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Reasonable/unreasonable jealousy or barking mad?

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Hi all,



I’d really appreciate other people’s opinions on what’s happening in my relationship. I apologise if this is a little long. My partner and I had an argument last night that’s left me feeling unsure as to whether I want to stay in the relationship. There were two main threads, one being my contact with other men and the other our sex life, or lack thereof.


A bit of background: we’ve been together for nine months and live together. Many of his past partners have been unfaithful to him and a few of mine to me. I wouldn’t say I was a jealous person as a result, but these infidelities seem to have really affected him.


So, what started the argument on the jealousy subject was this: I have to go away next month to the other side of the UK for two days for an annual company “do”. Instead of getting the train, which would take five hours and cost the company £200, I’m getting a lift from quite near my home with a colleague (male). We’re driving to the company’s headquarters (many of us work from home) and then he and I – and 50 other colleagues – are getting on a coach to a castle. We'll all stay in a hotel before we all drive back to our respective homes the next day. When I explained this plan to my partner a couple of days ago, he went very quiet. Last night, he asked me why I thought it was appropriate to drive across the country with a man and stay in a hotel with him. He said any “normal” man would be jealous of that.


I was totally taken aback. The thought that it might somehow be “inappropriate” hadn’t crossed my mind and I got quite angry, because this isn’t the first time he’s expressed concerns like this – and morphed them out of all proportion, as far as I can see. I began to argue that that wasn’t what was happening at all and this is how the conversation went:


Him: “Are you driving across the country with another man?”

Me: “Well, yes, technically.”

Him: “Okay, so are you staying in a hotel with him that night?”

Me: Well, yes, but also with 50 other of my colleagues, male and female.”

Him: “Yes, but there you are – you just said you WEREN’T staying in a hotel with him and now you say you are.”

Me: “Yes, but that’s not what it is at ALL! It’s a business trip,” etc.


He then went on to give me a run-down of all the times men have “propositioned” me (in other words, times in which men have said they find me attractive or asked me out for a coffee/drink – each time I’ve thanked them but said no. There have been only two). My partner has found out about both of them because he saw me exit a coffee shop with one of them after I’d said I wasn’t interested and went on to probe me about what happened and why I was having a drink with another man, and the second because I was propositioned by the boss of a company I was doing some work for and later stopped working for the company because of it. Again, my partner probed me to find out why I was leaving.


He brought up the fact I slept with someone a couple of months before I even knew my partner and said he wasn’t happy about that either. He says he’d rather be alone than have to live a life where his partner gets propositioned by men “all the time”, asks why they don't have any respect and accuses me of not telling me about LOADS of other men he assumes have tried it on with me. What does he think I am? I’m not a super model by anyone’s standards! Anyway, I said that I felt his concerns were irrational, that I was in a committed partnership with him, living with him, that I’ve been polite but rejected anyone else that’s shown interest and that I didn’t like to be regarded as his “property”, that I found it flattering when people thought me attractive but that that’s where it ended. I said I am not unfaithful to him and have no intentions of being so, that I shouldn’t be mistrusted or punished for his ex-partner’s infidelities and that I will not stop speaking to other members of the population, male or female, just because he mistrusts them.


He said that he would arrange to have drinks with some of his ex-partners so that he could understand my side of the story and that I wouldn’t mind, because I’m not jealous. As it happens, I don’t mind – he can do whatever he likes unless he cheats – but I think it’s quite a pathetic overreaction considering I’ve NOT gone out for drinks with ex-partners.


I feel a bit like I’m going mad – am I being unreasonable about this? I’ve never cheated on him or even flirted with other men but I feel like I’m being made to feel guilty for something I haven’t done.


Anyway, the second topic of discussion was sex and physical affection. Long story short: he doesn’t initiate any physical contact, whether it’s kissing, cuddling or sex – he even has a problem looking me in the eyes at any point, whether we’re having a chat in the kitchen or on the sofa discussing politics, he always looks at his feet. He turns away when I take my clothes off, he withdraws from kisses, he wants the light off every time we do it, he doesn’t like his body being touched. I initiate every time and often he turns me down. We can go days without kissing or hugging, weeks without sex. I’m a very tactile person and one of the wonderful things about being in a relationship for me is the physical affection, feeling desired and desiring in return, wanted, cuddled, loved. While I understand we have different sex drives, I would like for him to show some enthusiasm when I initiate and initiate himself sometimes, too. Instead, it’s always on his terms and, by and large, we do the sexual acts he wants to do.


I asked him as kindly as I could if we could increase the amount of physical intimacy in our relationship and asked if he could summon more enthusiasm about it. He asked me what would make me happy and I suggested we try to be physically intimate 2-3 times a week, if possible, and make an effort to cuddle/kiss each other more on a daily basis. He said he saw no problem with our physical relationship, that this was the most “passionate” relationship he’d ever been in (!) and that he couldn’t keep up with my need for sex 2-3 times A DAY. That’s not what I said AT ALL! He twisted everything I said. He said it worried him that sex was such an important aspect of a relationship for me. I said that it was one thing that was exclusive between people in a relationship; he responded that he’s concerned about what I might be talking to other men about, that’s the only thing that’s different between a friendship and a relationship (again, not what I said…). At this point, I think I just lost the plot a bit in my head and couldn’t remember what point I was trying to make. He made me feel so confused. I suddenly felt really shallow for wanting more sex and affection, but I know I’m NOT being shallow, that it’s perfectly reasonable to want to be physically close to the person you’re in a relationship with.


Sigh. If anyone can shed some light on what’s going on here, I’d be ever so grateful. I think he’s battling some deep insecurities but I feel like I'm being punished for those. I’m about ready to walk away, unless anyone has any ideas for salvaging this relationship?


Thanks a lot in advance,



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Issue one:


The way I read this, it sounds like you're sharing a hotel room with this guy. Is that the case?


If so, I think his reaction is generally justified. He's taking it too far, but I mean he can be upset.


If not, you need to clarify.


Issue two:


If you really can go weeks without sex, requesting 2-3 times per week is a HUGE increase. His reaction is strange, but I think working up to more frequency would be better. That may have put pressure on him and sex under pressure is anything but sexy.


ETA: 9 months is fairly short. These could be core incompatibilities.


Why did you move in together so soon?

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No, I wouldn't salvage the relationship. If you were doing something like meeting a male co-worker for lunch regularly and were in an emotional affair with him, that would be egregious. Riding in a car with a colleague on a business trip is not inappropriate. If he doesn't trust you will handle anyone who approaches you romantically, then he's not someone who will make a good lifetime partner. He's not affectionate and doesn't match you sexually. Don't you possess any must-haves and deabreakers for the all-important person on the planet who will be your companion for life?


A person with self-worth would move on. It's an important lesson to not live with someone until you find out if he meets all of your main needs over the longterm, which is usually not until you've known them at least a year. The beginning is the honeymoon phase and you have to get past that to get to the reality. It's easier to end things when you don't live together. Take care.

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I'm also a bit confused. Are you actually sharing a hotel room with this male colleague? If you are not sharing a room with him, then there is no issue. However, if you are sharing a room with him, your bf is correct to be upset.


Regarding the driving, I can kind of see how many people would be uncomfortable with the idea of a cross country drive when it's just you and another man. There is a romantic/adventure/intimacy type aspect to this that's liable to make many people feel a bit uncomfortable. Would be different if you were carpooling with more people in the car, but one on one....it gives an impression of impropriety even if nothing is happening.


Regarding sex and affection....honestly....what you describe is just weird. I mean he won't even look you in the eye? He has issues. Obviously he has issues with self esteem, interacting with other people, physical affection and sex. You aren't going to change him by demanding more. There is nothing wrong with your desires and it's bothersome that he turned things around on you like that. Your desire for intimacy is normal, his lack of desire is not. BUT all that means is that you and him probably shouldn't be together because you are not compatible. You need to find a partner who likes what you like and he needs to find someone who is not into sex or affection either. A lid for every pot....

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Did you make it clear you weren't sharing a room? That's the vibe I got, too. If that's honestly how you worded it, that would seem like game playing.


Also, I'm very, very much against pushing anyone's sexual boundaries. I don't exactly put it on the same level as setting a quota for dinner date nights. If you know he has a different sex drive than you, then calculate that into your compatibility scale.


The one red flag I see with him is that he's upset you had sex with a guy two months before you met him?

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Now I'm confused. I'm not staying in the same hotel room with him. I'm travelling with a man who is 20 years older than me, married with kids, to a venue where we will join 50 other people, go see a castle and all stay in a hotel, in separate bedrooms, for the night. If this was a female colleague it wouldn't be an issue - I don't fancy the guy and there's no history beyond us working together. I made all that very clear to my partner at the time. I was absolutely not playing games. My partner himself just got back from an overseas trip with a colleague, where they stayed in the same hotel room. The only difference is that they were the same gender.


On the sex issue, it does seem to be just an issue of incompatibility I suppose.


Thanks everyone.

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Your partner is overly jealous and unreasoning. Granted I wouldn't tell anyone sure get a ride with a male colleague, but that's because I'm paranoid about getting into cars for any length of time with anyone but my most trusted circle. So I can see if he were concerned for your safety and making sure you had very firm drawn boundaries with the coworker.


But what you describe? Nope, that is barking mad, especially the whole tantrum over someone you met before him. I'm sorry, but it's time to get this guy gone and hope you don't have to take out a Cease and Desist Order or worse, because he is blaming you for other men's behaviors. That's controlling and just insane. None of us is usually happy when others hit on our significant other, but a normal sane individual does not make it the partner's fault unless they were doing something to encourage those behaviors. And I'm pretty sure turning some guy down in a coffee shop and leaving a job over a harassing boss falls well into the category of "not encouraging other men."


Be done, don't take him back when he apologizes and swears it will never happen again. This is going to be your life and that kind of jealousy doesn't get better. You could stand in a corner all day dressed head to toe in a black sheet not interacting at all with the world, and that kind of person will find a way to accuse you of "thinking" of cheating just by how you breath. And I'm not really joking when I say that. I had a client like that in a women's shelter where we worked, who finally fled for her life after trying to appease her increasingly jealous and abusive boyfriend.


So yeah, I know how bad that can get. This kind of unreasoning jealousy does not have a cure or get better. Like I said on the ride share, hotel thing he has a right to be concerned for your safety. But all of the other stuff? Nope, not even close. And zero right, and I mean ZERO, to you not having been a mind reader for the future and slept with someone before you even so much as knew this guy existed in the world.


That was your cue to say goodbye right there.

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Now I'm confused. I'm not staying in the same hotel room with him. I'm travelling with a man who is 20 years older than me, married with kids, to a venue where we will join 50 other people, go see a castle and all stay in a hotel, in separate bedrooms, for the night. If this was a female colleague it wouldn't be an issue - I don't fancy the guy and there's no history beyond us working together. I made all that very clear to my partner at the time. I was absolutely not playing games. My partner himself just got back from an overseas trip with a colleague, where they stayed in the same hotel room. The only difference is that they were the same gender.


On the sex issue, it does seem to be just an issue of incompatibility I suppose.


Thanks everyone.


OK....well with that clarification and added detail, yes, your bf is barking mad. In your shoes I'd be thinking about exiting this situation asap.

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I think your boyfriend is absolutely being unreasonably jealous. Especially if he's trying to blame you for other guys hitting on you. That has nothing to do with your actions.


I wanted give you the benefit of my experience with the sex problems. I wouldn't judge either one of you but I will say that you are incompatible in that area. Me and my ex had those problems and it was one of the things that broke us up. It is really something that weighs on the relationship in the long-term. Not just the sex, but the kissing-cuddling. If you're missing that from the beginning of the relationship, that is a bad sign.

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I used to behave like your boyfriend. I can tell you that Your boyfriend is very very jealous. And because he can't handle his own jealousy he is trying to control the situation. He wants you to change rather than dealing with his own issues.


Then there is the lack of sex/ intimacy/ kissing/ touching/. He doesn't make eye contact during conversations with you.


I have to ask....why are you with this guy? You guys already live together? You have moved way way too fast.

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Stay away from people who will "punish" you. If he is doing things that look like punishment (Like, threatening to go out with his ex to upset you?) then it's going to turn abusive if it isn't already. Healthy partnerships do not include punishment. Healthy partnerships do not include purposefully hurting a partner.


I get mad, for you, thinking about getting harassed at work to the extent that you had to leave your job and him bring that up as your flaw. That's really really sh*tty of him.

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Speaking only for myself, there's either mutual and respectful trust in a relationship, or there's not. If I don't trust a partner's behavior, I don't need arguments or 'proof' that my mistrust is valid, I simply don't belong in that relationship--and same is true the other way around.


There are two forms of jealousy: the kind that is provoked by a partner's behavior, which is situational and likely means that this is not a good match, and then there's a pre-formed mistrust of 'all men' or 'all women' based on past damage. This is the kind of jealousy that renders someone unready for ANY relationship unless and until it's been worked through, preferably with a therapist.


So a person suffering from pre-formed jealousy isn't even relationship material, and this isn't something a partner can 'help' them to resolve--it's a solo job.


I'd tell BF that I adore him, I can picture the two of us together in the future, and that's why I need to walk away while we both still think highly of one another, in order to preserve that potential. BF can then work out his old business with a therapist, and if he ever reaches a point where he believes that trust won't be an issue between us and he wants to try again, he can let me know, and we can meet to catch up. Otherwise, I wish him the best.


Short of that, you're looking at a life of eggshell walking 'around' BF's mistrust, which isn't a great way to live. It's impossible to prove a negative. Either someone is inclined to trust, or they are not. If not, there's not a thing that you can say or do to disabuse them of that, and everything you say and do will be perceived as adversarial and disloyal rather than through a lens of respect and trust. I'd skip that.


Head high.

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Your BF is going overboard. I admit I wouldn't be thrilled with my wife going cross country with a man, but I wouldn't freak out and say anything about it either if there was no known history with the guy. And my wife hasn't exactly been a saint. He obviously doesn't trust you for whatever reason (probably his own irrational reason).

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My partner frequently goes on field trips with his (female) line manager and it wouldn't even cross my mind to question it! I'd be appalled if he did if the roles were reversed, too.


I found your original post quite chilling to be honest. If you can't go on a works outing for a perfectly legitimate reason without him creating a fuss like this, it doesn't bode at all well for your relationship. Nor does the fact that he wants to punish you because a couple of other men asked you out for a coffee. This kind of controlling jealousy is likely to get worse, not better, until you're treading on eggshells whilst awaiting the fallout from some barking mad fantasy he's created for himself.


From your description of your sex life, he has some serious issues around intimacy - even to the point of not making eye contact. This would be fine if he were with a partner whose capacity for intimacy was similar to his, but you're likely to end up feeling very lonely and bereft if you stay with him. You can't change another person, you've given him every encouragement and it's still lacking in physical contact. If you stay with this guy, you need to accept that this is what you're signing up for.


Hopefully, you've still got your own house and if you're working you don't need the rental income...? Get yourself out of this relationship as soon as you can.


A very useful piece of advice I received from a therapist years ago: "This new relationship of yours... at the first sign of jealousy or sulking - GET OUT! Because it isn't going to work..."

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I just wanted to say a very late thank you to everyone who replied to me on this thread. I've been away from my computer because things got ugly between us very, very quickly. A few days after this, he sent me a text message when I was visiting my parents asking how many men I'd slept with since we'd been together. I replied absolutely none. He then proceeded to give me a list of male friends I've supposedly had sex with without bothering to respond when I replied, refusing to answer the phone, saying some very horrible things to me about how I'm "rampant" and my "kinks" are in f**ing other men. He accused me of sleeping with men from long-term friends to the guy I buy my coffee from in the morning. He accused me of sleeping with someone on a day he knows I was with HIM the entire day. He said he knew I wasn't capable of monogamy and that he'd been "suckered in" by my "lame explanations" of male contact for too long. Then he said "goodbye" and I was dumped.


I immediately went round there and asked why he was saying all this/where he was getting this "information" from. He didn't have an answer. I explained as calmly as I could that none of these things could possibly be true because of x, y, z and he then said he believed me, that he'd "misunderstood" a lot of things. I collected my valuable possessions, chucked them in the car and went back to my parents. As far as I was concerned, he'd flipped and was unstable. Nothing could've prepared me for that though.


We've talked a bit since and he's begging me to come back, proposing to me (?!), saying he loves me and trusts me completely, but then he flips again and imagines that some other situation has occurred. He now believes the reason why I'm taking some time to think about things at my parents is because I'm sleeping with someone else before going back to him. A conversation I had with a friend the other day for 15 minutes on the phone has morphed in his head to me taking an eight-hour round trip to see this guy and sleep with him.


I'm totally at a loss. It's as if another person has invaded his head and this person is, frankly, insane. I've asked him to leave me alone (after he sent almost 10 long emails in one night explaining himself, going round and round in circles, making more things up, retracting them, insulting me, claiming to love me, etc). Now he's removed me from his Facebook and blocked me everywhere. For doing NOTHING wrong.


My family and I are arranging a van to collect all my possessions from the house tomorrow as I'm afraid he's unstable enough to destroy them. What a situation. I'm devastated as, as far as I was concerned, we'd had problem in our relationship but nothing on this scale. I was pretty happy with him, on the whole, and I believed our issues could be worked on. Clearly not...


But thank you everyone for all your replies and insight with my original post. He's answered my question himself about being barking mad now!

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There is no amount of arguing or reasoning with someone who projects jealousy. As you've noticed, it's a form of brain damage that can't be 'fixed' without professional treatment. Even when the person presents as reasonable, that's temporary, and they remain dangerous to themselves and others.


Contact your local woman's shelter or domestic violence agency for an appointment with a counselor who can give you a plan of protection for you and your family. The guy is unhinged and can harm you or a loved one. Your local authorities need to be notified, and you'll need to be alert. Stalking and violence are common occurrences. They start with attempts to lure you back, and engaging ANY further conversation with this guy is useless and dangerous.


I'd consider any belongings left behind as replaceable. Their value is tuition paid to learn how to spot red flags in men going forward. Accusations are giant neon signs of mental illness, and staying involved in any way, shape or form only positions you for escalation.


My heart goes out to you, and be safe.

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