Q: I have a girlfriend who won’t stop interfering in my relationship, and I’m about to lose her with her. She has never liked my partner for about a year, and she keeps picking up the little things and turning them into big things. We’ve been friends for years and used to share every detail about our dating experiences, but she hasn’t had a boyfriend since her last relationship ended two years ago. She keeps bringing things up since the beginning of our relationship and makes it clear that she doesn’t trust him. I love my partner, but it’s hard to deal with her which suggests he might be cheating on me or that she doesn’t think he’s good enough for me. We don’t have any issues in our relationship, and I like how it goes, but her constant negativity annoys me. My partner doesn’t want to be around her now because he feels like he can’t do anything right, which affects me when we want to go out with a group of friends. I feel like I have to choose between them, and I don’t know what to do.
Dr. West replies: Pause for a moment and think about why she was able to act like this. Do you have a common history of talking about partners, and sharing your relationship’s ups and downs? Maybe she’s trying to protect you and doesn’t want you to go through some issues that you may have shared in the past. Our friends and family can often spot the red flags that we can’t see because they have more distance from the relationship. If she has shared stories of negative behavior since the beginning of the relationship, she may have legitimate concerns that the relationship may be a concern. She may be coming from a beloved place, but she’s doing it the wrong way. Conversely, you may not want to hear what she has to say if you feel deeply that she is right. It’s hard to hear that our partners might not be who we make romantic, so it can be common for red flags to be ignored or minimized. If you have a history of abusive relationships, you may be on high alert for any sense of negative behavior in order to try to protect you.
Instead, it can’t be about you and everything about it. You may feel jealous, and this is usually a sign of insecurity. She may be going through some of her relationship issues and projecting those feelings into your relationship. If she’s been single for a while, she might be struggling with the idea of a new relationship, or she might be afraid of losing you to her boyfriend. You may feel like you’re not spending much time with her, especially if you’ve started avoiding nights out with mutual friends when your partner comes over. This sense of impending loss may be driving her behavior, and if this is the case, some reassurance from you will go a long way to remedying the situation. Oftentimes, we can get so caught up in relationships that we neglect our friendships. If this strikes a chord, think about this and see if you can make space for your boyfriend and talk about the gap between the two of you. Do not invite your partner to this talk. She’ll be defensive and she won’t feel comfortable opening up about what’s going on for her.
It can be difficult to talk to friends about these issues, but just like romantic relationships, our friendships require work, too. Remember your shared history and the reasons why you are a friend and try to talk to her to see if anything happens to her. You might be struggling with something and not know how to bring it up, because it’s a lot easier to talk about the good times than to reveal our weaknesses and let people know that we have something going on.
Talk to her about how you feel about her accusations and suspicions. Try to make it an open conversation, not one in which the object is to blame. Likewise, be prepared to listen to her concerns rather than standing up for your partner on the spot. She might have good reason for her concerns, or it might just be an anticipation – you wouldn’t know if you didn’t have this conversation. Remember that you’ve made a friendship together and she’s been there for you before, although you’re not obligated to continue the friendship if it makes you uncomfortable because of her problems. If these are the red flags you’ve been avoiding, that’s a different matter. It’s easy to assume the worst in someone, but we all deserve a chance to be heard, with a clear disclaimer that if someone is abusive, they don’t deserve any explanations for disconnecting, as you need to prioritize your mental health and health. safety.
If it’s a problem on her part, find out how you can support her in addressing what’s happening to her, and what this means for your friendship to move forward. If you are not willing to respect any boundaries you set, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship. Friendships change and grow in all directions as we go through life, and one or both of you may have outgrown the friendship. This is so common it doesn’t have to be a big bang – people can change in ways they never expected. Keep some compassion in your heart for her and think about what you want to say. It is not sustainable to stay in this position, so no matter how difficult it is, you will have to talk and maybe make some tough decisions, but as difficult as they may be, they will be necessary.
Dr. West is a sex educator and host of the podcast “Glow West” that focuses on sex. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. West regrets that she cannot answer the questions in private