Guy friends who can’t be pals w/ me anymore because your gf said so: don’t worry, I’ll be your pal again when y’all break up
because it’s just ~*so weird that girls can maintain platonic friendships and that maybe, just maybe, we don’t want to bone every one if our guy friends. it’s just like, omg, sooo weiiiirrdddd.
Listen, as adorbs as the above sentiments are – and they are adorbs – y’all can just take that jive bullshit elsewhere. From my perspective, as one of the supposedly “rare” women who doesn’t fall on the cock of every man who is remotely polite; not only that, I’m also extremely capable of not losing my mind when my significant other has someone – let’s call her a “friend” – jockeying for a position in his heart. I encountered something like this early in my relationship with my husband, and it was one of the most challenging things we’ve gone through.
Knowing my husband (we’ve been together off and on for twelve years), I can safely assume their friendship began with an occasional (or more) hookup. After some duration of time – weeks or months – one or both of them probably found a boyfriend/girlfriend to occupy their time but they stayed in close contact. No harm there whatsoever. Hell, that’s how we got our start; HOWEVER, what I do take issue with is when a person goes above and beyond the call of friendship to interject herself (or himself) into an established romantic relationship (mine) and pressure her friend (my then-boyfriend) to keep secrets and develop an emotional dependency which would be otherwise fulfilled by his girlfriend. In this scenario, what results is a lot of manipulative language that serves to impose further distance between the couple. Because his friend is telling him that his girlfriend is “crazy,” he (intentionally or unintentionally) becomes more emotionally distant than before, which, in turn, makes the girlfriend *feel* frightened for their relationship, crazy, and out of control.
My husband and I have both successfully sustained strictly-platonic friendships with people outside our marriage (prior, during, and since these events transpired). Unfortunately, unless it’s done carefully, with respect, and transparency, it really, REALLY sucks to be on the other side of it. When we were first together, he was friends with several women. This, alone, was not objectionable to me. We’ve been off and on for over 12 years, and this most recent bout with dating started in a friendship and resulted in a marriage. I don’t feel I hold my romantic partners to unreasonable expectations; moreover, I express those expectations in plain language, well in advance of potential conflict, in an attempt to establish boundaries from the beginning. It wasn’t until his friendship with her became a valid point of contention that I decided to speak up.
TL;DR – I had traveled to Berkeley, CA for my sister’s college graduation, and I returned to find that she invited herself over for movies and ice cream. We lived together, and our only television was in the bedroom.
It was hard as hell to keep my cool, but I chose not to say or do anything other than expressing my frustration (ONCE. Because, A. Nobody wants to feel brow-beaten, and B. Because I’m an adult capable of expressing myself succinctly and he’s an adult, capable of understanding understand me the first time.) I was frustrated and angry that she seemed to think she was entitled to a private relationship, and felt that pursuing an inappropriate level of intimacy with someone whose emotions were already invested elsewhere was not sketchy and wrong. I felt hurt that he’d done something that appeared to be shady –individually, these things don’t equal trouble, but cumulatively, watch out – and I held him accountable for his fair share. The fact that he had tried to keep their get together secret DOES signal some sketchy bullshit. At any rate, when I finally decided to confront the issue, I chose my words carefully, so I could avoid any accusatory language. Without “throwing it in his face,” I detailed the red flags that I’d chosen to disregard, so I could show him that they didn’t appear to amount to much, but all together, they started to add up to something really fucking big and I was way too fucking frustrated to continue “playing it cool.”
What I expressed to him was NOT an irrational, blanket objection to friendship with ANY or ALL women; I objected to his blissful ignorance as he indulged a woman who was, essentially playing house. Her boundary-less interpretation of friendship was delusional, manipulative, and unhealthy. I objected to her ulterior motives and his unwillingness to confront the obvious.
**side note** It’s worth noting that if you’re avoiding confrontation because “it’s too stupid” to talk to him about, you can be damn sure it’s “too stupid” to be upset about, but I digress…
I told him that I knew HIM well enough to understand that he’s a wonderful man who is worthy of admiration, but that I didn’t know HER (which was her choice. I tried to make myself available, but her offers to get together were conveniently scheduled to ensure 1:1. If I had a dollar for every time the other guests “never showed up”….) I didn’t want to express assumption about her motives (lest my assumptions be used against me) but I did tell him that that it LOOKED similar to the sketchy, boundarylessness I’d seen OTHER women practice when they found themselves in a single lull and became emotionally dependent on someone else’s boyfriend. It FELT awful.
I can’t say for sure whether or not anything of substance happened between them since we’ve been together and it wouldn’t do either of us any good to dredge it up this many years later. I never once told him he had to choose between us; that shit NEVER ends well. What I have told my boyfriend -now husband - is that he can do whatever he wants. The caveat, however, is that there are always going to be consequences associated with his choices. I’m not his mother and have no interest in babysitting a man who is nearly a decade my senior. Our mutual dedication to one another is why we thrive. Acting with integrity, honesty and expressing clearly-defined expectations has fostered the deepest, most profound intimacy I’ve ever experienced.
Anyone in a similar scenario should do what I did: admit (even if only to myself) that I was frustrated and hurt by my partner when he refused to acknowledge any toxicity or inappropriateness. I explained to him that my feelings were not rooted in jealousy or a lack of trust in him; instead, my feelings were based on my familiarity with the loneliness of singledom. In those situations, friendships feel like a lifeline; therefore, have the potential to provide a great deal of joy and satisfaction. Unfortunately, when the person upon whom you are depending for fulfillment is romantically involved, they will probably start prioritizing their relationship with another person, leaving you feel isolated again. Suffice it to say, when someone (me) chooses to be in a relationship with someone, she feels a reasonable expectation to share her feelings with her partner (my boyfriend); this must be done in a safe place, however, because if that environment is compromised, she (me) will end up feeling that she’ll be penalized for feeling something and consequently stop sharing altogether. Healthy people expressing clear and honest expectations with other healthy people aren’t usually made to feel like their emotions have no place in the relationship. WEIRD, RIGHT?
So, girls who are friends with men: In the interest of sister solidarity, and general not-being-a-cunt: DON’T BE LIKE JAIME! DO NOT manipulate your “friend” into thinking that his (otherwise sane, kind, emotionally mature, logical) girlfriend is nuts for being honest with him about her feelings. There is nothing “crazy” for expecting your partner to save a certain amount of intimacy for your relationship. Having and expressing feelings isn’t a sign of mental illness, it’s a sign that she’s cognizant enough to see what you’re fucking playing at, so tread lightly.
So, before you cop that condescending bullshit, why don’t you take a moment to see the other side? Instead of perpetuating that tired misogynistic attitude that “Women are crazy! Women except you, that is! You’re the sane one who sees him for the unique treasure he knows he is! And YOU’LL be there for him when SHE’S [finally] gone.” Why don’t you shut your mouth, exercise some humility, and respect their right to emotional intimacy without your intrusion or commentary. You could go as far as making an effort to get to know his girlfriend; show her that you’re a legitimate person with integrity. You don’t have to make best friends with her, but you’ve got a much better shot at keeping him as a friend if you treat his girlfriend with a modicum of respect instead of undermining her. Better yet, know your place. You’d do well to remember that they CHOSE each other without even CONSIDERING you.
So what happened with Jaime? After he saw my perspective, he realized what she was doing and took steps – of his own accord – to create distance between them. I didn’t ask or tell him what to do, but I told him that their relationship dynamic needed to change a bit if I was going to stick around. He hasn’t spoken to her in over three years. I can count on one hand the number of disagreements we’ve had since then, so it’s no mystery that the only toxic or crazy element in our relationship was the piece that was eliminated. We’ve completely moved on with our lives and are happier than ever.