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How do I stop being so jealous/protective/possessive of my female friend?
March 11, 2011 12:18 PM   Subscribe

How do I stop being so jealous/protective/possessive of my female friend?

I very briefly and casually dated one of my best friends a few years ago and it went pretty well - the only reason it ended is that she had to return to her college's city after the summer ended, and we both mutually agreed that the long distance thing probably wouldn't work. She had other boyfriends throughout college and I was fine with it, despite not being nearly as successful in the dating scene. Over the years, I eventually realized that we would probably not make a good couple anyway and that we had many differences. But she is till one of my best friends.

Now we live in the same town again, and have been for about a year now. She had a boyfriend for the first few months, and I actually liked him a lot. But they broke up a few months ago, and now she is single again.

For some reason, seeing her out in the dating scene, going to bars and flirting and giving her number to guys that are 10 years older than me - in person, and not from a long-distance perspective - is killing me. It probably doesn't help that I never stopped being attracted to her in a physical sense, but still - I have many attractive female friends who I don't get jealous of. I would like to convert her status to that of those other friends, where I can be happy to see her hitting it off with a guy at a party and not holding in feelings of jealousy.

My question is: How do I make these irrational feelings GO AWAY so I can simply have fun with my friend instead of feeling dread when we go out on the weekends?

Possible ideas that I've shot down:

- Talking to her: I think she assumes that I have moved on because it's been so many years since we were together. Talking to her would only make her extremely uncomfortable.

- Stop going out with her on weekends: I tried this for a while, but because she is a best friend and such a central point of my social circle, this would pretty much lead to me having to sit around alone on saturday nights while my friends go out and have fun. And I like going out with our friends.

- Start dating more so I can stop worrying about what she's doing and focus on my own love life: My goal has always been to start dating more, and I'm always putting myself out there. And I think one of the reasons for my jealousy is that she just has it easier than me - if she wants to go meet a guy, she pretty much just has to leave her house. If I want to meet a woman, I have to overcome layers and layers anxiety and shyness.

It's like, I don't want to be with her, but for some weird reason I can't get over the idea of her being with other people. I'm hoping someone has been in this place before and can offer some perspective. I want to be a good friend, and to have a healthier way of thinking, and enjoy life.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by trogdole at 12:22 PM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately, I don't know the secret to making your "irrational feelings" "go away."

Just one quick point. At the top of your question, you frame your issue as: you're too "protective" of her.

Really? It doesn't sound to me like your goal is to protect her.

I don't see anything in your question to suggest that she tends to get involved with men who could do her any kind of harm, or that you have any interest in, say, being available by phone while she's on a first date in case she needs to call a friend to help her out.

You are feeling protective. But the person you're protective of is yourself. That is, you wish you could be protected from men competing with you at trying to succeed with the woman you want.
posted by John Cohen at 12:31 PM on March 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't think you should talk to her about it, but I do think you might not go out with her as often for a little while as you Focus on starting dating more. That will be the key.

Also, the best way to make feelings go away is to acknowledge them. Sit down and write a long journal entry (it can be in a computer window that you immediately delete if you want) in which you explore what it is, exactly, that you're feeling, and why. I think some of it is just feeling jealous that she can meet guys so easily, but I'm sure there's all sorts of other personal history in there. Ask yourself questions, answer them. Feel the feelings. THEN you can set them aside and think about how you want to act when you notice happening again (walk over to other people to get away for a bit, maybe) so that the feelings can subside.

Basically, repressed feelings gain new strength, but once acknowledged, I find they're much less powerful.
posted by ldthomps at 12:35 PM on March 11, 2011


I think one of the reasons for my jealousy is that she just has it easier than me - if she wants to go meet a guy, she pretty much just has to leave her house. If I want to meet a woman, I have to overcome layers and layers anxiety and shyness.

That may be true if you limit it to hooking up with someone, because there are plenty of guys who would hook up with random women, but assuming she is actually looking for a long term committed relationship with a compatible person she will have just as hard of a time as you or anyone else doing that. If that was so easy for her she would be in a relationship now rather than just coming out of a breakup.

Also, why did you put start dating more in your shot down list? It may not solve all of your issues with your ex, but if all you want to do is "meet a woman" then open your web browser to an online dating site and make a profile.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:36 PM on March 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


That may be true if you limit it to hooking up with someone, because there are plenty of guys who would hook up with random women, but assuming she is actually looking for a long term committed relationship with a compatible person she will have just as hard of a time as you or anyone else doing that.

Well, not really. Hook-ups can lead to serious relationships, so someone who has an easier time hooking up will, all other things being equal, tend to have an easier time finding a serious relationship. You might have a harder time entering a relationship than an attractive woman. OK. But whether this is because of shyness or inherent gender discrepancies in the dating market or whatever, your dating difficulties are not going to be solved by sitting around pining after your platonic friend who you dated a long time ago (especially considering that, by your own admission, that particular relationship didn't work out).
posted by John Cohen at 12:46 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Try talking with her, not about you two and your history, but about getting her to be a wingman for you.

If you guys are tight, and she is very social and successful with these things, she would probably jump at the chance to help you hook it up.

Then you get to go through that together and be tight again and she uses her strengths to help your weaknesses, all while getting rid of the main thing that is actually bothering you right now ... being a little lonely.

If I counted correctly, this would be a win-win-win-win.
posted by milqman at 12:52 PM on March 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


There are two different ideas at work here.

A) You are genuinely concerned for the potentially dangerous behavior of a platonic friend. I'm a girl and I go out partying with my heterosexual girlfriends sometimes, and like you, it makes me sad when I see one of them flinging herself into the wind of Sleazy Party Hookup world. I'm not jealous or possessive, I just worry about them. Especially since the dudes are typically losers, and my girlfriends deserve so much better than casual sex with people like that.

B) You have feelings for your friend and don't like to see her flirting with other men instead of you.

If A, you should have a talk with your friend about how she deserves better, you hate seeing her get hurt, you don't think that picking up guys in bars is a great way to achieve her stated goal of being in a strong relationship, whatever it is you want to tell her about this behavior.

If B, you should STFU and maybe just turn down invitations to the bar from now on. Further, you should attend to this unrequited thing in the most mature and classy manner possible. Maybe that means hanging out less, or making a real effort to find someone else, or whatever. Just don't be one of those tedious dudes who pines over his female friends and gets all judgy based on things that boil down to feeling owed her affection.
posted by Sara C. at 1:16 PM on March 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


You're not over her. It is possible to get over someone and develop a good platonic friendship, but it requires time and space. It's really hard to squash romantic feelings for someone you see regularly. Pursuing activities and developing a social life outside this small circle will help you. And it's better to start now rather than wait for the worst-case scenario (i.e. the tension mounts until you make a move out of desperation or lash out at one of her dates, and blow up your friendship).

Also, you mention "going out" and Saturday nights, which makes me think you guys are hitting bars and you get to see her flirting with dudes. Is that accurate? That sounds like more pain than fun. If you don't want to stop hanging out with her, at the very least make sure you're hanging out with her only in non-pickuppy situations.

(By the way, if you're a shy dude, consider whether going to bars is really your thing, or if you're just doing it because that's how all your current friends have fun. You may have more luck meeting people in different settings.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:22 PM on March 11, 2011


You may know intellectually that you're not a good match but that doesn't always (and apparently hasn't here) mean you've accepted it. You're likely also replacing some of your needs for romantic companionship with time with her.

I've been there. It's a drag. But quit farting around and start dealing with it. You want my advice it would be this:

Don't say dick about your continued issues. It will almost certainly make her uncomfortable and for no good reason: this is your problem, not hers, and entirely yours to correct.

Stop going out with her in flirt/meet situations. You can simply pick different activities and even say "ya know, given our history it just always feels weird to me being each other's wingmen. Can we go see a movie instead?"

Get serious about actually replacing her as a romantic prospect, part of which is actually devoting time to it. I know when I was younger it felt odd to view dating as a task. But if you're putting it off because it's often uncomfortable (and grod knows it's work when it doesn't go well and even sometimes when it does) and spending happy easy time with her instead... you will never get past this. You don't need to find True Love but you need to start exercising that part of your brain/heart in a way that does not involve her and which is productive.
posted by phearlez at 1:59 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been there OP. I don't think you're still in love with her or anything. It's just that she's there, and she's pretty, and you aren't getting any, so you feel jealous that she's getting some and that her "suitors" are getting her.

The only thing to do is to get yourself out there and meet some girls yourself, however you can. I swear, kiss one girl and all these feelings about your friend will slide off your back so fast you'll barely be able to understand why you ever had them.

Do not talk to her about this. There is nothing to be gained by that except burdening her with your problem. That's not something friends do. If things are really driving you crazy, and you aren't meeting any women yourself, stop hanging out with her at bars for a while. But the root of this problem is definitely the fact that you don't see any prospects for yourself right now.
posted by auto-correct at 2:05 PM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Stop going out with her on weekends: I tried this for a while, but because she is a best friend and such a central point of my social circle, this would pretty much lead to me having to sit around alone on saturday nights while my friends go out and have fun.

Get other friends.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:52 PM on March 11, 2011


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