Ask Mary Jo: Being vulnerable & what to do if you suspect cheating

Hi Mary Jo,

How do you know when it’s okay to be vulnerable in a relationship?



Timing is everything, and there is no ‘perfect’ time. The safer you both feel from being judged or criticized, the more likely it is that you can be vulnerable. I would encourage you to go with your gut and be clear about what it is you want to express. Too many people try to be vulnerable when their partner isn’t ready or prepared so encourage your partner to sit down with you so you can talk. Trying to say something vulnerable when your partner is distracted by something else may not give you the feedback you want. They may look uncaring when you just caught them off guard.

Be courageous and honest enough to say what’s on your mind and in your heart. Remember, being vulnerable means being direct with what you want and telling your partner when you’re afraid or anxious about opening up. This makes them feel safer and more trustful with you.


Hi Mary Jo,

What is your take on finding out your significant other has phone numbers listed under an acronym?



It sounds like your significant other is hiding something from you, and the fact that you’re asking me this question makes me believe you think he’s cheating. If that’s your gut feeling, it’s probably true, and you should ask. Most cheaters have difficulty answering when asked face-to-face without distraction. I’d advise you to ask him at a time when the two of you are alone. Tell him that if he tells you the truth you’ll be upset, but not as hurt as you will be if you find out he lied to you. From that point, continue to rely on your gut instinct, especially if he’s acting suspicious in other ways. Examples include dressing up more than usual to go to work or when he’s not with you, being unable to reach at specific times, or acting more secretive with his phone or whereabouts.

If you have children, it’s important that you talk with a legal representative and find a counselor you can work with. The counselor can help you manage your emotions so any reactions you make will be wise choices that help you take care of yourself and your children. The worst choice you can make at this time is what many “friends” unfortunately advise. You don’t want to react harshly and throw him out before you establish the truth, disrupting your life and your children’s. Cheating is a choice and a very desperate, poor choice. Don’t allow his bad choice to destroy you or your family’s life.