(The Root) —
"My boyfriend and I have a very trusting relationship. We share passwords to our email accounts, phones and social networking. Lately, he's been receiving emails and calls from a new woman. He says she's just a friend and there is nothing to worry about. I don't think he's cheating, but I think there may be more going on that he's letting me know. I would like to call her woman to woman and make sure she knows he's in a committed relationship. My friends can't agree on whether or not this is a good idea. Should I should call her?" —S.C.
Was there a storyline in a recent TV show where a girlfriend called another woman about her man, or is there a popular song about this? I ask because there's been a bump in questions like this in my email inbox and Formspring queue. I thought — incorrectly, obviously — that every grown person knew that calling another woman about your man is absolutely and unequivocally a horrible idea.
I've never called anyone about any man I've dated or with whom I've been in a relationship. My logic is that if the solution to my issue is to have to call a third party, who is not a professional, about what's going on between another person and me, then something is irrevocably broken, and that's the sign that it's about time to see myself to the exit of that relationship. But I have been on the receiving end of these calls three times.
The first was from the wife of a college friend whom I ran into at a club. We exchanged numbers mostly out of courtesy. His wife was respectful and, actually, pretty sweet when she called to ask how I knew her husband and if I knew they had a child and one on the way.
Because we had mutual friends and I didn't want any drama in my circle, more than out of any respect for her, I explained in detail that I'd known his friends and family for years, and there was nothing for her to be concerned about. Then I texted him and told him his wife was nuts and to delete my number.
Another woman's friend sent me a nasty email when yet another of her friends discovered that we were dating the same guy. He lived in New York, and she lived farther away from him than I but still on the East Coast. She wanted me to know that while I had the advantage of proximity, his heart was with her friend. I was appalled by her audacity, and I'm not proud to admit it, but I emailed her back with the strongest language I could use without cursing.
I also stopped dating him, even though he denied that his situation with the other woman was as serious as it seemed. I did this less because I cared that he was dating other people — he'd said as much, and what could I say, since we weren't even talking about committing — but because he was messy, and I wanted no part of that.
The last woman had drudged up my number from "her man's" phone and called me bright and early one Saturday to ask, "Is Micah in New York with you?" I couldn't even think of anyone named Micah off the top of my head. Turns out, I'd met him months prior during an interview, and we exchanged numbers. He'd never called — nor had I — and I'd never thought about him since. But he was missing, and she thought she could find him with me.
I hung up on her — twice. After I realized who he was, I tracked him down on Facebook (because I'd deleted his number) to let him know some crazy woman had called me, and I didn't appreciate it. He was profusely apologetic and denied to the hilt any involvement with her other than for sex.
The results of my encounters might give you the impression that your call would do your relationship some good, since ultimately, I bailed. That's just my reaction, though. There was nothing all that serious going on for me to stick around through the foolishness.
But you should know, there's another type of woman who will rightly interpret your call for exactly what is: an indication of a huge problem in your relationship. And she will take advantage of it, coming after your man harder than before, either because she actually wants him or her ego just wants to trump yours. Your call will just fuel her desire to have him — or just to create drama because the attention makes her feel important.
You're clearly not OK with your man's new friend. You need to address the issue of what you think may be going on with your partner only. Your telling another woman about his commitment means absolutely nothing if, when you're not around, he's not acting so committed.
And while falling back might be the nice thing for the new woman to do, also understand that the onus isn't on her to respect the commitment your partner made to you. He's committed to you; she is not. Another woman doesn't really owe you anything — not an explanation or to stay away from your man, especially not when he's chasing her or receptive to her. Only when he speaks up does it send a message that his alliances lie with you.
Your partner — the one you say you trust but really don't if you need to call someone else to verify what he's up to — needs to make it clear to the new woman that he's just looking for friendship, nothing more. If he doesn't, or you don't see a change in his behavior and communication with the new woman, you may need to rethink the trust in your relationship. And if you expect monogamy, you'll have to decide whether it's worth even staying in your relationship at all.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.