Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Trust your gut and get to the real issue
Q: Live-in boyfriend went insecure on me, accusing me of being involved with a mutual friend. Not true. He demanded he see my cell phone bill and e-mail accounts to make sure I was not lying. I showed them to him, but now, I'm not sure I want to be with him anymore.
He said he was sorry, he was feeling insecure and it would not happen again. He's never had an outburst like this, so it was surprising when it happened.
I am at odds on what to do . . . should I stay and give him another chance, or part ways because he does not seem to trust me?
A: I would certainly get out of there if he ever does it again. But if your gut really says it was unlike him, I think it's okay to trust your gut. By "unlike him," though, it can't just be that this was his only outburst. I mean unlike him to be jealous, unlike him to drape his arm all over you in public just to show that you're taken, unlike him to treat all opposite-sex friendships as suspect. I mention these because they so often pass for normal, and so surely lead to misery.
Please do ask him, though, to talk to you about what was behind this anomaly. Sounds like there's something else here — not necessarily sinister, but maybe just one of those suddenly-feeling-his-mortality moments, where . . . I don't know how to describe it exactly . . . but a deja vu moment can do it, or a close call, or a brush with the past. Sometimes people get rattled, and it might be good for both of you to talk about whatever rattled him.
If it turns out not to have been a freak, one-time, fully comprehensible incident, then definitely it's time to part ways.
It's normal for a familiar relationship to cool down
Q: My girlfriend of two years and I started out passionately — we couldn't keep our hands off each other. But for the last six months or more, it's petered out to almost nothing, and it's making me miserable. I've tried talking with her about it and it hasn't worked — she feels stressed out, I feel unhappy, nothing changes. This is my first long-term relationship, and I love her more than I'd ever imagined I could. Is this really something that can be fixed? It's not just the sex, I also miss the way she used to look at me, and I'm afraid that if we don't start being intimate on a regular basis, it will seriously damage our relationship.
A: Even when you're both honest, words go only so far. If there isn't some clear external (and temporary) thing to explain the drop-off in affection — major stress of some kind, usually, or a significant drain on her time or energy — then you have to see this as the natural course of the relationship.
Emotions are always hotter at the beginning, when things between two people are new. When they become familiar to each other, things always cool off — and it's the post cool-off temperature, good or bad, that you can expect to endure, not the temp when it's all new and exciting. (An argument against rushing to altars.) I'm sorry.