So, this have been weighing on my mind lately. My girlfriend and I are in a long distance relationship for 5 years now. We usually visit every 6 months but ever since the pandemic, we couldn’t see each other. There was a time we did live together for a year or 2. This is our 1st year not visiting each other and will soon be our 2nd. She has been hanging out a lot with her guy friends whom I have never met and sleeps over sometimes too. Usually they’re just having a drinking night but she would get drunk and fall asleep. I trust her a lot because I know she trusts me as well but lately I can’t shake this feeling that she might be cheating on me. I don’t really want to press the matter with her because I would accuse something she didn’t really do. There have been times where I would joke around with her by saying, “you’re not cheating on me are you?” And she would just laugh and say “what no” or “course not.” What should I do? Should I press the matter?
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First things first, you have to ask yourself why you are having these doubts. Do you feel like any of these guys have something you don’t? That one of these guys will sweep her off her feet? That she’s just tolerating you? These doubts or concerns are there for a reason; is it simply just the idea that she’s attracted to men and you worry that her being around men will inevitably lead to her falling for one of them?
I know that is a lot to throw at you, but really those questions are designed to get you to analyze your fears. Emotions tend to not be rational, so it may sound odd to subject them to rational processing, but this processing (known as mindfulness) makes them feel less overwhelming and easier to communicate to others. This is something often explored in therapy as it’s useful for learning emotional regulation and building self-awareness.
I suggest reading up a little on it to help you learn some techniques: https://www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/
Additionally, you might want to do some research on attachment styles; these describe the types of relationships people tend to have with others. The prevailing theory is that the types of relationships that our parents and caregivers form with us and model for us in our infancy and childhood influence the kinds of relationships we build as adults. The big 4 are: anxious, avoidant, disorganized, and secure.
This article explains more about the styles:
This one explains more about insecurity in general: https://www.relate.org.uk/relationship-help/help-relationships/feeling-unsatisfied-your-relationship/i-feel-insecure-my-relationship
Do you have someone like Iago from the Shakespeare play Othello in your life? Someone who is sowing seeds of doubt, so to speak? Or someone who doesn’t seem to respect the boundaries of your relationship with your girlfriend? If that is the case, it’s definitely time for a conversation about it because people who don’t respect your relationship don’t respect either of you as people.
It’s also worth it to rethink your own boundaries in this relationship. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable with certain things! It’s okay to feel upset. It’s also okay- and essential- to establish, communicate, and enforce boundaries in your relationships with anyone. The important thing is, again, to figure out why you feel uncomfortable. Once you have figured that out, it will be much easier to communicate with your partner about it. She will want to know how you’re feeling and how to ensure you feel comfortable and respected.
By that same token, the important thing is to really think about your particular needs and boundaries, and ensure that they are reasonable and able to be met. Let’s look at some unhealthy and healthy boundaries and discuss the differences:
Unhealthy boundaries: -Cutting your girlfriend off from her male friends
-Demanding she call/text/message you constantly
-Telling her she can’t wear certain clothes because they’re too revealing and “disrespectful to you and the relationship”
-Encouraging your girlfriend to make friends regardless of gender and orientation
-Communicating and setting expectations for talking to each other
-Recognizing what actually makes you feel disrespected versus what society tells you to make you feel that way
Here are some other guides for how to set healthy boundaries:
Most importantly, do not fall into the trap that is codependency. It’s surprisingly still possible even in a long-distance relationship. Codependency is when two people are far too reliant on each other; this usually involves one person who needs too much and the other who needs to be needed. These relationships are usually very imbalanced and chaotic because they involve people who struggle with functioning on their own. I caution you against this because it’s too easy for your thoughts to become consumed with your relationship- especially when you’ve got doubts and insecurities skittering around in your head.
This article explains a lot more about codependency:
Lastly, many people have successfully built and nurtured long-distance relationships- including myself. I’m typing this as I sit next to my wonderful boyfriend of 7 years; we spent about 5 or so of them long-distance. I am going to share some links to sites focused on nurturing long-distance relationships:
Relationships of any sort always require effort and care, but they should not feel like full-time jobs. If you ever want more advice, feel free to come back.