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Ask a Southern Belle: Am I Paranoid or Is He Cheating on Me?

Conventional Wisdom is a different kind of advice column. Your questions will be answered by people from all walks of life rather than by advice experts. To help Sick Sommer who isn't sure if she's paranoid or if her boyfriend really is cheating on her, a Southern Belle will offer her common sense advice today. You can submit questions here.

Today's Question:

I have been in a relationship with this guy for three-and-a-half years. For the most part, our relationship has been pretty good. However, over the past five or six months, I have developed a fear of him cheating on me. Ironically, I never had this feeling at any earlier time in our relationship.

I have come to believe that the reason I have developed this fear is because a couple of times over the past few months, I have caught him lying to me about drinking with his guy friends and dipping (two things that he knows I don't approve of). He told me that the reason he lied about those things is because he didn't want me to be upset with him. Since he lied to me about those things, I feel like he might be lying to me about cheating.


Fortunately, he has never given me any reason to think that he is cheating, and he tells me all the time that he loves me so much and that I am the person he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Even though he tells me all of these sweet things, I still don't trust him and I often accuse him of going behind my back with other girls. He reassures me he would never do that and often becomes very upset that I would think he would hurt me like that. It seems like all day, every day, I constantly think about what he is doing, who he is with, etc. I have literally made myself sick from worrying so much and I am afraid it is going to cost me my health and relationship. I don't know what to do!

— Sick Sommer

To hear what advice a Southern Belle has to give,

Dear Sick Sommer:

Well bless your heart!

When I was a young woman, I heard a story about a little girl walking toward a bridge. She encountered a snake who asked for her help in crossing the river. The girl demurred, saying, “You are a snake; you will bite me.” The snake told a sad story about being misunderstood and promised to do no harm. The trusting girl picked up the snake and carried him across the bridge, whereupon he bit her. She cried out, “You promised you would not hurt me! Why? Why?” As the snake slithered away, he said, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”

In light of this little tale, ask yourself a couple of questions. Have you had this fear of being cheated on with other boyfriends? If so, perhaps you are sabotaging this relationship with your accusations. Or, have you picked other guys whose bad habits you immediately tried to fix? Why, after three-and-a-half years, do you not have trust in this man?

People, as snakes, rarely change, no matter how much their partners want it. The question of trust may only be in your mind, but if you cannot trust this guy after three-and-a-half years and he is still doing things of which you do not approve, one of you might want to slither away.


A Southern Belle

Join The Conversation
staple-salad staple-salad 8 years
He probably doesn't want to hurt you about him doing things you "don't approve of" however... Remember, he's a person too. You probably do a lot of things that he "doesn't approve of" but has learned to live with because he loves you. Dipping, I'd be concerned about for health reasons, but a few drinks with the guys isn't a big deal (however, too frequently, it can ruin a marriage... my mom and dad are pretty much roommates now because my dad would rather drink with his buddies on their anniversary than acknowledge my mom). I don't think that having a couple differences in choice activities is a big deal. I like to LARP and play "Dungeons and Dragons" esq games and my boyfriend isn't nerdy enough for either, but understands that's part of me. He likes to play football with the guys, and I'm not very athletic, and sometimes he's out and I really miss him, but he's just having fun with his buddies. Differences are fun. However, if you are really concerned about the lying, confront him more about that than the "cheating" (which he's probably not doing).
cptnruthless cptnruthless 8 years
If you dont trust him after 3 1/2 years, there's something wrong in the relationship. If you want to be with someone forever then you have to trust that them. Although, for me dipping would be a dealbreaker...
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
Paranoid. It sounds like the writer is a little controlling to begin with. Yes, dipping is gross, but drinking with friends? I don't see the harm.
Ac2366 Ac2366 8 years
Women, stop trying to control your men! It doesn't ever work. You cannot change someone and make them into who you want them to be. I don't blame him for going behind your back. He doesn't want to change and he doesn't want to get yelled at for acting like himself.
lemamike lemamike 8 years
I agree that dipping is a health concern but drinking with guy friends is no biggie. It's part of the quality time a lot of people spend with their friends. It seems like he has two options - he either lies to you so he can do those things he clearly wants to do. Or, he tells you and you fight with him about it. He doesnt really seem to have much of a choice. Either those habits make you not want to date him anymore and you break up with him or accept him for who he is.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
"Fortunately, he has never given me any reason to think that he is cheating, and he tells me all the time that he loves me so much and that I am the person he wants to spend the rest of his life with." If this is really true, then you're paranoid. Your fear is over something imagined. Also, you're letting your fear undermine your trust in him. Without trust, you don't have a relationship (in my opinion). Incidentally, I knew a woman like you. It was saddening and pathetic.
Pistil Pistil 8 years
No, if you really don't approve of something then why are you still dating him? I don't like excessive drinking, smoking, or any kind of drugs, which is why I wouldn't date someone who engaged in these activities. We would simply be incompatible. And you're paranoid.
Gdeeaz Gdeeaz 8 years
just because you don't approve of something, doesn't mean you shouldn't let your boyfriend do it. I don't approve of drinking or dipping either but I don't get upset if my boyfriend wants to do it. He lied about chilling with his boys and dipping, that doesn't mean he is cheating. If you keep accusing him of cheating it will probably end your relationship.
Gdeeaz Gdeeaz 8 years
anon - a guy that dips is a guy that uses chewing tobacco.
katiekat95 katiekat95 8 years
Why can't he have a couple drinks with his guy friends? It's not like he's out with girls. I understand the dipping since it can be a health problem but maybe you should give him a little more freedom and spend time with your girlfriends.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
you lost me at dipping....which is worse than cheating in my book.
Chrstne Chrstne 8 years
If he hasn't given you a reason to believe he is cheating, why go down that road? I do believe your BF's reason, though. It's drinking and dipping. Just because you do not approve of it, does it mean that any guy who is with you who does that is just no good? Do you want him to give up what he likes to do to please you? Chances are, if he asked you to give up something you like, be it, yoga, because he think's it's inappropriate, would you? No, you'd probably raise hell over it. If someone asked me to stop drinking, I would tell them to shove it. If it won't kill me, I enjoy it, and it's not a debilitating problem, then where is the harm? I understand the concept of you not wanting your BF to do things that upset you, but you need to figure out where to draw the line. Maybe to get you to shut up, he told you he would not. I don't think it's a sign that he is this no-good, lying, cheating b*stard. I think that the poor man wanted to drink with friends and dip. Back to him cheating -- if you really think that something as small as this means he is cheating, then there is something wrong with that. Not every guy on earth is a jerk. Not every guy is cheating or lying about something huge because they lied about something small. I know some women here may jump on the "dump him" chain -- but I think you're the one that needs to cool it, and figure out if maybe you're overreacting, and turning something little into a huge ordeal.
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