Dear Dr. Darcy:
My partner and I have been together for many years. A few months ago she started working out at the gym. I was really proud of her because we both needed to be in better shape. Last month she started buying new clothes, which again pleased me because she tends to avoid buying new things. But lately, I catch her face lighting up when she’s checking her phone. I’m not concerned she’s cheating—I’m concerned that she’s developing feelings for someone else. How should I handle this? I don’t want to sneak around and start looking through her phone. What should I do?
–Scared to Ask
You’ve been together for “years,” yet you chose to write in to a magazine columnist for advice instead of asking her what prompted these changes. You’re clearly terrified of what the answer is, and that’s why you created this unnecessary delay in getting to the bottom of the issue—and also why you ruled out cheating.
Before I send you off to ask her directly, you need to figure out how her answer will affect you. Will you try to work through infidelity, or is unfaithfulness a deal breaker for you? What constitutes infidelity to you? Would having feelings for someone else be an emotional cheat?
You have some soul-searching to do, girlfriend. I vote for seeing a therapist three or four times to gain clarity, but you also need to give yourself a deadline for speaking to your partner so you’re not tempted to procrastinate. And when it’s all said and done, make sure you don’t sell yourself short and compromise on your own feelings and standards. I, for one, can’t fathom going through life with a partner who is physically committed to me but emotionally out to lunch.
Dr. Darcy Smith is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Her practice, Alternatives Counseling, specializes in LGBT issues and is located in New York City. Dr. Darcy’s clinical style is very direct, goal-oriented and pragmatic. For years, the media has been drawn to her unique personality. She has provided expert commentary for networks including E! Entertainment and has worked with television producers throughout the nation. Her blog, AskDrDarcy.com, provides free advice to members of the LGBT community.
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*This column is not a consultation with a mental health professional and should in no way be construed as such or as a substitute for such consultation. Anyone with issues or concerns should seek the advice of her own therapist or counselor.