As we discussed on our blog from last week, social media can provide a temptation to the best of us. But what do you do if you suspect that your partner has already made those connections?
This can be a horrible feeling. But, first of all, resist the urge to try and ‘catch them out.’ This is your partner, not your prey. Don’t hunt. The best thing you can do, more often than not, is just vulnerably ask them what’s going on. Yes, it’s risky; they might very well be defensive. But the benefit far outweighs the risk if you’re able to open a dialogue. If the person has already started an online relationship, it gives you a chance to stop it and build new boundaries — boundaries that are often impossible without open communication with YOU. So many couples don’t talk about these things, and often it’s because they trust each other so deeply. Trust is healthy, but that very perspective could be the stumbling block for your partner. As any of you who’ve read our book know, I had an affair, and that explicit trust was a stumbling block for me. Of course I’m not blaming Eric, but the truth is, I didn’t want him to trust me as much as he did; I wished he would have ask me questions about the relationship I was in that was getting way too close. I wanted him to help protect me from my own choices. He had a hard time stepping into those vulnerable, tricky waters of talking about it, and it left me in my chaos. It’s when we began to talk more about it that I could share how vulnerable I was to this relationship, and what I really needed from him.
My encouragement to you is to trust your gut, don’t be afraid of the truth, don’t be afraid of the anger or defensiveness you’ll face, and don’t be afraid of vulnerability. Gently ask, and gently share what you need. You might need new boundaries and more openness when it comes to technology.
Above all, don’t lose hope. Eric and I pulled through this; you can, too.