How do I know if it’s paranoia or my gut? And if it is paranoia, how do I fix it?

My partner kissed someone else when he was out drunk, I found out a year later. He seemed genuinely sorry and swore it wouldn’t happen again. 2 and half years later and I struggle with trust and not feeling ‘enough’. I constantly have a wall up, which has led to him also having one and there seems to be an underlying current of animosity between us. We have a 2 year old, who is our world and I want to give him a loving and stable environment, so it isn’t easy to walk away. Plus I love my partner and genuinely feel like if we can just work this mess out, we would fly. We’ve tried therapy…it worked for our communication…but on a personal level, I’m still struggling. I was cheated on in my last relationship, so I know that will play a part. I just don’t know if it’s paranoia causing me to notice little things that seem off and catastrophize or my gut instinct telling me something isn’t right and to leave, but I think about it almost daily and it’s incredibly overwhelming.
Asked by Kim

Hi- thanks for your question and reaching out for help.  I'm sorry that your partner betrayed your trust with his behaviors.  

There is a lot of other information, background and history that would be helpful in considering your question and situation, but here are some questions and thoughts I have.  

  • Is this the first time something like this has occurred in your relationship?  
  • How long have the two of you been together and how did you find out about his kissing another person a year later? 
  • Did he admit this and tell you or did you find out some other way?  
  • What little things have you been noticing that seem 'a little off' to you?  
  • You mentioned that he was genuinely remorseful and promised not to do it again.  Has he honored this promise as far as you know or have there been further breaches of trust?  
  • It sounds like the two of you decided to have a child a little after you found out?  I am curious about this and would want to hear more.  
  • Besides being drunk, did he offer an explanation for what he did?  

When I hear an atmosphere of 'underlying current of animosity' , I wonder if there are deeper issues of which this incident is a symptom which reflects a broader concern.  Particularly as the two of you have been in therapy previously for communication and perhaps other issues, it may signal that that your intuition is suggesting some ongoing undercurrent that remains unresolved between the two of you.  I think it may help to think beyond binary options of whether you are reading too much into things or whether your intuition is on to something here and be open that both factors may be playing a role.  Generally I do believe that if this issue remains an obstacle a couple of years later, that there are likely other issues and that beyond his act, he is also responsible for equally maintaining a wall between the two of you.  As you seem like you want to make things work with your partner and child's father and as the two of you have experienced benefit from therapy in the past, perhaps it may be to reengage and work through these issues.  

Hope this helps and thanks again for reaching out.  Best of luck.