Dear Kiki: Sleuthing out the cause of cheating suspicions

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Questions about love and sex in the city of Iowa City can be sent to (queries can also be sent anonymously using this form). Questions may be edited for clarity and length, and may appear either in print or online.

Dear Kiki

Dear Kiki,
I had a bad dream in which my husband was cheating on me with a mutual friend, who he sometimes has contact with at his job. I don’t actually think he would cheat on me with her, but I can’t get the dream out of my head and I am driving myself crazy with suspicion. What can I do?

–– Suspicious Mind

Dear Suspicious,

You’re married to this guy, so even if he were cheating, he’d still be coming home to you every single night. It’s up to you whether you prefer to a) enjoy that or b) drive yourself crazy and destroy your relationship imagining that he’s cheating on you all the time.

You can survey him for lipstick and perfume, you can check his bank statements and his phone, you can interrogate him about this woman. I’d suggest using your precious time on this earth, in this relationship, to do something else. Try to eliminate jealousy from your mind. That starts with learning to like yourself enough to imagine your life without the nasty cocktail of bad feelings that so many women spend their lives swimming in. Jealousy is a cultural condition based on the feelings of fear and insecurity. Fear and insecurity (and the jealousy that comes from those) can mess up your life in many ways, aside from poisoning your relationship.

My best bet is that your man is not even close to cheating on you. I’d wager that the worst case scenario is that he likes another woman or thinks another woman is attractive and enjoys his chats with her at work. This is a circumstance you cannot influence or control, and I’d advise you to learn to live with the existence of other, attractive women in your husband’s professional and social world.

The only thing you can influence is your own imagination, your reactions, the stories your own mind tells you about reality. Try this: Next time you have a thought about your husband cheating, or anything like it, write it down. Then try to flip it into a statement of gratitude. This isn’t a permanent cure to jealousy, but a thought exercise that may build your confidence and self-worth, and leave you more receptive to the idea of change.
Here’s how it works.

Original thought: “My husband isn’t texting me back right away. He must be flirting with Clarissa from the office!”

Flipped version: “I am grateful that my husband has a job he enjoys, and good relationships with his colleagues. I am grateful that my husband and I give each other space to have our own friendships and professional lives.”

Original thought: “Clarissa looks like a playboy bunny; she is so much skinnier than I’ll ever be, with huge tits, and always wears heels to work. No wonder he has a crush on her!”

Flipped version: “I am grateful that I like myself enough to value my own taste and comfort over the sexualization of the male gaze.”

You get the idea? Try this out whenever a negative, suspicious or jealous thought creeps in about your husband cheating, or anything else that makes you feel rotten.

And if you truly think he’s cheating and it’s not just a dream, go ahead and ask him about it.

— xoxo, Kiki

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