Last week I went through my girlfriend's phone and found some messages back and forth between her and her ex. They had been together for 4 years, then she started dating me a week after they ended it. We've been together for about 3 months now, but I'm afraid she's either cheating or thinking about cheating. The messages didn’t say anything super sexual, but there was some stuff about missing each other and wishing things hadn’t ended the way they did. I haven't said anything to my girlfriend about it because I know she is going to be pissed if she finds out I went through her phone. She has complained to me multiple times about how her ex used to do that and how much she hated it. I want to trust her, but I'm afraid I can't and I really don't want to get hurt. Should I ask her about it? Keep checking the messages to see if there is something to be concerned about? Should I just suck it up and keeping acting like I didn't see anything? I really don't want to rock the boat, but I have so much anxiety now every time I hear her phone beep thinking that it's the ex. I'm driving myself nuts and I don't know what to do! PLEASE HELP!!
"The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club." And, the first rule about relationships is that you trust your partner. Point blank, if you don't think you can trust your partner, maybe you shouldn't be dating that person, or anyone. It's one thing if a partner has betrayed your trust, but if you just automatically don't trust people, that's about you.
Rule two, do not go through someone else's stuff. The fact of the matter is that if you're looking for something, you're going to find it. In your situation, I'm curious what would have happened if you would have talked to your girlfriend about contacts she has with her ex before checking her phone. However, you did look through her phone, found some stuff you don't like, and now you have to deal with it.
So, what do you do? Well, you could simply tell her. Yes, you'd be risking her being mad, possibly breaking up with you, but at least you would be being honest. You could just straight up ask her about her contacts with her ex, ask if she still has feelings, does she miss her, is it hard for her? All of these feelings are normal and don't necessarily reflect on how she feels about you. But, she was just with someone for a long period of time and then started to date you, there are of course going to be some feelings left there. It would be ridiculous to think that they would all just disappear because you came into her life, no matter how amazing you are. Relationships are very difficult to let go of and it takes time.
As for wanting a guarantee that you won't get hurt, there is unfortunately nothing you can do. The fact that you may get hurt at some point in a relationship is a risk factor for being in a relationship. A more productive focus would be to tell yourself that even if you did get hurt, you'd be ok, which is true. People get hurt in relationships all the time and they survive. Sometimes it is really difficult, but if you're constantly worried about getting hurt and focused on protecting yourself, then you're not allowing yourself to be vulnerable, which stops a relationship from growing.
The bottom line here, do not go through her stuff again. Talk to her about your insecurity that she just got out of a relationship and about her feelings for her ex. Be open to allowing her to tell you that yeah, sometimes she misses her. That might be hard for you to hear, but it's normal. And lastly, don't try to protect yourself from getting hurt all the time, it happens, it's life.