Ask Freud : Flirtatious Partner

I guess your story and what you are struggling with is about communication and conflict. Communication, which 90% is non-verbal.

Hi!

I found out about your column on Gaysi and thought I could share something with you in the hope that you will understand and possibly help me overcome it.

My girlfriend is a charming, outgoing and confident girl. She flirts very openly with other girls and knowing she means no harm, I am usually okay with it. We are not out as a couple to our friends as my girl-friend still lives with her family and believes that if her parents ever got to know; they might create problems for me.

Some weeks ago she met this girl at a party and has been exchanging messages and mails every day. I know this because she would bring up this other girl’s name in the conversation and would act all cool about it. Just the other day, she left her laptop unlocked when she went for a shower and I saw mails/love songs as an attachment being sent to and fro between the two.

It has left me very upset and I have a feeling she’s cheating on me. Should I confront her? I feel really bad about looking through her mailbox but I couldn’t defy my strong instinct that something is not right.

Is it okay for one’s partner to be like this? I don’t know if I can trust her anymore. I don’t know how I will feel even if she accepts her act when I confront her. Is it not true that if one is a cheater, it is for life?

What should I do? Please help me. And thank you for your time on this.

[Sent by Anonymous] 

 

Hi,

Thank you for your e-mail.

I guess your story and what you are struggling with is about communication and conflict. Communication, which 90% is non-verbal, is an important element in any kind of relationship and should not be overlooked. It is not only about what we say but how we say it and the body language that comes with it. In your situation there doesn’t seem to be much verbal communication. However there is plenty of non-verbal that you are picking up on and observing, perhaps your girlfriend is as well.

You mentioned that your girlfriend is charming, outgoing, confident and flirty with other girls. It sounds to me that she might be insecure about herself and perhaps feels the need to overcompensate by putting herself out there and showing off her ‘assets’. Does she have the need to be liked or fancied? Does she have the need to feel stimulated and praised about her looks or if she has achieved something? My question is “what is she not showing you”, have you spoken about her insecurities and what she tries to keep hidden from others and perhaps even yourself? I always look for what is not there or what is not being said to evaluate a situation. This normally helps me to see what individuals are struggling with. If that can be spoken about then it breaks down a barrier that is perhaps in the way.

The conflict I hear is that she is very open around other people apart from her inner circle, like friends, family and perhaps even with you and certainly with you around them. It sounds like you are not very happy with this situation and scared of raising any issues with her. This includes confronting her about the e-mails and your suspicion that something is going on. Have you been able to talk about how you feel about her mentioning her name a lot? She must pick up that you are not happy and therefore keeping your distance?

There are only a few options that I can see here, you either address it and talk about it or don’t say anything and stick with the feelings that come with it. However long term I’m sure it will eat away on you.

When you ask “if somebody is a cheater are they for life?”, that is a difficult one to answer of course as each individual is different. Some people change, some people don’t or don’t want to. It is all dependent on the trust in your relationship. How much do you trust each other? How open are you with each other? To me relationships build and work on trust. Unless you have a ‘don’t ask-don’t tell’ agreement where each can do what they want as long it is not spoken about.

It doesn’t sound like you have that agreement. It sounds like that there are a lot of questions that are unanswered which you are struggling with. Think about your situation, answer the above questions and ask yourself ‘Do I know what is going on? Do I understand her situation? Can I be brave enough and talk to her?

Good luck with finding the answers you are looking for, I wish you all the best and strength to resolve this.

Pink Freud.

About the author

Pink Freud

Pink Freud is a counselling psychotherapist in training. He currently sees therapy clients part time and manages a large team in a corporate environment when he is not 'in the therapist's chair'. Long term, he wants to specialise in working with LGBT individuals, couples and groups. As a gay man, who came out 10 years ago, he understands the unique struggles of the LGBT community and is here to help. You can e-mail your questions to p.freud@ymail.com and he will respond to you via the Gaysi Family website.