Suspicious Bruises

Q: I've been living with my girlfriend for more than six months now, and we've been friends for at least four years. The other day after we finished making love she said to me out of the blue, "How stupid do you think I am?" When I asked her what she was talking about, she tried to pass it off like she wasn't referring to anything specific, which I refused to accept. After three days of arguing about it, she finally told me that she'd noticed a couple of light bruises on one of my knees. She asked me where I got them, and I told her I didn't know. I'm very active and I always have a bunch of bruises that I have no idea where they came from. I never did get her to actually tell me where she thought I got the bruises from, but a couple of my male friends said things like, "Oh, why do they always think you're messing around every time you get a little bruise?" Is this a normal accusation? -- Tommy, 37

Dr. Susan: I prefer to think there's no such thing as normal when it comes to relationships. Suspiciousness in new relationships is common, that's for sure. What jumps out at me about your girlfriend is that she harbors suspicions but won't tell you about them. That is, she doesn't really trust you enough to share what's going on in her head. This goes way beyond inexplicable bruises. When one partner suspects the other of hiding something, it doesn't do any good to drop hints. Even if the first person is totally innocent, you both end up confused. That's no way to build an honest relationship! Now that you're living together, get your ideas about monogamy out in the open. If you're committed to being trustworthy, let her know in no uncertain terms. And ask her to tell you when she feels insecure so you can figure out what's going on together.

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