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Do you have that terrible feeling inside that something just isn’t right?
Do you have thoughts flooding through your mind such as, "Is he/she is cheating? Is there someone else?"
The feeling of constant worry and mistrust can feel awful and even paralyzing.
Let’s take a step back and look at what goes on. A few of those annoying "red flags" keep popping up, stories don’t match up or make sense, and a real sense of concern starts to set in.
Many people who see red flags or find that their partner's stories seem a bit "off," have a strong internal need to find concrete stories or evidence to trust. So naturally, the new life career starts -- the expert investigator -- and the daily, weekly or monthly investigations begin …
You might find yourself picking up their cell phone, checking text messages, going online and researching emails, or asking 100 questions. Does this scenario sound familiar?
The fear is very intense and every time you ask your partner about your concerns, all you get left with is the feeling of emptiness. You begin to feel nothing is making complete sense.
Reasons why the investigation begins:
The investigation often becomes a pattern of behavior. Before you know it, your partner’s every action creates suspicion.
Rather than endangering your sanity and your relationship, there are a few things you can do to help get answers:
1. Take a Look Within
Cheating is not okay in a relationship and should be dealt with if it is a concern. However, many of us have a past where cheating may have been common, either in the relationship of a role model, or in our own romantic past. Take a look at your history and see if your insecurities are showing up … and you have never found anything when looking.
2. Reach for Help
Explain to your partner that you feel uneasy and explain that many stories don’t match up. Don’t attack or blame. Simply tell them that you need help in trusting and have them teach you by showing you emails, text messages, or whatever it is that you need. Seek help from them first.
3. Get a Second Opinion
If you are having thoughts, and the investigation starts, watch and see if what you find is realistically something to worry about. Check in with your friends. Get an outside perspective to look at the situation. Look at the information you have - if you don’t have "actual evidence" that shows that you partner is cheating, it may not be the case.
4. Avoid the Push
By becoming an investigator and putting your partner under the microscope, it can push your partner further and further away (whether he or she is cheating or not). Avoid pushing and prying to get comforted; instead, open up. Try not to "confront" your partner, but rather discuss why you are feeling what you are feeling and how it affects your perspective of the relationship.
5. Seek Professional Help
If you have tried reaching out and your partner continues to hide their phone, stories continue to be "off," and they aren’t open to reassuring, seek professional help. I see this issue over and over in my therapy office … either one partner is cheating or the other has a jealous streak. Both situations are recipes for disaster and can irreparably damage your heart and an opportunity for a healthy relationship.
A professional therapist can help you determine what action to take next, while creating a safe and comforting environment where couples can truly communicate their needs and desires to each other.
Jennine Estes is a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego with a private practice in Mission Valley. She has appeared as a Relationship Expert in Redbook Magazine, Martha Stewart Publications – Whole Living Magazine, Social Work Today Magazine, San Diego local news stations, and more. To learn more relationship advice from the author Jennine Estes MFC#47653, visit her relationship column Relationships in the Raw or her San Diego Couples Therapy website.