On tonight's episode of "Catfish," we meet Jesse, a young lady who has fallen for military vet and friend-of-a-friend Brian.
Although having a mutual friend adds some level of security to their online relationship, Jesse calls on Nev and Max to solve the remaining mystery.
Unlike most "Catfish" episodes, Brian is in fact who he says he is; however, he failed to mention his previous marriage and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — a result of time spent in Afghanistan — in previous conversations with Jesse. We asked relationship expert and president of the National Domestic Violence Hotline Katie Ray Jones to weigh in on the situation. "Jesse clearly had questions but respected Brian's space," says Jones. "While compromise is important in a relationship, Brian not providing answers resulted in mistrust on Jesse's end. When she found out about the marriage, that added fuel to her fire. While PTSD can be difficult to explain to friends and family when you yourself do not immediately understand what is happening to you, it doesn't justify Brian not providing Jesse with some type of explanation."
Although it's totally natural to want put one's best foot forward, Jones notes that vulnerability is an important part of any healthy relationship. "Healthy relationships are not possible without honesty," she says. "You have to allow yourself to be vulnerable to the other person. That can be scary, but the other person's reaction really lets you know the kind of person they are and whether or not they are right for you." And the best thing to do when a loved one opens up to you about his or her personal struggles is stay positive and get educated.
"As a friend and family member, you need to have a good understanding of what your loved one is going through," states Jones. "If they are not seeking help, identify resources for them in your community so they can best learn how to cope. Remain nonjudgmental, patient and supportive. Healing takes time."
Speaking of healing, how can a couple heal after such a large breach of trust? ('Cause we all know nobody ever really forgives AND forgets!) Here's a step-by-step guide:
"When such a breach of trust takes place, it is important to resolve the issue and ask all the questions one needs to ask to bring closure," says Jones.
"Decide if you can forgive the other person," says Jones. "There is the old saying 'forgive and forget,' and while one may never really forget, if you choose to stay in the relationship, you have to be willing to let the pain go and start over."
3. Move On
Last, any couple attempting to work through its issues has to be willing to move on! "Can you move forward from here?" asks Jones. "Can you let this issue lie in the past? This is where many couples struggle; the issue continues to resurface in every argument or every time someone is unhappy. The issue hangs over the heads of the couple and is never completely resolved."
Follow the action links below to learn more about building healthy relationships and supporting those who might be struggling emotionally, and catch "Catfish" on MTV Tuesdays at 10/9c.