| | | Effective PR

My boyfriend says "it's not you I don't trust, it's everyone else."

I'm very happy with my boyfriend. He's nice in every way except one. He complains that I have male friends and, even, that I have male employers, that I, sometimes, have a glass of wine with. He says he trusts me but he doesn't trust my friends and employers. It has become such a frequent complaint that it's beginning to affect my feelings towards him.

My boyfriend knows that, before him, I was in a very unhappy relationship and that, sometimes, I used to drink too much after work and before meeting my ex in the evening. But the current situation is not like that.

I am a freelance PA and I work for several different people, often at their homes. My boyfriend picks me up from work most evenings. Because we finish work at the same time, sometimes my boss and I have a glass of wine while I am waiting. I've worked for my boss longer than I've known by boyfriend. We are friends as well as working together, but my boss is still my boss.

When he picks me up from that workplace, my boyfriend kisses me, but as he gets close to my face, he sniffs. He does not do this when he picks me up from any other workplace, where usually my bosses are women. If he smells alcohol, he waits a while then spends the entire journey home nagging and questioning me so much that, when we get home, I have a headache and often just go to the bedroom to lie down for a while.

I understand that he is (without reason) protective and jealous. It's sometimes a bit overwhelming, such as when he will drive for an hour in heavy rain instead of allowing me to get the train home, and then because of commuter traffic, the drive will take an hour and a half to get home. But that is not the main reason I'm becoming unhappy.

He says he trusts me but he does not trust my friends or my boss. I think that's stupid and hurtful. Surely he must have faith in me saying "no" if one of them did in fact try it on?

It reached near-breaking point recently when he arrived early, so I did not have a glass of wine and a chat with my boss, but when his sniffing did not find alcohol, he accused me of drinking vodka instead.

What can I do?

Bert says:

He sounds like a bit of a twit to me. He's got a woman who is actually happy to be with him. Does he not realise what a rare gift that is? All he has to do is not make juvenile assumptions and if he can't do that, to keep his gob shut.

Of course, no one should have to put up with a "sniff test" and nagging because you have a comfortable relationship with your boss.

Some would say that the answer is in your own hands: don't have male friends, don't have male bosses, don't have a drink after work. But that's not the answer at all because those things are not the cause of the problem.

The problem is simple: he's an idiot who does not realise that childish, petty behaviour is the wedge that drives couples apart. And that's not only you, it's millions of couples around the world.

He needs to change, he needs to grow up and realise that starting a new relationship does not delete everything before you got together. He needs to understand that no one person is enough for anyone, that friends and business colleagues are an important part of what keeps people balanced.

What can you do? Just tell him that he needs to grow up and recognise that real people live in the real world, not some teenage comic book fantasy land where they spend all their time holding hands and staring into each other's eyes. The real world means meeting and mixing with other people, sometimes together, sometimes apart. And that the essence of any relationship is trust and that if he can't trust you to know if (and I say "if" not "when") something is heading in the wrong direction, you will make sure it goes no further.

Gert says

He's talking tosh. Whatever words he uses, he doesn't trust you. Trust is at the heart of any good relationship. If he doesn't trust you, then the relationship is built on sand.

You don't say anything but I think he's a mummy's boy. I wonder if he still lives with his mother? Does she does the cooking and laundry for him? I suspect that she doesn't think you are good enough for her boy. She treats him like a child and he responds by acting like one. Of course, I could be wrong but I doubt it.

He's obviously weak, and has never properly grown up.

So there's your problem: he has the body of a man (which makes you happy) but the mind of a child (which doesn't). He's controlling, doesn't want anyone to play with his toys.

Your decision is simple to say, but hard to make. Do you want to be a parent to this man-child or do you want a proper, grown-up, mature relationship.

If you can put up with his sulking, moaning, general whining and constant mistrust, then you can do something I could never have done. I trust Bert and Bert trusts me and, believe me, we've both been in lots of circumstances where we could have spoiled everything by one careless moment but we have never allowed ourselves to reach that pivotal point.

He has to understand that you are the same: a glass of wine is not a prelude to a shag. But by upsetting you, he i.e. HE, could be starting something far more dangerous, where you start to discuss the situation with friends and mistake their sympathy and support for another emotion and, when that happens, it gnaws away at otherwise stable relationships.

You need to tell him that he has to man up and recognise that he must not be suspicious of your ordinary life, that he must accept that you have friends and bosses and that sometimes they are the same. And that if he can't accept it then he must at least keep quiet about it.

Write to Bert and Gert: