Q. I thought I was on a romantic getaway with my partner. Actually, it was her conference, and I was the arm-candy — although it didn’t end up feeling that way.
The first evening, there was a reception for the conference attendees. My partner was a little nervous, as she hadn’t had to network in a while. After she left for the hall, I took the opportunity to explore the hotel property. About 30 minutes before the end of the reception, I texted her to see if she was OK and heard nothing back. Now keep in mind, she is a person who normally is constantly on her phone and typically very responsive.
At the end of the reception, I walked down near the entrance and saw a lot of people walking out. I texted again to check if she was already out and where we should meet, and again I heard nothing. About 30 minutes after the end of the reception, there were now very few people coming out of the reception hall and I thought, maybe I missed her. I texted her again and received no response.
At this point, I peeked into the reception hall to see if she was even there. I saw her across the hall seemingly enthralled in a conversation with a guy. She appeared captivated in her conversation so much so that she didn’t even notice that the place had thinned out and the staff was cleaning up the hall. What was I to make of this? Had she forgotten me?
Suddenly I felt a bit jealous of the way they were closely conversing, so I stepped outside of the hotel to clear my head. About 15 minutes later, she finally texted me saying she was heading up to our room. About 30 minutes later, I headed back. I asked if she had seen any of my texts, and she said she had her phone in her purse so she hadn’t seen them until just now.
Then I said, “I peaked inside the hall and you seemed enthralled in your conversation.” She got a little defensive, then said she wasn’t enthralled, just engaged. I said, “OK, but this isn’t like you, to not check your phone knowing your partner would be waiting for you after the reception.” In addition, I said, “You were seemingly only talking to this one guy,” who I learned was from her office back home. Her response was, “You know it’s hard for me to network.” We then went to bed.
I woke up the next morning feeling a bit wronged from the previous night. I said this to her and she apologized several times. I said it was going to take me some time to get through this feeling. She then surprisingly got mad at me, saying that I was the one ruining our trip and that I was questioning her loyalty, and even cried a little bit. The irony is that I ended up apologizing to her.
A couple of weeks later, I reflected on this, and it’s leaving me confused. Was this just a fluke in her behavior? Should I be worried about the guy from her office? What do I make of this?
A. Your partner was at a conference to learn and network. You happened to see her talking to a man who shares her profession. She was enthralled by the conversation, which is not cheating.
Sure, it felt weird to see her with some random dude when she was missing your texts, but try to separate feelings from facts here. She was doing work — the reason she was at the event to begin with.
It sounds like you had different ideas about what this getaway would be. That’s where there could have been a conversation about expectations — and some apologies. You thought you’d get more time with her. Maybe she realized too late that bringing a significant other on this trip wasn’t the best move.
She could have said, “I didn’t realize how busy I’d be. I’m sorry you were waiting around, and next time we’ll know this isn’t a great conference for guests.” You could have said, “I understand. Sometimes work trips wind up being all about work.” Then it would have been settled.
Instead, you were upset and focused on the guy, she got defensive (for good reason), and the bad feelings remained.
You have to decide whether you can let go, call it a learning experience, and move on. If you’re still having fun and loving your time together in your normal routine, this does sound like a vacation fluke — one that can be corrected next time.
When it comes to the guy, you trust her or you don’t. There are lots of men at conferences, at work, and in the world. Your significant other will have excellent conversations with many of them, hopefully. If you can’t accept that, figure out why.
Years ago, I had to go to a conference in San Diego from Sunday night through Thursday. My wife flew out on Wednesday, and on Thursday she spent all day running all over town seeing sights while I was at the conference. Then I took Friday off and we went to a few places together. I think she actually enjoyed roaming around on Thursday without me more than together on Friday.
All I can think while reading this is that you don’t trust your girlfriend for some reason. Either there is a reason not to trust her, or you are super insecure and possessive. But just so you know, it’s rude to look at your phone when you are at a networking event. And she should be networking. You should be proud of her! I think you need to get over it and apologize for overreacting or dump her because you have no trust for some other reason.
So ... because your partner wasn’t an insecure, nervous mess at the reception and was actually enjoying herself by chatting with a co-worker and didn’t need you to rescue her and make her feel better, now she must have been doing something wrong? Who’s the insecure one, again?
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