She's Betraying my Trust

Visitor's Question from a 21-30 year old Male
My girlfriend and I are in a very serious relationship, and we both love each other very much. but I have recently found out that she has been doing something behind my back that she has always told me not to do, and also other things that she has never told me about before. (I really don't want to mention any thing she did but I hope you can still help me).

I have always been true to her and I never lied or kept anything from me, and when i finally got her to open up to me I found out alot of things that I didn't like and that i am really disappointed with her for. I had her promise me that she would never do it again. I want to trust her promise but I don't know if I can. I really want to but, there is still this feeling like she will still do it.

I don't want to break up and I don't want her to continue doing what she is doing behind my back. I am afraid that my trust in her is becomeing less and less. Advice
I know exactly how you feel. You've put a lot of time and effort into this relationship, and many, many parts of what you guys have together is wonderful. There's just this one annoying part and you wish so much it would just sort of go away and leave all the other wonderful parts for you two to share.

Unfortunately, the basis and core of any relationship is trust. A relationship is about you and her facing the world together, watching each other's back, being there, being trustworthy. That you trust this person will be with you tomorrow, and in a week, and will be actively working with you to build and grow your relationship.

But if you can't trust the other person, it dissolves all of that. If that person is capable of choosing actively to do things that harm you two - like lying and deceiving - now it is all in that person's hand about WHEN to lie. It's not a matter of "I know lying is bad." It's now a matter of "I can lie when I choose to - and it's just a matter of whether I happen to choose to at this moment." So now every situation is full of second thoughts. Is she lying now? How about now? She's not around right now, what is she doing? Is she doing something bad? If she comes back and claims she was doing something innocent, can I trust her? Would she actually tell me if she wasn't?"

I'm not saying that people don't make mistakes. Obviously they do. But it comes down to if it really was a one-time stupid mistake that they made *against their will* and now know they seriously will never do again ... or if it was something they made *hoping they wouldn't get caught*. Let's say it was the second - that it's something she enjoys, that you caught her at it and she had to admit it, and then you forced her to promise she won't do again. Now she looks at you in part as her "daddy" - as someone external who is forcing her to be a certain way although she'd really like to do forbidden things. Any time you have that aspect in a relationship you're in for trouble. Now she is balancing the "He wouldn't like it" vs the "I would like it" in her brain and any time the balance slides in the "I would like it!" side she'll get tempted by it and do it. And then she'll lie to you, and on it goes.

A relationship has to be about honesty, trust and communication. And it has to be about two people who are fully thinking about each other and whose needs match up. They have to HONESTLY feel that way inside them. They can't just 'cave in' to please the other person. Otherwise it leads to anger and annoyance at the 'other person who I am having to deny myself pleasure in order to please.'

Look at it in this way, with something pretty harmless like fishing. Say the girl loves to fish and the guy hates it. There are a number of options here. The girl could say "I will be happy fishing on alternate Sundays" and the guy could say "OK I'll bowl with my friends on those days and I'll be happy too." Or the girl could say "I'd like to teach you how to fish, we could go out twice a month" and the guy could say "I don't love fishing but I'd be interested enough to try it occasionally and be with you." Or the girl could say "You know, fishing was sort of OK but I'm getting tired of it, I'm fine with going on horseback rides with you instead" and the guy could say "Great I love horses too."

But if the girl says "I am a huge fishing fan! Fishing is my life! If I don't go fishing weekly, it will eat me up inside that I'm not out on the water, doing what I love passionately!" and then the guy says "I hate fishing! Fish are lovely animals and you're sticking hooks in their heads! And then yanking them out, letting them bleed in the ocean! How can you do that to fish? What kind of monster are you?" then you might imagine that if she continued to fish daily, or if he forced her to give it up completely, they would both be unhappy. One of them might *try* to pretend to be happy, but the fact is that a core problem existed there between them. And partners need to be people who fully and completely accept each other, the way they are. If a person has to change that seriously to get along, or change their loves-of-life that drastically, the relationship will have huge problems. Because both people will resent, somewhere inside, the fact that they had to change what they were in order to have the other person care for them.

So in any case, while this might seem like a "small twist in a great relationship" to you, it can also be the tip of the iceberg, that it's a serious issue between you two that she's been actively hiding and you only found out about by accident. And if so the chance of it going away is slim, and the chance of it just "taking care of itself" is slim. You have to really talk about it. And yes, it's hard. But the whole point of a relationship is that you discuss the really hard issues because you want the thing to last. If you sweep them under the rug they come back even larger than before.

Don't just yell at her for doing things you don't like. Ask her why. The relationship can't have been peachy-keen if she was actively doing things you disliked and you didn't know about it, and she felt it was OK to lie to you. Those all indicate something is pretty wrong in the relationship. So don't just focus on the good-happy parts. You need to be open and honest about the WHOLE relationship, find out what the problems were/are and take care of them.

-- from Jenn
One of Your Friendly Advisors at

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