Dear Rhonda,

I’m in a relationship with a man who is 15 years younger than me. When he met me, he knew that I was married and wanted to sleep with me anyway. Now we have a relationship where he talks about having feelings for me. We also have a BDSM contract where I am his Mistress and he is my slave. We both have trust issues because we have both been cheated on.

My boyfriend claims he never cheated on his ex-wife, though she cheated on him for at least a year, bringing men home while he was at work.

My husband cheated on me, and that is why I decided to become a cheater myself, because I was tired of being depressed, crying and sexually frustrated. I wanted to move on and just be happy.

My husband said he did not want an open relationship or a divorce. I cannot move out on my own because I cannot afford to do so. If I could, I honestly would because it is exhausting. I feel like I’m leading a double life. I blame my husband in a way, but these choices are ultimately my own.

Now this young man and I have strong feelings for each other, along with this new lifestyle that I have never really had before. I have so many feelings I don’t know where to begin.

Sometimes I fear this young man will cheat on me as well, like most of the other men from previous relationships before getting married have done. He tells me that he is mine and that he is loyal to me. We communicate on a daily basis and have done so for 4 months now. He even sends me pictures when he is at work or when visiting his family to prove to me his honesty.

However, there was an issue where he had another woman send him panties after he and I were supposed to be exclusive. He says it’s a fetish of his to masturbate to a woman’s panties but I told him that he should have asked me for mine, and he should not have someone else’s panties.

I started to question whether he actually had another woman over at his place to begin with. He says he did not. Being my slave, I told him he should have asked me for permission as to whether he could masturbate to someone else’s underwear. He said he did not see anything wrong because it was only a fetish. I told him that I was his Mistress, and I would make the decision as to whether or not he could do that.

Now I wonder what else he is hiding from me. I hate having to interrogate him every time I see him for lack of trust and suspicion. He has been doing his best to try to make things up to me, being extra doting and affectionate and planning events for us to be together more often.

I’m not sure what to do about getting over my trust issues as I’m still in a marriage, where I feel guilty that two wrongs don’t make a right. I’m suspicious of my husband all the time. I would much rather be with one man and be in a monogamous loyal and faithful relationship. I do not like having to make excuses and hide my relationship with this young man.

It’s also tricky keeping the truth from my friends and not being able to talk about this amazing relationship that I’m in. Now I’m suspicious of this young man who seems to be trying so hard to prove himself to me. What are your thoughts? I’m not sure what specifically to ask.

Mistress Isabel

Dear Mistress Isabel

There is a lot going on here, so I will focus on what I see as the main themes of your situation.

Firstly, I want to acknowledge the hurt of the betrayal you have experienced. Hurt, anger, disappointment, loss – all of these and more. You need space and time to grieve.

You also need to draw a line in the sand to give your future relationships a chance. Attribute the hurt, the anger, and the fear where they belong: to those who hurt you, in the past, so you can learn to trust again.

So what is trust? Trust is being able to rely on somebody, to have hope or an expectation of integrity, honesty – in this case, fidelity.

However, there are no guarantees in life. You cannot control how anyone feels or behaves, to meet your expectations – nor would you want to, if they were doing so under duress.

In practice then, to trust is to take a risk. It is choosing to hope rather than doubt. And yes, trust is a choice.

So, what do you choose here?

Your husband betrayed your trust. Now you have broken his. You feel hurt and anger, a desire for revenge, to reclaim something for you – all of those things. However, waiting for someone to prove himself or herself before you trust is setting yourself up for failure.

After an infidelity, you need to take a risk: choose to trust, again and again. In a sense, learning to trust involves changing your habit of thought from expecting the worst to hoping for the best.

From what you describe, your boyfriend did not necessarily break your trust; rather, he misunderstood your expectations of his behaviour. Now he must counter your constant suspicion, as you interrogate the minutiae of his actions, seeking evidence of failure, of a lack of love and commitment.

You can keep your suspicion in check by putting yourself in your partner’s shoes. How would you feel if he questioned your every thought, interaction, and fantasy? Would you feel he did not respect your boundaries, your autonomy? Would you feel controlled?

In healthy relationships, partners respect each another’s autonomy while demonstrating commitment. It is absolutely okay to expect commitment from your partner, and if your partner is not able to meet your emotional needs, and not able to provide the kind of relationship you seek, or you are not able to meet theirs, you should end the relationship so you are both freed up to find someone who can.

This may mean spending time understanding what your needs are. For instance, what do you fear? Where does the fear come from?

You attribute your difficulty trusting to more than your husband’s betrayal, describing a history of infidelities. This suggests a pattern of dating people who cheat, so I wonder if your underlying attachment style is interfering with your ability to select faithful partners and/or to trust.

Many who struggle to trust as adults were not able to attach securely to their primary caregivers in infancy. Psychologists believe this can give rise to adults with an insecure or avoidant attachment style, which leaves them unable to feel secure, to attach securely, in our adult relationships. This would be worth looking into, possibly with the help of a good therapist, though there is plenty you can do on your own.

Are you afraid you are not good enough, that your partner will abandon you, that you will be alone? Work on building your sense of self, on tolerating discomfort and fear, so you know you will actually be okay even if the relationship does not work out.

Are you focusing on signs that confirm your fear, instead of articulating your underlying need to your partner (for instance, for love and commitment)? What can you both do to create a secure base from which you can explore and then come back together in the right measures? What would happen if you started looking for evidence of love, of fidelity, of commitment, instead of its opposite?

Be open and honest in your communications and expectations of one another. Be clear and direct, and communicate your emotional needs assertively, while respecting the needs of your partner, including the need for some degree of autonomy, privacy and fantasy.

What kind of relationship do you want? Are your expectations fair and realistic? Are you asking more of your partner than you would ask of yourself? Do your expectations respect your partner’s autonomy? Do they respect your own? These considerations also apply to the rules and boundaries you establish within your Mistress/slave contract.

This brings us to the next question. If you could have the kind of relationship you want (monogamous, loyal and faithful), with whom would you want to have it? This is the relationship you need to work on, and work towards having.

If the answer is your husband, you need to work together to repair the relationship, put the past behind you, and build the kind of relationship you both want, where you respect and meet each other’s needs. A good couples’ counsellor or therapist can help with this.

Lastly, what steps can you take to increase your financial independence so you are actually free to choose?

I hope these reflections help you evaluate your situation and consider ways you might cultivate the kind of relationship you desire.


Rhonda xx

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