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Help me not be a creepy jealous boyfriend
April 18, 2011 4:40 PM   Subscribe

How do I get over feeling weird about my girlfriend and her male friend?

My GF works with people around her (and my) age, so she makes a lot of friends through her job. One of these is a guy, Dan let's call him, who she'll occasionally get lunch or see a movie with, or hang out with as part of a group of people. I ought to be fine with this and I know it, but I'm not. I have what might be either legitimate reasons or strained justifications for this.

I have no issues with her hanging out with our mutual friends who are guys. A big part of my problem is that I don't know Dan at all, and my GF seems embarrassed by the possibility that I tag along with her and her work friends when they do things. That's normally fine since she's more social than I am to begin with, but now it just leaves me paranoid about Dan and his intentions, because I have no idea what kind of person he is. My girlfriend defends him when I mention this, which really only makes me feel weirder. I trust my girlfriend completely when she says she's not interested in anyone else, but she's been too nice to recognize people being interested in her in the past.

I also keep going back, in my head, to a situation where Dan tried to set up his friend with my girlfriend despite knowing she was in a relationship with me (I'd met Dan several times, but never for more than a minute or two, and it's not a secret my GF and I are dating). She turned Dan's friend down and that was that, but I hate thinking of my GF hanging out alone with a guy who clearly doesn't care that she's in a relationship.

I feel weird (anxious, paranoid) when they hang out, and then I feel guilty for feeling weird, but I can't seem to get over it, even being rationally aware that I have nothing to be afraid of. It's very hard to bring up with my girlfriend without an argument, because we seem to have different standards: I think I would feel like I was doing something wrong if I had the same relationship with a female friend, and I honestly don't know if my girlfriend would mind or not. So what do I do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (41 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
You feel weird because your gf is being pretty nonchalant where "Dan" and his intentions are concerned.

"...Dan tried to set up his friend with my girlfriend despite knowing she was in a relationship with me..."

Your gf is either terribly naive -or- she knows Dan is trouble and she doesn't care.

I can see why for the sake of work politics she might not want to make a big deal about this, but that doesn't explain why she wants to totally deny that this guy has disrespected both of you.

Talk to her again about this issue. It's a small thing that can become a deal breaker down the road if it turns into a pattern.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 4:54 PM on April 18, 2011


There are several possible scenarios:

Let's say you tell your girlfriend you don't want her hanging out with Dan. She's going to be upset, regardless of whether or not she ever had any intentions of taking it further with him, and she's either going to start lying about having lunch with him, or be resentful towards you.

Let's say you don't restrict her and her intentions are pure. Regardless of Dan's intentions, nothing happens because your gf does not want that.

Now for the worst case scenario: let's say her intentions are NOT pure and neither are his. No restrictions you place on her will make any difference at all because she is not interested in being faithful.

Clearly the only rational answer is not to restrict her. You keep a happy girlfriend, and que sera sera.

Your feelings are your feelings, and you are not bad or wrong for simply having them. Don't pile guilt on top of something you already feel badly about. Accept that you feel jealousy over this. But don't act on it. She will either be trustworthy or she won't. This is my favorite comment ever on trust and betrayal. To quote it: "You can't protect yourself from betrayal by being distrustful. Distrust not only sucks for you, it actually makes betrayal more likely."
posted by desjardins at 4:56 PM on April 18, 2011 [12 favorites]


I also keep going back, in my head, to a situation where Dan tried to set up his friend with my girlfriend despite knowing she was in a relationship with me

The guy totally dissed you. It would be surprising if you weren't annoyed that your girlfriend was hanging out with him.

I think you're going to have to accept that you feel weird about the situation, but I would recommend that you skip the guilt.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:58 PM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Usually in these kinds of situations, you have a good reason for thinking that things aren't right, and the fact that she's spending all her time hanging out with this douche-y guy is probably not the main problem.
posted by empath at 4:59 PM on April 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Let's break this into smaller pieces:

I have no idea what kind of person he is

This is easier to solve. Why not just talk to Dan himself? But this isn't really the problem. More difficult is:

she's been too nice to recognize people being interested in her in the past

You have problems trusting your girlfriend's judgment, which may or may not be justified, and

I think I would feel like I was doing something wrong if I had the same relationship with a female friend, and I honestly don't know if my girlfriend would mind or not.


Assume the answer is, "no, she would not mind". How do you feel then?

Your response will help you figure out where you want to take this relationship.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 5:04 PM on April 18, 2011


I would talk to her about it and ask how she would feel if the situation were reversed - if you had a friend who ignored your relationship and kept trying to set you up with other people. If she dismisses it or says that she would be fine with it or does anything that invalidates your feelings, at least you know the kind of girl you're dealing with.

You want to be with someone who places you as a priority over her jerky friends. If even after a clear conversation, she is still choosing her male friend, regardless of the excuse she gives, there's your answer. I don't think you're jealous or over reacting. I think it's about basic respect.
posted by Jubey at 5:11 PM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


my GF seems embarrassed by the possibility that I tag along with her and her work friends when they do things.

Wha. Acting as her keeper and insisting to always go out is bad, but meeting the coworkers once in a while and proving you are a real entity is a great way to defuse these tensions and nip any drama in the bud. She is being weird and should not be embarrassed about you tagging along unless it's obviously a work bitchfest or a bachelorette party.
posted by benzenedream at 5:12 PM on April 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


my GF seems embarrassed by the possibility that I tag along with her and her work friends when they do things

Why would she be embarrassed? If you're dating someone and you're not itching to show them off to your friends, I'd say something is amiss.

I'm a straight guy who has more female friends than male ones. I know this is unusual, so I always make an effort to introduce new girlfriends to my friends early on. This is for two reasons. One, it diffuses tension when it's clear that there is no secret tomfoolery going on. Two, these are all people who are important to me-- why would I not want them to get to know each other?
posted by the jam at 5:13 PM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I get your girlfriend thinking it would be weird for you to tag along consistently, but she should be ok with you hanging out with these people once, especially if it would put your mind at ease. Tell her that you know it's probably unnecessary, but that you would feel better if you could meet this guy, and you'd like to do that by hanging out with her work friends just once. Frame it that way - not that she's doing anything wrong, but that it would just make you feel better, rational or not. Then you can figure things out once you've met him. Or she refuses, in which case you should think carefully about whether your girlfriend is respecting your needs in this relationship.
posted by Ragged Richard at 5:15 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Could you (and your girlfriend) make an effort to help you and Dan get to know each other? If she doesn't want you tagging along when it's just her and her work friends, could you guys invite him and some other work friends along when you have a party, or some other social thing where you and they would both be non-awkwardly present?

Getting to know the guy better and seeing him and your girlfriend interact might help assuage your discomfort with not knowing enough about this dude and his friendship with your GF. If this dude meets you and actually interacts with you and sees that you are a real person and not just "GF's boyfriend" perhaps he'll have a little more respect for your relationship.

Also, it does seem sort of weird that she's "embarrassed" by the prospect of you meeting her work friends. Are they similar to her/different from you in a way that makes her uncomfortable? If they're all painfully cool and you're cheerfully nerdy, or whatever, "embarrassed" could make sense but isn't exactly a stellar way for a girlfriend to treat you.
posted by MadamM at 5:19 PM on April 18, 2011


She is being weird and should not be embarrassed about you tagging along unless it's obviously a work bitchfest or a bachelorette party

In general I agree with this, but just to give her the benefit of the doubt... when I was dating someone of a different political bent than my coworkers I didn't inflict them on each other. Or maybe he's a ranter or some other thing that doesn't work in that crowd. It's still weird, though.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:24 PM on April 18, 2011


I trust my girlfriend completely...

Then do that.
posted by Capt. Renault at 5:26 PM on April 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


How early in the relationship was it when he tried to set her up with his friend?
posted by Jagz-Mario at 5:37 PM on April 18, 2011


if it's not a girls night out, she shouldn't mind you there. something's fishy...
posted by spacefire at 5:37 PM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


also, you have the right to tell your gf to stop hanging out with Dan outside of work, in light of him trying to set her up with his buddy.
posted by spacefire at 5:39 PM on April 18, 2011


Doesn't this make you wonder whether this relationship is worth pursuing? You have strong reasons for being uncomfortable about "Dan." She's not comfortable letting you tag along with her and Dan, so she's denying you a way of being okay with the situation. Why do you think this relationship with her is worth pursuing when she's clearly valuing a weird friendship with Dan over your comfort. That's DTMFA material, IMHO.
posted by jayder at 5:40 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know, I enjoy hanging out with one of my friends with whom there is just a teeny tiny ghost of attraction. We're never going to act on it, we're not actually well suited, I love my partner more than anything and it's only a teeny tiny little wisp of "gee I think you're cute and funny and it's nice to get lunch and be my date-y fancy funny self". It's not an emotional affair, and I wouldn't care if friend started dating someone for real again, and friend isn't hung up on me or anything horrible like that. It's just a chance to feel....hm...like I still have some attractiveness currency in the world. A chance to have a miniature, fake date with a fun person.

I don't especially want my partner along on these lunches, not because I can't be trusted but because the lunches are a chance to be myself-alone, myself-without-partner. And that part of me still exists, no matter how much I love my partner and no matter how much I would never in a million years even think of cheating.

I think that even if your girlfriend is getting a tiny little thrill from occasional lunches with her friend, you should relax. She's dating you, she's spending the vast bulk of her time with you, she's upfront about these lunches or whatever they are. If you get some kind of sense that her friend is seriously pursuing her, that's a problem--both because it's not good for your relationship and it's not a fair thing for her to do to him, para-dating when she's not really interested. But otherwise, just let it go. A little autonomy in a relationship is a good thing.
posted by Frowner at 5:49 PM on April 18, 2011 [11 favorites]


To devil's advocate a bit: I feel like it's legit for your girlfriend to not want you hanging out with her and her work friends all the time (even though inviting you occasionally would be nice!). I (female) have a male coworker I hang out with a lot and it's always sort of weird when we have one of our significant others there, just because our work-friend dynamic is different from our relationship ones. I am really good friends with this guy but it absolutely doesn't mean I would rather date him than my boyfriend. It also may be important for your girlfriend to maintain a good friendship with Dan because she has to deal with him every day.

I do think it sounds bad that Dan tried to set up your girlfriend with someone else, although I can't say more than that without more specifics. On the plus side, that doesn't sound like he's trying to go out with her himself.

Sorry if any of this sounds dismissive of your concerns—I absolutely don't mean to be, since I have had worries like them in the past. I do, though, think there can be a difference between wanting to hang out with work friends without your significant other and a relationship Warning Sign.
posted by mlle valentine at 5:53 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also keep going back, in my head, to a situation where Dan tried to set up his friend with my girlfriend despite knowing she was in a relationship with me (I'd met Dan several times, but never for more than a minute or two, and it's not a secret my GF and I are dating). She turned Dan's friend down and that was that, but I hate thinking of my GF hanging out alone with a guy who clearly doesn't care that she's in a relationship.

I was on your girlf's side, 100% until I read the above.

Thats fucking douchebaggery. Dan does NOT respect your relationship with your girlf...in fact he doesn't even think its valid if he's pimping his friends off to her.

You need to address THAT POINT, and THAT POINT ONLY to her. Thats not very cool of him (but he's a stranger, so whatever), and not very cool of her not to figure out how to ditch dan, or get you to become comfortable with Dan.

Sorry man. Red flag. Have the confidence to speak the correct points.

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:24 PM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I believe it was a great orator who said "Better trust than believe 'em".

Her relationship with Dan after his douchebaggery kinda chips away at the trust.

No man or woman should get into a situation they are having to replace trust with blind faith.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:29 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


My advice? Try to hang out with this guy. Make yourself a person to him.
posted by OrangeDrink at 6:32 PM on April 18, 2011


Dan is playing games and your girlfriend - innocent as she is - enjoys the attention. He tried to set her up with a friend as a stealthy way of seeing how committed she is to you. I'd confront her one night when she gets home and tell her it's decision time. That is the only way to play this. There is no such thing as "just friends" between a man and a woman. Either one or both have an agenda.
posted by any major dude at 6:37 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dude, I feel for ya.
My girlfriend defends him when I mention this,
and
my GF seems embarrassed by the possibility that I tag along with her and her work friends when they do things
and
Dan tried to set up his friend with my girlfriend despite knowing she was in a relationship with me
These are all huge red flags for me.
  1. Dan is testing your girlfriend with a non-work person to see how committed she is.
  2. Your GF doesn't want to integrate you with her work friends, a telling new boundary.
  3. Your GF is defending a guy who tried to set her up with someone despite knowing about you.
Your GF should be able to put your mind at ease about these extremely legitimate concerns and she is utterly failing to do this. If she is not willing to discuss this state of affairs, or she can't, then I would suggest DTMFA (and yes, they would both be As in that case). The next stop is finding out that something happened.

The upshot is that she apparently told you that all of these things happened, but that isn't dispositive. You also don't mention how long you've been dating, but the gears are turning outside of your control. I will bet good American dollars that the more they all go out for drinks, the more pressure she's going to get. Whether she accedes to this is a matter of her character.
posted by rhizome at 6:47 PM on April 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Along with several others - the rat I smell is not that your GF has a male friend from work that she enjoys hanging out with, it's that she doesn't want you along when she's with her friends. And these are work friends, not a gaggle of girlfriends on a day-spa trip. Keeping your SO secret or apart from your friends is a big, big red flag.

I would talk to her about this issue before bringing up the issue of Dan. "I feel uncomfortable and excluded when you exclude me from your social activities and draw such stark boundaries around your work life" sounds better and less potential for sounding whiny than "I don't like you hanging out with Dan so much."
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:02 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Work friends are different than real friends, or at least they can be. Do you ever hang out with her other, non-work friends? If so, this isn't as big of a red flag for me as it seems to be for some other people, so I wouldn't go and DTMFA based on that.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:13 PM on April 18, 2011


Really all you can do in a situation like this is focus on yourself. Is what Frowner describes something that you would be okay with? If you are looking for validation for your feelings about Dan, I'm certainly happy to provide it.

Trying to hook someone you know is dating someone up with one of your friends is a faux pas I cannot see anyone making by accident. It is objectively not a large logical leap to suggest that Dan was trying to figure out how solid the two of you were while maintaining plausible deniablility about his interest. None of this is worth getting upset about or even relates to you. However, her failing to acknowledge that this is kind of weird and setting weird boundaries around you even meeting her work friends (you can be relied upon not to get weird about them around them right?) seems like it should be worrisome to me.

While your feelings are not her responsibility, they are yours. You don't need to entrust them to someone who disregards them
posted by Blasdelb at 7:19 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd try to shift away from the accusations (because that's what they are, right?) and ask more questions. Why don't the statements that bother you bother her, you honestly just want to understand more. What's embarrassing about your attendance? There are ok reasons for these symptoms and not-ok reasons. Having more non-confrontational conversations is one of those tactics that advances you more speedily toward the future regardless of which fork in the relationship path it will take you down.

The hardest part will be getting to a place where your own worry, pain, and need for reassurance isn't blocking your ability to hear her. You say you trust her, so it's interesting, right? Why would a truly trustworthy woman who is in love with you want to go out on these lunches? Why doesn't his attempt to set her up make her feel awkward? Get curious and really listen.
posted by salvia at 7:58 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


By the way, trying to set up the friend wouldn't bother me. It can be unclear how serious two people are. It was her job to tell him; she did; so now he knows; or else she can tell him again. To me, viewing that act as being about his respect for you borders on an "ownership" model of relationship.

What would bother me is her focusing a lot of energy in a sphere that excluded me. I'd want us to be able to share in the parts of our lives that most excite us, and I'd want to understand how we can be close when my partner wanted to keep me apart from that.
posted by salvia at 7:58 PM on April 18, 2011


One of these is a guy, Dan let's call him, who she'll occasionally get lunch or see a movie with

How often is "occasionally"? Once a week, once every two weeks? Once a month?
posted by storybored at 8:13 PM on April 18, 2011


You need to solve this:

my GF seems embarrassed by the possibility that I tag along with her and her work friends when they do things.

or it's not going to end well for you. This guy is 98% certain trying to undermine you in some way and likely won't ever stop. I've seen this happen to countless friends and it's happened to me. The male friend at work never has innocent intentions, no matter how unable or unwilling to see it your (admittedly) naive girlfriend is. So my advice is, try and get involved in these hang outs with Dan ASAP and as frequently as possible. You could say something like, "Hey, he's obviously becoming a good friend of yours and I'd like to get to know your friends."

If there's continued or fierce resistance to this idea, you need to ask yourself why.
posted by the foreground at 8:19 PM on April 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Not everything is about sex. Don't you have social occasions on which it would be weird to have your gf there?
posted by desuetude at 10:47 PM on April 18, 2011


my GF seems embarrassed by the possibility that I tag along with her and her work friends when they do things.

she's been too nice to recognize people being interested in her in the past.

Dan tried to set up his friend with my girlfriend despite knowing she was in a relationship with me


She is a player. You are the one that is too nice to recognize what is going on. I'd have hit the road spinning the second she hangs out with male friends I can't hang out with.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 2:17 AM on April 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


IF you feel that something is a miss most likely it is. I was in a similiar situation. Turns out my gf at the time actually WAS cheating on me. Always trust your instincts. Women like to use the guilt card especially when they are lying.
posted by majortom1981 at 4:48 AM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Make a platonic work friend. Hang out with her, don't let your girlfriend meet her.

That might put things in perspective for both of you.
posted by jnaps at 5:25 AM on April 19, 2011


I just wanted to chime in about the "embarrassed" about his tagging along with work friends thing. I don't think this alone is necessarily a problem. In some work contexts, it really would be "tagging along" for a significant other to show up and therefore actually could be embarrassing. Not because she's embarrassed of him, per se, but embarrassed that no one else has a boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse there - like she can't live without him for a few hours or whatever.

In my current job, if there were a work happy hour, it would be bizarre if someone's SO showed up. Maybe he doesn't understand her office nuance and assumes that any extras would be welcome - and she is bad at explaining.

On the other hand, that doesn't explain going to the movies with him and not welcoming the OP. And certainly not the trying to set her up.
posted by Pax at 7:41 AM on April 19, 2011


Make a platonic work friend. Hang out with her, don't let your girlfriend meet her.

Oh, god, don't do that. Please don't get passive aggressive - just talk it out.
posted by Pax at 7:42 AM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Are you my colleague's boyfriend?!

Honestly, I think he could have written this about one of my coworkers and her relationship with one of our other coworkers. And, in her case, I agree wholeheartedly with Frowner. It's not that she doesn't love -- prefer, even -- her boyfriend. It's more about the person she isn't around him, and the person she could be around the other guy. There's nothing there but a bit of playacting. If you trust her, let it be.

That ties in with several other people's points: sometimes, people are different with different social groups. I don't invite my darling partner to work functions, because who I am at work is not who I am with him. And he doesn't invite me to his work stuff for the same reason. I've never even met any of his coworkers, and he's never met any of mine. This does not mean there's anything suspicious going on.

Now, the attempted set up it a bit weird, and I might ask her about that in a bit more detail ("hey, honey, has Dan tried to set you up with anyone recently? It kinda freaks me out that he did that..."), but don't let that weirdness crowd the fact that she can be friends with him, and even flirt a little, without having an affair (physical or otherwise). Trust her!
posted by AmandaA at 8:18 AM on April 19, 2011


I'd ask for what you want in this relationship and if your girlfriend isn't willing to give it, find another relationship.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:39 AM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's more about the person she isn't around him, and the person she could be around the other guy.

This is not a good thing!

She is a player.

I'd say "might be," but...this. When I've encountered women who do this kind of thing, semi-encouraging on the public side and semi-reassuring on the relationship side, she's arbitraging her social life and changing the rules of the relationship without telling her partner.
posted by rhizome at 11:54 AM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


she's been too nice to recognize people being interested in her in the past.

Agreeing with other comments...You're the one being naive. This is what she does. She loves being pursued and doesn't want to give it up.


Dan tried to set up his friend with my girlfriend despite knowing she was in a relationship with me

So he's a douche bag. Meeting him, making friends with him, getting comfortable with him, all that shit....he'll still be a douche bag. You want douche bags for friends? Her not acknowledging the disrespect DB showed toward you and her kind of makes her a douche bag too.


I trust my girlfriend completely when she says she's not interested in anyone else

No you don't. Otherwise why write the post? If this is true then you are incredibly naive.


rationally aware that I have nothing to be afraid of.

Well, you won't die from this, but if you stay with her you are letting yourself in for more of the same. She's very unlikely to change this behavior. If you make a big enough issue of it she may make you more comfortable by being a great deal more circumspect. Of course, that only lasts until she is caught. The only thing lost...time and heartache.


DTMFA or torture yourself with her until it is untenable for one of you. Your choice.
posted by txmon at 12:30 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think I'm in Txmon's camp (though I never tell someone to dump someone). Something is awry and you know it. What really stuck out to me and maybe I'm reading it wrong is this:

"One of these is a guy, Dan let's call him, who she'll occasionally get lunch or see a movie with, or hang out with as part of a group of people."

Are you saying your gf and Dan go to the movies by themselves sometimes? This is not okay, not if [judging by your post] she is in a committed relationship with you, especially since she knows you are uncomfortable with their interaction as is. I don't have a problem with work lunch really, but actively hanging out one-on-one after work makes the spidey senses go up.
posted by GeniPalm at 5:07 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


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