Army Tearing Them Apart
Q: I'm 19. My boyfriend and I have been together almost two years. I only see him a few times a year, as he's enlisted in the army. When I go visit him at the base, everything is perfect and we're very happy. But when we're apart, I'm always imagining he's cheating on me. I go through jealous fits and I call him all the time. Now, he's become this way with me as well. I'm afraid because of my suspicions that we're going to end up hating each other. Also, because of this, I may end up being unfaithful due to the fact I feel I have to get "revenge" on him. I love him so much but I wish I could change my behavior some way. -- Candy
Dr. Susan: To tell the truth, long-distance love affairs suck. It's really hard to maintain continuity and warm trusting feelings when you are apart so much, and in your case, you're both so young and you aren't even officially committed to one another by marriage. So it's no wonder you get jealous wondering what he's doing when you're not there. There is nothing abnormal about that at all. What to do about it? Have a frank talk about your fears. Don't just accuse him of lying to you if you have no basis for believing he's actually seeing other women. But see if you can ask him, without anger, if he's having a hard time being faithful to you. Does he even have many opportunities to be with other women? Has he sworn you're the one for him? How much longer is this separation going to go on anyway? Maybe the best thing WOULD be to open up the relationship and allow both of you to explore other people. That might make it more likely that you'd be sure you were right for each other before you commit to a life together. When you say you call him all the time, does he call you too? Does he find these calls accusatory and annoying, or is he happy to hear from you? I worry when you say you might end up being unfaithful to him out of revenge for some imagined betrayal on his part. People sometimes accuse their mates of having feelings that are really their own, meaning you might be worried about your own ability to remain true so you foist that onto him. Look first into your own heart. Maybe you're trying to keep something going that can't be kept going over this distance. On the other hand, if you can keep the lines of communication open and remain true to one another, you'll have one heck of a solid history to build a life on, when he's out of the army.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.