My boyfriend is famous and has many female fans. When he was in Sacramento performing recently, we practically lived together. Since I chose to work at the venue where he performed, we also worked together. It was magic. When he went on the road, everything changed. I followed. I guess he wasn’t expecting me to (I thought he was). I stayed with him for eight days. Once, when he was out late, the phone rang. I missed the call but thought it might be him, so I checked the message. It was a girl with a sexy voice. I continued to check his phone messages and then his e-mails. I discovered he was cheating. When I asked him about “Kathy,” he said he barely knew her. So in order to get him to confess, I had to call her at work. He confessed but now thinks he can’t trust me. He calls me a ferret for snooping through his things and distrusting him. I felt I had to snoop because I distrusted him for starting an affair. He says he started the affair after I became so suspicious. So we’re in this horrible, spinning circle of our blame and distrust. You’re the only advice columnist I’ve seen who gives real honest-to-goodness spiritual advice. Please help. By the way, my boyfriend is French, if that has any bearing.
Americans look wide-eyed (and slack-jawed) at the French culture for its apparent acceptance of married men and women taking lovers. But one reason that this practice works with relative ease in that country is that those extra-martial relationships are not secret. So your boyfriend’s country of origin means little in this situation. Kathy isn’t the real issue, either. And, although his status as an entertainer brings heightened temptations, I know, from personal experience dating popular musicians back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, that plenty of entertainers are emotionally reliable.
The real problem here is the relationship each of you has with truth. For example, as soon as you realized the phone call you heard was not for your ears, you should have confessed. Like this: “Sweetheart, something happened tonight that I really need to talk to you about. The phone rang, but I missed it. I thought it might be you, so I listened to the machine. It was a woman. The message was clearly meant for you, but now that I’ve heard it, I have some concerns about our relationship. Do you have some time now to talk with me?”
Telling the truth up front allows you to be completely vulnerable. It sets the stage for him to speak freely and for emotional intimacy to grow between you. But by silently gathering evidence, you deceived your boyfriend and yourself. In addition, choosing not to address it immediately initiated separation between you. Of course, even if you responded immediately with non-accusatory language, you might have been met with denial or anger. But if your perspective was rooted in the sanity I’ve suggested, you could guide the situation from emotional drama to emotional intimacy. Or, quickly realize that this is not the relationship you desire after all. All of this is so much easier if you begin relationships by specifying what the commitment is between you. Never assume that the relationship is exclusive unless you have both agreed to that. Love yourself enough to check out your expectations. In the meantime, apologize for snooping. Then decide, together, whether you can commit to truth and thus inspire trust.