My boyfriend and I were throwing a Super Bowl party at my place, so I came home early from work to help. When I got there, I found the door was locked with the security chain. When he came to the door, he was wearing boxers, but he'd been dressed when I left. Then I went to change, and he told me not to go in the bedroom because he said a friend who'd come into town was taking a nap in there. What friend? He said it was someone in from out of town, and his hotel wasn't ready when he arrived. He never mentioned this friend was coming into town, and I kept imagining it was some Grindr date, that’s how we'd met a few months ago. But then we'd agreed to be exclusive. Anyway, there was no time to get into it before the party, and afterward he brushed it off as my paranoia. Now it's a few weeks later and we're supposed to be leaving for a trip, but my gut is telling me we should cancel. My head is reminding me that I didn't actually catch him doing anything, and I've always wanted to go to Brazil. I don't speak Portuguese, but my sexy boyfriend does. What should I do?
The way you've presented it here, it certainly reads as if your boyfriend was cheating. That doesn't mean he was cheating.
I wish you'd told us more about your paranoia. Did that comment come from left field, or has he said that type of thing before? Is there a grain of truth to the remark? Do you frequently find yourself worrying over whether your intimate partner has one foot out the door? Or is he a master of subterfuge who was derailing the conversation by pushing a button, aka gaslighting you? Or maybe it's a combination of all of those things?
The horrible thing about relationships is that — eventually — they force us to reckon with the parts of ourselves that are less than flattering. This is why it's so important to have a solid relationship with yourself first. Ain't no partner worth losing yourself for, but if you haven't found yourself yet, you won't see the loss until it's too late. I've been there.
In my late 20s I bounced in and out of a relationship with a man I felt I needed to prove myself worthy of. As soon as I'd start get up on my feet after a breakup, he'd come around, and I'd get sucked right back in. Before him, I never thought of myself as a jealous person. With him, I totally was. With good reason. The guy was an asshole. We'd be on a romantic date and he'd stop and say, "This spot reminds me of Colleen." Colleen was his ex, with whom he was, clearly, still in love. Foolishly, I believed that if he could just see the awesomeness that was me, he'd get over her. Spoiler alert: that never happened. There's an element of this in your letter, calling him sexy, the fact that you're out shopping and prepping. It's as if you, too, are trying to prove something.
The good news is, you're not expressing any sense of responsibility. This is right. If you want to be in a monogamous relationship, and agree to this with your partner, and they cheat, that's on them. And yet, there's a lack of clarity that's troubling.
Your question is less about the trip than whether to stay in the relationship at all. Or it should be. Because if you are dating, and you cancel the trip last minute, it will probably end the relationship. Also, you two already have slams like, "that's your paranoia"? I'm not exactly sure how long "a couple of months" is, but maybe it was too soon to ask for monogamy. I'm not sure this is someone you should be dating.
If you're going to keep dating, by all means go on that trip. Going to Brazil with someone who speaks Portuguese and who'll give you orgasms along the way with is a no-brainer. Plus, if you do break up on the trip, you're in the perfect place to have yourself some new adventures. Better yet, end it now and go solo. Some of my best romps have happened on solo travels, and I highly recommend it for post-breakup healing.
Look, Torn, it's hard to take this relationship seriously because it doesn't seem like you do. Nothing you said here is about how you love this person, it's all about how he's betrayed you. And if that's your primary feeling, then you need to respect yourself enough to get out. If he's lying, there's a problem. If he's not lying, there's a problem. You can't get to the bottom of these problems unless you're willing to look at yourself clearly. This doesn't mean you haven't been wronged, but that matters very little when it comes to creating a healthy relationship. You'll know you've hit the sweet spot when you trust enough that you don't need to know everything.
If all else fails, dance it out.