You’ve been dating Jeremy for nine months. He’s kind and caring. He sleeps over at your place every second weekend. He even cleans your dishes. When he runs his fingers through your hair as you kiss or serves you breakfast in bed, nothing else matters.
Yip, he seems perfect. But, somehow, you just don’t trust him. He hides his phone when you’re around. It’s almost always on silent. He often comes home late or tells you he’ll call you back. If you do call, he’s often cold or treats you like an acquaintance rather than a lover.
You start making excuses. He’s speaking to me like that because he’s busy or around his colleagues. He can’t come this weekend because his mother is sick again. You haven’t met his parents yet, because they live far away. Wow, another expensive gift to say sorry.
You love him and brush it off. This too shall pass. But, things become more worrying when you decide to surprise him one weekend. He isn’t home. His door his locked and the spare key he gave you doesn’t work. You look through the kitchen window. The dishes are neatly packed away. There are no breadcrumbs or spilt milk. He obviously hasn’t lived there in weeks.
He calls you that evening. As much as you want to answer and confront him, you decide not to. You let it ring over and over again. Your emotions are all over the place. Well, he has an obsession with clean dishes, so maybe that’s why they were neatly packed away.
“Hi Jeremy,” you say after the third missed call.
“Jeremy? Since when do you call me by my name? What happened to ‘sweetheart’?” he asks, worried, “Is everything okay?”
“Yeah…yeah,” you say, softly, “How was your weekend?”
“Fine. Dan and I went on an impulsive fishing trip.”
Your heart speeds up. He wasn’t home after all.
The next time you see each other, you subconsciously begin to question his every action and word. He kisses you briskly on the cheek, not softly on the lips as he used to. He doesn’t run his fingers through your hair when you kiss anymore. All the books you’ve read have stated the obvious: he’s cheating on you.
“Jeremy…” you say as he takes you out for lunch at your favourite restaurant. You’re not sure how to start the rest of the sentence: “Am I… Are you… Is she…”
What if he’s not? What if it’s all in your imagination?
His phone rings. He has to leave. He doesn’t call or even send an sms that night. The worrying has now turned to paranoia. It eats you up inside. You don’t want to accuse him falsely. It may be your fault, you decide. Out of the six guys you’ve dated before him, four cheated on you and the other two cheated on you after you accused them falsely. If he isn’t cheating, will he start cheating now that I’ve asked?
That night, he surprises you with flowers. He looks exhausted and asks for a massage. He’s just been fired from his job. As he lies passed out on your bed after making love, you spot his phone lying on the floor next to his pants. It’s your chance to see the truth for yourself. A part of you knows it’s completely unethical. What is a relationship without trust?
You take the phone to the bathroom. You look through the messages first. They’re just from you, Dan and his mother. Relief. You scroll down to one week back, then two weeks back, till the weekend of the ‘fishing trip.’
The message from Dan is strange: “Hey J! I know we decided to go fishing later, but I completely forgot I have to hand in a business proposal tomorrow! Sorry dude!”
Oh my, he’s lied. Where was he that weekend? The rest of the phone is clean. Oddly clean. Even the phone register has been wiped clean. You look through the photos now. There are beautiful photos of sunsets, cocktails and bikini models, all his favourite things.
You place the phone exactly where it was. You lie next to him and the tears slowly pour out from your eyes. His hands reach for your waist.
“Why did you have to go and do that?” he asks softly, his lips pressed against your ear.
You don’t know what to say. You turn around to look at him. His eyes are glistening.
“I love you and you don’t trust me?”
“I’m sorry… You’re just different. You talk to me weird. Your mother comes first. You see me less and less and you go on non-existent fishing trips!”
“Slow down!” he shouts back, “I talk to you weird because it wasn’t going well at work. The boss complained I was taking your calls too much. I love hearing your voice. It’s what kept me going, so I talked to you differently so he wouldn’t suspect it was my girlfriend. My mother is sick. She raised me alone and I’m petrified of losing her! I see you less because you don’t run your fingers through my hair when we kiss anymore either. I stopped doing it too, because I thought you were getting bored of me. I needed you to touch me like before.”
He pauses to catch his breath: “I did go on that fishing trip! Dan cancelled, so I went alone. If I told you I went alone, you wouldn’t have believed me.”
Your heart aches now with guilt. The other woman ruining your relationship is you… The jealous, needy, emotional you who can’t trust men. You almost lost the one who could be trusted, because you were too afraid to ask the right questions.
- Do you question everything he says or does?
- Are you suspicious when he compliments you or buys you an expensive gift?
- Do you check his Facebook profile, emails or phone?
- Are you blaming the “past you” for your current paranoia?
If you answered “yes” to two or more questions, you have serious trust issues and need to deal with them as quickly as possible.
- Analyse your past first. Who hurt you and how have you dealt with it?
- Give yourselves a break. If you start assuming he’s cheating, it’s often because the relationship has become monotonous.
- Have faith in him and yourself. You can’t sustain a relationship on half-truths or empty suspicions.