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Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1206
Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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My 23-year old girlfriend of three years secretly went on a

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My 23-year old girlfriend of three years secretly went on a trip to the South of France, travelled business class from the UK and stayed at a 5-star hotel. The trip, which must have cost at least three grand, I found out was paid for by a wealthy middle-east businessman. When I confronted her, she denied sleeping with him and said she had her own room. I checked and the guy had three rooms at the hotel and she had one of them. I feel totally betrayed. Until I caught her out, she claimed she was up north filming a video and was difficult to reach. She then cut her Cannes trip short and is flying back to the UK. She says she loves me and swears she didn't do anything wrong. She's an actress and says her host believes in her and wants to finance movies for her and she believes this. What should I do?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 2 years ago.
It seems to come down to whether you can live with your girlfriend seeking success in an industry where other men may well continue to play a bigger role in her personal life than you want. At 23 she may have a higher priority for furthering her acting career than for marriage. It'She cut her trip short because she made a mistake--to lie to you and get caught.It seems to me that what you do depends on how long your relationship has lasted and what commitments you each are prepared to make to the other. If her drive for acting success places unavoidable limits on the trust you can have in her, then you don't have much room for your needs for loyalty.If you tell her you cannot live with her without the certainty that she will always tell you the whole truth about where she's going with any person who could infringe on your exclusive intimacy with her, WHAT WOULD SHE DO? You would be insisting that she clear any potentially compromising encounter with you in advance AND tell all afterwards. And you could also explicitly limit the types of encounters she could have--after negotiating on some details with her. But do you think she would BE ABLE to negotiate in good faith and also tell the truth? If you think it's possible that she might be able to fulfill both of these conditions,--and I'd expect your estimation to depend a lot on how long you've been intimate with her, emotionally more than physically--then you could present your own version of this proposal to her and see how she reacts.A caveat here is this: she's pretty young to be wise enough to know whether her willpower and commitments could outweigh her emotions. For if she's been with you a year or so, she could think (with her feelings) that YOU are far more important to her centeredness as a person (or emotional security) than the lure of her career. ;But another situation might come up that would apparently reward her handsomely for stepping over the guidelines you've agreed on, she could be unable to handle it honestly once again.But if you DON'T assert yourself clearly over what you want and what you will not accept, then your likely fallback position could turn out to be a de facto "don't ask, don't tell" or "what you don't knowe won't hurt you." It's not MY place to decide whether you're a man who can live that way or not. That's amatter for you experience and learn about for yourself.Tell me what you think about this approach and I'll respond again tomorrow.
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 2 years ago.
Sorry. I just noticed that your relationship has lasted for 3 years already. I expect that many other experienced relationship counselors might assume that means you have a very strong and growing c9ommitment to build on. But while I agree that you have a long period of commitment, and quit3e possibly a healthy level of attachment to each other, there is another side to relationships of a length similar to yours: There is a fairly universal biological "clock" for courtship and cohabitations that can lead to a subsidence of the passionate feelings that have been present up to now: apparently we are naturally designed as a species for romantic passion to last long enough to produce and wean one baby--18 to 36 months--after which our romantic passion MAY subside enough to make it possible for couples to drift into some doldrums if they have not married and moved into new phases of passionate growth together (such as new-parenting). That means that humans are naturally (biochemically) outfitted to be either monogamous for life (or until children are raised) or serially monogamous, so they can theoretically produce one or more offspring with each mate, and thus increase their chances of producing genetically interesting/superior offspring. In fact, in cultures where divorce or other forms of serial monogamy are legally and socially comfortable, the most common (or statistically modal) relationship duration before dissolution is 3 to 4 years. So I'm NOT suggesting that either hyou or she is consciously aware of some reduction in your romantic love for each other, but that OTHER goals and passionate interests might have an easier chance of achieving a higher priority with one or both of you now than before. Yet it is also natural that the threat of breaking up that this event has generated will lead to some renewed passion because the pain of losing each other will completely overshadow any subsidence of feelings that either of you might have experienc ed before this crisis. Any way you analyzwe your relationship at this time, though, you are in a crisis of commitment. And the subtle biological fact that relationships that last longer than three years without leading to marriage and children or other strong common activities that bind a couple together are more prone to emotional stagnation and eventual dissolution than before this time only adds to the has arrived at your doorstep. Perhaps it is time to have a talk (or another talk) about whether you plan to get married and/or have children together.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks Doc that's helped me. I have one question - can I be certain that she was intimate with him or is there a possibility that she's telling the truth when she swears to me that nothing happened?
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 2 years ago.
Ad popups stopped me a few minutes ago. Here goes again. I think it'[s unlikely that she was intimate in the sexual sense. I'd bet the businessman was more intent on showing her 1. a really good time, with lots of money and good taste, and 2. that he's a perfect gentleman-- even if he might have sexual aims possible for a later time. And she'd be way too scared of being unable to stick to a lie if she did give in really quickly to a sexual scene. But you need to be concerned about the appearance of betrayal in her going on an expensive trip with a man and lying to you to hide it. If you're able to work out explicit guidelines about what you will accept and HOW you will go about accepting her setting up "Platonic sponsorships" with powerful men, so that any such men KNOW that they must respect your feelings about their behavior with your girlfriend, because SHE will respect your wishes and make them know AS HER OWN WISHES to any man who wants to impress her and gain the privilege of her companionship for some event or other.
In 1961 I actually had a brief encounter one afternoon in a Munich park with British actress Susannah York, 22, who was then costarring in the movie Freud with Montgomery Clift. And the following evening she went to the Oktoberfest with me, because she wanted to. But she let me know that she had a fiance, and I was only 18. She was in charge of what happened between us physically, and I was not staying in her hotel, but 35 miles south in a small town where I was attending a German immersion language school.
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