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Old 03-23-2011, 06:54 PM   #1
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Unhappy Privacy in relationships

I have been dating a girl from Taiwan for six months. We are only together for the school year, since she has to go home during spring and summer breaks. We spend a lot of time together since we are in the same program.

I have trouble with anxiety and depression, as well as jealousy. I really try to keep things in perspective. I believe in open communication with my partner. I would tell her anything.

Since she speaks Chinese and I do not, I feel curious about what she writes to other people. It started on facebook: I noticed this one guy coming up all over the place, on pictures, on her wall, on her blog. I asked, and she said, that they were good friends, that he once had a crush on her but she wasn't interested, that she doesn't talk to him hardly ever (though recently I found they talk on a near-daily basis).

I will ask who she's talking to online for three reasons: 1) because I can't read Chinese, otherwise I'd just look at the name, 2) because I'm genuinely curious about her friends and life, 3) yes, I admit because I'm worried about this weird relationship with this other guy.

Prior to our last conversation, I felt like the answer was to just be transparent. I open myself to her, she opens herself to me, and jealous issues are fixed.

However, she has communicated to me that she feels that my inquiries are "oppressive." She says that everyone needs privacy and secrets in order to retain their individuality within the relationship. She called my suggestion of transparency an absurd "rule."

I do not understand why, if this person is such a good friend, I cannot know or ask about this person. Further, while I understand privacy issues (I'm not checking her phone or email, all of this stuff is readily available on the internet), I feel like with one's partner one should be more open and forthcoming, especially about information that makes the other feel insecure about the relationship.

I suppose my questions, to whoever wants to attempt to tackle them, would go as such:

What are healthy privacy boundaries? What steps could one with a history of jealous reactions (such as myself) work to move beyond them?

Thank you.

Last edited by anonymousjones; 03-23-2011 at 06:55 PM.

 
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Old 03-24-2011, 04:09 AM   #2
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Re: Privacy in relationships

A lot depends on how you ask about these things. If you are at all demanding to know, or making it sound a bit like accusations, she will feel resentful and clam up. I know I would. Maybe we should be transparent, but it must be willingly given, not forced. Try just asking in a casual way about her friend, for example, a funny memory she has or some of the places they have been, or people in the circle. You know, just gossip. No judgements. No negative questioning or comments. Just as if you were asking about her family or school. We must feel safe from accusation and judgement to be transparent. Sera.

 
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Old 03-24-2011, 06:50 AM   #3
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Re: Privacy in relationships

Hmm, I understand where you are coming from. By the way, I don't know what kind of program you are in, but I found your English very good and clear (and I am not a native speaker, therefore not quite entitled to judge). A very articulate person, for all I know.

That said, it really feels like she is hiding something. I could be wrong, but I have enough reasons to believe that your questions to her were far from intruding on her privacy, so I think her saying that your inquiries were "oppressive" and your transparency rule (rule was a word she used herself, right?) was "absurd" was a bit too much.

Ok, I believe in a personal space, but she doesn't seem to be reassuring you enough that the guy is just a friend. I find it strange that she is talking to someone who had a crush on her, like she was feeding him on that crush, if you see what I mean.

I wonder what she would do if she found you had been talking to another girl on a near-daily basis.

Maybe you need to find ways to decrease your jealousy by increasing your self-esteem and being more tolerant toward people, I don't know.

But other than this, I can only bring up a question for you:

Do you really think this girl is ready for commitment? Or could she be in her age of experimenting here and there, of playing the field, as they say?

Last edited by pendulum; 03-24-2011 at 06:51 AM.

 
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Old 03-24-2011, 07:01 AM   #4
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Re: Privacy in relationships

I agree that it really doesn't sound as if she isn't ready for a committment. And that is ok, because she is young. It isn't like you guys are married or engaged.

I do feel that people who are committed to each other should be transparent. If they make a stink about their privacy then that usually means that they have something to hide. At the very least it makes you suspicious.

It sounds to me like you have a level of committment towards her but she doesn't have that same committment towards you.

 
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:25 AM   #5
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Re: Privacy in relationships

I think shes hiding something. Just my opinion. if her words was said to me i'd be suspicious too.

Last edited by cryingforever; 03-24-2011 at 09:26 AM. Reason: correction of words

 
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:02 AM   #6
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Re: Privacy in relationships

It depends on what your relationship to her is now. Are you her only boyfriend or is it open relationship like you can see other people as well since you guys are young.
Also long distance is a factor. So she may still try to consider where her date needs to be. Maybe she thinks you will be missing on her vacation later so it is not a commited relationship.
I don't think she is mean or secretive. You may need to clarify this "relationship" and I don't think she is committed, not that she cheated or anything. Just make sure you are on the same page. If she is not ready to commit due to the distance, you guys should be open about it and deal with it.

Take care,
Nina

Last edited by ninamarc; 03-24-2011 at 10:03 AM.

 
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Old 03-24-2011, 05:33 PM   #7
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Re: Privacy in relationships

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seraph View Post
A lot depends on how you ask about these things. If you are at all demanding to know, or making it sound a bit like accusations, she will feel resentful and clam up. I know I would. Maybe we should be transparent, but it must be willingly given, not forced. Try just asking in a casual way about her friend, for example, a funny memory she has or some of the places they have been, or people in the circle. You know, just gossip. No judgements. No negative questioning or comments. Just as if you were asking about her family or school. We must feel safe from accusation and judgement to be transparent. Sera.
Dear Sera,

Thank you for your time and thoughtful feedback. I really try to ask gently, but I suspect that there are times I feel more alarm than others. For example, I will ask her who she's talking to (and see that she's talking to more than one person) and she will only give one name. If I point out that she's talking to more than one person, she will say that guy. Which makes it really hard for me to contain my sometimes over the top suspicions. I think that you raise a good point about accusation and judgement in relation to transparency. Perhaps it was too soon to ask for transparency, since I do still have these lingering feelings. I guess that's why I was asking what I should do instead.

Dear Pendulum, thank you for your compliment on my English. It's something I continue to improve. I would like to say that I'm "glad" that others think she's hiding something, but I think that that would be more than inappropriate. I forgot to mention in the original post that she said that "secrets" are necessary to retain individuality. You're right about the insecurity thing, I feel insecure. I'm just not sure how to re-gain that sense given our current situation, or if its even possible. In answer to your question, and Tryst's and Nina's comments, I had originally asked for an open relationship, but she wanted a solely monogamous one. I agreed. She's recently asked me "when" (not if) we can move in together. So I feel like she's giving me mixed signals regarding commitment.

Thank you all for bringing up some really valid, excellent points. I very much appreciate your time helping me sort this out.

 
Old 03-25-2011, 05:19 AM   #8
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Re: Privacy in relationships

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Originally Posted by anonymousjones View Post
She says that everyone needs privacy and secrets in order to retain their individuality within the relationship. She called my suggestion of transparency an absurd "rule."
Unless her understanding of "privacy and secrets" is different than mine, I have to completely disagree. Some privacy, sure-- secrets? No way.

I think you're totally within your bounds to be curious about a (alleged) platonic relationship with another guy.

"Privacy" in a relationship has to do with respect and trust. Like, I don't go through my wife's phone because, for one, I respect her, and for two, I trust her to know that I won't find anything illicit. It can take a long time to build the respect and trust, but it is essential (in my view) to a successful relationship.

 
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Old 03-25-2011, 07:37 AM   #9
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Re: Privacy in relationships

you are not her top priority......
everything else is irrelevant

 
Old 03-25-2011, 10:31 AM   #10
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Re: Privacy in relationships

I think it's possible to see both sides here. First, in regards to secrets.......the only secrets she does not need to share with you are secrets that do not concern you. For example, if her best friend confided in her about a pregnancy scare, or abortion or a violent relationship, etc, she is not obligated to tell you that information, as it does not concern you. She may choose to confide in you in regards to advice she could give that friend, but by no means would she be obligated to spread her friend's business to you. As to whether or not something is going on with this other guy, it's hard to say. I dated someone in the past who also had insecurity and jealousy issues. My circle of friend when I was dating him tended to be more guys than girls, as I found it easier to bond with guy friends. He would get nervous when I hung out with that group or got text messages from them. I never cheated on him with those guys, they were my friends and most of them had girlfriends. However, because I knew how upset it would make my (ex)boyfriend I didn't make it known that I communicated on a regular basis through email, text, phone, and social networking sites with these guys. Not because I was hiding something, but because I didn't want to deal with having to tell him for the millionth time that nothing was going on and have arguments about it, it was exhausting. That was just my experience though.....

 
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Old 03-25-2011, 12:20 PM   #11
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Re: Privacy in relationships

I think it's a matter of expectations in a relationship. You and she have different expectations. You want total transparency, sharing, openness. She wants to have her secrets.

You either need to accept what she is saying (and we have no way of knowing if she's lying to you, overly friendly with this guy, what is going on) and live with it, or you need to end the relationship and focus on finding someone whose expectations and relationship style match your own. There are so many different kinds of people with all different styles of communication, and it doesn't make someone a bad person if their style doesn't mesh with yours. They're just different.

Set out your needs and how you see a relationship, and if she disagrees with you and you can't live with it, there is no relationship.

 
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Old 03-25-2011, 02:45 PM   #12
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Re: Privacy in relationships

Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymousjones View Post
Dear Sera,

In answer to your question, and Tryst's and Nina's comments, I had originally asked for an open relationship, but she wanted a solely monogamous one. I agreed. She's recently asked me "when" (not if) we can move in together. So I feel like she's giving me mixed signals regarding commitment.

Thank you all for bringing up some really valid, excellent points. I very much appreciate your time helping me sort this out.
I would like to point out although she told you or agreed with you that this is a close relationship, it does not mean she has no second thought or that she wants to keep another friend as backup. Not that she wants to betray you but maybe she feels insecure and also she misses her own country and language and etc. naturally she would keep contact with them.
I think one reason she does not think she should be so open to you is that you guys are not so close yet. I know she should not say one thing and do another. But this is a possiblity. It does not mean she does not like you.

Nina

 
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:43 PM   #13
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Re: Privacy in relationships

@Calberg, I really like what you said about privacy = respect and trust. I wrote it down for later.

@Sarberrie, I really appreciate your telling me your side of the story. Would you mind telling me how the issue was resolved? I'm looking for a way out of feeling so paranoid, but don't want to make her an enabler of my jealousy, either. I really want to be fair, but know that I have a tendency to overreact sometimes. So I'm crowd-sourcing my future behavior!

@BigRed, I think your advice is balanced and fair. When she returns, I will have to have a conversation with her about expectations.

And Nina, as much as I didn't really like reading what you wrote, I think it's also fair and honest. So I appreciate it. It's totally possible that because of my anxiety I have made her anxious to get close to me.

Thank you, thank you.

I have recently found his flikr stream, which includes a photo album of just her. Apparently she has also modeled nude for him, as he is a photographer. I cannot help but feel jealous and weirded out, but will wait until she gets back to have a conversation about boundaries, expectations. I feel like I should apologize for not trusting her and looking this guy up, but a part of me justifies this, since I found it through an easy google search. It's all totally public.

As her break in Taiwan continues, I feel like our relationship is falling apart. I can't tell if it's happening naturally, or if I'm willing it through my own paranoia. I can't tell if I'm being crazily possessive or, since I keep finding evidence that supports my hypothesis and refutes her claims that nothing happened between them, totally in my bounds.

Either way, the feelings I have, guilt, jealousy, confusion, are pretty horrible. But I will wait until she gets back to try to have a face-to-face discussion. I'm grateful to you strangers who have spent even just a couple moments reading my ramblings.

Last edited by anonymousjones; 03-25-2011 at 08:43 PM.

 
Old 03-25-2011, 08:45 PM   #14
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Re: Privacy in relationships

so is his flickr stream nude pics of her or just regular pics of her?

 
Old 03-25-2011, 09:07 PM   #15
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Re: Privacy in relationships

@rose, both. I mean you can't see anything, but she's clearly naked. There are other pictures of her doing her make up. There is one picture of her at his feet, with her arms wrapped up around his legs and torso.

These are not recent pictures. But, I think that they imply, to me, that there used to be a more than platonic relationship despite her "friend" claims.

Or am I crazy? I'm really afraid of pre-emptively pushing her away and condemning her for my own faults and insecurities. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt, but her insistence on privacy and secrecy keeps me anxious.

Again, I guess I'll just have to wait until she gets back...sigh.

 
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