I’m paranoid about cheating

One more time. Congrats, Bruins.

Hi Meredith,

I've been dating a wonderful man for just over a year. He is so smart, fun, funny and kind, and has really become my very best friend. I really adore him and hope that we can have a life together. One thing that could really get in the way of that is the fact that I am jealous and tend to suspect the worst.

Here's some background: I have had one other multi-year relationship. I was young and he was in the military. The majority of our time "together" was long distance. He was very charming and always said the right thing (which helped him get out of a large number of sketchy situations). He also had a wandering eye and a very flirty personality. I don't know everything that went on while he was stationed elsewhere, but I do know he was sleeping with at least one other person. I was the very best girlfriend to him that I could be. I wrote frequent letters, picked my brain for care package ideas, and supported him when he was deployed. You can imagine I was devastated when I confirmed that he was cheating.

I guess since I haven't had a lot of other positive, healthy relationship experiences, I expect to be cheated on. I expect a man who tells me he loves me to betray me. In every other part of my life I am extremely confident. I'm outgoing, pretty, and good at my job. There's nothing any other girl would have that I DON'T have, yet I expect to be cheated on.

My current boyfriend knows about my past and knows that I was left a little damaged. He's very patient with me, and responds well to my interrogations (Why were you there so long? Were there girls there? Who are you texting? etc, etc). We have great communication and he always encourages me to share what's on my mind. I'm just waiting for the day that he throws up his hands and says he's done. I know it's irrational. I know that he is like night and day to my ex. He loves me and tells me often that he wants a life with me. But ... my ex told me that, too. How can I work toward believing I won't be cheated on? I don't want to sabotage this relationship because I love him so much, but I'm waiting to be played a fool.

– Painfully Paranoid, Boston

He might cheat on you, PP. I mean, for all I know he's cheating on you right now with six very beautiful women who have perfect measurements and PhDs. Totally possible. But not probable.

He doesn't have a wandering eye (right?). He doesn't charm you to get out of trouble (right?). He's not living far away and in a high stress situation. He's right in front of your face behaving like a best friend and putting up with your crazy questions.

You know better. You know that your ex's betrayals weren't about you. You know that your current boyfriend doesn't want to risk losing a good partner.

So the question is: How do you stop the obsessive jealous behavior? The answer: A new routine. Self-control. It's just like dieting. In the beginning, you have to force yourself to tame you desires, but after time, it becomes natural. You begin to crave strawberries instead of a full cheesecake. You watch two hours of television instead of wondering where your boyfriend might be.

Start by making a list of good, honest things about your relationship. I know it seems silly, but do it. Take it out every time you start to go nuts. Sleep with that list if you have to.

And if you find that the jealousy is still taking over your life, see a professional. Sooner than later. Talk about cognitive behavioral therapy. It might be something to consider.

Readers? Is she going to lose him because of jealousy? How can she stop her brain from jumping to the worst conclusion? Is jealousy addictive? How long would you put up with a jealous partner? Discuss.

– Meredith