J. Peirano: The Secret Code of Love: My Boyfriend Finds Out About Prostitutes' Offers - How Should I Respond?

Dear Ms Peirano,</p>my boyfriend and I have been together for three years (I'm 37, he's 38).

J. Peirano: The Secret Code of Love: My Boyfriend Finds Out About Prostitutes' Offers - How Should I Respond?

Dear Ms Peirano,

my boyfriend and I have been together for three years (I'm 37, he's 38). A few weeks ago I was using his computer and I saw from a window in his browser that he had been looking quite extensively for prostitutes in Budapest. About 20 windows were open.

He often travels to Eastern Europe on business. The mind merry-go-round started for me immediately. I saw him in bed with prostitutes touching him, having sex with him. It is disgusting.

Horrible, but I can't get the images out of my head. I asked him about his search history, but he reacted relatively coolly and said he was only doing research "out of interest" because he had read something about prostitution in Hungary.

He said I google a lot of things out of curiosity. I still can't get rid of this unpleasant head cinema. Of course, I also ask myself whether he often goes to the brothel and whether that is perhaps a habit for him. We never talked about it and I never thought about it before. I find the sex between us very good, but maybe a little rare. But is that why you go to the brothel? Cool.

But of course, many men go to prostitutes, why shouldn't my boyfriend do it? And you won't find out anything, everything is discreet and there are no messages or calls.

But of course I can't part ways based on mere suspicion. I don't have anything against him, and I can't and don't want to control him either. That wouldn't even work. He travels quite often for work, and there is a lot of alcohol (and probably sometimes cocaine) involved, and he and his business partners (whom I don't know) spend late evenings away. I've always found that difficult, but it's just part of his job.

What am I supposed to do? No matter how I twist and turn it, I can't find a solution.

Kind regardsNatalie G.

Dear Natalie G,

I can well imagine that the mental images of your boyfriend together with a prostitute made you feel nauseous at first. As you say, a "head cinema" has turned in your head and experience has shown that you will not bring it to a standstill again so easily. Especially threatening scenarios exert a fascination to imagine them again and again.

In your case, of course, the central question is: is there any reason to suspect that your partner is going to prostitutes, or is it just a fear scenario?

Prostitution is discreet and aimed at secrecy. Therefore it is difficult to detect. And in their case, the framework conditions are particularly difficult. Your partner often travels abroad alone and meets business partners you don't know. There is alcohol (or cocaine) involved and it often gets late. I'll put it this way: You would have to have a lot of trust in order not to become suspicious in this situation or not to ask yourself from time to time what else is going on in these uninhibited situations. Are there actually also female business partners or the women of the business partners, or are the men alone? And what impression did you get of the atmosphere from your partner's description? How does it make you feel when you hear or see something about it?

I work as a behavioral therapist and love coach in private practice in Hamburg-Blankenese and St. Pauli. In my PhD, I researched the connection between relationship personality and happiness in love and then wrote two books about love.

Information about my therapeutic work can be found at www.julia-peirano.info.

Do you have questions, problems or lovesickness? Please write to me (maximum one A4 page). I would like to point out that inquiries and answers can be published anonymously on stern.de.

Trust is the most important basis for a love relationship. And trust is not just there and stays, but it grows with trust-building situations. Or it gets cracks that have to be filled or sometimes can no longer be repaired.

Confidence is divided into different areas, just like there are different subjects in school, the grades of which can vary greatly.

One area of ​​trust, for example, is reliability: is my partner doing what we have agreed? Is he on time, does he do the agreed tasks, can I rely on him in everyday life?

Another area of ​​trust is lifestyle or style: does he choose gifts that I like, does he book a vacation that I also like, is he good at assessing me and picking good things to do for the weekend?

An important issue is trust in maintaining the relationship: Did the partner consciously choose me and does he want to maintain and intensify our relationship?

A very central area of ​​trust is fidelity: Does my partner stick to our agreement regarding fidelity? In the case of exclusivity, this would mean that the partner does not text other women in a suggestive way, does not become intimate with other women (mentally or physically), and tells me and resists when someone tries to invade our relationship.

Have you ever spoken to your partner about their beliefs about fidelity? And have you ever asked about his general opinion on prostitution?

For example, there are quite a few men who do not define a visit to a prostitute as cheating. A few years ago I blogged about the subject and received many indignant letters from men who said that visiting a prostitute was not cheating.

For others (this is also not uncommon) it is a kind of trivial offense that can be justified in connection with alcohol and men's evenings. I then sometimes ask back whether drunk driving is also okay in the context, to which I then often hear: That I would NEVER do that, I leave the car keys at home when I go out drinking.

It sounds like you can't gauge your partner's attitudes towards fidelity and prostitution, to say the least. And based on some of the keywords you gave me, I would assume that he likes to go overboard and behave in an uninhibited manner. So I can understand your alarm bells going off when you see him scouting for prostitutes and won't be fobbed off with the answer that it's just out of curiosity. You probably wouldn’t have to open 20 windows on the internet for that…

My advice is: talk to him and see how you feel about it. Why not ask him if he can tell you more about his contact with Hungarian business partners, show photos and report. I find that he is demanding (or assuming) a great deal of trust from you, and through the inconsistencies you can also ask him to restore trust.

Put yourself in their shoes: for example, you would visit friends and go dancing abroad and your partner would have reservations and be jealous. How would you feel and what would you do to make him more secure?

For example, you could tell more about what you are experiencing and who you are with, get in touch more often, especially late in the evening and include the others, e.g. by sending photos. He could tell you what he thinks about prostitution and describe his attitude towards it.

And in the end it's up to you to see how it feels (be sure to pay attention to your gut feeling), whether that's enough for you and you feel safer again.

Because you can't control it, and you shouldn't. Because the more you control, the greater the doubts and worries. This is a vicious circle, similar to that of obsessive-compulsive patients who doubt whether the hearth looks the more often they have already checked it. And what's more, the people who are being controlled often tend to have defiant reactions in the sense of: You don't trust me anyway. Then I can also be a stranger. So this is not a solution.

You need trust, and trust is something BOTH must create and nurture again and again when it's cracked. From my point of view, it's his turn now because he's responsible for the cracks.

When it comes to trust, it is important to listen to your gut feeling and not to make any compromises. Because a relationship without trust has no chance of happiness.

Best regards

Julia Peirano