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Wondering If You're Paranoid

Dear Dr. Love,

I think that I may just be paranoid. I keep thinking that my live in boyfriend is seeing someone when I'm at work. I haven't a real reason to think the thoughts that I do. The only thing I know is that we have had two phone calls from a mystery person. This person sounded exactly the same the 2 different times I had talked with them. The first call was supposedly some type of creditor. The second was a wrong number. These calls were at times when I was at home and should have been at work.

I don't want to anger my boyfriend by such a ridiculous notion. However I have talked with him in the past about my insecurities. He is very good to me and always says that he doesn't understand where these type of thoughts are coming from. I am not one who is usually the jealous type. However I usually have a good intuition. Is it possible that I'm just scared of having things too good, and just need to find something wrong with our relationship?

Answer: 

You suspect that you are finding it hard to tolerate too much happiness and that you need to find something wrong with the relationship in order to deflate your joy. There are a couple of reasons why you would feel the need to take your happiness away. If you were mistreated as a child, it would be normal for you to feel uneasy when you find yourself faced with unfamiliar, happy experiences. It is true that humans are creatures of habit who gravitate to the familiar. Familiar pain is always more comfortable than unknown or new circumstances that are pleasurable. Go figure!

Another reason why you might find the need to take your happiness from yourself is because you need to be in control of your fate. Let me explain. To love is to lose and the more we love the more afraid we are to lose the object of our love. One way to deal with the fear is to 'die by your own sword.' In other words, if you are in control of the ending of the relationship (by driving your guy away with jealousy or by simply allowing your worries to destroy the relationship) then at least the end of the relationship is in your hands, instead of out of your control. Being in control of the ending feels less frightening than waiting for the ax to fall on your relationship when you least suspect it.

You also may have a history of having been abandoned in childhood, which would prime you for expecting to be dropped again. This would cause you to look for rejection under every rock. If this is so, you may even precipitate the rejection by continually accusing your boyfriend until he eventually does dump you. If this is your case, therapy will be needed in order to help you break this cycle.

All this being said, I am reminded of something Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, said: sometimes a cigar is a cigar (as opposed to the unconscious mind's symbol for a penis). As far as you are concerned, we can search for various unconscious explanations for your reaction, when you may, in fact, be dealing with a cheating boyfriend. You said your instincts are good and so you shouldn't reject them out-of-hand.

It would be good to tell your boyfriend what happened with those two calls and ask him if he can think who might be calling. Watch his reaction carefully to see if he ruffles. You also want to study whether your boyfriend has a history of lying and cheating. Does he openly discuss his anger with you or is he the type to 'act out' and get even with you by seeing someone behind your back. Cheating is an act of aggression against the partner who is being cheated upon, and in all cases the cheating partner isn't directly communicating what is angering him or her.

You have a lot to explore within yourself. You also much to discuss with your boyfriend. Don't be so quick to write your suspicions off. Keep in mind that no reaction is ever purely black or white, meaning that your doubts can't be due to your own issues alone any more than they can be caused 100% by him; your reaction is more likely due to a combination of both you and him. You may have issues that make you prone to being jealous or suspicious. But, you wouldn't be suspcious unless something was happening in the relationship to make you doubt. The calls are certainly strange, and perhaps if you think about it you may be receiving other alarm signals from your boyfriend that you haven't consciously registered. Your instincts are nothing more than messages from the unconscious part of your mind. You need to listen to the alarms, decipher where they are coming from, and address directly whatever issues need to be addressed within you, within him, and within the relationship. Good luck.

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