New Mate Still Looking?
Q: I'm 36 and two months ago married for the second time. He's an old flame from high school who was also married once before. In the beginning, he brought me little presents, left me notes, wrote me poetry and wonderful e-mails. All that has stopped and I've chalked it up to his losing his job soon after we married and all the stress and adjustments of both situations. Now I accidentally came across a profile of his on a singles site (saying he was widowed) and several searches for his ex-girlfriend (who he says is a friend and he wanted to see what she was up to). He explained that it wasn't his profile even though it was his exact log-in and password that he uses for everything else. There were also saved searches of women in the same town he used to live in. Then I came across another, this time with the same password but a different log-in, 'divorced' instead of widowed. He claims this time it is him but it's from before we got together. I find this questionable since the age is his age now. He claims that I've always been the one, but why so soon after our wedding is he looking up his ex and possibly others? Am I being gullible or paranoid? -- Courtney
Dr. Susan: It's a truism that good relationships are based on trust, and maybe some folks would wonder how you "accidentally" came across all this incriminating evidence. I figure if you found it, you were looking for it, and if you were looking for it, he'd given you at least some reason to be concerned. So is he lying through his teeth about the amazing coincidence of that identical log-in and password?! Of course he's lying -- or withholding his real reasons for exploring a dating site. Same difference. The burden of proof is on him. Will he sit down with you and get that supposedly outdated info removed from all sites immediately, while you watch? Looking up his ex without telling you is a breech of trust right there, and you certainly need to tell him that "what she was up to" is not really his business anymore and that his curiosity makes you feel really insecure.
The trouble with reigniting a flame from the old days like the two of you did is that there's usually a lot of fantasy going on. But both of you aren't the same people you were. He may have just realized that and is peeking around for someone more in line with who he imagined you were. This, of course, could be fatal to your new marriage. Don't let him off the hook on this one or his deceptive habits will only get more extreme. But don't come on like gangbusters either. Just be real. Say "I love you and am terrified of losing you. Be honest with me and let's make this marriage a terrific one for both of us." That sort of thing.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.