From admitting you don't actually like your boo's favorite restaurant to establishing healthy sexual boundaries, relationships require a lot of open conversations. Don't get me wrong: When you're in a relationship, there's usually a lot to talk about. But whether you and you boo are monogamous, monogam-ish, openly poly or just plain open, it's important to remain on the same page about the role of other people in your relationship. No matter the nature of your romance, it can be incredibly painful to feel like your partner is hiding someone from you.
"There is no getting around the fact that it is painful to think that your partner may not be faithful," Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent therapist in Los Angeles who has worked with couples for over 25 years, tells Elite Daily. "For many on the receiving end of infidelity, it is simply a bridge too far. For others, it is very possible that the emotional gap can be bridged."
If you've been open and honest about seeing or not seeing people other than your partner, it can feel unspeakably difficult to feel like your partner is secretly seeing someone else. According to Dr. Brown, if you've come across some direct evidence that your boo is hiding someone, it can be helpful to approach them calmly in a private setting.
"I recommend that you simply approach them and let them know, in the least judgmental way possible, what it is you are observing or have discovered. Tell them how you are being impacted by what you see and let the conversation flow — or not flow from there," Dr. Brown says. "Pay attention to their body language when you bring this up. You may learn a great deal in the first 30 seconds. Public venues such as restaurants are not conducive to having crucial conversations that are open and honest. Try to create a space where they can answer honestly if the worst is true."
But how can you tell if our partner is hiding someone? According to Dr. Brown the way your boo uses or doesn't use their phone can be a big give away. "If they used to keep their phone in plain sight, and now you realize that they are hiding it," Dr. Brown says. "When they hear their phone vibrating and they suddenly go into another room. If they have dramatically changed their social media habits... and with no apparent reason. You should want and expect honesty. That doesn’t mean you will get it from your partner."
As for signs that go beyond the phone screen, Dr. Brown shares that sensing wonky communication and less intimacy around sex or bed time can be signs as well. "Sex seems to have become perfunctory. They don't seem emotionally or physically engaged when having sex. They avoid going to bed at the same time as you," Dr. Brown shares. "Your partner use to be a good communicator but, lately, they are more withdrawn — perhaps even annoyed at your desire to want to connect with them."
If you're sensing another person is in the picture, Dr. Brown suggests bringing it up directly to your partner. "Our ability to trust our partner is based upon being honest. Trust is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship," Dr. Brown shares. "It's better to know the truth than to be further blindsided down the road."
If you're observing your partner being secretive with their phone or shady about their plans, and you're starting to think there may be someone else in the picture, it may be helpful to address it sooner rather than later. If your partner confirms that they are seeing someone else, Dr. Brown suggests checking in about the structure of your relationship. "The level of betrayal can be excruciating if the person you have trusted turns out to not be worthy of your trust. The question that naturally arises is usually, 'Can I/we recover from this?' The answer is going to vary from one couple to the next."
Of course, this isn't to say that if your partner is displaying any of these signs — from abnormal phone usage to a disinterest in sex — that they are definitely hiding someone from you. It's possible that your partner is dealing with a plethora of other issues that don't directly pertain to you. This is why it's crucial to open up a conversation about your suspicions in a non-judgmental manner before jumping to conclusions. As always, communication is key.
Put plainly: Thinking that your partner is hiding someone from your can feel awful. Open up a dialogue with them about your expectations, their behavior or anything else that has been bothering you. You deserve open communication and support in your relationship, and that is nothing to hide.