Dear Amy:

I am a man in my early thirties and have been exclusively dating and living with my same-age significant other for the last year of our two-year relationship. She is all I've ever wanted in a woman -- intelligent, funny and giving. Everyone she touches loves her.

The problem lies in the fact that she doesn't trust me. Frequently, my position takes me out of town. I also entertain clients. She accuses me of cheating on her, and it always ends up in a screaming argument.

She admits that I have never done anything to make me untrustworthy, but she also admits that she will never trust me. She states that her past life and/or relationships have never been complicated.

I would love to share the rest of my life with this woman, but I can't visualize a successful, lasting marriage without trust.

Not Trusted

Well, you're right. You cannot have a successful, lasting marriage without trust. Trust is the oxygen that keeps a relationship stoked. Unfortunately, your partner's behavior can become an ugly, self-fulfilling prophecy. The more she accuses you of cheating and abuses you when you return from business trips, the less you'll want to be with her. Then if you break up with her because you can't take it anymore, she will say, "You see, I was right!"

Because your partner's trust issue has no basis in the reality of your behavior, she is going to have to work hard to tackle this. You will help by being wonderful and predictable and reassuring, as well as completely trustworthy, of course.

The two of you should see a counselor in order to work on this issue. The counselor may recommend that she receive additional therapy in order to explore the roots of her behavior. Once she is able to manage her feelings and her anger, she'll stop making you the focus of her insecurity, her self-esteem will improve and she'll start to behave herself.

Your partner's willingness to work on this issue through therapy should be non-negotiable. Do not commit to a future with her until she proves that she is able to mature, grow and handle her trust issues in a healthy way.

Dear Amy:

My son graduated from high school with honors and was accepted at a prestigious college. Within the last two years, I have attended four high school graduations, by invitation, of students whose mothers are very good friends of mine, and I gave cash gifts.

My son did not want a party because he is a bit shy and doesn't like to be the center of attention. These friends of mine had asked several times when his graduation date was and the party date. I explained to them the situation that my son didn't want a party, but I did inform them of the graduation date.

Two of the friends were at the same graduation ceremony as my son's. It is now two weeks after the ceremony and I haven't heard a word from any of these friends as far as reciprocating gifts to my son.

Did my son need to have a party to get gifts from my friends with whom I gave cash gifts to their kids? I'm a bit insulted that they didn't go out of their way to send him a card. What is your comment?

No Party, No Gift?

Your friends should have honored your son by acknowledging his graduation, but it seems that they were waiting for an invitation or announcement in order to "reciprocate" with a gift. When they asked you when the graduation was, this might have been their way of trying to figure out if you would invite them to the ceremony. The two friends who did attend the ceremony (presumably for their own kids) should have been thoughtful enough to recognize your son's accomplishment.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

(c)2005 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.