Red Responds: She Investigates Her Husbands

Dear Red,

My husband plays on the computer with other people. Most of them are women.

I have been cheated on before by my ex-husband. I have acquired a bad habit of investigating to see what my current husband is saying to these women online. Several times I have found stuff in which they are flirting with each other. I think of this as cheating. When I approach him about it he says it is nothing more than flirting. I feel flirting leads to other things.

Should I worry about his online relationships? I mean, all his spare time is spent with me and the kids so I know he is not physically cheating. How do I let go of the assumption that he is cheating on me? Just because it happened in the past doesn’t mean it will happen again. That is my biggest fear, though. I even dreamed he cheated on me last night.

How do I go back to feeling good about our relationship and knowing he is the one for me and let this “investigator/non-trusting person” go back to 2003 where she came back from? I thoroughly believe he would not cheat on me in real life.

Is flirting online cheating? Am I overreacting or am I justified in my accusations?

I do have to put one more thing in here–after the last confrontation about the computer he has quit flirting online. He told me he would quit because he doesn’t want to lose me, and he did. Am I wrong to demand that of him? Please help me.

– Kimberly in Abilene

Dear Kimberly,

As to the question of online flirting being cheating, well, I don’t know that there is a cut and dried answer to that. It really depends on the parties involved, and their particular relationship.

As for your relationship, I would say yes, online flirting is a form of cheating, simply because your man does it privately, behind your back, and against your expressed desires.

At this time, you are not in danger of him physically cheating on you. The guy really does love you. However, his need for that little bit of outside stimulation, the chatting and stuff, is cause for concern. He knows you have security issues and that this would be upsetting to you, and did it anyway. He violated your trust by chatting with these other women to fulfill a need in himself. You violated his trust by investigating what he was up to. Granted, you had reason and busted him, but this is still a violation.

Every relationship needs trust and understanding as well as compromise in order to survive. When you commit fully to another, unless it’s agreed upon that flirting is an acceptable activity by both parties, it is a violation of the relationship structure.

So are you wrong in demanding that he quit the online flirting? No. It is something you need from him in order to feel secure.

You also need to gain some understanding of his need for outside stimulation. This man has an ego, and he doesn’t feel it is being nurtured and fed by you. This is why he extends himself over the net. He does see it as innocent, a way to feel better about himself and have his needs met without what he considers a direct violation of your relationship.

Everyone has a history, baggage, and issues. Successful relationships are ones that respect these things in their partners. On the love plain, you two have an awesome bond. The communication plain is quite troubled, though. This is where both of you need to put some energy and effort.

Counseling or a mediator would be a wonderful thing for your relationship, because neither one of you is very good at expressing your needs to the other. Counseling would be good for you because you do have a lot of fear and pain that you permit to define you.

You cannot “drive” someone to cheat. That is their own choice, excuse or no excuse. Again, the problems lie in the lack of communication. When there is effective communication in a relationship, understanding is achieved, and compromises are made to support and nurture each other as well as the relationship. This removes the excuses, as well as the need for excuses, because everyone is working toward the same goal–happiness, stability, and security.

Can you get back to the place of security and knowing that this is the relationship for you? Absolutely, but it’s going to take time and some hard work. You are in a very scary place in this relationship. There is a crack in the foundation. Even so, this is also the perfect place to improve the relationship for both of you.

While I don’t see you guys splitting up, I do see variances in how you can stay together. With counseling, this relationship can become so much better and stronger than it has ever been before. Without counseling, the two of you will manage to pull together, but there will still be these little underlying issues that plague each of you, which don’t need to be there.

I don’t see your man jumping at the opportunity to get counseling for the relationship. But if you choose to find someone to help you with your own issues, it will turn into a group thing.

I hope this helps you.

Brightest Blessings,
Red
Ext. 9226

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