Speaking of categories, I've been flooded with letters about cheating this week. Not "my partner has cheated" letters, but "I worry my partner will cheat" letters. I blame this on Tiger Woods and Sandra Bullock's husband. We all just need to take a deep breath.
And chat today at 1.
Q: I'm seven months in to a very fulfilling relationship with a wonderful man. (Some background: I'm 25, he's 27. We're moving in together the summer.) Things couldn’t be more perfect. He's kind, loving, and a true partner.
The only problem is that I have major trust issues. He's never done anything to warrant my mistrust. In fact he's a very open person (he even shares his email and Facebook passwords with me). I've brought up my fears to him a few times and he always assures me that he has never and would never cheat; having been cheated on in all his previous relationships (three serious, including one engagement), he says he knows how it feels and would never do that to anyone.
When we talk I believe him and I feel better, but the worried feelings always creep up again sooner or later. You see, last year, after the end of a three-year relationship (my only serious boyfriend prior to my current one), I found out that he had cheated on me. I wasn't especially upset, since it was clear we weren't the right people for each other, but it still made me feel that all my efforts to be the perfect girlfriend were in vain. Now it seems like everywhere I look I see men cheating on their girlfriends and wives. Adding to my fears, my current man is a bartender whose work nights are filled with young, drunk people.
We spend six nights a week together (with nightly "pajama parties") so I know that it's highly unlikely he has anything suspect going on, but I still can't get over my paranoia. I've never felt so strongly about anyone but I’m terrified that he’s going to cheat, if not now, then eventually. I was hoping you and your readers could help convince me that good men do exist, men for whom cheating is not an option. I've heard that trust is a decision you make when you enter into a relationship. Do you agree? I also know that being paranoid does nothing except tear you apart, because if someone is really going to cheat, they'll find a way regardless. I know all these things, but I still need help truly believing them and overcoming my fear so I can enjoy what I have and allow this relationship to thrive. Thanks.
– Do They All Cheat? Framingham
A: I'm always surprised when people panic about cheating, DTAC. When I think of a worst-case scenario in a relationship, I think of one person falling out of love with the other. Many people manage to do that without cheating. And many people cheat on someone they still love.
I think that when you say that you're worried that he'll cheat, you mean that you're worried that something will go wrong, in general. And it might. It's a relationship. It's a risk.
You've described your partner as someone who goes above and beyond to make you feel confident and comfortable in the relationship. For that reason, I'm taking out my imaginary tranq dart gun and shooting it at you. Calm down. Train yourself to stop obsessing about this. When you start doing the "Is he cheating?" freak-out, stop yourself and find a television or a book. Use that anxious energy for something else. This fear is unwarranted. And for the record, drunken bar patrons aren't appealing to everyone. Your guy wants marriage. He has already been engaged.
Sometimes it's scarier to be in a good relationship than a bad one because there's more to lose. That's what you're feeling. You weren't devastated by the loss of your last relationship because it wasn't that great. You know that the loss of this relationship would be horrible. It's normal to feel some stress about all of this, but you can't let it take over. Put your fear of cheating in the back of your mind next to other fears that aren't worth thinking about on a daily basis (fear of aging, fear of being wiped out by a tornado, fear of being wrongly imprisoned, etc.). Save your anxiety for something else.
Readers? Do all men cheat? Has Tiger, etc. made us crazy? Is this about a fear of cheating or simply a fear of losing something great? How can she stop from obsessing about this? Thoughts.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.