Why Didn’t I Trust My Gut?

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Can someone explain our brains and how we just know things – and why we sometimes ignore what we know?

I had a gut feeling that my boyfriend of 10 years was cheating. We would constantly fight about it, and because I never had any tangible proof I was told that I was acting immature and crazy. I decided that because I didn’t have proof, I must be wrong.

But when they say trust your gut, trust it. I am another example of that. I finally found something – a missed video call from the person I suspected he was cheating with all along. Of course no explanation could be given. He told me to give him his phone, which I did, and then he left the house. He texted that he’d be picking up his stuff in the coming days.

I asked him to please provide closure for me. To just admit the cheat would be kind. But … nope.

Now he says he’ll talk and explain more, but not via text. He said it’s not a text conversation. I said fine, send me a letter in the mail. I don’t want to talk via person or by phone.  

I guess my real question is: why do we constantly find ourselves in need of proof? Had he told me what was happening, it wouldn’t have dragged out the way it did. But why couldn’t I trust my gut? Some of my friends have been through the same thing. Why do we do this to ourselves?

– My gut


We’re told that feelings aren’t facts, and it’s true. You might feel like a friend is angry at you, but find out they aren’t. Sometimes we’re straight-up wrong about what’s happening with a loved one, despite what our guts are telling us.

And yet … we’re constantly telling people to trust their guts. I say it all the time here, and I believe it.

What do I mean when I say it? If someone writes in because they’re chronically miserable in their relationship, I know I want them to feel better – which probably means removing themselves from the situation that upsets them. If they tell me, “I feel like my partner is a narcissist,” for example, I don’t assume the partner is a narcissist. I focus on the letter writer’s experience and say, “OK, if this is terrible for you, you’re not with the right partner.”

It makes perfect sense that you wanted to check your feelings with some real facts. It would have been great to hear, “Yes, I’ve been sleeping with this other woman the whole time.” But you might have also heard, “That woman and I are friends, but I’m sick of being accused of things, so I left.” Maybe that would have been the truth. (To be fair, I don’t know what the video call implied, if you saw a real message from her, etc.)

Regardless, some behavior led you to think he was cheating. Maybe he was secretive about the rest of his life, or kept you away from the rest of his community. Something was off for you.

The fact was that you didn’t feel good – consistently. That’s enough to justify an exit.

You ask why we do this to ourselves. It’s because we want to hope for the best – to make logical choices about our partners. We want to be fair.

We give ourselves time to make sure we can feel OK about walking away. That’s the process.

– Meredith

Readers? Why don’t we trust our guts sometimes? What are they telling us? Do we need proof of a bad thing to walk away?

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