Sex & Life
Sex & Life July 19, 2017
If he smiles at his phone, it is not the end of the world.
If you’ve ever perused a women’s magazine – or any dating/romance blog – you’ll know they prey upon the fear of helpless girlfriends.
Does “7 Subtle Ways to Tell if He’s Cheating” sound familiar? How about, “If He Does This at Dinner, That’s One of the Huge Red Flags in a Relationship”?
If you are beginning to have deja vu, it’s because these articles are pervasive. They’re everywhere. And to make it worse, your man may be totally faultless (well, nobody’s perfect, but you get the picture).
So rather than scanning another list of abusive tendencies, let’s talk about how constantly searching for red flags in a relationship could do more harm than good.
He smiles when he got a text… does that mean a girl is texting him???
Probably not. He probably saw a video of a baby panda falling into a pile of bamboo. Or maybe his guy friend sent him an inside joke. There are literally endless possibilities. Cheating is one of the five billion possible causes for a phone smile.
Let’s say he asks to use your phone to look up directions. He unlocks your phone, and the first things he sees is “Think He’s Cheating? Here are 5 Reasons Why You Doubt His Loyalty.” Not only will he be hurt that his loyalty has gone unnoticed, but he will doubt your honesty.
Trust is a two-way street. If he’s being faithful to you, there’s no reason you should go looking for red flags in a relationship that is going perfectly well.
Imagine your good ole’ generic boyfriend doing nice things for you… let’s call him Bob. Bob planned an entire romantic dinner for the two of you, lit with candles and everything (yeah, full-on “Parent Trap” style). You come in from work, and he is standing in a nice button-up with some acoustic Italian music playing on Pandora. Well, it was, until you screamed:
“What is this? Why are you being nice?? Who is it?? Shelly?? Really, a secretary?? Really??”
Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. However, a reaction like this totally detracts from all the effort he put into this gesture. When you respond with suspicion instead of gratitude, it sends this message to him:
“Oh. She thinks that I wouldn’t do anything nice for her unless I did something bad first.”
eHarmony.com even mentioned the dangers of over-paranoia in relationships. “We’re not suggesting that every time a man does something nice it’s a sign he’s cheating on you”. Flowers are nice things, not the death knell to your romantic happiness.
When you start looking for any little thing that could be wrong with your partner, you develop similar qualities to legitimately paranoid people. “The paranoid personality is stubborn,” Joe Navarro, M.A. told Psychology Today. “There is no pill you can take for it, and those who live with someone who is paranoid pay a price — usually a high emotional price called happiness.”
Now Navarro is explaining a legitimate character disorder, but this is an example of paranoia in its worst form. Looking for red flags in a relationship that was originally trustworthy.
Although we are encouraging trust, we cannot deny the prevalence of infidelity in both our media and our culture. You don’t want to be overbearing and paranoid, but you also don’t want to be dumb if your partner’s behavior has obviously changed.
Now this is a lot easier said than done, but it’s a much more adult decision than poking around his closet for clues of an affair. If you have been cheated on before, he should be more understanding of your suspicion.
So in general, just be smart. A nice guy won’t give you a reason to search for red flags. So be together and have fun — and spend more time on the green flags, if you can.
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