-- Question for John --
I have been with my girlfriend for 1 year. I feel that she could cheat on me at any instant. Not just physical cheating, but emotional as well. She has done a lot that caused me to lose my trust in her. She had a friend (female) who was sleeping over at her house and they made out! She constantly twists the truth and I don’t feel she is always being honest with me.
My girlfriend told me the next day about this friend and said that it lasted about 5 min. We worked it out, but my trust in her diminished. I’ve told her that I don’t trust her and she said that she will do everything she can to gain it back.
Another thing, she told me about this one guy who she thought was gorgeous and they had fooled around in the past. I tried testing her by creating an email address in his name and emailing her, and she seemed very interested to get together. I pretended I found out because I saw her checking her email one day and reading his email (which was actually me) and she swore that she told him she had a boyfriend and that never to mail her again, but in the emails she did not say that.
Also, she checks out other men all the time, and I told her about it but she just said I’m paranoid. We want to spend out lives together, and I know it can work out but I’m still unsure and the fear of cheating is killing me. I want to put her to an ultimate test but I don’t know what to do?
-- Answer from John --
I need to point out a very obvious fact that is clear only because I am sitting outside your situation. You also are not acting in a trustworthy way. You are setting up traps and in doing so, lying to her. This behavior, while perhaps satisfying your need to know, is in itself not going to lead you to the place you say you most want to end up. I quote you: “We want to spend out lives together, and I know it can work out”
You will never end up in that place with her as long as you are obsessing and falling into your own worse patterns of fear and spying and testing. There is, in fact, no ultimate test that will ever satisfy you. It simply does not exist. What you are doing is backfiring all the way down the line. You are thickening the wall of distrust. And if she knew you created this email account in the other guy’s name, etc., you know that she would have good reason to less her trust in you.
Trust is entirely a two-way street. You are suffering from a rather major blind-spot here. Anxiety is the underlying cause. You cannot factor out your anxiety. It is mixed right in the equation. And on unconscious levels, it is actually pushing her away.
You need to institute a radically different approach to your dilemma if you have any hope in the world to get the goal I quoted from you above: “We want to spend out lives together, and I know it can work out”
The only way into trust is through building an authentic, honest relationship. One where people deeply care about each other, and where they learn to get beyond their own fears and open up to each other. You might want to turn this whole mess around and get it going in a positive direction. Get her and yourself enrolled in a program to learn more about how love and relationship can work in a positive direction. You will both need to learn new skills for better communication, and for creating a stronger shared vision, for dealing with the negative feelings that come up (yes, including fear and obsessing) and for breaking out of your patterns and healing the old baggage of past cheating.
Can you move beyond your fear and do something to move the relationship in a more authentic, honest and open direction?
Can she move beyond her fears and respond to your move?
That is the test. Not building a more convincing test in which you continue the line of thinking you are doing now. Be very careful to avoid what is called a self-fulfilling prophecy. Where what you worry about becomes reality, simply due to your own actions that try to prevent it. For instance, realize that you — not this other guy — were the one who got her all excited.
Take a positive stand on this one, my friend. It is the only way to move in a positive direction — and end up in a positive place.