Karma Cleanser - March 12 2003

?Dear Karma Cleanser:
I’ve been engaged to my fiance for about seven months and we’ve been living together for about eight months. We get along fine except that one of her ex-boyfriend’s names keep popping up all the time. She told me that they had decided they were better off as friends. She insists that’s all they’ll ever be. Before we moved in together, we started having problems because this guy began calling her, and she would stay on the phone with him between four and seven hours while I was at work. After a while, I confronted her about it, telling her that it was starting to bother me. Her excuse was, “There’s nothing I can do about it. He’s going to call me anyway.”

After we moved in together, I started to question their friendship even though they were not talking (that I know of). I found a journal that she kept with his name all in it and secretly went into her e-mail account to find that she had tried sending this guy e-mails that called me “controlling,” said she “misses him” and ended with “I love you.” When I confronted her, she was pissed because I had read her e-mail but said she was just stressed at the time and didn’t know why she had written those.

After that, her dad told her that the guy had been trying to get in touch with her. I left that same night to pick up dinner and when I came in, she was standing in the doorway talking on the cell phone. She ran from the door and was in a hurry to get off the phone. After I realized how suspicious this appeared, I asked if I could see the phone. She refused to give me the phone, saying that she wasn’t talking to anybody. Should I be suspicious?
-- Ex-stress

Our immediate response is, hell yeah, you should be suspicious. A lot of dirty dealings are going on here on both sides. But on closer look, and perhaps due to our current bedside reading, we’re inclined to offer another perspective. In her new book, Zen and the Art of Falling in Love, Brenda Shoshanna writes that it’s an act of violence to try to change or control your partner, and advises instead to relax your grip and focus on your own reactions. “We keep trying to turn mud into pure water,” she writes. You can’t keep concentrating on your fiance’s muddy past (or present) with her ex. We’re not saying sit idly by and do nothing if she’s cheating on you. Instead, accept the fact that you can only control your own actions. If your fiance doesn’t want to be with you — and it sounds like she doesn’t — then let her go.

Been bad? karma@creativeloafing.com.