Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members. R. Eric Thomas is filling in as Prudie for Jenée Desmond-Harris while she’s on parental leave. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)
Q. Only one red flag: My boyfriend and I have been seeing each other since January of last year. We have been “official” for almost a year now. I’ve truthfully never felt this way about anyone; we communicate and my past relationships have been very toxic. It’s a beautiful change of pace.
However, he is a self-proclaimed jealous boyfriend. He tells me he doesn’t trust some of my male friends and asks me not to hang out with them alone. Even if it’s a group hangout, he prefers it if I don’t accept a ride from a male friend to prevent being alone with them (to be fair, my boyfriend does know that I did have a previous fling with one of them years ago but it’s not widely known within my friend group).
Is it wrong to feel as if he doesn’t trust me when he says these things? I like that he communicates his feelings, and I respect his wishes. But part of me is bothered because I feel he is indirectly communicating that he doesn’t trust me. Am I just overthinking? If not, how should I address the issue?
A: You’re not overthinking this and the red flag of jealousy and isolation is a big one. It can lead to abusive behavior, so you’ll want to suss out what’s really going on with him right away. Put up a boundary, tell him that you appreciate his love for you but the ways that he’s expressing it through jealousy are harmful to you. He may say that’s just who he is, or how he was raised, but that’s not your problem. His emotions do not dictate what you can and can’t do. Ask him what he fears is going to happen with some of your male friends. Maybe he’s intuiting danger from them and that’s good information for you to know. But ultimately, he’s your boyfriend, not your security guard, so if he has some information to tell you, he should. However, if he just wants you all to yourself, he should work on that in therapy on his own.
I have been married to my wife for two years, and we’ve been together for five. We have a great relationship, and both of us consider ourselves incredibly lucky to have found each other. However, so that I could understand her better, she recently told me some things about her past that have troubled me quite a bit. She said she has had quite a wild sexual past. She has slept with male strippers, been involved in aggressive sex with multiple partners that involved hitting, slept with a number of married men, cheated in most relationships, enjoyed getting choked during sex, and possibly even shared a sexual partner with her mother. She said she did these things because she was sad and depressed and sex made her feel better. She told me these things not to make me jealous or to hurt me, but for me to understand she is happier since she met me than she ever has been and doesn’t need to do these things anymore. I am having a hard time getting these images out of my head.