Trust issues with my mate

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I have been with my boyfriend for almost a year and things seemed to be going great until his friend, guy, came home and its like I don’t even know him anymore. Early in our relationship he gained my trust and I was able to tell him everything. He is my ultimate support system and whenever I have an issue I confide in him.

I have a family but most times I feel like an orphan. I have a mother who never put any of her kids first due to whatever man she was with at the time. I have a brother who has screwed me over and dug me into debt, using my name for several things like, getting a car. And I have a successful father who would rather se e me on the streets before he helps me. Although I’ve known my father all my life, he was never really around only financially, and mother and her mate at the time lived lavishly off of any money he gave us. Last but certainly not least is my amazing three-year-old son, which I was blessed with from a previous relationship. Unfortunately his father has not stepped up at all. He used to bounce in and out of my son’s life when he wanted to and never really did anything but make empty promises and say what he plans to do in the future that is.

This brings me back to my boyfriend, I have lived with him off and on, put never permanently I tend to go back home when things are normal, i.e. My mom let our gas and lights get cut off, even though I’m paying her rent. He helps me with everything, he drops my son of and he picks him up every day. He watches my son when I have pampering time; he lets me use his car to go back and forth to school (my mom totaled my car about a month ago). He does the usual like feed us and take us out. If there is ever a time when I’ve been in a jam, he’s helped me financially.

His family is like my replacement family. His mom invites me to all family gatherings, even if he can’t make it. His youngest sister does my hair. His oldest sister and me do must things together like going to the movies, or grocery shopping,etc. I am around his family at least 90% of the time, they actually helped me potty train my son. They’re really sweet and I’ve grown to feel like there the family I always wanted.

His friend just moved back into town, and It’s like I don’t even know him. We talk through out the day, I lay down with him every night and wake up with him every morning but there is still a disconnect. And I started to get suspicious of him. So one day when I was out with his sister, he calls me and when were done he says by but his phone never hung up. I then hear him telling his friend that they just past a woman he used to talk to, and how he should go back and talk to her. So we stop talking, I forgave him, and then we fell out again. I asked to use his phone in order to access my inbox, when I went to open my inbox, his was still opened and I came across a message where he said love you, and the woman replies, don’t tell me show me. I have seen this woman before at a family gathering. I’ve actually met her family because her family and my boyfriend’s family are old friends from generations ago. The family tries to say that they’re just friends 5yr friendship, and that this woman is into women, but from her actions I know that she wants more than friendship. He says there just friends and it meant nothing, it was more so a joke and nothing more.

Well its been a week since I left and him and told him that I needed some space. He still supports me financially, and watches my son when needed, but I don’t know what to do. I blocked his number for a few days so he text mostly and calls at least once a day. He is by far the best companion I’ve ever had. And I know that my previous relationships have made me more suspicious and very untrustworthy of people but my judgment isn’t completely blurred. I want to be with him but I don’t know. He called me yesterday and asked me if this was my way of letting him down easy. I don’t want him to think that were over but I don’t want him to think things are ok. Am I crazy for wanting to stay? Help please……

A: You are not crazy for wanting to stay. As you have said he is the best one by far. But there is something else operating here that may be worth a look. Each major person in your life growing up: your mother, your father, your brother, and your previous boyfriend have an amazing similarity, yes? In different ways they have abandoned you, with each you have felt left out and ignored. When we have many of these experiences with the significant people in our life we become both sensitive toward issues of abandonment, and are drawn to people who abandon us. You boyfriend sounds like he is there for you and your son, but that the potential for you to feel abandoned by him is there as well.

As we mature we can begin to correct this dynamic by finding a voice for the things that we didn’t or couldn’t have a voice for in the past. In other words, you may not have had the power to change the dynamics with any of the other 4 people in your life, but you have the power to speak up and explain what you need from your boyfriend now. Let him know what you need from him. If he can respond, then you have found someone worthy of a commitment. If he can’t, you will at least have done your part in setting it clear what your needs are.

If you don’t have a therapist you may want to consider therapy at this time. If your boyfriend is willing couples therapy could be really helpful as you negotiate your needs with each other. The find help tab at the top can help you locate one near you.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Oct 2010

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2010). Trust issues with my mate. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/10/11/trust-issues-with-my-mate/