Dear Therapist Within,
During our first few months of dating, my boyfriend had a *best* girlfriend whom he had had a crush on the previous high school year. When he told me (I was not jealous before this) I became jealous. I asked him not to be friends with her as I was not comfortable with it. He assured me he had no feelings for her and would terminate the friendship immediately. After about two months I saw him with her daily, at school and she often called him at home and on his cell phone. When I asked him about this, he lied and told me he wasn’t talking to her. I forgave him for lying to me but then I found a picture of them together and everything blew up all over again.
We worked it out and have been dating for three and a half years now but. I’m extremely jealous! Anything with nude or scantily clad women in movies, ads, or TV upsets me. It makes me feel awful when he sees or watches these things because I don’t feel am good enough for him. He doesn’t ever tell he thinks these women are hot or beautiful and he avoids that kind of stuff at all costs because he doesn’t want to fight with me or hurt my feelings (I’m assuming). The thought of him even being friends with other women sickens me. My jealousy is a nightmare.
What can I do to stop this behavior and these feelings? I’m at the end of my rope.
ANSWER: Boy, do I wish I could turn back the clock 3 years! I would have told you to DUMP HIM! What do you have? A boyfriend who is a liar and a coward. And, as we know, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. No wonder you don’t trust him and are extremely jealous! Are you absolutely certain that he still isn’t doing something subtle to trigger your jealousy?
The real question is why did you forgive him? Why didn’t you get rid of this guy the first time he lied to you, much less the second and third times!!! By forgiving him, you have taught him that he need not be honest and forthright – he can get away with almost anything without dire consequences – your leaving! To ask you to not feel mistrust and jealousy under the circumstances would be irrational. Are you kidding me?
What I will do, on the off chance that you have experienced abandonment in the past and may be attracting untrustable men into your life, is advise you, the next time you feel jealous and anxious, to have a good cry. A good long cry. Don’t confront him, don’t accuse. Just go off by yourself and feel the pain and fear. When you are in the middle of it, ask yourself if you have ever felt that way before. Did your parents divorce? Do you have a difficult relationship with either of them? Was anyone in your life untrustable? If so, that experience will pop up when you are in the middle of your tears, and you will be able to get rid of it.
Soon you should be able to more objectively evaluate whether or not he is a changed man – or if you still do have reason to doubt him, dump him!!! And find someone with the character not to lie. MORE