot

Insane And Trashy

Dude, stop with the punishment. Just break up with her. You both sound immature and vindictive.

I agree that what she did to you was terrible, but if you are going to stay with her after that, you need to move on. This idea that you need to get back at her if you are to stay with her is unbecoming of somebody who is 29 years old with a PhD. The fact that you are seeking to hurt her in response is pretty disturbing. This relationship sounds toxic.

You know what actually? Maybe you two do deserve each other because you both sound insane and trashy. But, hey, what do I know?

- invaded_by_mother


I am hardly behind these "don't walk run" pieces of advice, but I am right on top of this. As a 25 year old woman, with a professional husband (attorney 29) there is no coming back from this even if your job/reputation remained intact.

There is no justification for this as an adult human being. No amount of anger or even deserved "payback" should equate to this level of fuckery. She needs to work on herself, and you don't deserve her— she is and will continue to be a disservice to your entire life (emotionally financially, mentally,maturity, happiness, morale, etc...

seriously I couldn't have said it better. And I literally LOLd at, "oh well in that case marry her. are you out of your mind?!" You sound like a rational guy, so take our advice bc you are seeing this entire thing through rose colored glasses. The only "consequence" to come from staying together, will be your own. Don't fool yourself, she screwed up and it sucks— but this is your life...and she just isn't ready to be in an adult relationship.


H/T: Reddit

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