Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: About three years ago, I met a wonderful guy online. “Jeff” and I have very passionate romantic feelings for each other, as well as being best friends. Everything would be perfect, were it not for the fact that he is Muslim and from a very conservative family, and I am an Israeli Jew. He has admitted multiple times that if his parents found out about me, he would likely be disowned. Because of this, as well as the fact that he has commitment issues due to past abusive relationships, he is reluctant to admit his feelings for me “officially” and though we actively say “I love you,” he refuses to say we are dating. I understand his fears, but I’ve been approached by several other men who want to explore relationships with me. I’m convinced Jeff is my soul mate, but should I give up any possibility of being with him, since we likely won’t be able to have a future together, unless he breaks off contact with his family? Am I a fool for waiting until a miracle happens? I don’t want to force him into such a difficult decision, but I also want a romantic relationship where my significant other can be proud of me.

Questioning

DEAR QUESTIONING: First, you should reject the “soul mate” concept. There is not just one person on the planet whose soul can mate with yours.

The religious differences between you are not your only obstacle. The commitment issues stemming from other relationships would present red flags and undermine the success of your own romance. It is even possible that he uses these religious and family issues as convenient roadblocks to prevent you from getting too close.

You should accept these limitations as being very real, and see other men, if you are interested in trying to have a committed relationship. He is being open with you, and so you should be honest with him.

DEAR AMY: I have been married to my wonderful wife for many years. I recently found that she has been in touch with an old boyfriend to whom she was engaged before she knew me. The old boyfriend called her several weeks ago, supposedly out of the blue. However, I had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right about her story. She has old pictures of him that she has kept around all these years. When I ask her why, she says, “It is my past” and that I shouldn’t want her to erase that. Since the call she received from him, I have checked her personal cellphone and found that she has made multiple calls to him. When I asked her if she had spoken any more with him since the one phone call, she told me that she hadn’t. She said the call was a one-time thing to just see how she is doing. He lives on the other coast, but has come east for a visit. I am ashamed that I have been spying by checking her cellphone records. However, my worst fears have been confirmed by the records showing that she has called him many times. Do you have any advice of how I should handle this situation?

Sad

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DEAR SAD: You need to walk down this road, hand in hand with your wonderful wife of many years.

Most people lie about their intimate contact when they’ve been confronted. Your wife lied about this because she knew it would bother you — and she’s right.

Don’t double down by lying to her. Be completely transparent with your findings and expect her to be offended by your choice to check up on her, and defensive concerning her own behavior. Her defensive reaction is a smoke screen to cover for this contact. Don’t let her gaslight you into thinking you’re overreacting — you get to feel how you feel.

This is a familiar dynamic that crops up in long-term relationships, aided by the technology that makes all of this contact possible.

If you don’t feel able to work this out through a series of heart-to-heart conversations with your wife, please seek the guidance of a marriage counselor. Talking about this in the presence of a neutral party will help both of you.

DEAR AMY: “Facebooked” was very upset when colleagues didn’t “like” or comment on his Facebook posts. This bothered me, too, and I eventually responded by simply “hiding” posts from people who didn’t interact with me. Not seeing their posts helped a lot.

Worked it Out

DEAR WORKED: Sometimes, seeing posts from certain people triggers reactions, which you simply wouldn’t have otherwise. “Hiding” works.