I’m a 32-year-old straight man dating a 31-year-old straight woman. We’ve been seeing each other for eight months and became “Facebook official” (if that’s still a thing) in June. We are both in our first serious relationship after being divorced from relatively long marriages. (Me: eight years, two kids. Her: 10 years, no kids.) My question is: when does suspicion—suspicion of cheating—become something you should bring up? I tend to spill everything that’s going on in my life, which she says she appreciates but isn’t used to doing. She’s a very independent person, which I’ve never experienced before. It’s refreshing to know that my partner has her own friends, but there are moments when I get stonewalled. Sometimes I get vague answers or no answers about where she is or who she’s with. She often tells me she “accidentally” turned off her notifications. Sometimes she will say she’s staying in and then I later find out that she went out. Maybe I’m taking things way too seriously considering the amount of time we’ve been together, but I feel I have to take things seriously since kids are involved.
—The Absent Girlfriend
The uncharitable read: Your hunch is correct and your new girlfriend is being cagey about where she’s going and who she’s with because she’s cheating on you.
The charitable read: Your new girlfriend is 31 years old, she was married for 10 years, and you’ve been dating for eight months. Math has never been my strong suit, but assuming her marriage didn’t end five minutes before you met, TAG, your girlfriend married very young. Which means she spent her entire adult life—most or all of her 20s and possibly a chunk of her teens—having to answer to a spouse. She only recently began to experience the kind of autonomy most of us get to enjoy before we marry and settle down (if we marry and settle down), TAG, and she may be reluctant to surrender that autonomy so shortly after achieving it.
She may also have different ideas about what being Facebook official means. You’re only eight months in—is it possible you involved your kids too soon?
Because even if you lived together, even if you were married, even if she wanted to spend the rest of her life with you, your girlfriend would still be entitled to a little privacy and her autonomy.