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Dr. Paige
Dr. Paige, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1427
Experience:  Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist
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Ive been in a close and intimate relationship for 2 ½ years.

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I've been in a close and intimate relationship for 2 ½ years. I'm inexperienced with relationships and I need some advice on how a modern relationship should work.

My girlfriend is younger and has had many boyfriends in the past, but never married. About three months after we met and started getting serious I found out that she was in a hotel room with another guy—she said that he's an ex-boyfriend. Then a few months later I went on a trip and found out that she had gone out with two other guys while I was away--she claims they are “friends.” I saw one of these friends leaving her apartment one night. I don't know any of these guys--they may be just “friends” but I don't know for sure. Another time she told me she was “shopping” when in fact she was apparently with some guy at a bar. There may have been many more incidents like these, I'm just not sure, but I know that she communicates with other male friends and ex-boyfriends.

She also has a female friend and hangs out with her, usually going to bars or parties.
We usually see each other only about three or four days a week for a few hours but I think we have some really great chemistry, we like each other and have fun together. She has told me directly that she is not interested in getting married or living together.

There are basically two problems: The first is trust—I have lingering issues of mistrust. Because of past experiences with dishonesty I really don't know if and when she's telling me the truth about what she's doing and who she's with. The second issue is communication. She doesn't like to talk about issues in our relationship, saying it's to much stress and drama and she gets very angry when I ask her questions about where she's going, what she's doing and who she's with. She says I'm acting like a parent and tells me that she feels like she's “in a cage” when I ask these questions.

One example is last night. I thought she was going out but she didn't tell me until I asked her and I don't really know for sure if what she told me was the truth. I asked her for some understanding and sensitivity when I ask her questions and this is what she said when she got home at 2:15am: “it's the same thing every time I go out. I shouldn't have to deal with this every single time, it's ridiculous. I know you'd like me to be a hermit and sit at home but it is not healthy for me. You really bum me out.”

On the one hand, I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX to go out and have fun with friends, but on the other hand, her attitude and past experiences really make me wonder whether or not we have a healthy relationship based on trust and mutual respect. It seems like she wants all the benefits of a committed relationship while at the same time she wants a single lifestyle.

Please let me know how to handle this, specifically: Should I trust her? What should we do to build trust? And what should I do about her attitude when it comes to asking her questions about what she does when I'm not around? Or am I meddling too much in her personal life?

Hello. Relationships have many different dynamics and people have different ideas of what a relationship is or should be. She obviously wants to have a freedom that you are not comfortable with and there is your issue. She may or may not be lying about what she is doing and who she is with. The issue is, she doesn't seem interested at all in changing who she is or what she does. What you need to do is talk with her about her ideas of what a relationship is and what she wants out of it and tell her what your ideas are and what you want. If you both are too far apart and can't agree on what you both need to make you happy, then I would re consider things overall.
To answer you specific questions, what you need to do to build trust is for neither of you to be lying to the other one. She should not have an attitude about you asking her questions as long as you are not grilling her. She has a right to a personal life, but she should not be spending all her time with ex boyfriends in hotel rooms. Her behavior is not typical of someone in love and she should especially not avoid talking about issues in the relationship. That would be the biggest red flag to me if I was in your position. You both need to be happy. Discuss what makes you happy and not happy with her and come to a conclusion if you should continue in the relationship or not based on your results of the conversation.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hello, thanks for your response.

You say that to build trust we should not lie to each other but how would I know if what she tells me is the truth or a lie if I have no means to verify? If she has a history of not being truthful and cheating why should I ever believe her?

And what do I do if she is obsessed with having a private life, separate from our relationship? Isn't this also a red flag? You say she has a right to a personal life but what does that mean with respect to relationships with other men, whether they are friends, ex-boyfriends or guys that she meets? Should I be comfortable with her going on dates with other guys? How about going to coffee with an ex-boyfriend or going to a bar with a girlfriend where she may meet other guys? Is this something normal and acceptable if our relationship is suppose to be "exclusive"?



All of these questions are answered by yourself. There is no right answer as all relationships are different. Some people love having relationships where both of you have separate lives, other people find it completely unacceptable. You have to decide what YOU want in this relationship. She should never be with ex boyfriends and certainly not in hotel rooms. Just based on the situations that you described, I think she is acting completely irresponsible for what it sounds like YOU expect from a relationship. While it can be unfair judging people for their past, she seems to continue to act suspiciously. Honestly, I think she is being untruthful to you, again just based on what you have stated here. I'm sure she has her own side to this as well, but her actions towards you seem to be disrespectful. Again, the important part in all of this is how you feel about everything. You need to go with your gut and intuition. You don't seem very happy with how she is treating you on several levels. This is the basis for what your next actions should be. I question the health of this relationship and feel she may be taking advantage of you. As you said before she likes the idea of the relationship but not the responsibility. She is doing whatever she wants and that just isn't the way most relationships work. Some people like this arrangement, but you obviously do not and that is perfectly fine. Stand up for what YOU expect in a relationship. If this isn't it, then perhaps you need to consider finding someone who is honest, fair and wants to spend all their time with YOU and only you.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks again for your response.

What I want in a relationship is really quite simple: I want it to be exclusive, where she doesn't see other men. But at the same time I want her to have a social life and go out with friends and not be thinking that I'm watching over her like a parent or putting her in a cage. The problem is, I don't really know what she's doing or who she's with when she goes out and even if she tells me there's always that lingering mistrust. So I guess it's not really about what I want in a relationship, it all boils down to trust, right? And if that's the case then how do I repair the violations of trust in the past and specifically how do we establish a foundation of trust now and into the future, if that's even possible? This would be the most valuable advice that you could give; then I could go to her and present a plan and if she doesn't agree then maybe we should re-consider the relationship.

Well, yes and no. It is what you want in a relationship and what she wants in a relationship and how the both of you are fulfilling those roles. You have to tell her point blank what you expect from her and ask her what she expects of you and then determine if you are both on the same page. It is not your job to repair the mistrust of the past, it's HER job to do that and she isn't. Have you violated trust? Or has she? There is absolutely nothing wrong with having certain expectations of someone and if they fall short, addressing those. The same goes for you too, if she expects you to never question her and to never talk about the issues in your current relationship (which honestly to me is the most alarming problem that you mentioned) then is this fair to you? Can you be with someone who never wants to discuss problems? Can a relationship survive between 2 people who can never discuss problems? In my experience, the answer to this is no.
WHat you need to do is sit down with her and have a talk about where the relationship is now, your concerns about trusting her, what you want, where you see things and what you want from her. Then ask her what she expects from you. I know the trust issue is your big thing, but there are other things at play that you can't ignore. Tell her you don't feel you can trust her because of what she has done and that SHE has to be the one to work on the trust factor. If she has lied to you in the past and then expects for you to just believe her from now on, it doesn't work that way. It just doesn't. Think about what she would have to do in order to help you trust her and then ask her to do those things. Dont feel bad about standing up for yourself and don't feel that you need to be the only one putting effort into improving the relationship. The question isn't what YOU can do to repair the trust, it's what can SHE do to help you trust her?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

You keep mentioning that what I want and expect in a relationship is what's important but I think it's irrelevant because it's virtually impossible to determine if what I want is what I get. Am I suppose to have her followed around whenever I'm not with her to verify I'm getting what I want? No, trust is all I have and without that my wants and expectations are meaningless. So it really boils down to what kind of verification she is willing to put up with and not think I'm some kind of maniac parent figure who wants to put her in a cage, which is what she thinks whenever I ask questions like "what are you doin tonight" and "where are you going" and "who are you going with." And to be honest, I do feel kind of like a parent when I ask those questions. So then what do I do if she's very resistant to doing things that would help me trust her, like answering my calls when she's out with friends? By the way, she had over-controlling parents when she was growing up which is one reason why she's so resistant to any type of verification or tracking.

I don't think its irrelevant because it sounds to me like she is taking advantage of you. You keep blaming yourself for the trust issues when its her who is at fault. Don't you both ever go out? Together? It sounds as though she is always out with other people and that is not acceptable if you expect her to be with you more often.
So then it comes down to a choice. Do you want to never ask her where she goes or what she does or who she is with and just give her the ultimate freedom that she is wanting? You shouldn't have to ask questions, she should tell you on her own without a single question from you. Honestly, it isn't a good situation to be in when you have to ask. I do think she is being completely unreasonable with you and you are putting up with it. You shouldn't have to feel like a parent, she should feel like a responsible adult by telling you. What kind of a person goes out doing all kids of things with other people, leaving her boyfriend at home and doesn't tell him what she is doing? Think about it. That is not normal. It's suspicious and she should have to deal with you asking questions because SHE is the one setting herself up for you asking her those things if she does not volunteer them to you. If she doesn't answer your calls when she is out, is that ok with you? You keep saying what you want is irrelevant, but it is the ONLY relevant thing here. She is not giving you what you need to feel happy and secure. You can't just magically trust her and be everything SHE wants you to be. Look at your options in this situation. You either have to let her do whatever she wants and not ask questions or ask her. That's really it. Do either of those scenarios get you what you want? I'm just not certain the answer you want here. Trust takes time and effort on both parts of the people involved to fix. If one person is guilty of violating that trust, then it is that persons job to fix the problem. WHat would be a normal situation, is that she lied in the past, she feels bad about it and would do anything she possibly could to make you feel at ease. THAT is a healthy situation. What you are describing is far from that. What I hear you saying is that she violated trust, she doesn't really care, she will do whatever she wants and you have to deal with it. This is extremely concerning to me and it should be to you as well. I'm not certain how else to help you, as you are not going to get anything accomplished here unless she is an active participant in this and is also willing to at the very least discuss it with you. It sounds like she has no intention to even have this talk with you because its stressful to talk about issues. That sounds to me like she just doesn't want to face anything she might have done wrong or she feels she doesn't do wrong. In either case, I think you are not being treated fairly at all and the trust solution is in her hands not yours. You cannot and should not trust someone who has lied in the past and continues to be defiant about answering questions as to her wherabouts. It just doesn't work that way.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Well we do see each other 3-4 times a week but I don't know how often she's out with others because she doesn't always tell me and we don't live together, but she does tell me sometimes, usually when I ask and usually when she knows I won't get upset. If I ask her questions there's no guarantee that she will tell the truth, and that's where the trust thing come in, so it really becomes a circular argument--I want an exclusive relationship which requires trust so trust is ultimately what I want. But YES, your last answer makes total sense to me, I could have written it myself. Your words were always in the back of my mind but I get so tangled up with emotion I wasn't sure if it made sense so I needed my thoughts confirmed, and since you're a pro at this it gives it even more credibility. Maybe I will share this thread with her--it may get ugly though. But she really is a very sweet person and I care about her deeply, which is of course why I have stuck it out.


You are going to have to be able to get to the point where you can discuss issues with her as well. You can't have a relationship where things are avoided. You can't walk on eggshells with someone. Just be careful of your own feelings and be sure you are happy. She is going to have to understand your point of view and respect you, just as you respect her. I will follow up with you in a few days to a week or so and check on how things are going if thats ok, or feel free to keep me posted.
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