The other day I was reading my Twitter timeline and someone asked a question about her boyfriend and his seemingly secret ways with his cell phone. Should she be worried? What does that mean? Is he cheating? My initial reaction was, “Wait… can you chill out for a second before you start accusing him of stuff?” I could only think of myself and how I like to keep my phone private, primarily because people text, email or call me with the expectation that their communication is not being read by someone other than me and I owe those people that expectation of privacy.
The bigger point here, though, is that it’s always a good idea to start with questions instead of accusations when you’re trying to discuss something in your relationship. When someone in the relationship starts out with an accusation it immediately makes the other person defensive. Also, unless you’re absolutely correct the other person will most likely dismiss you altogether. This has happened many times in my own relationships.
I understand the paranoia and insecurity that comes with a past where you’ve been hurt before. Take our earlier example, in your past you may have dated someone who kept their phone private and you found out later it was because they were cheating. However, that does not mean that is going to always be the case. The best way to start that conversation is, “Hey why do you always take your phone with you everywhere you go?” He may reply, “I actually don’t think about it at all. In fact, since I had my Sidekick I pretty much have always had my phone in my hand.” (I apologize for dating myself with a Sidekick reference.)
Paranoia and insecurity are relationship killers; they really have no place in a productive and healthy relationship. I typically view the world as positive and expect good things to happen. Sure bad things can happen. Sure being naïve could lead to me being seriously hurt in the end, but I’m willing to take that risk. I’m willing to think positive and find out that I’m wrong than to be skeptical of just about everything my partner does. Plus, you don’t want to get accused of being a nag. You don’t want to get a reputation for always being negative or suspicious. That’s when men start foolishly calling women crazy. I hate that word, but I know men have a tendency to use it when paranoia and insecurity turn into incessant nagging. I’ve had perfectly good relationships end quickly and tragically because as much as I cared for her, I couldn’t take the constant nagging and accusations.
Let me be clear, I’m not saying you shouldn’t ask questions or raise issues. I think it’s important that no one ever feels silenced in their relationship. But it’s important that you think about how you want to raise those questions and issues. And have the wisdom to know when enough is enough or how your partner will react to your inquiry. Above all else, always approach discourse with an open mind and productive spirit. Anything else will inevitably end up be unproductive to resolution.