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Doctor E
Doctor E, Social Worker
Category: Relationship
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Experience:  I am a Ph.D-level therapist and college professor with a specialty in couples counseling.
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My boyfriend went skiing for a few days with a platonic woman

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My boyfriend went skiing for a few days with a platonic woman friend. He's done this before one time & I hit the roof. This time he didn't tell me he was with her but of course I found out. We've been dating 5 years & are middle aged. We get along so well & I can't understand why he'd do this when he knows it upsets me. I am not worried he's cheating . It's not that. Should I be ok with him travelling with a platonic female friend? Is that de rigeur? I texted him to tell him his deceit is blown. It's a lie of omission and I thought he had more respect for me than that. It's the lie & deceit that bother me more than the fact that he's with her. She knows it upset me last time & I despise her for interfering in our relationship by doing it again knowing it's a problem. She 's one of those people who has everyone conned to think she's all sweetness and light. I'm straight up with him always and don't have secrets.
What should I do?

Doctor E : Hi there. I'm so sorry you find yourself in this situation. It certainly is frustrating that this woman is playing such a prominent role in your relationship. I see a lot of strengths in you: you are honest, committed, and open with your feelings. Those are very positive attributes, I wonder if your sense of confidence (which so many women would love to have) might at times cause your boyfriend to feel a little nervous. Is he usually open with his emotions, or does he hold back a little more? He may have grown up in a family that isn't as open with their communication as you are, or he may have a different style of communicating. Still, it is very reasonable for you to be upset with his going skiing with a female friend. Even if you trust your boyfriend, you do not know the intentions of this other woman. While it is important that you respect his decisions, you may want to suggest alternate activities for them that might be more appropriate. This lets him know that you are comfortable with his having female friends, so he doesn't feel like you are dictating his activities, but that st the same time you do have some needs and preferences that ought to be respected.
Doctor E : There may be a number of reasons as to why he hasn't responded to your text: maybe he is a reflective thinker and needs some time to come up with a response. Maybe he is worried that he will upset you more, or maybe he does not know what to say. One thing you don't want happening is that he becomes defensive and then turns to his female friend for support, creating a little bit of a bind between them.
Doctor E : I'm sorry, that should have read "creating a little bit of a BOND between them".
Doctor E : This woman has no right to interfere in your relationship, but you ought to be careful regarding what she knows about you. She could use your emotions and honesty against you, which we don't want to happen. I do believe your boyfriend has respect for you (5 years is a long time!) but it is important for you guys to have a sit-down when he comes back so that you can explain your feelings of distrust and where they come from, and then offer other suggestions for what you feel might be more appropriate behavior with female friends.
Doctor E : Men aren't as intuitive as women: they don't think about the consequences of their actions or how they will affect others. I don't think your boyfriend is trying to hurt you, though he simply may not realize that he is engaging in a major faux-pas. Things may be more black and white for him: he loves you and knows he wouldn't cheat on you. Therefore, it doesn't enter his mind that this would be hurtful behavior. It's perfectly ok for you to point that out to him.
Doctor E : Does that make sense? Please let me know if this is helpful at all. We can talk about it some more. I'm just so sorry you're suffering through this tonight.

You make some helpful points to consider when I talk to him. It's a lie of omission though & he must be aware of that. It's deliberate deception. I didn't really expect a text reply because he tends not to deal with things unless I push it. I texted him so he'd know I was aware of what's going on & that I'd be in his head for his holiday, knowing I'm hurt.

Doctor E : I'm also wondering if he thought it was best to keep it from you so that you wouldn't get upset---definitely the wrong move!, but he may not have intended to be malicious...he may have hoped to spare you being upset over what he knows is platonic
Doctor E : It certainly is a lie of omission. :(
Doctor E : And I think it is ok for you to let him know that, once the air has cleared

He wouldn't be malicious.He is a very kind man & so great in many ways. We live in a small town so I can't believe he thought I wouldn't fid


find out. I knew by 9:15 am the day he left. The other time he did it he didn't tell me & the exact same thing happened. I can't believe he thinks he'd get a different result this time. He's very smart but so dumb!

Doctor E : I think that is male tunnel-vision. As I said, men truly don't seem to think through their actions the way women do--which is a pro for you, and a con for this woman he is skiing with. She knows exactly what she is doing, even though his intentions are pure.
Doctor E : Isn't it amazing! It might be helpful for you to know that male brains do work differently than females. Females are able to multitask and use various parts of their brains when problem solving, while men focus on specific areas. They sometimes find it hard to see how we can bring so many perspectives into our arguments. The ability to be reflective and focus on isolated things is often a strength for them, but can be challenging in relationships

Is it getting to be an accepted thing for platonic different sex friends to travel together & the boyfriend/girlfriend not mind? I'm going to ask him what he'd think if situation was reversed. I don't think he'd like it actually.

Doctor E : When you talk to him, try to focus on one issue at a time instead of jumping around (if you do that---maybe you don't). Make sure he follows your train of thought and give him time to reflect and answer
Doctor E : I think that is a VERY FAIR thing for you to ask him
Doctor E : In my experience, I do find it out of the ordinary for platonic friends to travel together, but it is not unusual. Especially if, as you say, he is a kind and genuine man who is also a people pleaser

I don't feel particularly experienced with relationships. Didn't have many boyfriends ,married 20 years, started dating BF awhile after separating. His wife died 19 years ago & I know he's a commitment phobe. I keep telling him he doesn't need to worry about anything with me . I almost wonder if he's trying to sabotage us .


Your advice about focusing on one thing at a time is very good. I'm trying to plan in my head what I'll say to him.

Doctor E : That is a great question and you know, he might not even be aware that he is doing that. I can certainly understand why he might be afraid of commitment if his wife passed away.
Doctor E : I definitely would suggest choosing one main issue to bring up to him: the most important of all these points, for you to focus on with him. I will help him feel in control and give him your expectations, and a goal to work on,
Doctor E : I have to say, even though you don't feel very experienced, your instincts are good.

I haven't asked him for a lot, just time with him. I own a business, am very independant. I haven't expected him to help parent my kids. Not looking for a "man to take care of me".

Doctor E : Right, but it is fair to ask for a supportive partner. Even after 5 years, he may still be learning what that looks like to you.
Doctor E : Learning new habits and new ways to communicate really can take years. It is a slow climb, but progress usually is made and is worth it.

I think he actually hasn't texted me because he knows he's busted.LOL.

Doctor E : Haha! Well, yep---he is busted!

You're right about things taking time. I've seen that with us.


I appreciate your help. Don't really have anyone else to talk to about such things. Thanks.

Doctor E : It helps to have perspective. You do have that. I hope it can be of some comfort when things feel so frustrating! It sounds like you guys also have a lot of positives in your relationship.
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