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Intense jealousy/distrust is KILLING my relationship – need help, what can I do?


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Today I (m30) come home and notice my laptop was used while I was out. I ask my partner (f25) about it, and she claims she didn’t touch it. I tell her, that I know she was on it. She changes the story, she just had to quickly look something up on google while cooking. Okay, now I know for sure this is definitely happening… again. I quickly check the browsing history, no google searches while I was away, just Facebook and Gmail. Viber is also open for some reason, but minimized (which I never do).

 

I confront her about this. At first she denies it… but eventually admits it, she was searching for conversations with other girls. I go on long walks around the evening. Somehow, she got this idea that I’m secretly meeting with other girl(s) when I'm out. Her primary suspect was a female friend I have not seen since 2018. I wish I could say this was the first time something like this occurred, but it’s not (see my comment, for two more examples).

 

I have been with my partner for nearly 5 years. Jealousy issues started within the first six months. She became verbally hostile, borderline obsessive at times, when she talked about my exes, female friends, and even some random female acquaintances I crossed paths with.

 

I really need help and advice. I just don’t know what to do. Talking gets us nowhere. We’ve been through all of this hundreds of times. She is also anti therapy of any kind, so there's no way to bring a professional into this. I love her, and she brings so much joy into my life. But at the same time these intense jealousy issues, when they do pop up, are really unbearable. Every time it happens, I’m so close to calling it quits and basically destroying my otherwise great life – then I stay, and things get back to being good quickly. But at the same time I'm not proud of accepting behavior which I know is deeply wrong. In fact, I'm so ashamed that none of my close friends/family know how jealous she gets.

 

(more info in comment below, for anyone who has time to read more details)

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To make things very clear, I have never cheated on my partner – nothing, big or small. I do have some close female friends, entirely platonic. No unrequited love or flirting on either side.

 

My fault in all of this, which I readily acknowledge, is that early on I shared too much with her about my past relationships. At that point in time I was used to far more ‘tolerant’ partners – mentioning or even discussing exes was far from taboo, it was a normal thing to do. I carried that approach into my current relationship, which obviously turned out to be a huge mistake. By the time I realized what a problem it's creating, it was too late.

 

As things stand today, I do my very best to NEVER mention my previous relationships, not even in passing (or while talking to someone else if she’s around). Since early on, we also have an agreement that I am not to communicate with any of my exes or any other women I slept with.

 

In principle, I do not like these ground rules. Not because I was dying to speak to my exes (in fact, I wasn’t even in touch with any of them by 2015). I simply don’t believe anyone should dictate who we can talk to, see, or otherwise interact with.

 

With that said, I gave in for the sake of staying together. I’m not proud of what I did, but I saw no other way. No amount of talking (and fighting) about it was getting us anywhere.

 

I also had hopes, back in 2015/16 that (A) as time passed my exes would become ancient history, and consequently stop to bother her so much, (B) she would become more secure in our relationship the longer we stayed together and © she would mature and become less jealous with age – she was only 20 when we first started dating (and I was/am her first boyfriend and sexual partner).

 

As you have probably guessed by now, my hopes didn’t pan out. Jealousy issues continue to plague us – and often ruin an otherwise good day. More than that. They ruin an otherwise good relationship (and a good, fulfilling life). Intense jealousy issues aside, I want to emphasize that she is a great partner – devoted, loving, caring, funny and otherwise well matched (worldview, priorities, plans, etc). If you’re wondering why I stuck around for so long, that’s the reason.

 

Two additional examples to demonstrate what I mean by "intense jealousy" issues:

1.) Two years ago my partner went on my computer, and snooped on my FB. This was the first time she did something like this, today was the second (that I know of). She read my conversations with some girls going all the way back to early 2010s. She was outraged about some flirty messages I exchanged with another girl (these conversations took place years before I even met my partner). She demanded I delete this girl from my FB right away, and was outraged I was “hiding her”. I never dated, became intimate, or even kissed the girl in question...but for my gf the fact that at some point in time “I tried” was already too much to accept. This was a big deal and I was very close to breaking up then.

 

2.) I had an opportunity to briefly travel with a female childhood friend who was visiting my part of the world with her husband. My partner, who was not able to come along, was convinced the childhood friend “wanted me” and expected me not to go at all, threatening she would break up if I did. We fought for many days, she eventually budged, I went. But she hated it, and continues to say really hostile and harsh things about my friend to me (a person she never met who just got married).

 

These are not the only examples. Far from it. But I feel like I already took way too much space. If you read it all, sincerely, thank you for taking the time.

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What can you do? Looks like you've done and said everything.

The change needs to come from her. But she has to acknowledge she has problem and needs to motivated to change it.

What do you think would motivate her? Maybe the notion of losing a relationship that's very important to her?

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Sorry about all this.

 

I realize it's easier for me to see all this standing on the outside, but from what you've written it sounds like you've spent the majority of this relationship validating the very behavior you find so corrosive. What you saw within 6 months, after all, is what you continue to see 5 years later. Why you opted to keep investing—well, that's something to explore, I think. Perhaps you liked the idea that you could help shepherd her into adulthood, seeing these tensions as dregs of adolescence that would evaporate with some patience and guidance?

 

She was, as you said, quite young when you met, so I can understand telling yourself the story that this was something she'd grow out of, with time. Sadly, as I think you've learned, I don't think it really works that way in relationships. Ever hear the thing about famous people, how they stay somewhat "frozen" in whatever age they first became famous, thanks to the power of outside validation? Well, I think it's similar in relationships: we validate someone for who they are, not who they might become. The person you thought she'd grow out of? She's just grown further into, as your relationship has grown further into the shape you hoped it would evolve out of.

 

What to do?

 

You have five years—a substantial amount of time—to know how you two operate. That, more than anything, gives you clear sense of how things will be for the next five. Expecting something completely different? I get the comfort in that, but I think it's false comfort. At the end of the day she understands, on a cellular level, that her jealousy is rewarded by you. You take it very seriously, and have twisted yourself into all sorts of shapes to (a) accommodate it and (b) accommodate a story in your mind that, in all that bending, things will somehow go from light to dark.

 

So while I could sit here and offer some step by step advice—serious talk, firm boundaries, new passwords, no more leeway should this come up again—I think that would really be a way of avoiding exploring what you've been getting from this dynamic and whether that's something you've grown out of, whatever it is. You're not 25 anymore, and perhaps now that you're 30 you're really seeing the limitations in building a connection with these sorts of threads.

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Thanks for the responses – we were on the verge of breaking up a few times already. During her jealousy phases, she's quite angry and emotional. It's hard to reason or use logical arguments when this happens. To her she's the victim in all of this.

 

When I say I will break up, her response is usually "fine, leave, go and f*** "Annie" if that's what you want so badly" – she connects my threat to leave with a desire for some other woman. Even when "Annie" is a mere work acquaintance or an ex I haven't interacted with in nearly a decade. Basically it doesn't make any sense. I wouldn't "go" to these women even if I was moving out.

 

In general she says a lot of things she doesn't mean, which is something I really dislike. It's very easy for her to say "never come back," etc. I'm the opposite, words hold a lot of meaning for me, and I still can't get used to this "I just said it cuz I was angry" style of arguing, even after 5 years.

 

As for locking out my computer/phone. I can... I guess I should, but this makes me sad. I would hope she would change and not feel the need to invade my privacy anymore.

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I think she's acting jealous because she's afraid of losing you or feels insecure in this relationship. Something about power imbalance. So essentially, it's not about you actually cheating. Rather, her not believing that she's good enough for you (or something along those lines) and therefore she's fearful that you might find someone better one day.

 

Females who feel secure in a relationship don't act that way. That's been my experience.

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Why aren't your devices password protected? You make this seem like you are a victim and she is the root of all evil destroying your "otherwise great life".. If things were all that great you would not insist she get therapy and she would not be going through your devices. However if that were the case you would not have continued no less moved in together.

 

Additionally you tell her she needs therapy and you want her to change and to get fixed. Yet not only did you stay (and blame her for not changing or fixing herself in therapy) you moved in together. You seem to realize that you have made this as much of an issue as she has. If you passcode protected your devices she wouldn't get insanely jealous and then what? You would just be an average guy and she would not be a psycho?

I have been with my partner for nearly 5 years. destroying my otherwise great life – then I stay, and things get back to being good quickly.

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This is who she is. Does this work for you?

 

It's really that simple at its core. Does this work for you?

 

Unfortunately, people who are this jealous are often projecting. Cheaters live in constant fear of being cheated on. Maybe it's time for you to take a closer look at what it is she is doing behind your back.

 

Then again, maybe it's time for you to ask yourself if this toxic dynamic is how you want to live your life regardless of what she may or may not be doing. Does this work for you?

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The way you're talking about her? It is the way a frustrated parent talks about a child, not the way a partner talks about someone they respect as an equal.

 

I'd give that some thought and ask yourself: Is this who you want to be, inside a relationship? Is the sense of identity of being the "mature" one worth putting up with these tantrums? Heck, there comes a point where putting up with them is its own form of immaturity, so it also might be worth asking if focusing on her outbursts is a way of avoiding looking in the mirror.

 

You are, at the end of the day, choosing this. Day after day, year after year. Why? I'd challenge yourself to come up with answer, an honest one, to the question of why her insecurities are so much more intriguing than someone who is secure. Then ask yourself if it's a healthy choice to continue making.

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Thanks for the responses – we were on the verge of breaking up a few times already. During her jealousy phases, she's quite angry and emotional. It's hard to reason or use logical arguments when this happens. To her she's the victim in all of this.

 

When I say I will break up, her response is usually "fine, leave, go and f*** "Annie" if that's what you want so badly" – she connects my threat to leave with a desire for some other woman. Even when "Annie" is a mere work acquaintance or an ex I haven't interacted with in nearly a decade. Basically it doesn't make any sense. I wouldn't "go" to these women even if I was moving out.

 

In general she says a lot of things she doesn't mean, which is something I really dislike. It's very easy for her to say "never come back," etc. I'm the opposite, words hold a lot of meaning for me, and I still can't get used to this "I just said it cuz I was angry" style of arguing, even after 5 years.

 

As for locking out my computer/phone. I can... I guess I should, but this makes me sad. I would hope she would change and not feel the need to invade my privacy anymore.

 

You might consider not waiting until things have escalated to this point and make threats you don't plan on keeping. You end up being a lion with no teeth.

 

I would wait for a good neutral moment (not after an episode) and talk to her calmly and express to her how you feel and how this problem effects how you feel about her and how you feel about the relationship. Tell her you love her but things have to change in order for you two to have a future together, because you are at a point that you have decided that without a plan and with out some changes, you will leave the relationship.

 

She will likely get upset and try to drag you into a conflict. But if you remain calm and state it in a non negotiable way. . .there really isn't anything to debate.

 

You can't go after this with a 'just stop' attitude. She has some work to do. She can try to hide it from you but it will spill out in other ways and return.

 

If you do get her attention, you need to ask her to get back to you with a concrete plan on how she's going to address this. I'd say therapy is in order for her. . .but it's best if she not only acknowledges she has a problem, but volunteers to go herself.

 

As far as locking your pc and changing passwords.. .that doesn't magically make her secure and confident. You just end up policing your privacy and she continues to be insecure and will find other ways to act out.

 

It's just a symptom of something bigger. She needs to get to the root of the problem and not just address the symptoms.

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Seems like a cat-and-mouse game. You're checking up on her checking up?

I quickly check the browsing history, no google searches while I was away, just Facebook and Gmail. Viber is also open for some reason, but minimized (which I never do)
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Today I (m30) come home and notice my laptop was used while I was out. I ask my partner (f25) about it, and she claims she didn’t touch it. I tell her, that I know she was on it. She changes the story, she just had to quickly look something up on google while cooking. Okay, now I know for sure this is definitely happening… again. I quickly check the browsing history, no google searches while I was away, just Facebook and Gmail. Viber is also open for some reason, but minimized (which I never do).

 

What stands out to me is:

 

1) you asked her if she was on your laptop

2) you didn't trust what she said and checked up on her.

 

I think the mistrust goes both ways in this relationship.

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What stands out to me is:

 

1) you asked her if she was on your laptop

2) you didn't trust what she said and checked up on her.

 

I think the mistrust goes both ways in this relationship.

 

When someone punches you in the face a few times, next time they raise their hand, you will flinch and duck. Let's not put this on the OP and make her out to the the problem. That's as bad as telling an abuse victim that they asked for a beating by fearing it.

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When someone punches you in the face a few times, next time they raise their hand, you will flinch and duck. Let's not put this on the OP and make her out to the the problem. That's as bad as telling an abuse victim that they asked for a beating by fearing it.

 

The guy's been with her for five years. These problems manifested after six months. I think it's fair to say that he's a player in the game. He's not chained to her.

 

I have been with my partner for nearly 5 years. Jealousy issues started within the first six months. She became verbally hostile, borderline obsessive at times, when she talked about my exes, female friends, and even some random female acquaintances I crossed paths with.
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The guy's been with her for five years. These problems manifested after six months. I think it's fair to say that he's a player in the game. He's not chained to her.

 

I agree. He must be getting something out of this, as most would have bailed long ago.

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Since early on, we also have an agreement that I am not to communicate with any of my exes or any other women I slept with.

 

In principle, I do not like these ground rules. Not because I was dying to speak to my exes (in fact, I wasn’t even in touch with any of them by 2015). I simply don’t believe anyone should dictate who we can talk to, see, or otherwise interact with.

 

With that said, I gave in for the sake of staying together.

 

I stopped reading here - your "tolerating" her boundaries for the sake of staying together was just as bad as her staying in a relationship with no trust and tormenting both of you as a result. You two have different boundaries. Instead of acknowledging that you might be incompatible you accepted her "ground rules" begrudgingly and secretly wished she would change. Sadly it didn't work that way.

 

People with tighter relationship boundaries generally apply them in all aspects of a relationship. It is not about "dictating" who you can see or what you can do, but about laying your cards on the table so you can find someone you are comfortable and compatible with. It is very likely that your interactions with your close female friends, however platonic it can be, crossed a line for your gf (not to say she's right and you're wrong, but obviously her boundaries are tighter than yours) and triggered her "intense jealousy." She is probably insecure and immature, but I don't think she would be so angry, emotional and snooping on you if she is with someone who actually shares her boundaries and whose behavior doesn't set her off. When you call her "jealous" and describe all your problems as her being unreasonable while you did nothing wrong, you might as well break up with her because you don't respect her or her boundaries. I dare say this relationship is not very happy for her either.

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Thanks for the responses – we were on the verge of breaking up a few times already. During her jealousy phases, she's quite angry and emotional. It's hard to reason or use logical arguments when this happens. To her she's the victim in all of this.

 

When I say I will break up, her response is usually "fine, leave, go and f*** "Annie" if that's what you want so badly" – she connects my threat to leave with a desire for some other woman. Even when "Annie" is a mere work acquaintance or an ex I haven't interacted with in nearly a decade. Basically it doesn't make any sense. I wouldn't "go" to these women even if I was moving out.

 

In general she says a lot of things she doesn't mean, which is something I really dislike. It's very easy for her to say "never come back," etc. I'm the opposite, words hold a lot of meaning for me, and I still can't get used to this "I just said it cuz I was angry" style of arguing, even after 5 years.

 

As for locking out my computer/phone. I can... I guess I should, but this makes me sad. I would hope she would change and not feel the need to invade my privacy anymore.

 

Don't make empty threats, especially about breaking up. Either do it and end this misery or stay because something about this toxic mess works for you. However, never ever threaten a break up when you don't actually mean to carry it out. Either one day it will backfire on you as she'll take you up on it and walk away, or it has no meaning or value and makes your partner respect you that much less each time you use it. The latter is pretty much what's happening now. You threaten her, she throws it back in your face by calling you a cheater. You stay to prove what? Rinse and repeat.

 

Locking your phone or computer is not a solution to a fundamental problem of zero trust and constant conflict in the relationship.

 

Bottom line with your relationship is "my relationship would be perfect if only my SO would become a completely different person." That's not going to happen OP. So either you accept that this is how it's always going to be and stop hoping for change that's never coming (5 years going is enough proof that change isn't coming) or you accept that you are not compatible and stop wasting each other's time and life on this and walk away.

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The only person you can change is yourself. And it sounds like you're not willing to do any changing. You want her to stop being who she is.

Impossible. You've put up with all of this, so where's the motivation for her to change?

 

Stop tolerating and enabling.

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What stands out to me is:

 

1) you asked her if she was on your laptop

2) you didn't trust what she said and checked up on her.

 

I think the mistrust goes both ways in this relationship.

 

I’m sorry, I guess it wasn’t very clear how I wrote it.

 

It wasn’t a question of trust on my part.

 

I knew the minute I sat down at my computer that she was likely snooping (was 99% sure). I do not routinely check my browsing history or otherwise monitor my stuff to see if she was up to something. This was a one time thing.

 

First, we very rarely use each other’s laptops. We live in a small flat, her own laptop/phone is always nearby – so it was already unusual that she was on mine. Second, I’m a techie, and she’s not. No point going into details about my digital workflow/setup, but it was very obvious to me at first glance that she did more on the computer than just open the browser.

 

The reason I questioned her was because I wanted to give her the opportunity to explain what she was doing on my computer (in case I was wrong, and there was actually a good reason), and yes, I suppose also to see if she was going to make up some lie. Was that a wrong thing to do? (not rhetorical). I knew once she said “just used google,” that she was lying, and could put the rest together (as we were already in this type of a situation once before). Checking the browsing history was simply to confirm what she actually did on the web and show it to her. I did this mostly to cut things short and avoid having to hear/discuss further lies.

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Let's say, hypothetically, that you could, for lack of better word, teach her to be less jealous, or to handle her jealousy in a less volatile manner. Would that dynamic appeal to you?

 

I ask because I'm trying to find the hook here, the thing, as Holly put it, that you're getting from this. Because it's...something. One theory: you enjoy playing the teacher role.

 

Another theory? You feel "bad" for something to do with how you were with women before you met her, and as such are willing to be occasionally punished for that.

 

I'm shooting in the dark here, I admit. But I'm taking the shots to encourage a different way of thinking about this—one that focuses on yourself, and your own choices here, rather than her, hers, and her various reactions. She's been nothing but consistent, after all.

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