Dear Thelma: Am I jealous or is he cheating on me?


  • Family
  • Sunday, 21 Jun 2020

LETTER #1


My partner and I have taken a break but agreed to remain exclusive and are focusing on ourselves so we are able to get back together. We still tell each other we love each other but are just working on ourselves.


I recently found out he is messaging another woman; he assures me that they are only friends. I trust him but don’t trust her. I have told him it feels like he is sticking up for her, just as he would his friends. But they have never met up although they know of each other from high school.

I'm worried she will try something and he won't stop it or realise it; we have had arguments over her. She just makes me feel uneasy. I have asked why he is speaking to her, what the gain is. He said that he wanted a friend and it's nice to have someone that’s thinking about him and nice to see messages from her.

He tells me he always replies to me first and he enjoys talking to me more. However I can't help but have this fear that she is more or she is trying to be more and I feel like I am not being listened to or understood. It feels as though he isn’t willing to message her less although he tells me it's only a couple times a day. I can't help but wonder if it's more and if he is lying to me about it all.

I know that if he didn’t want to be with me, he wouldn’t still be trying for us but it scares me that she might just be a backup or a second choice. I know he was been cheated on before and wouldn’t put me through that; however I'm scared he believes cheating is something different to me.

I know if I asked, he would let me see their messages but I don’t want to stoop that low as I am trying to trust him and that’s his privacy but I am also worried if I look I will see that he is cheating on me.

I honestly don’t know what to do anymore. I want to believe and trust him but I don’t trust her as I don’t know her and I struggle with trust. I know he doesn’t have a tonne of friends and is always happy when there is another one and has always had more female than male friends. It just concerns me because, other than me, he has never messaged someone daily even if it is only a few times a day.

I'm scared to lose him but even more scared that I'm holding onto nothing. I know she will probably be just a friend and he is trying his hardest to make me comfortable with their relationship and not hiding anything from me but I'm worried I'm just seeing the good because I don’t want to see the bad.

What upsets me more is I don’t understand why she is so important that she could jeopardise us. Before, with his other friends, he stopped messaging them so much because I was uncomfortable with it – but not when it comes to her.

I don’t know if I'm just wrapped up in a ball of worries over nothing or if I genuinely have something to be scared about.

I have spoken to him rationally many times without yelling or getting too upset, and believe what he says. But when he leaves, my mind wanders and I get scared all over again.

He has told me that as he is starting a new job soon, chances are he will talk to her less. It's just because he is bored now, but I don’t understand why he can't talk to me instead?

Help me, please. I'm spiralling and don’t want this to ruin us as it has put a massive strain on us. I need advice and tips on what I can do to make it better as I'm running out of options and energy.

Losing my mind

LETTER #2

I have been with my boyfriend for 1.5 years.

Recently, I got to know the password to this handphone and, although I know my action was wrong, I couldn't help looking through his WhatsApp messages. I found out that he has been texting other women, particularly some waitresses from pubs. One of them was a waitress from a pub that we have visited several times.


Once he told me he was out with his guy friends at a new pub but I later found out that he actually went to that pub where the girl worked (she has since left). They would occasionally chat on WhatsApp and at times, I see the term "dear" being used in the replies.

At the time of writing, they have made an appointment to meet up for a drink in the next few days. My boyfriend would probably tell me he is meeting his guy friends.


Whenever we go out to pubs where he is a regular customer, some of the waitresses would come up to him and give him hugs. Some would also put their arms around him during drinks or karaoke and he would reciprocate, even in my presence. I asked him once why he needs to do but he just shrugged it off. I have no issue with him having female friends but not those that are getting too close to him.

I want to stop checking his messages but I am still having a difficult time staying away. Sometimes I feel like perhaps he knows I've been looking through his handphone, and I'm starting to feel paranoid about this.

I feel inferior because I am not pretty nor well endowed like those waitresses. I have brought up numerous times about his commitment and feelings towards me and he keeps assuring me that he loves me very much. But his actions of texting and getting close to women just make me feel otherwise. I have since stopped asking as I don't want to appear desperate and weak.


I've been comforting myself that I should look out and care for myself first and foremost because no one else will. We both agreed early on in the relationship that marriage is not in the picture as we are both not getting any younger and he is a divorcee.


Please tell me how to get over this distrust feelings. Is leaving him the only option? And if I decide not to take that route, how best should I live out the rest of this relationship?

Confused


We need lots of friends because life is difficult, and friends form a support network. Unless you live under a coconut shell, you're going to meet all kinds of people, and therefore you will have a variety of friends.

So how do friends fit in when you have a partnership? If you are jealous of all friends, or of all friends of one gender, then the objection is not about friendship but about jealousy and insecurity.

If you have an issue with jealousy, then you need to own that it's your issue and work on yourself. Your partner can be nice to you about your problem, but there's no need for them to change how they are because the problem is with you, not them.

But if the concern is about one particular person, then you need to sit down and talk it out.

If you can say honestly, 'I'm not a jealous person, but there is something about that particular friendship that I feels threaten ours', then I believe a partnership must come before a friendship. I would not willingly stay with a partner who does not put my comfort of mind before a friendship.

However, this is not a card you can pull out every time you feel uncomfortable or a bit jealous. Asking someone to drop a friendship is a big thing. It must not be asked lightly. And if your relationship is lacking, then you must consider that it may end what you have.

When is a friendship a threat to a relationship? Most of the time, friendship is very clear cut. You are friends because you share ideas or interests, and there is no idea even of intimacy. The second you feel that there's a special link, that's when you should beware.

Everyone needs to decide for themselves where the line is between sharing thoughts, feelings and emotions that are private and reserved only for our partners.

If you aren't sure, one way is to ask yourself,"If my conversations were made public, would I be upset or worried? Would my partner be upset or hurt?" If the answer is a resounding no to both, you're good to go.

Losing my mind, you sound insecure and jealous. That means you need to work on yourself.

But I'm going to suggest something that you haven't asked about. The way you write about your emotions suggests anxiety. Could you please talk to a mental health professional and get yourself assessed for anxiety?

You see, anxiety can twist perceptions, creating problems where there are none, and it can also magnify small matters and blow them up. So I think it may be useful for you to check this out.

When you have better insight into your emotions, re-evaluate this relationship you're on a break from. As you've not been happy together so far, and you're still arguing during this split, it sounds as though you're not a good match. However, if it's anxiety that's the problem, you may find that suitable help will make big changes.

Confused, you broke all trust when you started snooping. Stop doing that immediately. There is no excuse for poking into another person's private matters.

As for the rest, you need to be very clear about what is going on. Many people are handsy when saying hello in pubs and singing together on a stage can mean standing close. Ask yourself if you are mistaking casual camaraderie for a threat because you are insecure and jealous.

If you can honestly say that you are not, and he is actively cuddling and hugging others, whether you are there or not, that comes behaviour that is reserved only for our partners.

As you like him, have one more talk about this. If he doesn't think your partnership is special enough to give up others, quit this one and find a better match.

Also, if he is messing you about, please don't let fear of being alone stop you from breaking up with a person who isn't good for you. Relationships are there to bring you joy, not pain.


Is something bothering you? Do you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on? Thelma is here to help. Email lifestyle@thestar.com.my or write to Dear Thelma, c/o StarLifestyle, Menara Star, 15, Jalan 16/11,46350 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Please include your full name, address and a pseudonym. No private correspondence will be entertained. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, usefulness, fitness for any particular purpose or other assurances as to the opinions and views expressed in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses suffered directly or indirectly arising from reliance on such opinions and views.

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