Susan Deitz

DEAR SUSAN: My husband and I were faithful to each other for more than 30 years, but when he began to suspect I was cheating, the marriage needed to end. The last straw was when he accused me of "fooling" the psychiatrist into believing I was innocent of his charge and said I couldn't fool him. He was diagnosed with delusional disorder, a psychiatric condition that robs a person of the ability to trust while keeping the rest of his life seemingly normal. Now I read Single File and wonder how many accusations of unfaithfulness stem from lack of trust rather than infidelity. --From the Single File blog

DEAR BLOGGER: That's the thing about trust -- one shadow of doubt about a partner's fidelity is enough to bring down the entire relationship. Unless, of course, both people are willing to openly explore the situation -- together, with a dispassionate third party who has no "skin in the game," usually a psychiatrist. Your husband's persistent belief in your disloyalty could have been part of a midlife crisis, a general feeling of inadequacy about his sexual performance. His resistance to treatment locks him into a repetition of this scenario again and again. Without treatment, he's doomed to a sad and lonely life, dogged by lack of trust -- in himself, I fear.

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DEAR SUSAN: I've gone online and have participated in a large computer-advice forum for more than a year. I've also joined some smaller, offshoot forums, where people can express thoughts and feelings on other topics -- and generally just be themselves. I and other women I know from the forums found ourselves attracted to some of these men and formed relationships with them. Getting to know someone before you date him is advice often heard in the real world, but it also applies to the Internet. And the Net can be a source of meeting places other than dating sites; use your interests to connect with an online community, because you're likelier to find compatible people there. --From the Single File blog

DEAR BLOGGER: It makes sense to tap into sites that focus on your interests, as well as dating sites. Just like first-date jitters in the so-called real world, first-time communication on the Net can be a study in phoniness, presenting oneself as anyone but the real person. The passion for an interest is more revealing (and sincere) than many passionate embraces. Interests usually encompass tastes and values, the gigantic word that should seal the deal for you. So the next time you have free time, get thee onto the Web, find a community formed around one of your interests.