DEAR AMY: I recently broke up with my girlfriend, but now she wants me back. I saw her dozens of times in the wee hours of the morning tapping on her phone and then hiding the phone once she knew I was awake. I didn't do anything until someone in her inner circle came to me and said that I was "a fool to trust her, she has had a guy on the side the whole time, and that she wanted to break up with me but was afraid I would commit suicide." I did check myself voluntarily into a mental health unit for depression for a few days some time back. I am crushed that she betrayed my trust (by discussing this with others). She admitted she told others about my hospitalization but claimed the rest is simply not true and that her hiding of the phone was because of an "addiction to learning about the swinging lifestyle." She is very unabashed sexually, and is also much younger than I (no I'm not a "sugar daddy;" I'm not rich and I don't give her money). She claims that she has since deleted her online accounts that she uses to access the swingers' clubs and online swingers blogs. She texts me every day, tells me she loves me, and says she wants me to trust her. She said she would never cheat on me. We have continued to talk in person occasionally and I want to trust her, but I just have a gut feeling that I can't. Even if I dismissed what I heard as hearsay, I still saw her hide her phone, and she did betray my confidence regarding my stay in a mental health unit. What should I do?
My Gut Says No
DEAR GUT: Trust is a choice, and sometimes choosing to trust involves a very deliberate quieting of those emergent self-protective voices, while remaining vigilant concerning the person who betrayed you.
However — in your case — I am strongly urging you to go with your gut. Your first responsibility is to your mental health. You deserve so much credit for getting professional help when you needed it the most.
You should very deliberately avoid any triggers that might affect your mental health at this point, and the uncertainty presented by this relationship would be at the top of the list. You seem to instinctively know this, and that is why you are keeping your distance, now. Good for you.
Your girlfriend's explanation of her own behavior does not make sense. "Swinging" is supposed to be a partner activity. If she is truly into swinging, then why didn't she invite you?
Her use of the word "addiction" to describe her own behavior means that she will likely have to reckon with it in a more responsible and deliberate way. But how she handles this is not your problem, but hers.
Talk this through with a therapist, and continue to take good care of yourself.
DEAR AMY: My granddaughter graduated in June in one of the 'drive-by' graduations done in so many places, due to the current pandemic. She sent out announcements of the occasion and will hopefully have a party in late July. Many people responded to her announcement by sending cash, checks, and gift cards at that time, but she does not intend to send thank-you notes until after the party, which means that people won't know until August if their gifts were received. Some folks have asked me if the mailed items got to her and I'm not sure how to respond. Do I give them her phone number, or what? I pretty much have to tiptoe around that family, so don't know what to do.
DEAR EMBARRASSED: I understand your feeling of embarrassment, but I hope you will not take this on as something to feel ashamed about, or to fix. If friends of yours wonder if gifts were received, you can say, "She told me she is planning to send her thank-yous in August, but if you'd like, I can give you her email address, so you could follow-through."
DEAR AMY: "Lonely Man" described his terrible marriage as a "jail sentence," but said he was staying "for the sake of the kids." I wonder how many parents would advise their children to stay in a miserable relationship. I felt an incredible sense of relief when my parents got divorced.
DEAR SURVIVOR: Kids see so much more than their parents seem to realize.