Life Advice



Emotionally Distant Boyfriend Makes Me Anxious

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: I've been with my boyfriend, "Mike," for five years, and we've lived together for three. I've noticed he's been distant lately. I can't quite put my finger on why; he says he has just been stressed about work.

He has also been spending more time on his phone. Last week, I saw messages pop up on his phone from a woman named "Sarah," who I've never heard of before. I didn't read them, but I can't shake the feeling that something is off.

Mike and I have always been honest with each other, so this secrecy feels like a betrayal. I want to address it, but I don't want to come off as accusatory or make him feel like I was snooping on his phone. I love him, but I just can't escape the feeling that something is wrong. -- Anxious in Austin

Dear Anxious: Start by sharing your feelings without blaming him -- for instance, "I've been feeling a bit disconnected from you lately and it worries me."

When it comes to Sarah, approach the topic gently. You could say something like, "I noticed a message from someone named Sarah. I haven't heard about her before; can you tell me about her?" This opens the door for an explanation without jumping to conclusions.

If Mike is open and honest, it should help ease your mind. If he becomes defensive, it might be worth exploring further. Trust your instincts, but also give him the chance to explain. Open communication is the foundation of a healthy relationship.

Dear Annie: I have been in a relationship with a married man for over 14 years. We've known each other for 40 now. He's been married for 28 years. I've been widowed now for nine.


He hasn't told his wife about our relationship. We stopped for about a year. He wants to rekindle what we had, but he hasn't been completely honest with his wife. She apparently knows something, but I doubt it's the complete truth. We do love each other and I want to tell her. I am not sure how to deal with this. -- Amid an Affair

Dear Amid: This man needs to take responsibility and be honest, with you and his wife. If he truly loves and respects both of you, he should face whatever consequences come from this situation.

Think about your future. Are you seeking a transparent relationship with this man, or are you willing to continue under these stressful and secretive conditions? Your well-being and happiness matter. Your feelings for this man are obviously incredibly strong, but don't let that blind you. You deserve more than to be a hidden 14-year-old secret.


"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to



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