Long distance relationship in trouble

-- Question for John --

My girlfriend and I have been trying to make a long distance relationship work. We both love each other but a situation developed recently and I am going crazy. She has this male friend she spends a lot of time with. She swears to me that there isn’t anything going on. I believe her, but yet there is still that doubt in my mind.

I really don’t think that she is cheating on me, but when I talk to her, I don’t feel like I am an important part of her life anymore. What can I do to either get over it, or find out what she is really feeling? She sometimes has problems expressing her feelings and maybe that is the problem. I don’t know what to do. If you have any suggestions, they would be greatly appreciated. thank you.

-- Answer from John --

Establishing trust with someone takes time… more than 3 months, certainly. Trust comes from being tested by exactly the kind of situation you are in now… and then passing the test.

The test is not necessarily what you think it is, however. You might think the test is whether she is faithful or not.

But I don’t think that at 3 months that is the real test right now. The real current test of the relationship is how well the two of you can create a valuable pattern of being able to constructively and intimately communicate over whatever is going on.

In this case, if she has trouble expressing her feelings, as you say, then the big test of the relationship now is whether the two of you can create enough safety in the relationship… so that she can end up more freely expressing her feelings. That she might end up doing so would be a remarkable thing for her… a unique thing that she would cherish very much… and a thing that would truly set you apart from other men… if you could create that safety for her, that is.

So the question is how to establish that better, safer and freer kind of communication?

That’s a big question to answer in an email. But if you are able to see that as the main problem, the main test at this stage… bigger in importance than your anxiety over whether she is “cheating” on you or not… then perhaps you will be able to find some good answers as to how to establish this quality of communication with her.