What's really going on with your man and the woman he "shares" with…
Annalise, 25, was surprised and upset when she realised her boyfriend, Ryan, had confided in a female work colleague about a fight they'd had. Not only did it make her jealous that he would open up to this woman emotionally, it also made her mad – what right did this chick have to weigh in on their relationship? Annalise and Ryan eventually broke up. There were many reasons, but she did count his reaching out to another woman as a sign that they had both grown apart…
When it comes to emotional infidelity, Annalise isn't alone – in an online poll, 56 per cent of readers said their partner has spilled intimate details to a female friend instead of them. We called in an expert to discover whether it's a breach of trust of simply a side effect of platonic male/female friendship. Is talk cheap?
"Some men find it easier to confide in someone they're not emotionally involved with," explains counsellor and author Dr Charmaine Saunders. "It only becomes a problem if he can't speak to you about personal issues in general."
For Anne, 28, discovering that her boyfriend had contacted her friend for advice when they were going through a rough patch was initially shocking – but she didn't let it tear them apart. "I was worried about why he'd decided to talk to my friend instead of coming to me directly, but then I felt proud of him for being protective and trying to smooth over our differences. And at least she was my friend and not a stranger to me."
Deal breakers While a partner confiding in another woman is a deal-breaker for some, Saunders says it's possible to move on and have a successful relationship if you're both honest and open to setting healthy boundaries about what is and isn't appropriate.
"Discussing issues at work is fine, but the female friend shouldn't be involved in his career decision-making process," she explains. As for talking about sex? "General communication is OK, but personal, intimate details are never acceptable."
The next step If, like Annalise and Anne, you've found out your boyfriend is confiding in other women, it's time for a chat – just don't use those four fatal words, "We need to talk". "If you're truly worried that his friendship with this other woman is threatening the relationship, tell him – nothing will change if you seethe in silence."