Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Busted Talking to the Old Girlfriend

Hi, Terry!

Each week I receive your emails, and I love to read them. They are full of great advice and great insight. I need some advice.

My boyfriend and I are back together after a heartbreaking separation, and I´m happy about it. We have a good relationship, however, some old patterns and issues have come to the scene again. I don´t like that he is not expressive and that he doesn´t tell me important things that could affect our relationship.

Yesterday, I was at his apartment sharing time with him, when the phone rang. He answered the phone and greeted someone. After the first call, he took a second call. After he hung up, I casually asked who it was and he told me it was his father. Then I asked him who called him first and he told me that it was a female friend from work who wanted some advice from him. And I said “oh, ok”.

I didn´t say anything afterwards and kept doing my business at the couch with my laptop. I felt a surge of energy in my body of anger and jealousy, but I kept that to myself as I didn´t want to express those emotions uncontrollably and wanted to give myself time to think a better way to approach the situation.

Today, he visited me, and we started talking casually about my need of having a better communication with him and bulding trust between the two of us. I told him that when that girl called him I felt insecure as I wondered if she was the girl which he had slept with for many months before coming back to me.

When I asked for the truth, he told me that I was correct. I felt extremely upset and disappointed. I felt cheated. I didn´t know that he was still in contact with her and that they were still “friends” according to him. If I hadn´t been at his apartment yesterday night, I would not have known that my boyfriend is still in contact with that girl in a friendly way as he would not have told me.

I love this man and I know in my heart that he loves me, but I don´t know what to do. I am very concerned about not telling me this kind of things. He is very secretive about these things, and if I don´t find out by myself, he probably won´t tell me. He tells me that he has been loyal to me since he is with me and I believe him, but I feel extremely upset of him being in contact with this girl who was his lover and hiding this truth for me. I know he has to see her as they work at the same place, but I´m concerned that it is not a work relationship. I feel cheated and not respected even if I know he is not sleeping with her.

I know you have great insights, Terry, and I would like with all my heart to give some advice about how to handle this situation and if I truly be concerned about him not telling me he is still in contact with an ex.. Please help me. Your advice would be great, Terry.

-A Reader in Mexico

Hello, Mexico-

You were right to give yourself time to figure out how to approach this situation. (Many people, had they been in your place, would just fly off the handle.)

The good news is that your boyfriend told you the truth: He was speaking to the ex-girlfriend.

The bad news is that he didn't tell you straight-out the first time you asked him.

I don't know your boyfriend, but I think you're wise to follow your instincts. You say that you know in your heart that he does love you. If this isn't enough, ask yourself, is he usually truthful with you and with other people? Liars lie all over the place: To bosses, coworkers, friends, and, especially, you. How easily does he lie? How often?

He may have told you at first that he was speaking to a "female friend" at work instead of the ex because he feared how you'd react. We may or may not be able to give him a pass here. It depends on the question I've already posed: How much of a liar is he?

If you determine that he's worthy of your trust, you can encourage him to open more by not overreacting when he says something (and you certainly didn't in this instance; you handled the whole thing very well). He may start to open up a bit, or he may not.

Some people feel a need to express every single thought out loud. Other people don't (because it's not their nature, or they're shy, or they're afraid of boring you or looking silly).

As long as misunderstandings don't result, you should be okay. You say that he sometimes doesn't express things that could affect your relationship. Well, in that case, it's certainly okay to ask him directly, as you did after he got on the phone with the ex.

As long as he gives you a straight answer, I wouldn't worry about it.