My boyfriend and his best friend have no boundaries. Am I wrong to feel jealous?
by Cait Robinson
Have a question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters may be edited for length, content, and clarity.
Dear Miss Information,
A few months ago, I started dating this wonderful guy. He's great, we get along perfectly, and we can tell each other (almost) anything. Things are moving fast, I will admit, but it feels right. He's a genuinely good guy; basically, he has his shit together. He asked me to move in with him and I did.
I love his family, and most of his friends are the nicest people I've ever met. There's one problem: his best friend. I get this weird, standoffish feeling from her. They've only known each other for a little longer than he and I have been dating, so I think it's kind of weird that their friendship is so… intense, for lack of a better word.
K, let's call her, is a lesbian, so she thinks it's okay to prance around his apartment in her underwear when she comes over, and stuff like that. ("Ha-ha! You can touch my boobs in front of your girlfriend because I'm a lesbian!") She's the same age as my boyfriend, and he told me once that she asked him to be the sperm donor in a few years when she decides she wants to have children. She's very clingy with him, and super-protective. Also, when the three of us hang out, she makes these vaguely offensive remarks about how she could "never, ever" date a younger girl because they're oh-so-immature (and will usually add an "amirite?" aimed at my boyfriend). It offends me, because she knows I'm a few years younger than him.
He almost treats her like a girlfriend too. She has a drawer here, he always buys her dinner, she has a key to the apartment, he takes her out on these little dates (that I'm not sure if I'm included in — I'm never invited and I try to give him his space) and sometimes they act like a couple. It's nice to see how well he treats other women, objectively speaking. But I'm his girlfriend, and seeing him act like that around her makes me jealous and a little uncomfortable. Maybe I just don't understand the dynamics of a straight male/lesbian friendship. I don't know.
I'm being nice to K because she's my boyfriend's best friend. I feel bad, because I'm being fake and I think I'm really bad at it. I always try to be polite, but I'm not really getting anything back. We don't have to be best friends, but it would be nice if she weren't such a bitch towards me. It's getting to the point where if he mentions she's coming around, I'll just say hi to her and then retreat off into a corner somewhere and leave them be.
I don't think that my boyfriend is secretly attracted to K. We're pretty open about things like that, and I've discussed this with him before. His answer is no, he's not, and I believe him. It's mostly her being clingy, weird, and overly protective. I understand to a point — I have protective friends too, but she makes me feel awkward for even holding his hand when we're out. I don't want to keep secrets from him, and I feel really bad. How do I approach this subject without sounding like a crazy jealous girlfriend or starting an all-out war? Am I being uptight?
— The Other Woman?
Dear The Other Woman?,
When you throw in the parenthetical "you can touch my boobs because I'm a lesbian," is that hyperbole, or did that happen? If that happened, that is unbelievable, two-a.m.-on-Bravo behavior. In short: weird and not okay.
Sexuality is a red herring here. K (and your boyfriend) hide behind her lesbianism as if it somehow invalidates the fact that their relationship lacks appropriate boundaries. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter where K falls on the Kinsey scale; sex is only one component of intimacy. Maybe their closeness isn't physical, but it's still intimate. From that perspective, it sounds like you and she are competing for the same niche in his life. This isn't a gay-straight-friendship issue at all; this is a boundary issue.
It's interesting that while you say your own relationship with your boyfriend started and progressed really quickly (you moved in together after only a few months?), you seem mystified that his relationship with K is "so intense." This could be a pattern for your boyfriend: "commit fast, pull 'em close, give them part of my apartment." This rapid, intense intimacy raises some red flags, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and set those aside for now. As it stands, he gets to have two girlfriends for the price of one (even if he only sleeps with you), which is not fair to you, and — judging from her reaction — isn't going over well with K, either.
You seem full of doubt about your rights in this relationship; strengthen that backbone. You're his girlfriend. You live with him. In a battle royale between you and K (please don't have a battle royale), you have the home-team advantage. Your boyfriend needs to take your feelings seriously, because you're the one he committed to. Though K sounds combative, don't waste your energy fighting with her. Her behavior is a symptom of a bigger problem. Whether he realizes it or not, your boyfriend is the one who put you both in this situation, and he needs to be held accountable.
Talk to your boyfriend and tell him that you need K to be his friend. Friends don't feel each other's boobs, and friends don't have drawers at their friends' house. Friends have — and respect! — their friends' boundaries. Say your piece, then — most importantly — listen to what he has to say. Surely he notices the tension, right? What does he think will help things? Work together to come up with an agreement that feels more comfortable.
Now back to those red flags. This might not go over well with him. The situation he has right now sounds really great for him, and really uncomfortable for both you and K. If he truly loves you or K, he should recognize that he needs to work with you both to make this situation workable for all of you. But if he balks, makes excuses, or implies you're being unreasonable, give real thought to whether he is the great guy you thought he was. Have faith in your experience, and ask for what you need confidently. You will hopefully be met with a loving and cooperative response.
Dear Miss Info,
I've been with my boyfriend for about six years now. About two weeks ago, he started to ignore me. He's not calling me at all; I do all the calling to check up on him. I tried to talk to him about this and all he said is that he "is so busy" and "has no time to talk to me" but he loves me. Every time I call him, he apologizes and says he loves me. How is it possible not to find a minute to call and say hi for two whole weeks? I'm confused and feel trapped. Is he breaking up with me, and he just can't say it to my face? Something doesn't seem right to me. I'm worried and sad all the time. I really want to stop crying over this and take a breath for a while. I just wish he would be more clear with me so I could have a better view about what is going on.
— BF AWOL
Dear BF AWOL,
"I'm just so busy!" is one of the most overused excuses in the modern lexicon. People make time for the things they care about. When someone brushes off your concerns with "I've just been so busy," what it actually means is, "I haven't made time to see you and I don't want to risk an actual conversation by being any more specific than that. Good talk! I'm going to Dairy Queen."
You need answers. Tell him that this uncertainty feels like you are being blown off, and that it's making you wildly unhappy. If he "loves you," he should take you seriously. Expect a real conversation, and don't tolerate excuses. If he refuses to rise to the challenge, don't hang on waiting for approval. Reconnect with friends, family, and activities that give your life meaning. Don't stay at home wringing your hands and weeping; force yourself back into the world. Either he'll come around and give you the explanation you deserve, or you can burn that t-shirt he used to sleep in. Either way, he needs to know that non-answers are not acceptable for someone he says he loves.