Q: My boyfriend of seven months is far too jealous. No matter what I do or say, he finds a way to become suspicious. He denies that an unresolved problem from his past is making him behave this way, but I’ve never given him a reason to question my loyalty. He’s a great guy, and his pros outweigh his cons, but how much of this is normal? I think I’m very patient with him, but I’m reaching my limit.
A: I’m curious what these pros are that outweigh the cons - does he perform wizardry?
Seriously, what you’re describing is controlling behavior, and it can affect all aspects of a relationship when it gets out of hand. How do you trust a person who is incapable of trusting you? How do you relax around a person whose insecurities and anxieties are unrelenting, involving your every action? How do you grow with a person who is stuck in a maladaptive pattern that he doesn’t seem to want to work on?
The question of why he is this way is less important than the question of what he’s planning to do about it.
Q: My younger brother died a few years ago. His best friend (“Mike”) continues to be a part of our family and is close with my mother. Mike told her that he’s having an affair with a woman who married my high school best friend. My mother has begged me not to say anything. I love Mike, too, but I don’t understand what I should do.
A: The way I see it, the tangle starts with your mom, as – it seems – she decided to reveal something that was confided in her that would inevitably put you in a difficult situation.
Regardless, since you now have information that your close friend is being cheated on, it is reasonable for you to require some assurance that things are at least moving toward resolution. Does Mike have plans to end the affair? Was he confiding this as a “Look at how bad things are” cry for help, or a “Speaking of how hot Linda is, I’m sleeping with her!” aside? Tell your mom that you are struggling to sit by while your friend is being betrayed, and that you hope she is counseling Mike to move toward progress – and that otherwise, it’s asking too much of you to keep quiet.