It can be one of the most miserable feelings to not know what to believe.
You might be caught wondering if you have finally lost all touch with reality because of your jealousy or if the suspicions you have that your partner is cheating are true.
Nobody wants to be called (or feel) crazy and nobody wants to be made a fool of by a lying and cheating partner.
What is making you feel crazy is not knowing what or whom to trust. The thoughts you are having might be telling you one thing and your mate may be saying something completely different.
You could be left not knowing if you can trust or believe anything or anyone– especially yourself.
It’s probable that you’d like to know what’s really going on so that you can make decisions about what to do next.
Tammy has started to second-guess everything. She confronted her boyfriend, Alan, with her suspicions that he is having an affair and it ended up a total disaster. He became defensive, angry, called her jealous and even questioned her sanity.
Tammy now feels guilty about accusing Alan of cheating…but she is still confused. From her perspective, he is still acting strangely. He continues to be evasive, distant and secretive. None of the questions that led to her suspicion that he’s cheating have been answered.
Tammy– and you– are not crazy. You can learn how to tell the difference between jealousy and clues that indicate lying and infidelity are happening.
Here are three ways to know…
Cut through your mind chatter.
The mind can play tricks on you. For example, Tammy feels triggered when Alan is late coming home and hasn’t called. The chatter in her brain begins:
“Where is he? Has he been hurt? Is he with someone else? Why hasn’t he called? Could he be lying to me all this time? Is he like men I’ve heard about and read about in magazines? Why would he do this to me?”
And so the mind spins on creating an entire scenario to try to figure out what is really going on. The trouble with mind chatter like this is it could be completely inaccurate, even as it feels so real.
The imagined scenario could also be accurate– but you will not know for sure because you have no reliable evidence to back up your guesses.
One way to practice cutting through the mind chatter is to recognize it for what it is. When you notice yourself feeling triggered and the fearful thoughts flood your mind, pause and take a deep breath.
Pay attention to the fact that you feel worried. Remind yourself that you don’t yet know what is actually going on. Focus in on the questions that you have and the information that you need to know in order to alleviate your confusion.
Since you usually don’t have immediate access to reliable answers to your questions, learn how to soothe yourself in the meantime. Take a bath, take more deep abdominal breaths, go for a walk, talk with a friend (about something else) or find a way to take the edge off for yourself that is healthy.
Look for indisputable evidence.
Depend most of all on your 5 senses. Listen to what your partner is actually saying about where he’s been and what he’s been doing. Does this make logical sense or is it contradictory?
Notice any foreign smells on your mate’s body or clothing that may be a clue to either support or discount your suspicions. What do you see in terms of radical (and unexplained) changes that your partner has made to his or her appearance?
You need to be present and keep your mind open to all possibilities—including the possibility that you might not want to admit– in order to really collect evidence that will help you make a full assessment of what’s going on.
This may take some time. It is not usually one thing that indicates that a person is cheating (or not cheating). Instead, it is often a compilation of gathered facts.
Hold off on talking with your partner about what you are discovering until you feel certain that what you’ve found cannot easily be disputed.
Even if what you find is that your partner is not having an affair and it is your jealousy that’s making you feel suspicious, this waiting can be helpful. You need to be sure about your assessment and come up with a plan for what your next step is in any case.
Don’t discount your gut feelings.
Even as we encourage you to rely on your 5 senses when trying to answer those nagging questions, we still believe that the gut can be helpful.
The trick here is to know the difference between your true gut instincts and the mind chatter we discussed above.
A gut feeling or instinct almost always comes to you when you are not thinking or concentrating too hard. It is often experienced as a sure knowing and, even if that knowing is something unwanted, there can be a certain calm about that information and knowing.
Rely on all of your resources when trying to determine if your partner is having an affair or if your jealousy is leading you to untrue suspicions. In either case, treat yourself with love and extra care and remember that you get to choose your next best step.