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Suspicious or Paranoid?

By: Robin Mizell - Updated: 25 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Relationship Problems Infidelity

“It’s just a superficial thing but he’s misplaced his wedding ring.” This line from a song written by Carly Simon and Jacob Brackman hints that the worst part of relationship trouble is realising so many others recognised the danger signs before you did.

How do you know if you’re the last to know? Paranoia and possessiveness can quickly destroy a romance. On the other hand, the prevalence of infidelity is enough to cause anyone to lose confidence. Whether you’re married or not, there is an implicit contract between you and your life partner. After all, it took a leap of faith to become romantically involved. Once the emotional investment was made, it became necessary for you to trust the other person to protect it. Discovering a betrayal by someone very close to you is painful. The more you have to lose from a revelation of infidelity, the more likely it is you will avoid the sad truth by looking the other way and making excuses for real problems.

It’s interesting to note that individuals whose parents were divorced tend to have less faith in the durability of intimate relationships. Adult children of divorce are more likely than other adults to experience fears that their romantic partnerships are in imminent danger of ending. The only person who can effectively differentiate between suspiciousness based in fact and a disorder like paranoia is a mental health practitioner. Unfortunately, psychotherapists and counsellors sometimes hear only one side of the story, which can completely distort reality.

Maybe you’re not yet willing to discuss your concerns with anyone, even a professional counsellor or a private investigator. If you feel you need more information before deciding what to do, here are some approaches to consider:

  1. Ask the one you love. If you can remain calm, this might be the quickest and easiest way to get answers. Those little warning signs you’ve been noticing may be the other person’s passive or subconscious way of getting the unpleasant message across to you without being confrontational.

  2. Listen carefully. Your instincts are often correct. What did the person actually say? If the words were ambiguous, the denial less than straightforward, or the explanation evasive, then you’re probably detecting a form of deception. Linguists refer to this kind of communication as political language, because it’s meant to cast the best possible light on the speaker while concealing bad news. When you’re told, “I’ve never thought I wanted to settle down with one person,” what do you want to hear?

  3. Understand that some people are simply incapable of accepting the responsibility for a break-up. A tried-and-true tactic for this type of person is to make living with him so miserable that you eventually choose to opt out of the relationship. If you find yourself frequently stood up, ignored, insulted, or abused, the bad behaviour may be intended to provoke your displeasure and departure. The cavalier guilty party can then blame the partnership’s demise on you.

  4. Try to distinguish whether your fears are based on your emotions or on hard evidence. You can be trained to react in a repetitively self-defeating manner. Changing unhealthy habits is a difficult process, but if others are suggesting that you need to re-evaluate your suspicions, you owe it to yourself and your partner to seek unbiased input from a third party.

  5. If you suspect someone’s lying to you about being single, use the Directgov website to determine if there is a marriage certificate on file in England or Wales. Contact the appropriate court or the Decree Absolute Service to find out if a divorce was recorded.

  6. The number one predictor of behaviour is a person’s past behaviour. How much do you know about your girlfriend’s history? If she was adulterous in prior relationships, there’s a greater likelihood she’ll be unfaithful to you.

  7. What does your body say? It may surprise you to know that medical technology is sometimes capable of revealing your partner’s sexual infidelity. Many physicians are careful not to broach the subject if it’s irrelevant to their patients’ treatment. However, your doctor just might posses some revealing evidence, if you ask for it the next time you’re tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

If you tend to lack self-confidence, you’re probably more prone to worry that your loved one will hurt, embarrass, or abandon you. Your insecurity can exacerbate your suspiciousness. Discussing your fears with a neutral party—someone you can trust—might help you devise a healthy coping strategy for the survival of the relationship or the end of it.

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