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Dear Mary: I caught my partner of 20 years looking at naked women online and I’m now afraid he might cheat on me

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"I trusted him all these years. Why do I have that fear of losing him?"

"I trusted him all these years. Why do I have that fear of losing him?"

"I trusted him all these years. Why do I have that fear of losing him?"

I’ve been with my partner for over 20 years now.

We have grown-up children, a lovely house, work and our relationship is fine.

However, I entered menopause in my mid-40s and I’m on medication for anxiety and depression since last year. I’ve improved a lot thanks to my partner and kids. He is very patient and understanding with me and keeps me going.

Some months ago I caught him looking at naked women online while I was lying beside him at night. I confronted him and we talked about it. He said he won’t do it again. But since then I just don’t feel confident and attractive enough.

I always feel he could cheat on me, even though I know he won’t do it. He loves me, and tells me that he does very often. I’m turning 50 soon and our sex life is better than ever. I trusted him all these years and never had any doubts. But all of a sudden why do I have that feeling and fear of losing him? Any advice would be much appreciated.

Mary replies: Even though there are so many things that are really good in your relationship, you now find yourself worrying that your partner will cheat on you. This is mainly because you caught him looking at naked women, probably on his phone or tablet, while you were lying beside him in bed. Presumably, he thought you were asleep.

The Urban Dictionary has a phrase, “Just because you’re on a diet doesn’t mean you can’t look at the menu.” This is often used by guys who are already married or have a partner, to explain why they have checked out a particularly fine-looking woman.

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This is something you should reflect on, given all the lovely things you have said about your partner. Also, he has absolutely no need to go outside the relationship, given that your sex life is thriving and you have a happy and loving partnership.

Everyone feels anxious at times — perhaps starting an exam, going for a job interview or giving a presentation at work. But that is not at all the same as having an anxiety disorder that you have been diagnosed with, which can involve excessive worry and fear about everyday situations. While depression and anxiety are different conditions, they very often happen together and require medical treatment and also therapy. A friend who suffers from quite severe anxiety tells me that along with her medication, her weekly visits to her therapist — whom she says knows her better than anyone — really help.

Then, while, coping with depression and anxiety, along comes the menopause, which affects some women very severely, although others get through it without a problem.

It is also a time when women begin to see changes in their bodies, which some find disconcerting, and this could be the case with you. A very good website for perimenopausal and menopausal women is mysecondspring.ie.

Finding your partner looking at naked women seems to have been a trigger for you to become more anxious. Then, because you have such a happy relationship, came the fear of what you would do if you lost him. From all you tell me, there seems to be no cause for concern, but given your particular set of circumstances, it is totally understandable that you became worried.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot St, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.


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