Dear Dr. Love, First off I’ll clarify that I am quite young, about eighteen, and that I fully understand that I have plenty of emotional growth left. Recently I’ve been dating a girl my age and things have been going pretty well. We’ve both agreed that we are not attached and given each other the freedom to date around. This is quite important because we do not have any real chance at a healthy long-term relationship, particually for religious reasons (she’s very religious; I’m agnostic).Recently I found out that while we have been dating she has kissed a friend who is extremely close to me, like a brother. She has also kissed another guy whom I do not know. I had previously begun to build up a bit of an inferiority complex in the case of my friend and so the fact that she kissed him did affect me. Other than that I don’t really care that she had intimate contact with either of these guys.However, I am upset because of how she’s treated these situations. She didn’t tell me about either of these situations because she was afraid she’d ‘be in trouble.’ I had to drag out the information after I kind of got the feeling that she was holding something back. I’m not a controlling person, nor am I violent; but I am upset that she would hold back this kind of information, not because she was afraid I’d be hurt, but because she was afraid of ‘being in trouble.’ Anyway, I’m considering getting out of the whole situation because I don’t think that this short-term relationship is worth this kind of emotional stress.
It hurts when you aren’t told the truth by a lover. But, before getting out of the relationship, why not talk to your girlfriend. It is important not to run so fast.You might say: ‘Why do I have the impression that you hold back information as a way of protecting yourself from getting into trouble. . . Am I right?’ If she agrees, then you might say, ‘What have I said or done to give you the impression that I would give you hell for telling me the truth. ‘ Listen to her answer carefully. If she gives you information on your behavior, thank her and tell her that ‘you will try to modify those behaviors because you want her to feel free to talk with you. ‘She may also tell you that you aren’t saying or doing anything to frighten her into silence. In which case, you can help her to realize that she is confusing you with her parents who probably gave her a hard time. Help her to see that she probably learned this pattern of avoidance in order to stay out of trouble with her parents. Remind her that you aren’t her parent and she doesn’t need to hide from you. Remind her that you don’t want to give her hell or punish her.Our goal is to: 1) help her recognize her pattern; and 2) see you as separate from her parents (friend not enemy); 3) work on becoming conscious of the urge to run, before she actually runs. All these steps should help her to be more open with you.By the way, you may think, it isn’t my job to be her therapist. But, we all need to be therapeutic and healing with our partners. Good luck. Let me know how it goes.