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Some recent questions:
I am a 23 year old woman and my boyfriend is 25. We have been together for two years, and since I am currently a hard-up student nurse, we each live separately with our parents. For the most part we have a good and happy relationship.
However, my boyfriend has a general pattern of secretive behavior. I’m not entirely sure whether this is peculiar to him or our relationship.
Recently I attended a work funtion with him at the races. Some of his friends from work were also there with their girlfriends. I was chatting with these women when my boyfriend approached, and one of the girls latched on to him immediately. She said to him, “We had a great time when we went out clubbing before didn’t we? We should definitely do it again!” Since he’d never mentioned this girl and I didn’t know they had a prior association, I looked at him puzzled. I ignored it and continued to socialize with the group. Clearly, my boyfriend realized I had noticed this and kept bugging me and saying, “What’s wrong?! Talk to me?!” Even though I showed no signs of being upset and had no intention of discussing anything until there was an appropriate moment. Eventually I said “Look, it just bothered me a bit that you’d never mentioned socializing with those other girls or going out on those nights at all.”
Quite inapropriately defensive and accusatory at this point, he told me that he had covered it up because he thought I might be upset. I’ll make it clear at this point that I have never had any problems with him having nights out with the guys or whoever – it had just never been an issue for me. At points I have even encouraged him to get out and do it since I’d noticed he hadn’t for a while! Yet he’d anticipated it might upset me and went quite out of his way to hide it from me.
He also said that he often lied to me about how much he had to drink on nights out. For a long time he’s been telling me that he seems to have a bad reaction to alcohol after just a few pints at the most. I’ve nursed him through many a horrible hangover. I’ve never had a problem with his drinking either, and I drink plenty myself, especially on a night out.
I felt wounded and humiliated and accused. Wounded to have been lied to and not trusted to be understanding or accommodating of his social needs. Humiliated to be finding out from other people. Accused of holding him to standards I’ve never held or expressed – of unreasonable reactions I’ve never had.
I am at a loss. I am now questioning the motivation for his (what seem to me, pointless) cover-ups and lies. I would be very interested to have some male insight into this! Is it reasonable to expect that a man might be secretive about such things for other reasons, or is it possible he’s hiding it because he’s up to no good? Is he hiding the extent of his drinking because he fears my thinking him irresponsible, or because he in fact is irresponsible?
Thanks for your question.
Clearly your boyfriend feels the need to hide things from you, and this says more about him than it does about your relationship, since you say you’ve been pretty supportive about him going out with his friends. So the question is: Why does he feel the need to be secretive? We see two possible reasons.
First Possible Reason:
Some guys have this idea that women in general can’t handle the truth. They have this antiquated notion that women are clingy, jealous creatures, best kept in the dark when it comes to “Boys night out.” This type of guy can be found at the local pub, downing pints, and laughing and complaining with his buds about his girl, all the while conspiring to come up with a good story to tell her when he gets home.
Second Possible Reason:
He’s doing things he shouldn’t be doing. We’re not saying he’s actually cheating on you, but he could be doing things he knows he shouldn’t be doing. And of course everyone’s definition of cheating is different. Some people consider flirting cheating, while for some it takes actual intercourse to breach the contract of a relationship.
But what bothers us the most is the way he reacted to you after you told him how you felt about being kept in the dark. He was clearly busted, and so instead of admitting it, and asking for forgiveness, or at least for a chance to explain it to you, he tried to deflect and put it all on you. This is not the greatest example of solid communication, and it’s not the type of behavior that’s going to help you solve other problems in the future.
Relationships are built on trust. And trust is exactly what’s missing from your relationship. If you want this relationship to move forward, the two of you need to start having some serious discussions about how you deal with problems, and the best way to communicate with each other.
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