Don't Throw Yourself On The Funeral Pyre Of Your Partner's Affair
Dear Girlfriend Guru,
Cheating happened to me, supposedly ONLY when we were broken up. When we got back together, he told me in no uncertain terms that it was none of my business who he was with during that time. He refused to even discuss it. I believe it was with a co-worker of ours, due to the odd behavior on both of their parts. I keep obsessing about it and have "felt" it still continued.
DO I HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW IF THEY DID HAVE A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP? I work with this person every day. He does also. I would just feel better to know one way or another. It's making me crazy. They both deny anything happened. I only asked her once why she was avoiding me and not talking to me. I asked her if she was mad at me, and jokingly (or not) told her that the last time a woman behaved that way, she was screwing my husband. She replied that she didn't play those kinds of games with friends. He obsessively said her name; fed up with it, I started making hash marks with pink lipstick each time he said her name. My poor lipstick!!!
I digress. Do you feel I have a right to know?
First off, cheating can’t happen while you’re broken up. You can only be cheated on when you’re in a relationship and reminding yourself of this fact should make your shitty situation a little easier for you to accept. I appreciate that your partner is protecting you by refusing to discuss the sexual encounters he enjoyed while the two of you were not together. You think you want to hear all the gory details, but trust me you do not. The fact that you are obsessing about this is further proof that fanning the flames of your imagination would not be beneficial for any of the parties involved.
You are playing with matches. Not only that, you are playing with matches after having doused yourself in gasoline. There is only one way for this to end and it involves a mercury melting, fiery explosion, which when it finally burns out will leave nothing more than a pile of ashes where you once stood, while your husband and his cuddly colleague toast marshmallows over your remains. Your self-sacrifice is not warranted in these circumstances. If you were some Buddhist monk trying to save Tibet from the Chinese, I would understand your altruistic motive to light yourself on fire. But you’re not a Zen warrior; you’re just a gal, standing before a possible cheating husband asking why he broke your heart. You don’t have to let your heartbreak kill you for the cause.
You ask me if I feel you have the right to know if your husband cheated on you with your mutual friend and coworker. To that I say of course you have the right to anything you wish in this life, so long as it doesn’t hurt anybody, including yourself. Some things are better left unknown. This may be one of them. However, if not knowing is going to drive you into the fire and brimstone depths of a personal hell, and the truth would be the calming bucket of water you need, then knowing is what you need. Unfortunately not only do we not always get what we want, we don’t always get what we need. In truth we can’t control anything in life except our responses to people, circumstances, and events. The good news is that is actually a whole lot of power to possess.
Even if I feel that you have the right to know if your partner is cheating on you (which is not to say that you have the right to know the details of his sex life during the period of your break up), what good does that do you? What are you going to do with that right? If there was a Relationship Court you could go there and demand that your rights be respected. No such luck. In real life all you can do is ask for the truth, which you have done and your request has been denied. Sadly, the truth you seek will likely never be revealed voluntarily, so you’re going to have to deal with the possibility that you may never know beyond a reasonable doubt. Perhaps your colleague wasn’t the one he was involved with, or perhaps she was but it ended when you and your husband reconciled. Perhaps their odd behavior is merely a result of your behavior, which they view as unwarranted paranoia, or maybe it is their guilty consciences’ that you are picking up on. You may never receive a verdict. In all probability, it’s a hung jury. Can your relationship withstand that?
The way you describe your female co-worker whom you believe was, and perhaps is still, sexually involved with your partner, certainly makes her sound like a guilty party, but you also admit to obsessing about this situation so your perspective may be somewhat skewed. She may in fact be a woman who made some poor choices regarding men, co-workers and sex, which she may or may not regret, but even if she’s not, this woman doesn’t sound like a good friend to you and I would steer clear of her. Either way she’s a mere pawn in the games she tells you she doesn’t like to play. Your partner is the one on whose shoulders you should squarely place blame if there is any blame to place. If the two of them had sex while you and your man were broken up, I hate to break it to you, but the basic rules of the game state that they can’t be penalized for bodily contact. However, since the breakup period is over, if they’re continuing to play with each other then they’re guilty of misconduct and they need to be cut from the team.
It seems you read my book, HOW TO KNOW IF HE’S HAVING AN AFFAIR, and therefore you know that if he is obsessively saying another woman’s name, that’s not a good sign. There’s your first clue. You should also know that if you pay attention there are likely other clues presenting themselves to you. You are aware that the little voice inside you can be trusted, that your intuition should be respected, unless you are feeling crazy and you do say that you are. In which case you need to take a time out and find a way to get on top of your crazy so you can evaluate the facts from a rational standpoint before you strike that match and set your world aflame.
If your partner and co-worker’s affair is still carrying on and they refuse to admit to wrongdoing, does no proof equal no foul? Not in the game of love it doesn’t. In the game of love happiness is the goal and good feelings are how we keep score. Are you winning or losing? Let’s tally up the points. Here’s what you know for sure-- You know that your present partner makes you feel crappy. You know that he brings out the worst in you, your insecurities, your paranoia, your obsessiveness, your distrust, suspiciousness and jealousy. You also know deep down that’s not the real you and it’s definitely not who you want to be.
In the end what you really have the right to is dignity and happiness. You have the right to value yourself and to know that you deserve better than a partner who brings out such extreme insecurities in you that you have been denigrated to ruining perfectly good lipsticks on unsuspecting mirrors. A great lipstick should never be wasted on a guy who doesn’t deserve it. Rather than squandering your glamorous mouth balm in constant meltdowns over a possible cheater at worst, a man who fails to make you feel like his truly beloved at best, save that favorite pink cream for the collar of the great guy who is waiting for you to open up your world to him and to the true love and happily ever after that you deserve.
Also, remember that sometimes fires can be cleansing and phoenixes can arise from ashes.