How Can I Learn To Trust A Man And Give Him Freedom?

How Do I Cope With the Other Women in His Life?

Hello Evan,

I’m new to you, but I’m a quick student. My question is not really for you, though, it’s for your wife. Has she written anything you can refer me to? Like her, I have ALWAYS believed in giving others freedom to live their lives, make their own choices, etc. I’ve not found a man that believes that’s a 2-way street.

I’m 49, out of a 20-year marriage followed by a 2-year relationship with a “player” who took advantage of that freedom. So now I am newly on the dating scene and need a fresh belief system that doesn’t trigger those old fears.

I am interested in her perspective and/or philosophy in regards to how she “deals” with the other women in your life, particularly those you might feel attracted to. I’ve investigated the “polyamorous” and “open relationship” scenarios and I don’t really think that’s what you have or nor what I’m looking for, but how does a woman handle those situations as I do believe in people having freedom in a relationship is the only way it can work. Is this a fine line?

Thanks, Kim

I like your question, Kim, and while my wife is too busy running to Mommy and Me classes and shopping for our dinner parties to sit down and compose her own response, I did actually read her your question after dinner one night last week.

A wife trusts her husband enough to not cheat, even when there’s temptation? That’s crazy talk!

She was flattered and really wanted to give you the best possible answer. Her only recorded thoughts on dating have been compiled in a four-page section of “Why He Disappeared” and I’ve been told, much to my consternation, that her part is the best part of the whole book. I don’t know that I’d go that far – but I would say that learning how to best deal with an alpha male from the horse’s mouth is pretty invaluable. I’m quite candid that everything I teach comes from the “What Would My Wife Do?” school of thought and I think you’ll really enjoy it.

As to your provocative question about how much freedom you should give a man when you’re in an exclusive relationship and how do you deal with the inevitable fears and insecurities, allow me to set the record straight:

It is not at all difficult for my wife to deal with me, for one huge reason.

She trusts me.

Unconditionally. No question about it. Wouldn’t even occur to her that I would ever do anything to breach our vows.

She knows that I value my character and morals as highly as I value anything else in my life. The way other people value religion, I value doing the right thing.

Acceptance is the most powerful tool in making a man feel loyal to you.

And because of that worldview, there’s nothing I can do that’s remotely threatening.

This is why I can be surrounded by five attractive 30-year-old women at a party in Hollywood and I won’t get lectured when I get home.

This is why I can get a lap dance at my bachelor party in Austin, and all my wife asks me when I come home was whether I had fun.

This is why I can occasionally point out a woman in a low-cut top in a restaurant or watch online porn. Neither my wife nor I thinks that this is a slippery slope that’s going to destroy the foundation of our relationship.

This is why my wife can hire burlesque dancers to join the 80’s rock band at my 40th birthday party last month. They were a big hit with everybody – and about 10 women came up to me and told me how extraordinary my wife was. Huh?

Don’t get me wrong, my wife is extraordinary, but the only thing I think is REALLY extraordinary is how RARE this kind of behavior is.

A wife trusts her husband enough to not cheat, even when there’s temptation? That’s crazy talk!

But why? Shouldn’t ALL wives trust their husbands? I sure think so. After all, what kind of relationship do you have if you don’t trust the man you’re supposed to trust?

Thus, the first thing you have to do, Kim, is to find a man that you completely trust, without a doubt. It’s your doubts that will drive you nuts, not the man himself.

Some women would be driven nuts by me, but that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with me. You may think I’m disrespectful. My wife doesn’t. She thinks I’m normal and she loves the fact that I can be myself around her without any fear of retribution. And because she’s so accepting of me – a trait I’ve found very hard to find – I love her in a way that few men openly love their wives.

Acceptance is the most powerful tool in making a man feel loyal to you.

Now that does NOT mean accepting behavior that is inherently unacceptable.

Wherever you draw the line becomes the line

Some women freak out if he talks to another woman, has lunch with another woman, says something cute on Facebook to another woman, or looks at another woman. I think this is a bad policy because it’s essentially asking him to spend his entire life lying to you and denying the existence of any other woman. If you find a man who is willing to pretend that no one else in the world is attractive but you, I applaud you and hope you’re happy.

Agonizing about whether he’s going to cheat is like agonizing about whether a plane is going to crash. You really can’t do anything about it, so you might as well try to enjoy the ride.

But since you’re a freedom-loving woman, Kim, you don’t have to do that. You just want to know how far you should go. It’s not my place to say what’s right for you, but if you believe what I do – that both sexual contact and sexual intention can be considered cheating – then that becomes your tipping point. If your boyfriend is asking for women’s numbers, flirting on Match.com, taking other women out to dinner secretly, having phone sex, or actually cheating on you, then, well, he’s broken the boundaries of exclusivity.

In other words: fantasizing, fine. Acting on his fantasies without your permission, not fine.

As long as you know your boundaries, you can give him all the leeway in the world, until he breaches your trust. Which brings me back to the three things my wife had to say about your question:

1. Go with your gut.

My wife trusts me so much that even when she had physical evidence that I was cheating on her (panties in the dryer), she still believed me when I swore that I wasn’t.

She trusted her gut.

My wife knows infidelity – she’s had three boyfriends cheat on her – and each time, she knew when something was wrong. Her wisdom was in not treating those men (or me) as if they were untrustworthy until they actually did something untrustworthy.

2. Stop looking for it.

As my wife pointed out, if he’s going to cheat on you, he’s going to cheat on you. You can’t stop it with fear or worry or interrogation or jealousy. If anything, those kinds of behaviors will be more likely to drive a man to escape. Agonizing about whether he’s going to cheat is like agonizing about whether a plane is going to crash. You really can’t do anything about it, so you might as well try to enjoy the ride.

3. Trust

As I’ve long said, it’s either full trust or no trust. If you truly trust your guy, you couldn’t even imagine him cheating on you. He has a strong moral code. He treats you like gold. Even if he’s attracted to other women, he would never think of jeopardizing his relationship for a quick fling. And so you let everything go that is not actually cheating behavior – and watch him express his further devotion and appreciation to you.

For you will be the only woman ever who has done that for him – who was confident enough to let him be himself and not try to change him.

That’s why he’ll stick with you forever.

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Comments:

  1. 91
    George

     
    @Evan 91
     
    I didn’t say that trusting and not caring are the same thing, I’m trying to say there is a difference between parents who would let their kid have a small glass of wine with dinner, and parents who let them do drugs in the house. At some point, if anything goes, it’s because it’s just not important to you.
     

    1. 91.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      George – I still don’t see your point. Who here said “anything goes”?

  2. 92
    Paragon

    @ Wendy

    ” To Paragon #74 (and everyone else who says people “choose” cheaters and players: I am not telling you, or anyone, that I choose the wrong men. I do not have ESP, they do not announce their predisposition to cheat, and they don’t behave the way one would typically expect a cheater to act. The man I used in my example was home every night. I had zero indication there was anything going on. ”

    ” To answer your question, no–this particular guy would buy the grapes without sampling, from a local farmers market to support the local economy and reduce the carbon footprint on the planet, and then give the cashier a healthy tip. His birthday gifts were those of legend. ”

    Obviously, these are not reliable indications of fidelity.

    I’m also pretty astute, according to my friends, at picking up on negative vibes. THIS is why I get so frustrated when people blame me for getting cheated on because I “chose” the wrong guy. It’s happened a few times, and every time it was a guy (a real winner); the type who would get the “upstanding citizen of the year” award”

    Perhaps you should be looking for less obvious patterns, to relate your experiences with cheating men.

    Were they ‘unhappy’ with you, or just looking for something different(or better)?

    Perhaps these men were merely overconfident and opportunistic – willing to risk what they had for a new infatuation.

    I think sometimes, too much of a conventionally good thing(ie. confidence) can pose high-risks for any relationship.

    Ideally, we all want to be partnered with someone who has sufficient apprehension to resist temptation, and constrain their most selfish impulses(even in cases where we would be none the wiser).

    @ Selena

     Thanks for sharing this quote:
    As Ernest Hemingway wrote:
    “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
     
    Really folks, it’s the only way.
     
    The alternative: being suspicious, jealous, controlling, paranoid, snoopy - it just eats you up inside. And will not only destroy your relationship, but your self-esteem as well.”

    Personally, if I am sincerely motivated in nuturing a relationship with someone, then I’m willing to accept some degree of suspicion and uncertainty during the formative stages – before trust can be reasonably justified.

    Everyone has baggage, and I am not prepared to fault someone for what I see as trivial preconceptions that can be amended over time – I think any woman worth being in a relationship with, is worth that kind of consideration.

  3. 93
    George

     
    “Anything goes” seems to be the direction this is heading. Let’s take the panty story, and lets say it happened again. It happens multiple times. Or let’s say it’s a used condom that you swear up and down was left by your male friend who brought his girlfriend over. Now she is okay with all of it, because she is wonderful and understanding. Does that sound right to you?
     

    1. 93.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      This will be my last response to you, George, but in case you can’t see the difference: my wife is cool, patient and understanding. She’s not a moron.

  4. 94
    George

     
    Take you and your wife out of this for a minute, Evan, and just look at this in the abstract. I’m just not buying the notion that “Sure honey, you can spend the night at the house of that girl who always flirts with you, since you’re just friends” means she is caring and understanding.
     

    1. 94.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      George, I don’t know how stupid you think people are – or how loose you think my morals are – but there’s a huge difference between talking to a stranger at a party and spending a night with that same stranger. One is normal. The other is infidelity. Anyone who can’t figure out which is which will have major relationship problems. Sorry, I’m not continuing this absurd slippery slope you’ve set up.

  5. 95
    George

     
    I didn’t set up the slippery slope, Evan, you did, by saying she is supposed to be patient and understanding when she finds… well, pick your piece of evidence. I just don’t see that as a virtue. If she really cares, she SHOULD freak out if she thinks I might be cheating on her…
     

    1. 95.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      a) George, you’re clearly not a man, but a woman who came here to pick a fight. Well done.

      Whatever you’re advocating makes zero sense. If a man’s done nothing wrong, there’s no reason to freak out. If he has done something wrong, she should leave. But she should certainly have her facts straight before she does anything. My wife knows that I’m not cheating on her when I talk to other women or admire other women. And thus we have a good marriage. If she reacted to my bachelor party (where I didn’t cheat), to my many Facebook friends (where I didn’t cheat), to my occasional online porn use (where I didn’t cheat), we’d have a really bad marriage. If she wants a man who doesn’t do any of these things, she shouldn’t have married ME.

      And so…

      b) Feel free to choose a partner who freaks out at you instead of trusting you. As it stands, I’m pretty happy with my choice (as is my wife) and will continue to strongly recommend that ALL men and women choose trusting and low-drama partners.

      This ridiculous non-conversation is over. Best of luck to you and your fantasy boyfriend who never talks to other women and really digs the fact that you freak out because you CARE so much.

      (George, I deleted your last comment after showing it to my incredulous wife. The huge leaps that you’re taking between my wife being cool with my behavior and people doing drugs, being openly cheated on and your son getting kidnapped…well, let’s just say that we’re gonna have to agree to disagree.)

  6. 96
    David T

    @Selena 95
    make [your relationship] the place you both want to be and paying attention to what is going on with your partner emotionally, just may avoid the slippery slope. If something feels off, TALK about it.
    Rockin’ . I completely, completely agree. Talk before you jump to conclusions if you can, and if you can’t turn off that machinery (which is a challenge) at least talk before you make a decision to change something.

  7. 97
    George

     
     
    Actually, I think you’re being extremely small (bet you’ve heard that before), deleting other people’s postings when you loose the argument. I think I made my point, and I think you understand perfectly clear what that point is, hence your unwillingness to go further on this.
     
     

    1. 97.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      George, I let your last comment through because it was a perfect ending. You insulted me, you misspelled “lose”, you said you made your point and that I understand it, and you intimated that I was afraid to go forward because of the strength of your argument. I’ll let readers decide for themselves if your arguments make any sense. Goodbye and good luck.

  8. 98
    Selena

    Bored with George.

  9. 99
    David T

    @George

    You are over generalizing/over extending one story and example to apply to absolutely everything.  That seems to be a common problem on this blog; the over extension of a point into hyperbole land concluding that if the over extension doesn’t make sense NONE of it does.

    It is like a metaphorical black hole.  Once you start to extend something past where it makes sense (like what happens to Newtons laws of motion once you cross the event horizon of a real black hole), you ultimately end up at a logical singularity where you can draw pretty much ANY conclusion and the legitimate point Evan is trying to make no longer makes any sense at all.

    Stay outta that region. You will only hurt yourself.  OK, that made about as much sense to folks with a non astronomy background as some of the posts of another frequent poster, but to get some inkling read paragraphs 2 and 4 of the link on my name.)

    Very much like a black hole,  these over generalized conversations quickly lose any ability to communicate useful information. (If you want to continue to use my metaphor, read the last section of that link.)

    Hmm…I seem to have overextended my metaphor to a point where it no longer makes sense and has become useless. Now where have I seen that before? ;)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_hole#Singularity

  10. 100
    Cat

    @ Evan #91….you were so exactly right on the money with your comments there. When reading it I felt like I was reading about myself. Yep, if you don’t have inner confidence & you’re not sure you picked a partner of integrity then everything they do seems like a potential threat. After years of trying to rebuild trust, I think we have come a long way, but it’s not been easy or fun at times. I think now I have finally built back some inner confidence in myself as well as with him. I do trust him on certain levels but I think there are different “layers” of trust? Any thoughts? Do you think there are “layers” of trust or is it you do or you don’t?

  11. 101
    Heather

    @ Evan,

    You just hit home with me on something when you were responding to George, in regards to “making sure you have your facts straight.”  That’s exactly it.  I try to do that in relationships, and probably did TOO much of it in my last one, where my ex was constantly hanging out with HIS ex.  A few of my friends asked me straight up if I thought he was cheating.  I really didn’t have concrete proof, so I never accused him of it. Did I have some funny gut feelings that there was more going on than I was being told?  Oh surely. But since I could not clearly back it up, I held my peace and watched for other signs of problems, and boy oh boy did those signs pop up.

    I do admit that I have a bit of a suspicious personality, which I am working hard on, and it is getting better.  And because I know I am a bit suspicious due to men in my past pulling some pretty big stunts, I have to remind myself, “Heather, you already know you’re sensitive in that area. Put on the brakes, look at the FACTS.  If the facts truly do add up to: he’s cheating or lying, OK fine, as long as you have those facts straight, move forward with dumping his ass and go on.  But if you’re just having a gut feeling, try to hold off on just blasting him with both barrels, until you are SURE something is wrong.”

    I’ve learned that truth will always prevail, and if a guy is pulling something, I will find out about it sooner or later, I don’t need to be a snoop.

  12. 102
    Wendy

    @Heather #113: I think I’m a lot like you, so your post hit home. I’ve been cheated on (as we probably all have at some point), and I don’t always have the healthiest self-esteem (although I’m much better than I used to be) so I sometimes find myself knee-jerking when my gut gets that little feeling. But I’ve learned to wait until actual EVIDENCE shows up. Most of the time (now, in my more recent realtionships) it doesn’t. I’ve come to realize that if a guy is doing something behind my back, he gets lazier as he comes to care more about “her” than about me, and the evidence becomes easy to find (no snooping required). I hate that I have to wait, but I think it’s better than risking a good relationship if there’s nothing going on.

    @KarlR #87: I LOVE your point about a person who cheats ruining that relationship. We’ve heard it before: “Don’t let a bad past relationship (or person) ruin a new one,” but somehow the way you put it makes much more sense. Bob ruined my relationship with Bob, and Jim ruined my relationship with Jim. Plain and simple. Thanks.

  13. 103
    Amber

    @Evan – I really love this article and it’s very helpful and empowering to me.  Thank you! I’m wondering what you suggest (and others are welcome to comment on this as well) if I trust my guy, but not this new girl he is friends with.  He met her through work and he really respects her and they have a lot in common, and so now they are friends.  He has not done anything inappropriate, and he has gone out of his way to introduce me to her and wants me to be friends with her too (good sign), but for some reason I have a terrible gut feeling about her (that she wants my man and that she is trouble).  She is single and attractive, which is extremely troubling to me.  I have told him my feelings on this.  He reminds me that she’s been nothing but nice to me (which is not even totally true, she does subtle things like if the three of us are talking she will only make eye contact with my boyfriend and not with me at all), and he doesn’t understand why I feel this way.  Is it women’s intuition (and if that is the case what can I do besides share my concerns with him)?

  14. 104
    Sam

    Evan,

    I have a similar history to your wife’s where I have been cheated on several times. “I am not going to let it define me, and I am not going to punish my current boyfriend for what a past boyfriend(s) did to me.” This is the motto I (TRY TO) live by. I realize that it’s not fair to punish someone for someone else’s actions. However, I am finding that I struggle at times in doing this.

    What suggestions do you have on how to actively work on this while you’re IN a relationship? I am with a great guy who is great BECAUSE he calls me out on things when I am out of line (might sound crazy but I LOVE this). He treats me great but I definitely have insecurities that stem from my past. I have my moments where I let these insecurities creep in.

    When I found your blog it COMPLETELY changed the way i looked at my relationship in an AMAZING way. It felt like I “got” it for the first time.

    My question is: Can I repair any damage it might have caused (before reading your blog? unfortunately I saw it a little too late.. if the answer is yes..how so? Is there anything else I can do besides actively working on controlling/suppressing these tendencies?

    Thanks for writing! Reading your blogs REALLY help me check myself into place too! :) 
     

  15. 105
    mirliss

    I use to believe the same thing and allowed my husband to go to night clubs n strip clubs with his friends n he took advantage.  I don’t believe he cheated, but he was going every weekend and soon rarely took me out and when he did, he would leave me alone the whole night and was with his friends. I became resentful and began to point these things out and started asking him to stop, but he refused and started saying that i was one of those controlling women that wanted to control him and that was why he wouldn’t stop. He has since cut back on the partying, but still wants to occasionally club out or go to bars with guy friends, but I am still resentful and i don’t want to go down that road again. I am ok with him going ouf with his friends and playing his sports as long as he comes home before morning when he goes out. I have good reasons to feel how i feel, but it’s a long story and your advise would probably be to leave him if you knew how he came to treat me (no abuse just selflessness), but that is not something I want to do unless I find that he is cheating or has, but i really don’t think so.

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