I’m 37, my girlfriend of five years is 32.
I love her and hope to marry and have a family together.
Last year, unsuspecting, I discovered she was on multiple dating websites.
When confronted, she denied then admitted it, saying she hadn’t gone on any dates, so hadn’t cheated.
I broke up with her for a month.
Though I’ve always had a sub-conscious feeling that she wasn’t fully trustworthy, when she promised to be completely honest with me, we reconciled.
I began to feel ready to propose.
Then, at her office party, one co-worker watched her all night.
When I mentioned it to my girlfriend she laughed, saying he has a girlfriend.
Two weeks later, she said he’d asked her out for coffee multiple times, and she wanted my permission. I said no. She obliged.
One week’s evening later, she said she was out with friends at a certain place.
Something felt wrong. I went to the place and saw her at a distance having dinner with that co-worker!
Shocked, I left. Later, she had a whole story about her good time with friends.
When told what I saw, she said he was pressuring her at work because he needed someone to talk to regarding his girlfriend relationship.
I moved out.
However, I really love her and she says she loves me and wants to get married and have a family together.
Is this a second big red flag advising me to walk away or am I overreacting?
A Matter of Trust
Hold back your proposal. Your gut feeling about not trusting her is well-founded.
Use this time to discuss things fully and agree to healthy boundaries for a committed couple.
Trust has to be at least equal to love throughout a relationship.
Of course, you can both have close opposite-sex friends.
But a secret “date” with someone who wasn’t a close pal, is naturally uncomfortable for you.
She could say you “overreacted” to the co-worker having watched her a lot that night… but your instinct was proved accurate.
He’s been pursuing her. And she liked the attention enough to lie outright to you.
Yet, you both want a future together.
Take several months now for either building trust in her (therefore, less reaction from you) or finding that it’s not going to happen.
My wife just learned that her estranged father died five years ago.
He’d had an affair with her mother. They agreed that she wouldn't publicize their relationship. She raised my wife as a single parent.
My wife met her father occasionally when he checked in on them, until the last time 20 years ago.
She knew he had children some 10-15 years older than her. She never reached out to him, respecting his wife and family who didn't know she existed.
Had she known about the funeral she would’ve attended at a distance.
Is there ever an appropriate time for her to reach out to her half-siblings to know them and her father better?
She wouldn't want to cause any grief or hurt to them.
This delicate situation would have to be handled very thoughtfully.
She could first write a letter to the family stating clearly that she’s not looking for any gain from them other than to learn more about her father.
If she hears nothing, she could send a similar letter to all the half-siblings in case one is more willing than others to meet.
She must, however, be prepared that no meeting may come of this, if the family’s too upset or suspicious.
I’ve always had great difficulty with my sister’s husband of 25 years. Both he and my sister can be very difficult/angry when I don't do what they want.
I’ve long belonged to Adult Children of Alcoholics/ACA regarding healing from early traumas.
This group has been very helpful to me, as have some conflict resolution courses I’ve taken.
Years ago, my sister said that if I have a problem with her husband, “it’s your issue to handle, not mine. I can't handle him!”
But I'm unwilling to keep trying to “handle” him.
Is my relationship with him my responsibility though she brought him into our family?
Decide what’s right for you, especially when you’ve spent years healing from past trauma.
Your sister also must’ve experienced that childhood environment, and decided she’ll only “handle” what she can (while being controlling).
Protect your own well-being, no matter which relative is too difficult.
Tip of the day:
Without trust, love isn’t enough long-term.