Hi Jake,

I know my boyfriend is cheating on me. About six months ago he started “going to the gym” a lot more often. He went from 2-3 times per week to literally almost every day, and sometimes he goes at really random hours, like 9 or 10 at night. I started to get suspicious when I realized that, for someone who “works out” as much as he does, he should be in way better shape. Part of me thinks I should confront him about it, but another part of me doesn’t really care. We’ve been together seven years and I like the stability of our relationship. I don’t want to mess that up. And as long as he’s being safe, I think it’s probably OK. What should I do?

Not-So-Naïve

Dear Not-So-Naïve,

While your boyfriend’s new anthem may be, “Let’s Get Physical,” it sounds like he may not really be working the kettlebells. Often times our intuitions are true about a cheating partner, and the gym is a classic alibi. For a lot of gay men, it’s as common as going to the grocery store, so it doesn’t raise suspicion to be constantly swinging a gym bag around and disappearing for a few hours at a time. In this case, I understand why the sudden change in frequency, late-night hours, and strangely plateauing waistline might raise some eyebrows.

Similar to a multi-interval HIIT class, your feelings about this seem to be alternating. On the one hand, you may not appreciate being lied to, hence your idea about confronting your man. At the same time, when it comes to actually having a monogamous relationship, it sounds like you’re not all that rigid about the concept. I’m hearing you might even be open to the trips to the “gym” if they were happening in a more honest and respectful way.

The main concern I have is your willingness to push all that down and not allow your feelings to be heard, just to keep the “peace.” While you say that things are “stable” in your relationship, it doesn’t sound like there’s a lot of actual intimacy happening here. Both of you may be holding back on sharing your feelings, thoughts, and desires, just to keep things “status quo.”

Rocking the boat can feel scary, especially for people who may have a history of a lot of turmoil. It can feel easier to just let things slide and not have to risk feeling anxious or uncomfortable by sharing your truth. However, there’s a whole lot brewing beneath the surface that will eventually make itself seen in one way or another.

The best thing to do in this case is to push past your comfort zone and be willing to share. Set up a time with your boyfriend to have a talk about your relationship, including the agreement around monogamy. Try to create a safe space where both of you can express your feelings, without judgment. You might even share that you’ve noticed the change in schedule with the “gym”, and that you were wondering what that’s about. You could also say that you’ve thought about it, and you might even be okay with an “open” dynamic in your relationship, but only if you’re both honest, transparent, and respectful of each other.

Try to be as vulnerable as you can, so that you can get across that your main concern here is the withholding, lying, or betrayal that may be happening, and it’s not actually about the act of sex with another person. Use words that describe your emotional state, such as “hurt”, “sad”, or “angry”, instead of making it about him doing something wrong (that often just puts the other person on the defensive). Talking this out first with an understanding therapist could be really useful in helping you identify your feelings and craft your words.

Ideally, if both of you can get to a place of honesty in your relationship, you can then negotiate new terms around sex (safety should be included here!). You may find he’s still too scared to admit anything, and simply denies that he’s cheating. That’s okay, as you’re laying the groundwork for more transparency moving forward, so that he can emerge when he is ready. He may be feeling a lot of shame. The important part is to express your expectations around honesty.

When you ask a spotter to help balance the barbell on the bench press, trust is of the upmost importance. The same goes for relationships. Instead of 24-Hour Fitness, think 24-Hour Transparency, especially around sex and desire. It’s the best way to add muscle to your romance.

Jake Myers is the Founder of LGBTQ Therapy Space, the first national platform for online therapy for and by the LGBTQ community, matching clients with quality LGBTQ therapists and providing a secure, easy-to-use platform for sessions. Have a question for Jake? Follow LGBTQ Therapy Space on Instagram and send him a message, or simply stay up to date on LGBTQ mental health tips and trends.

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