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I Found Someone's Clothes in My Boyfriend's Car

Cosmopolitan logo Cosmopolitan 16/2/2017 Logan Hill

I found a piece of clothing in my fiancé's car that doesn't belong to me. He is the only one who drives his car and no one is ever in it. He says he has no idea how it got there or where it could have come from. I trust him but I have doubt. I am petite and this was a much bigger item of clothing I found. What do I do? How do I feel?

I Found a Piece of Clothing in My Fiancé's Car That Isn't Mine © Getty Images I Found a Piece of Clothing in My Fiancé's Car That Isn't Mine

I agree that “I dunno” is not a rock-solid explanation. Of course you doubt him! Perhaps you’re familiar with the old expression: Where there’s strange women’s clothing in the backseat, there’s fire.

Important question: When you say “clothing,” are we talking T-shirt or … thong? I could use some more details. I suppose it’s possible that a platonic friend dropped a piece of clothing in his car. However, since he’s opting for total denial ("What car? What are clothes? I didn’t even know I had a backseat!") it seems significantly more likely that he’s bullshitting you.

Is he not even speculating about whose piece of clothing this might be? Who might have been in his car? I find it very bizarre that he would have “no idea.” If he had a more persuasive excuse, I’d be more sympathetic. But, especially if he’s not sensitive to your very damn reasonable concern, I think you should either assume he’s both cheating and lying and then dump him - or lay down some very clear no-tolerance policy on cheating and proceed with extreme caution.

I suspect he’s hiding more dirty laundry.

I've been happily committed to my boyfriend for four years now and we've built a wonderful life together. I love him to bits and he worships me. Lately I've felt the desire to open up the relationship. I know that I don't want to leave him, I just enjoy flirting, and the attention I get from other guys actually has brought the fire back into the bedroom! I think I've always thought of myself as an open relationship type-person, because I enjoy being sexual. I want to bring this up to my boyfriend, but I'm really afraid he'll feel rejected and think I don't love him or get enough from him, when that's not really how I feel at all. Is it selfish that I want to explore and still keep my relationship? Is there a good way to bring this up or should I keep quiet? I can see this either crushing him, or him being such an incredible guy that he's willing to let me sow my wild oats as long as I come home to him. I'm just too scared to rock the boat but I can't help how I feel.

I don’t think you’re necessarily being selfish to want to open up your relationship. It works for some people. The thing is, it’s always got to work for both people. And you’re right: Sometimes, even having the conversation is a little risky, because it raises all sorts of issues that go to the heart of trust and our own insecurities.

I’m not going to advise you to open up your relationship or not. That’s between you two. My main advice here is just to make sure you think this through carefully. It’s fun to fantasize about how hot it might be to hook up with someone new and exciting. It can even be fun to flirt or share those fantasies. But actually living in an open relationship is inevitably more complicated, for better or worse, and often in ways you can’t immediately predict. Think about the day-to-day routine of it. What will be the limits? The rules? Is this a short-term thing you’d try out for a year? Or is this how you’d like the relationship to work forever? When issues do come up (and they will), how will you resolve them? Do you trust each other so much that your relationship is strong enough to handle this new risk?

Friends of mine in open relationships generally have very specific rules. Here are a few I’ve heard: “Only when you’re out of town.” “Only if I don’t know the person.” “Only if I do know the person.” “Only if I approve the particular person.” “Only once a year.” I also know friends who’ve set “No Fly” lists of forbidden exes, crushes, and coworkers who their partners are never allowed to touch. In other words, there are not just “open relationships” and monogamous relationships. There are a lot of ways you can do this.

That brings me to my second point: Remember that you wouldn’t be the only one fooling around. Think hard about how you’d feel if he were hooking up with other women. Would you feel safe? Secure? Desired? Do you think this would make it harder to be intimate? Or make you feel closer? Open relationships almost never work when they’re unequal, so you’ve got to think hard about what it would be like if he indulged in the same freedom you’ve been craving. What limits would you want from him? And would you be willing to obey those same limits yourself?

If you do try to talk to your boyfriend, be sure to head off any concerns that you’re essentially proposing a soft breakup. If this really is about being more fully satisfied in your life, talk about building a life and a long-term relationship together. Explain that this is about more than a temporary thrill. Tell him that it’s about figuring out how to reconcile your other desires with your main priority: a long-term, loving relationship with him. Above all, if you really do love your boyfriend and want to be your primary partner, be very, very clear about it. Opening a relationship is ultimately about trust.

Finally, prepare what you’re going to say if your boyfriend says, “Hell no.” It’s entirely possible. If you do want to stay with him, regardless, be sure to immediately say that. You say you worry about crushing him, so don’t give him the impression that you would close the relationship down if he won’t open it up.

My boyfriend of three years went to Vegas on a bachelor party this summer, and I found out that all the guys in the group made profiles on various "hookup apps." When I confronted him about this, he said that they were simply looking for dates when they went out to the club, and that they ultimately never ended up contacting or meeting up with any women-either on the app or IRL. He seemed so guilty and upset at the time that I simply bought it and forgave him. Months later, the whole thing still irks me. I brought it up last month, and we talked things over, and I explained that I considered those sorts of actions to be an infidelity (whether they were group efforts or not). He told me that he understood, but asked me if we were going to be able to get over this, and whether or not there would always be a grudge. I said no, but I honestly don't know if that's the truth. I feel a nagging in me that says this isn't that last time something like this is going to happen, and I'm having a difficult time giving my trust to him. As far as I know, I have no reason to believe he has had any other slips, and I don't want to keep bringing this up - but the lack of trust I now feel is concerning to me. How do I confront these feelings without constantly rubbing his nose in an old, "resolved" issue?

This sounds like a classic “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” situation. Aside from a police inquiry and some surveillance footage, you’re never going to be able to independently verify the truth of this bachelor party. So forget about getting to the bottom of this. He’s likely told you all he’s going to say.

Knowing what you know - and seeing how he’s responded since - you just have to decide: Do you trust him? So let me make a quick point about trust: If you decide to forgive and trust your boyfriend of three years, that doesn’t mean you have to erase every memory and doubt about this Vegas trip. You don’t have to completely and permanently forgive him or trust him absolutely for the rest of your relationship. Zero-doubt, 100 percent trust is rare, if not impossible.

So here’s the advice I want to give you: I think a lot of people in good, healthy relationships sometimes get frustrated and upset because there’s this fiction out there that trust is an either/or thing: You either trust the person you love. Or you don’t. But that’s just not true. I want you to know that there’s a middle ground between suspicion and absolute trust, and it’s called every relationship ever. Trust isn’t some pure thing. It’s a choice you make every day. It’s something you earn every day and over time.

It’s perfectly OK to basically trust your boyfriend but still suspect he might have crossed a line in Vegas. It’s perfectly OK to basically trust your boyfriend - and still be skeptical the next time he goes out with the boys. You don’t have to ignore your gut feelings or your doubts. You don’t have to choose between irrationally holding onto a grudge and utterly ignoring your gut feelings. You can be a little suspicious about this one thing - or something else - and still basically trust your boyfriend of three years based on all the reasons you’ve stayed together for three years.

I think it’s great that you talked to your boyfriend about this and clarified your boundaries. I also think you’ll be wasting your time if you repeatedly ask him to explain what, exactly, happened in Vegas. But you won’t be wasting your time to talk about your feelings in general. So don’t have the same argument about Vegas over and over again. Think about the other things you’d need to keep making that decision to trust him, day after day. Instead of just looking back, look forward at what you need to make this work: More phone calls? Clear boundaries for boys’ nights? Keep trying, keep talking, keep making that decision. And don’t look for perfection.

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