I'm Paranoid That He's Going to Cheat

I have been with my boyfriend for more than nine months now. We love each other very much. Yet, I have a recurring problem -- paranoia that he is going to cheat on me. Whenever he goes out with his friends, I tell him that it's okay with me, but he knows that it's not. This usually leads to a half hour-long discussion that includes him trying to calm my nerves. One night, just a few weeks ago, he went out with his best friend. We were talking on the phone and he asked me to call him in the morning, because he didn't know when he was going to get home. I froze and didn't say anything for a moment. Right away he knew that I was thinking that he was going to do something questionable, so we talked about it. His friend was in the car and heard everything. I felt horrible. I'm paranoid and I can't help it. I have problems with anxiety attacks, and I'm going to see a professional soon to get help. I feel that if I keep acting like this, I'm going to eventually drive him away. I have had boyfriends cheat on me before. I know my current boyfriend would never have an affair, but I can't help but be suspicious. I don't want to lose him. --iVillager bellaitalia3

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Brenda Shoshanna

Dr. Shoshanna is a psychologist, therapist and certified divorce and family mediator. She has written five books, including Zen and the... Read more

When "paranoia," or extreme distrust, arises in a relationship there are many factors that could be causing it, including leftover hurt from past relationships or a lack of confidence and low self-esteem. You need to find out where your feelings are coming from, or you might fall into the trap of blaming your partner, putting all kinds of unhealthy demands on him and even accusing him of cheating when he is not. Not only does this destroy his trust in himself and his self-esteem, but he can easily grow to feel as though there is no way he can please you, or make you secure and happy.
When you give into these feelings of paranoia, (or extreme fear, suspiciousness and jealousy) and begin to create more restrictions on your boyfriend, or demand more information about what he is doing, you are risking the relationship. Loving another person does not mean possessing them, or relying on them to help you feel better about yourself. In that case, you are using another person and not loving or respecting him.

Individuals need time alone, time with friends and, of course, time together. When you take away your significant other's freedom to enjoy the other aspects of his life, you are being unfair and you are stunting his emotional growth. Sooner or later he may begin to feel resentment, trapped, misunderstood and falsely accused. Naturally, a person in this position will start to think of ways to get out of the relationship.

You have had a boyfriend cheat on you before. Clearly, you never resolved your feelings about this, or worked through the hurt and loss you felt. Now you are projecting these same feelings onto your current boyfriend, who has done nothing to deserve this attitude. You have lost sight of the fact that this person is different and that you are in a new situation. The past has flooded you, and unconsciously you are seeking to correct what happened before.

You have deep feelings of inadequacy, insecurity and you seem to believe that you cannot hold onto your new boyfriend's love -- a result of many factors including your previous relationships and events from your childhood that might have made you feel unloved. These feelings have nothing to do with your new boyfriend. They are internal. You must realize what is going on, and get assistance working out these feelings. If you rely on your boyfriend to take away the pain you feel from the past, you will be disappointed sooner or later. You are looking in the wrong direction. No matter how loving a boyfriend is, he cannot take away pain and confusion that exists within you. We each have to take responsibility for our own feelings and take action to make things right.

Just as we work out in a gym each day, we need to work on ourselves emotionally to build the strength to combat fear and negativity. One exercise (taken from my book, Zen and the Art of Falling in Love) that can be used is to consciously look for the positive in yourself and your boyfriend. When you find yourself dwelling on the negative, step back, take a deep breath and consciously choose to focus upon what is good and right. Counseling and daily exercises can help turn things around if you are battling paranoia. Here is another exercise from the book that may be helpful:

Exercise: Stepping-Stones to Love - (From Zen and the Art of Falling in Love)
Relinquishing Blame
Whom or what do you blame for the difficulties you are facing? In what ways do you blame yourself? Make a list. Now, notice how blaming simply serves as a screen, preventing you from seeking the full picture of what is going on. See how you may think it may even be protecting you. Give up some blame today. Go to the top of your list and completely let go of blaming that person or circumstance. Breathe deeply as you do this. Send the person good wishes. View the situation much as you would view a thunderstorm: intense, with much rain, noise, lightening and commotion. Like intense anger or difficulty, even the most frightening thunderstorm passes. The trick is not holding onto it and making it more than it is.

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