My Girlfriend Is Convinced I’m Cheating, But I’m Not. What Should I Do?by Jonathan Alpert on May 22, 2012
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Q. I’ve been dating a woman for eight months. She’s a lot of fun and we enjoy the same activities, but there are several things about her that concern me. If I look at another woman she goes crazy and thinks I’m cheating. Similarly, if a female friend calls or emails she goes nuts. At one point I caught her looking through my email and cell phone. She also tells me who I can and can’t hang out with, and even how to dress. I’ve told her that I am totally committed to her but she insists that I’m not. Her past boyfriend cheated on her so I assume that has a lot to do with her actions. Every time after she pulls one of her stunts I tell myself I’ll give her one more chance, but I keep saying that. What do you suggest?
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A. Rather than trying to figure out what’s wrong with her I should ask why you continue to date her. Seriously, think about what keeps you with her as it seems like her “lots of fun” comes at quite a cost: your freedom and sanity.
Relationships are tricky as we must balance intimacy with respecting each others privacy and sense of autonomy. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you give up all your freedoms and doesn’t give her carte blanche access to all your private matters and social life. Her snooping shows a lack of trust and ironically, you now can’t trust her. Without trust, the relationship is in trouble. Through her actions she is trying to get relief from her anxiety that you might be cheating or she may lose you. You said you’re “totally committed to her” but have you always been or was there a time when this wasn’t as clear? If so, this may be causing some uncertainty on her part. A more plausible explanation is that she hasn’t adequately dealt with the situation when her past boyfriend cheated on her. Just because someone in the past burned her doesn’t mean the next guy will too. Beyond that though, there’s an underlying insecurity, paranoia, and jealousy that all feed each other.
Here’s a scenario I want you to imagine: a female client comes to see me, tells me about her boyfriend who controls who she can be friends with, looks through her cell phone and email, tells her how to dress, and says her friends have to get approved by him. All this, yet she keep going back to the guy and giving him another chance. If you were the therapist, how would you advise her?
Jonathan Alpert is a Manhattan psychotherapist and author. He appears on national TV commenting on sex and relationship issues as well as lifestyle, mental health, and hot-button issues. Get more of Jonathan’s great advice in his new book, Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days, on sale April 24th wherever books are sold. Follow Jonathan on Twitter at @JonathanAlpert