Tuesday 17 September 2019

Dear Mary: Will my partner run off with her girlfriend?

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Mary O'Conor

I find myself in an impossible situation and I'm sure lots of people who mail you feel the same. I know that I have trust issues and through snooping on my partner's phone (which I know is unacceptable) I discovered that she has been with other people, possibly when we were going out.

To make things more awkward, I've discovered that she and her best friend had some sort of same-sex relationship for a time (while we were on a break) but it seems to have ended.

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From the texts I read, it seemed they had strong feelings for each other. She's oblivious to my knowledge of this but I don't know how to discuss it.

A while ago when they were coming back from a night out, I'm certain there was some sort of kissing/sexual activity between them. I caught them completely intoxicated at the back of our home together, and I assumed they were just goofing around having a cigarette before they came inside.

This was before I looked at her phone so I thought nothing of it at the time.

I'm paranoid now and concerned she will wake up some day down the line and decide she wants to be with her friend and leave me. We have a child together and all I want to do is give the baby and her the best life possible.

Her friend is still such a big part of her life, but how can I be happy when they go out together on nights out or stay in hotels for gigs without me? My mind is scrambled with worry.

We are engaged and do love each other, but it's like she has a secret life and chats to her friend about God knows what. They seemed so at ease talking about hook-ups, etc on the texts. I think her friend was the keener of the two and wanted more (and still does), but I do think it was more of a fling for my fiancee.

What am I to do?

Mary replies: I am constantly struck by just how many relationships come undone by people seeing their partner's phone. Either by choice, or inadvertently, they get information that affects them deeply.

In your case you chose to pry and naturally enough were dismayed at what you found. You saw that she had been with others, possibly while you were together, but you are writing to me about her sexual relationship with her best friend. This happened while you were on a break, but what you witnessed between them was while you and she were together.

You are having to come to terms with the idea that your partner may be bisexual and decide whether this is a deal breaker for you. You don't know for sure because she may have decided that having tried out a same-sex experience it wasn't for her. From what you say her friend is the one who is more interested, but then that may be just wishful thinking.

Are you prepared to tell her you looked at her phone? If you hadn't, you would be in blissful ignorance. She will naturally be very upset and her trust in you will be gone. You have to bear in mind that anything you say to her cannot be unsaid, so you will have to think very carefully before you do or say anything that is confrontational.

Going down a different route, you could introduce the question of bisexuality into a conversation and give her your views as to whether or not you would be OK with a bisexual partner. She may or may not take the opportunity to tell you what had transpired with her friend.

Another option would be to remind her of the time you caught them together, and before you knew the full details, and ask her why it happened. It would be quite natural for you to then raise the issue of bisexuality. Again you will have to be pretty sure as to what is acceptable and unacceptable to you in the long-term, because you will have to be prepared for whatever her answer is.

There is always the option of saying nothing. The trouble is that whenever she is away with her friend you are going to be worried sick about what is going on. So that is the least desirable choice.

Men rarely have the same relationship with their close friends as women do with theirs. Women discuss everything from relationships, work, health, politics and children to fashion and make-up, all in great detail.

They can spend hours on the phone, whereas men usually use the phone to arrange to meet or to pass on a message. It is sometimes hard for men to understand how women can spend so long chatting, but women find it particularly beneficial.

In this case, however a sexual element has been added, which raises the friendship to a different level which is why you find it so difficult.

It would be good for you to talk about all this to a qualified psychotherapist. In that way you can tease out what your feelings are and what your next step will be. Visit iacp.ie to find an accredited psychotherapist in your area.

I can see that you want only the best for your family and I hope that everything works out well for you.


Mary O'Conor is a sex therapist and relationship counsellor.

You can contact Mary 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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