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Parallax - Advice

September 09, 2002

He's insecure

Dear Conversely,

Ask us a Question!I have been dating this guy for about five months. He doesn't know it, but this is the longest relationship I've ever had, or been interested in. The other night he tried to call and I wasn't around. He left a message that said, 'I knew you wouldn't be home.' We talked the next day and he said he is open with me but he feels I am trying to deceive him about seeing someone else. I think I am doing everything right. We have open conversations about our relationship, including what makes us upset and how we would definitely tell one another if we were to see someone else. I brought this to his attention, but he said, 'Only in a perfect world would it be easy to be honest about this.' I was just wondering if you could give me some advice on how to make him really trust me.Email to a Friend

Her view:

Dear Under Fire,

Well, the fact of the matter is, he is right. And this issue is very tricky, once there is any sort of flag raised about slinking around. Of course you haven't (nor do you have) any plans for soliciting a bevy of paramours. This makes your task pretty straightforward.

You simply need to be completely transparent about everything. This includes your whereabouts, what you're up to and your friendships. Get a mobile phone, and allow him to have continuous access to you. He will view this as a genuine sign of openness, honesty and commitment—he needs that from you. Allow him to get a sense of your daily routine and realize there is nothing to be concerned about.

Now, that solves your immediate problem. However, I see a larger issue looming here, and that is one of mutual trust. The two of you need to find a way to trust each other. I understand that it is early in your relationship, so this has not yet been built, but it does need to start.

Transparency is one way to catapult this forward. You need to cut your fellow some slack here, so he has every opportunity to feel comfortable. Should enough time go by after you have been open and available to him, and still there is no trust, you will have a different decision on your hands. Such sensitivity is telltale for boyfriends with significant trust issues. This is just a warning sign so far: Give him a good six months of understanding and openness. If he has not learned how to trust you after a year of dating, you'll need to rethink.

By the way, you do need to come clean on this 'longest-relationship held' status. If you continue to withhold that, you are in fact confirming his suspicions about your honesty.

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His view:

Dear Under Fire,

There's only so much you can do. If the other person still doesn't want (or isn't able) to trust you, you will be wasting your time trying to get him to trust you.

This guy sounds like the 'jealous-about-nothing' type—the kind who will blow up any inconsistency in a story, or any unforeseen change of plans, or any absence from the phone without an alibi as a tremendous breach of faith. For example, he calls you even though he knows you are not home (he says so himself.) If he knew you weren't home, why did he call? I'll tell you why. Just to make the point that he's got too much time on his hands, or that he would rather call up and leave stupid messages than find something useful to do with his time.

The best way to deal with people like him is to institute a zero-tolerance policy. Next time he raises any suspicion, break up with him. Warn him in advance of the new policy, so that he doesn't feel slighted. The warning should go like this: 'I can't date someone who doesn't trust me. If you ever act like you don't trust me again, I will assume that you, in fact, do not trust me. We will then, immediately, stop dating.'

Without question, it will eventually come down to this. Until you stop indulging him, he will not learn.

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