I’ve been seeing an amazing man for a few months but I don’t know if I can trust him.
When we met, he told me that he had just stopped seeing someone – but an ex-colleague, who has always seemed honest, told me he was seeing this girl, her friend, for much longer.
He’s denied any crossover and when I messaged his ex on social media, she never replied.
I’m trying to let it go but whenever I’m unfocused, it resurfaces and I loop on it.
I’ve had issues with jealousy and I started therapy before I met him but I’m struggling.
What’s your advice?
With such a cacophony of voices in your head, is it any wonder you’ve lost sight of what is right and true?
‘There’s the voice of your boyfriend telling you he was single, the voice of your ex-colleague telling you he wasn’t, the silent voice of the other girl and the voice in your head that keeps telling you that nothing and nobody can be trusted,’ says Rupert Smith.
Your preoccupation with your boyfriend’s fidelity suggests you don’t believe you are good enough for him and challenging this untrue belief will help you find the freedom you seek.
‘Until you improve your self-esteem, you will always convince yourself that you’re not enough and that you will be cheated on,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin.
With your therapist, it would be worth exploring how far back this fear travels.
‘Have you ever trusted another person within the boundaries of an intimate relationship?’ wonders Smith. ‘Have you been let down – as a younger adult, as an adolescent, as a child? I’d also question why you’re so obsessed with the idea that people are lying to you. You didn’t choose to be this way, there’s a reason for it – and I strongly suspect it’s rooted deep in your past.’
Otherwise, this repeated dredging up of the same thoughts with no real solution can become a painful self-fulfilling prophecy.
‘Eventually, we push away the people we want to keep close with our suspicious, controlling behaviour,’ says Rudkin, who also suggests mindfulness for those loops.
‘When the thoughts come into your mind, observe them and let them go. Inhale big, slow breaths and send your attention to your body – what you can feel, hear, see and smell. Like any skill, it’s hard initially but over time it can become a more natural way of being.’
One truth is that nobody can ‘completely’ trust anybody because none of us is perfect, says James McConnachie.
‘Everybody has a past and tells small lies to keep life on track and avoid unnecessary hurt, and everybody fantasises about other people sometimes,’ he says.
But what counts now is not what was possible but what is actual.
‘If you both want the same future, put all your energy into creating that together,’ says McConnachie.
Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist
James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)
Rupert Smith is the author of Interlude (Turnaround)
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