Is it okay if my boyfriend has sleep-overs with Sarah Palin?
January 6, 2009 2:16 PM   Subscribe

Is it okay if my boyfriend has sleep-overs with Sarah Palin?

I have been dating my boyfriend for almost 2 years. I will call him Leopold. His best friend lives about 1.5 hours away. I will call her Vanessa. While they were becoming close friends, the year before he started dating me, Leopold was getting over a bad break-up and most of his friends were still friends with his ex-girlfriend. Leopold and Vanessa soon became BFFs. Because of the distance and their love of beer, when they spent time together one of them usually ended up sleeping over at the other's apartment. When this happened, they slept in the same bed and, by his admission, cuddled.

Then Leopold and I met and started dating. Obviously, a new relationship takes up a lot of your time because you have to have sex thirteen times a day and send each other sappy text messages whenever you are apart, so I put some distance between Leopold and Vanessa when I entered the scene. However, Vanessa was still an important part of Leopold's life. He still talked to her on the phone regularly and continued to plan sleep-overs with her. He later told me he slept on the couch without her after we began dating, because he "knew" this would bother me (he didn't ask) but if he were dating someone else he would still be snuggling her regularly.

Whenever Vanessa called, he would either leave to speak to her privately or offer to call her back when he was alone, because she told him she didn't feel comfortable talking to him when I'm around. Sometimes he would schedule phone dates during which I could not come over or call him because he had to spend several hours chatting with her. At first, I tried to be understanding because Vanessa seemed to have one emotional crisis after another. She had never-ending boy problems and insecurities and needed her BFF to comfort her. Vanessa is also extremely easily offended and if Leopold was tired or grouchy while talking to her, she would throw a fit and he would have to make it up to her. All this seemed at best inappropriate and at worst totally manipulative and psycho.

Another strange aspect of their relationship is that Leopold and Vanessa do not seem to have anything in common. Leopold is extremely intelligent, curious, rational and incredulous. He has many interests, and he is especially passionate about politics. Everyone who knows him knows he is progressive, an atheist, a democrat, and cares deeply about issues of inequality, particularly gay rights and women's rights. Everyone except Vanessa knows this. Somehow, Vanessa became his best friend and these parts of his life just never came up. Vanessa is a bible-thumping, evolution-denying, fact-hating, fetus-hugging, gay-marriage-opposing, college-senior-virgin. Vanessa's social networking profile lists the bible as her favorite book, god and reading the bible are her first interests and her political beliefs are "conservative." She is not hiding her opinions, but Leopold sheltered her from his. Leopold told me a lot about her world-view because he was constantly counseling her when we were first dating. He told me she is waiting until marriage to have sex, but doesn't care if her husband has had sex before. He told me she has a lot of unrealistic romantic expectations. He told me she won't make the first move, obsesses over guys who treated her badly for months after they're gone, and complains routinely that she is lonely and wants to have sex. She told Leopold that she masturbates all the time and her husband will be "so happy" because she has such a great appetite. Too bad there's no way to know if their appetites are compatible until after they promise to sleep with no one else forever! Leopold and I agree, this girl is crazy, but he would never tell her that.

Obviously, I don't like Vanessa. Leopold could tell, so avoided talking to me about her unless to complain. Leopold has never lied to me as far as I know, but because he could sense my uneasiness, be began to omit information about their meetings. Because we spend so much time together, we effectively know where the other person is most of the time. We don't check up on each other, but we let the other know if we won't be able to spend the night or meet for dinner. He tells me when he's going to hang out with his in-town friends, but when he planned on meeting with Vanessa, he always had another reason to leave town and I only found out later that he spent time with her. He really did leave town for the reason he gave, and always said their meeting's were spontaneous. Before I went on vacation, he complained for weeks that he would miss me and be bored to death. When I called him from the airport on my way home, he couldn't talk because he was at Vanessa's apartment, where he had spent most of the week.

Of course I was unhappy about her controlling behavior and eventually complained about it to Leopold. It took time, though, to convince myself I had a right to complain. I was afraid I was being unreasonable. But this girl clearly gets special treatment from Leopold unlike any normal friend. He protects her feelings, hides his true opinions, and used to cuddle in her bed! Because I hesitated to confront him, I had a lot of pent-up emotions and even after talking to him I do not feel entirely comfortable with their relationship. She stopped calling him in the middle of the night. She has stopped insisting he make time away from me for private phone calls as frequently. They talk much less often now. He admitted their meetings were somewhat covert, but insists that was unintentional. He also says I have no right to ask to know where he is all the time or who he spends time with, and I agree. And although I think this girl is nuts and I don't understand why they are friends, he says he doesn't have to justify his friendships to me. I sort of agree with that too.

The distance between our cities along with a series of car problems and severe weather events prevented me from meeting Vanessa for a long time. I suspect she did not want to meet me. She attended a birthday party for Leopold about 5 months into our relationship, but left before we were introduced because she "wasn't feeling well." I think her illness had something to do with being surrounded by dirty, sex-having heathens. I finally met her last week after dating Leopold for about 22 months. This isn't entirely his fault. After a while I was avoiding her as much as I imagined she was avoiding me because I was nervous. I finally insisted that we do something when I knew she was coming to town. Our meeting was friendly and unspectacular. She told me that Pepsi redesigned their logo to look more like the Obama logo, and generally revealed herself to be dense but affable. At the end of the night, Leopold and Vanessa hugged several times while I cringed. I do not understand this friendship. My friends don't agree with me on everything, but we also don't hide things from each other. If my friends thought I was on the wrong side of an issue, I'd want them to say so, even if we had to agree to disagree. I would never censor myself in front of friends, only senile relatives. But I am trying to be understanding!

From his perspective, she is just a good friend who provided emotional support during a bad time for him. Politics didn't come up because his personal problems eclipsed everything else during their first year as friends. He did modify his behavior when we began dating and again when I expressed my discomfort. Because I can see his side, it was extremely difficult to tell him how upset I was, but eventually I did. He thinks he has set reasonable boundaries. I'm still unhappy. Everything I have written here, I have said to him. What I really want, and can never ask for, is for her to just go away forever. Is that as crazy as it sounds? Their relationship may be platonic now, but I feel like she is the ex he never dated. He wouldn't cheat on me. I do trust him. So what am I so freaked out about? Is there anything else I can ask for without being a crazy jealous girlfriend? Can I pay someone to push her off a cliff or offer her a job in Australia?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (91 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't usually post in relationshipfilter threads. And when I do, I don't usually give this sort of advice, because I think it can sometimes be trite and require a more detailed explanation. But in your case, I will make an exception. The explanation for the following advice is summed up in your lengthy question above:

Get out now. Just reading the question was miserable and burdensome. Make it stop. Please.
posted by The World Famous at 2:28 PM on January 6, 2009 [40 favorites]


"She attended a birthday party for Leopold about 5 months into our relationship, but left before we were introduced because she "wasn't feeling well." I think her illness had something to do with being surrounded by dirty, sex-having heathens."

Classic cheater avoidance. This is either an emotional or physical affair. As Dan Savage would say, DTMF already.
posted by benzenedream at 2:33 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was with you up until you said this: She stopped calling him in the middle of the night. She has stopped insisting he make time away from me for private phone calls as frequently. They talk much less often now.

She or he or both of them are making an effort to accommodate you. This is pretty huge. She was friendly to you when you met. This is also huge - she's not trying to steal him away. So you and Vanessa are never going to be BFF, so what?

What I really want, and can never ask for, is for her to just go away forever. Is that as crazy as it sounds?

Yes. He's not cheating on you. Her politics and religion are a red herring here - I'm betting you'd feel the exact same way if she were a pinko Commie. Obviously, their disparate belief systems don't interfere with their friendship, and it doesn't matter a whit that you wouldn't be friends with such a person. It's his friend, he's not banging her, and you should get over it. You're freaked out because you're insecure, and if Vanessa fell off a cliff you'd be insecure about something else.
posted by desjardins at 2:34 PM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


By any chance is Vanessa really, REALLY hot?
posted by theantikitty at 2:34 PM on January 6, 2009 [20 favorites]


Whoever you're dating, or married to, or even remotely hang out with will have at least one friend you will hate.

They will have friends who have extremely different opinions from you, they will have friends who do things you can't understand, they will have friends who seem to have nothing in common with them.

But you know what? They're friends.

It doesn't matter if you don't understand, they're friends and that's that.

And if you can't deal with it, then...well...it's too bad. Because you can't control who your boyfriend is friends with. Yeah, she might be fucking crazy, and controlling, and all the things you're ranting about in here, but if he isn't gonna change, then there isn't anything you can do.

You've already said you've told him all this, and you can either dump him, find someone else who doesn't mind you vetting his friends, or you can deal with it.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:36 PM on January 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


By the way, the more bitter you sound about her, the more he's either going to run to her for emotional support, or avoid her and resent you. Neither outcome is what you want.
posted by desjardins at 2:37 PM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Eh, I dunno, their "friendship" sounds awfully weird to me. He has to have privacy to talk to her? They cuddle and have sleep overs? They talk for hours and hours? She wouldn't meet you?

That's certainly not how I act with my friends and SO.
posted by tristeza at 2:41 PM on January 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


I dated a girl like you once. I broke up with her because she didn't get along with my female friends and was neurotic about it. It was, by and far, the best choice I made in that relationship.
posted by Loto at 2:43 PM on January 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


He told me she is waiting until marriage to have sex, but doesn't care if her husband has had sex before.

Either they're planning for marriage and you're helping Leo get something out of the way (sex before marriage), or... well, it seems like they're planning for marriage, and you're just a plaything for Leo.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:43 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


He tells me when he's going to hang out with his in-town friends, but when he planned on meeting with Vanessa, he always had another reason to leave town and I only found out later that he spent time with her. He really did leave town for the reason he gave, and always said their meeting's were spontaneous.

He's lying to you. Dump him and move on. Ending a relationship is hard and I am sorry you have to go through with it. But he is lying to you. Dump him.
posted by kate blank at 2:43 PM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


This has nothing to do with whether or not she's conservative and dumb and everything to do with your not trusting him. You might have reasons not to trust him, however, and if I were in your situation, I probably wouldn't trust him either. My instincts say DTMFA.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:47 PM on January 6, 2009


I came to my conclusion by the end of your post, and it seems like MeFi agrees.

Your boyfriend is probably hiding his true feelings. I'm not taking away from what you guys have, or saying he is lying, but speaking from experience as a typical dude he probably has a thing for her and wants her in some way that you probably wouldn't appreciate.

I have friendships with girls and I have had "friendships" with girls that are based around a subtle sexual tension, neediness for eachother, and maybe an aspect of "we shouldn't be doing this." These usually turn out not to be real friendships but just some weird back-burner type relationship. Your boyfriend may be the nicest guy on earth and truly respects her just as a friend, but for some reason there seems to be a lot more going on.
posted by OuttaHere at 2:55 PM on January 6, 2009 [18 favorites]


I almost never find myself on the "you have a right to be jealous" fence, but whoa: that is a strange friendship indeed.

It sounds like both Vanessa and Leopold are sexually curious about each other and yet recognize that they're fundamentally incompatible. This has bred one of those weird asexual friendships full of cuddling and hugs but no make-outs, those "friendships" that go uncontested until someone moves on to find a real SO and everything becomes exponentially complicated. Even if your boyfriend finds Vanessa physically attractive and weirdly compelling, he knows he shouldn't throw his hat into her arena for emotional and psychological reasons. Still, he's intrigued by her, and this magnetism hinges their entire friendship, and he's in denial that he can keep you both happy while the other girl is around. And meanwhile, she's using him as a boyfriend substitute until she can finally net a guy willing to put up with her puritan values and slow-witted rapport.

From what you've said, it sounds like you guys have a great relationship other than this girl, and that his heart is in the right place even if his behavior is spotty and self-contradictory. I don't think you should DTMFA, because people makes weird and complex decisions when attempting to reconcile weird and complex friendships with healthy relationships.

You need to confront your boyfriend and ask him to unsparingly tell you why he's so dedicated to this minatory, leeching friendship. You seem like a smart woman who can handle it if he says it's because he's attracted to her in a way he would never act on, so let him know he can tell you that.

Not to repeat myself, but I'm a pretty big proponent of people preserving prior friendships when they start dating someone seriously, so it has to be one bizarre set-up to get this answer of me.
posted by zoomorphic at 3:05 PM on January 6, 2009 [10 favorites]


Is there anything else I can ask for without being a crazy jealous girlfriend?

Too late. And I'm guessing he's just as miserable about this situation as you are. Either chill out and learn to accept the situation, or DTMFA.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 3:07 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


People have all kinds of relationships with other people. As you describe it, this one sounds kind of odd, but that in itself isn't grounds for any sort of negative judgement.

On one hand you say you trust him, but on the other you give examples of instances where he's been less than honest, even if only by omission.

This thing isn't going to last unless you can learn to be straight with each other; I think you need to find out why he wants to keep the Vanessa side of his life so private from you, but I also think you need to be open to the possibility that there really isn't something strange going on.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:09 PM on January 6, 2009


Wait a minute. They have 'sleepovers'. I presume they're the only people hanging out at the time. This stinks to high heaven.

Personal anecdote: I had a housemate last year who had this girl come over and party with us all the time. Sometimes her boyfriend would even come with, but he would always end up leaving and the girl would end up sleeping over, in my housemate's bed, 'because her car was parked at our place'.
He would do this with other girls as well but always swore up and down that they were 'just friends' and he didn't have a thing for them. Funny, because I was friends with them as well and they didn't sleep in my bed, or on the couch for that matter.
Fast forward a couple of weeks. Just after the girl moves in with her boyfriend, they break up, and it comes out that my housemate had been doing this girl over and over the whole time. By the way, she was a serious Catholic.

I know people whose girlfriends have been overly paranoid about female friends, but this isn't a matter of you vetting his friends, this is a matter of him being overly, suspiciously close to this other girl, to the point where they have 'sleepovers' at her place. Obviously these sleepovers make you uncomfortable now, but why weren't you invited with in the first place?

If your boyfriend isn't cheating on you now, he will be.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:10 PM on January 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


You seem kind of flippant in your description. That radiates "I don't want to get hurt", which implies that you have some issues yourself about relationships, yourself and others that you might want to examine. This might just be the signal you need to get a little counseling to figure these things out, after which you will probably feel a lot more secure and be able to make good decisions.
posted by blueyellow at 3:11 PM on January 6, 2009


She was his lifeline during his breakup. He rightly feels loyalty to her, and isn't so immature to dump a friend for a relationship. They're both accommodating you, and as as you point out, they have nothing in common, so no need to feel threatened.

Look, I'm not demaning Vanessa or comparing her like a dog but from your perspective, treat it like a you're not a dog person but your boyfriend has an eight-year-old smelly slobbery Great Dane. You wouldn't ask him to give up his dog for you, would you? Or his uncouth loser frat friends, for that matter. Let them have their time, you get in some girl time, and relax about it.
posted by orthogonality at 3:13 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, if he was still sleeping over at an uncouth loser frat friend's house, with whom he used to cuddle (but doesn't anymore, he claims) all the while without inviting you, would you find it suspicious?
posted by dunkadunc at 3:17 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


If it makes you uncomfortable, if it makes you unhappy... and he knows all this? *shrugs* I had plenty of 'girl friends' when I met the girl who has become my wife. Nearly all the girls I was friends with I'd had at least one late-night drunken hookup with at one point or another. Most of my friendships with them were platonic by the time my now-wife entered the scene, but they were still very physical (hugging, sitting on laps) and I know that I always felt rather confused as to what to do. I knew how I'D feel if my wife had a relationship with a guy like that - probably a very knee-jerk reaction, but if she knew I was uncomfortable and didn't shift her priorities to accomidate me, I'd be out faster than the Flash. Zooooooooooooom. Relationships are about (not always, but definately sometimes) sacrifice and priorities. If he loves you and he can see it's hurting you, he needs to make some changes quick. If he doesn't, no offense, but he does not love you. That's harsh, I know, but considering there's a brazillion trillion people in the world, I'm willing to bet the rest of my life's wages that there's someone out there for you that's much, much better than this guy who'll definately make sacrifices to keep you in his life.
I've had girls that are 'just friends' who I've slept next to, cuddled with, et cetera. I'm trying very, very hard to remember one instance where the constant-adolescent horndog in the back of my mind didn't consider escalating each one of those incidents into something more. Unfortunately, I can't. Which might make me a bastard, a little, EXCEPT... that all those relationships I had with females that made my wife uncomfortable I've let go of or scaled way, way back. *shrugs* In other words, putcha foot down and if he gets angry or upset or doesn't understand and is unwilling to change the behavior, GTFO.
I can't think of any girl I've ever dated that would have been super-cool with me sleeping over and cuddling with any female besides them. If there are any girls on here who WOULD be cool with that, I'd love to hear them speak up.
posted by Bageena at 3:22 PM on January 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Do they still have sleepovers? That is not something platonic, grown-up buddies do. If he's stopped this, you have to just accept that he has an annoying friend. If he hasn't stopped it, something's going on, and you need to get out of the relationship.
posted by ignignokt at 3:28 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


From his perspective, she is just a good friend who provided emotional support during a bad time for him.

This is the crux of the matter. Think of their relationship as that of two soldiers or policemen. They went through something very intense together and it has forged a certain bond and you're on the outside of that bond. This isn't inherently bad or good, it just is. None of this excuses his or her behavior, but you do need to understand the basis of this relationship and why he's willing to put up with her crap. He's not turning his back on a friend and that speaks well to his character, despite the shitty things he's done.

He tells me when he's going to hang out with his in-town friends, but when he planned on meeting with Vanessa, he always had another reason to leave town and I only found out later that he spent time with her. He really did leave town for the reason he gave, and always said their meeting's were spontaneous. Before I went on vacation, he complained for weeks that he would miss me and be bored to death. When I called him from the airport on my way home, he couldn't talk because he was at Vanessa's apartment, where he had spent most of the week.

Nevermind, fuck that, he's childish, lying and at the least having an emotional affair, possibly because one or the other are too chickenshit to go further, so they can think of themselves as good people. Dump his ass and move on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:31 PM on January 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


Do they still have sleepovers? That is not something platonic, grown-up buddies do.

I have to say that I have spent the night at female friends' houses, even though there wasn't anything going on: However, I had three different buddies with me, and said female friends had about four different housemates. Oh yeah, and I slept on the couch.

If it's just them, though, you're being cheated on.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:32 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


In re. "is Vanessa hot"

He told me she is waiting until marriage to have sex, but doesn't care if her husband has had sex before...she is lonely and wants to have sex. She told Leopold that she masturbates all the time and her husband will be "so happy" because she has such a great appetite.

Yah. I mean, she is to Leopold, at least. Leopold sounds like a bit of an emotional frotteur.
posted by kmennie at 3:32 PM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Every single person who claims this friendship is within the bounds of normalcy is actively cheating on their significant other (or did not read the question). Seriously. This is not a normal thing.

Not that I think sleeping over someone's place, or previously cuddling, or even previously having fucked someone is necessarily a red flag, but there are a few serious issues. What's with the lying? The secret phone calls? Kudos on the girl for being nice to you, and williing to meet you (apparently well over a year in, but credit where credit is due and all), but something reeks here.
posted by shownomercy at 3:36 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


He thinks he has set reasonable boundaries.

Based on your description, so do I.

I'm still unhappy.

Let it go.

Everything I have written here, I have said to him.

Well done! Bottling these things up is what makes them go toxic.

What I really want, and can never ask for, is for her to just go away forever. Is that as crazy as it sounds?

No. She's clearly quite annoying.

Their relationship may be platonic now, but I feel like she is the ex he never dated. He wouldn't cheat on me. I do trust him.

That's all good then.

So what am I so freaked out about?

You don't trust her. You think the whole virgin-until-wed thing is pernicious nonsense, and you don't believe that somebody as flaky as Vanessa could actually make it work.

Is there anything else I can ask for without being a crazy jealous girlfriend?

Nope.

Can I pay someone to push her off a cliff or offer her a job in Australia?

There is no need to bother. The way this will play out, if you keep your cool, is that eventually she will be the one who lays the "leave her or I go" ultimatum on Leopold in an attempt to snag him for marriage. And Leopold will pick you, because Leopold is not insane, and Vanessa will remove herself from both your lives without you having to lift a finger.
posted by flabdablet at 3:36 PM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


The way this will play out, if you keep your cool, is that eventually she will be the one who lays the "leave her or I go" ultimatum on Leopold in an attempt to snag him for marriage. And Leopold will pick you, because Leopold is not insane, and Vanessa will remove herself from both your lives without you having to lift a finger.

...or Leopold will pick her, because she's been pushing his sex buttons in a thousand little ways (and a million overt ways), and even if he knows it's a bad idea, he just can't resist.

You should get out of this relationship because the Vanessa situation is making everyone involved miserable. There are craploads of guys who won't expect you to put up with this 10th-grade nonsense, so let Leopold and Vanessa wallow in their own emotional filth, and move on. Everyone will be happier.
posted by Coatlicue at 3:45 PM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I agree with the feelings of loyalty he has for her. She supported him early on in the relationship, and he, in turn, started supporting her. He will feel guilt in abandoning her, as she is so needy and he is the caretaker now. So he is trying to appease two different people as best he can. You wouldn't love him if he was the type to abandon a friend, would you?

We often have friends who are our friends not because of shared interests, but shared experiences. He might not be conscious of the reasons why he is friends with her, but it allows him to overlook their dissimilar interests. So he may be in a catch 22 about honoring his friendship with her and supporting your relationship. He sounds like he is not doing too bad, but I think a bit better can be done. I think you are both going in the right direction.

And I don't think the relationship is sexual at all...
posted by Vaike at 3:46 PM on January 6, 2009


Oh my God, as a product of Catholic schooling I will say that "sleep overs" are what girls (and guys) do when they don't want people to think they are actually doing anything wrong. It is sort of like back in the 1950s when gay guys went jogging in a park at midnight and oh my god how did I just get a blowjob in the bathroom? I'm going to go a step further and say they're not actually sleeping together, but only in a legalistic dogmatic sense of the word. You know how they say that when there are restrictions on art, it actually is at its most creative and you get the most moving types of art that way? Yeah it is the same thing with sex.
posted by geoff. at 3:47 PM on January 6, 2009 [20 favorites]


Hooray for another RelationshipFilter question where everyone assumes that the OP's ever so neutral language describing another person is the correct and only interpretation of that person's actions and behaviors.

I can very easily imagine a much less annoying, much less threatening person on the other side of "Vanessa" that a neurotic, jealous person would easily paint the above picture of. I do not support Leo's lying of misleading about going to see her, but I cannot fathom an interpretation of this scenario (which doesn't involve cheating) in which you are not the primary, if not the only, problem.

Get out. Mostly for his sake, but also for yours, since you are clearly not emotionally ready for a relationship with a man who has a close female friend.
posted by toomuchpete at 3:51 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


zoomorphic has it, I think. Speaking as someone who has been in Leopold's situation, anyone who says that it is 100% true that he is cheating on you is wrong, and anyone who says that it is 100% true that he is not cheating on you is wrong. Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell. It does sound like his heart is in the right place, despite a certain immaturity and a tendency to avoid conflict.

Like zoomorphic says, you should talk to him with the pretext that you can accept it if he's harboring that sort of confused attraction on the condition that he owns up to it and takes whatever steps necessary to stabilize the situation.

Also speaking as someone who has been in Leopold's situation: if he equivocates, you might want to reconsider your relationship with him. People who haven't learned to make tough decisions are dangerous, because they will let situations spiral into utter disaster until they are forced to deal with them.
posted by invitapriore at 3:51 PM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


And if carried him though his last breakup, what do you think they say about you when you're not there?

Oh, to be a fly on the wall.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:52 PM on January 6, 2009


Basically this comes down to him being in a relationship with both of you but caring more about her feelings.

Doesn't sound like a partnership of equals to me, and I'd move on.
posted by batmonkey at 3:53 PM on January 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


My take: there is some sort of attraction between your boyfriend and Vanessa, even if he is not cheating on you physically. Not to say he wants to have a relationship with her either, but he seems hooked into her in some way that doesn't seem entirely healthy. I read about the two of them (admittedly, your take on it) and think "Wow, those two have really strange boundary definition problems ". I wonder if your boyfriend has a good sense of healthy relationships is he's attracted to all the DRAMA this woman generates. Most friendships do not depend on one party to near-constantly be a shoulder for the other's latest crisis, and most friendships change to accomodate the feelings of a new SO for the other person.

At the same time, all you can do is tell your boyfriend what you're uncomfortable with, and find out what he is comfortable doing about it. You can't MAKE him do anything. More to the point, I can't help but wonder how serious I would want to be with a person who seems to like sneaking and drama and screwy boundaries.
posted by lleachie at 3:56 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


The whole situation sounds like a lot of needless drama. If you stick around you can expect more of the same. If you're a serious girl, looking for a serious long term relationship, he doesn't seem like a good prospect. Maybe you and him are the ones having all the sex (for the moment), but it sounds like he's bending over backwards for her and standing his ground with you. Something is wrong with that.

Vanessa sounds like a flake and your boyfriend sounds like a flake. Sorry.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:05 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Every single person who claims this friendship is within the bounds of normalcy is actively cheating on their significant other (or did not read the question)

That is incorrect. I am not cheating on my wife, and I did read the question.

In my experience, people who act on their jealousy come off second best in the long term. People who extend the courtesy of complete trust to their partners are occasionally let down and suffer an emotional mauling as a consequence, but this is no reason to spend your whoe life afraid that you're about to be cheated on, which is the consequence of failing to extend that courtesy.

If you're in a relationship with somebody who is trustworthy, then you have no reason at all to distrust them regardless of how weird the circumstances appear. And if you're in a relationship with somebody who is not trustworthy, there is no upside in adopting an untrusting posture; all that will do is make them work harder to hide their betrayals.

Look, I'm all for DTMFA if there is clear evidence of cheating, or if there is ongoing emotional or physical abuse, or if there is no love left. But suspicion is not evidence, and if it's allowed to fester to the point where it's the basis of your entire relationship policy, it amounts to emotional self-abuse - and how are you going to D that MFA?

It seems to me that dumping somebody trustworthy is a far worse mistake, with far more hurtful emotional consequences, than allowing yourself to be betrayed by somebody not.
posted by flabdablet at 4:08 PM on January 6, 2009 [39 favorites]


I should have previewed , as lleachie said it better.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:08 PM on January 6, 2009


Wow. I would like to agree with those who say that these sleepovers are probably not what is considered within the boundaries of conventional acceptable behaviour. I have many many close guy friends, many of whom I am huggy and affectionate with, and have no issues with them sleeping over if they're visiting from out of town. Some of them even sleep in the same bed as me, though we use different duvets.

But if one of those guys' girlfriends had an issue with my friendship with them, I would back the fuck off, because I respect my guy friends, and I want them to find happiness. I wouldn't continue to demand hour long phone conversations at regular intervals and for them to spend the week at my house when their girlfriends were out of town. Thinking of it from her perspective, she seems to have very, very little respect for you (or for Leopold), and due to the nature of their shared-trauma friendship, Leopold is inclined to go along with what she wants for fear of upsetting her delicate nature.

So as much as it sucks that everything else seems to have worked out well for you two, DTMFA seems to be the sanest answer here.

Note: There is a difference between the boyfriend having a dog when I'm a cat person, or having a friend that the girlfriend think is absolutely obnoxious, and this situation. The metaphor desn't even begin to parse properly. The dog is not an active and willing threat to the emotional closeness of the relationship. The friend is (most likely) not clamouring for constant affection and attention and emotional bonding.
posted by Phire at 4:10 PM on January 6, 2009


Yeah, this is bullshit. The only reason, in my experience, that platonic friends in the same place have sleepovers is because the guest got too drunk to go home. Because why would you freely choose a friend's couch over your own bed? Also - don't confuse "virginity" with "chastity". Maybe she's committed to virginity, but if she figures it's ok to get a guy all het up with descriptions of her masturbating - she probably figures it's ok to make out. (Which is probably what's going on). Even if there's no physical involvement, they're obviously smitten with each other, and he obviously puts her feelings over yours. He won't talk to you on the phone when he's with her? The reason it upsets her is because she's jealous, and she has the sense to know that you and she are at odds. And you should have as much sense.
posted by moxiedoll at 4:15 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


At bottom, I think the conflict here is that you have obvious, reasonable grounds for being suspicious, but the right thing to do is to trust Leopold. However, Leopold isn't acting trustworthy with the lying and dodging and whatnot. And from your description, there's definitely an emotional relationship with Vanessa that goes far beyond friendship.

I think you're justified either way. Stay, trust, and if you get hurt because Leopold confesses that he's been fucking Vanessa, or wants to, or is going to marry her, then you can be proud of doing the right thing. Leave, write it off as an irreconcilable difference, and be thankful you escaped a neurotic triangle before you got too burned.

The red flags for me are Vanessa being the kind of psychotic idealist who's saving herself for marriage while discussing how often she masturbates with Leopold. Don't be surprised if those private phone calls involved phone sex.

That, and I've heard the "our sleepovers are totally platonic" excuse from two different serial adulterers who got busted.

If I were in your shoes, I'd be out of there. It's right to trust to your partner, but a good partner doesn't make trusting him hard for you to do.
posted by fatbird at 4:17 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


...or Leopold will pick her, because she's been pushing his sex buttons in a thousand little ways (and a million overt ways), and even if he knows it's a bad idea, he just can't resist

...at which point you walk away from this with your head held high and your integrity intact, instead of having to spend months to years wondering whether you did the right thing.
posted by flabdablet at 4:20 PM on January 6, 2009


instead of having to spend months to years wondering whether you did the right thing.

flabdablet, he's making her miserable now. He's choosing Vanessa over her now. That's why she's here in the first place.
posted by moxiedoll at 4:27 PM on January 6, 2009


What's interesting in these situations is that the division of opinion always seems to reflect two worlds colliding. There is one planet populated by people who are OK with a very wide definition of "platonic friend," including not just exes and would-have-beens but, in many cases, active volcanoes of latent sexual accident.

Then there's a world with people on it like my best friend's wife, from a more traditional background. In her country it's considered obvious that her man shouldn't hang out with exes. Patrolling his Facebook account, she wouldn't so much as allow him to accept a friend request from a woman I was dating, for fear of temptation by her wild ways. I thought that was wacky but he prefers it like that.

People from both worlds often assume relationships would be healthier if everyone hewed to their guidelines. The first kind accuses the second kind of being jealous and backwards, while the second accuses the first of encouraging denial and inviting danger. I'm not sure whether one value system is more right than the other, but when they clash with each other...it's like Ghostbusters when you cross the streams, you're risking total protonic reversal.

I for one believe that a serious relationship brings with it the executive veto option of having the right not to put up with "that guy," or, in your case, "that girl." You are well within your rights to be as annoyed as shit by this person.
posted by Kirklander at 4:27 PM on January 6, 2009 [15 favorites]


All relationships have different rules, but none of what you describe would be okay with me. You're sort of at a disadvantage, though, because you've been putting up with it for so long. I would have had a strong (and perhaps final) conversation as soon as I found out about the "sleepovers" while he was dating me. Seriously, what happened during that conversation? Secret sleepovers, honey!? Oh, you slept on the couch, ah, okay then, well no problem there. I'm not sure that you have more options than make a clean break or keep putting up with it - I can't imagine he's going to change their relationship now because you're uncomfortable.

Also, some advice if you end it - don't make this about Vanessa. This has nothing to do with her politics or intelligence or neediness or anything. You are (maybe?) dumping him because he (flagrantly!) disrespected you and your relationship, both with his actions and with his lame-ass-half-true "explanations."
posted by robinpME at 4:28 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


He won't talk to you on the phone when he's with her? The reason it upsets her is because she's jealous, and she has the sense to know that you and she are at odds insecure. And you should have as much sense rise above that kind of petty tenth-grade drama instead of buying into it.
posted by flabdablet at 4:28 PM on January 6, 2009


@flabdablet-- I fail to see what is trustworthy about lying, but i'm not _married_ so what would I know?

Seriously--he keeps where he's been all week secret from you, he refuses to speak to the girl in front of you, he's lied about where he's been, none of this is trustworthy and I stick by my previous assertion that anyone who defends these kinds of actions wants to believe that they are redeemable. They aren't. He is being a jerk to you even if he's not "actually" cheating.
posted by shownomercy at 4:31 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Every single person who claims this friendship is within the bounds of normalcy is actively cheating on their significant other (or did not read the question).

Did you read the question?
used to cuddle

She stopped calling him in the middle of the night. She has stopped insisting he make time away from me for private phone calls as frequently. They talk much less often now.

He did modify his behavior when we began dating and again when I expressed my discomfort.

He thinks he has set reasonable boundaries. I'm still unhappy.
What more does this guy have to do? Physically push Vanessa off a cliff himself?
posted by desjardins at 4:32 PM on January 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


I think Kirklander's got it.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:32 PM on January 6, 2009


flabdablet, he's making her miserable now. He's choosing Vanessa over her now.

Another one who didn't read the whole question. See above.
posted by desjardins at 4:33 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Perhaps a better way to look at it this: Overall, are you happy with Leopold? Taking the relationship as a whole, is it worth the strenuous effort to trust him and not drive yourself mad?

If the answer is yes, then trust him. Develop whatever mental habits you need to live with the situation, and get on with being happy with him. You might be risking a huge heartbreak in the future, but who isn't?

If the answer is no, leave. If the cost of doing the right thing is being basically unhappy in your relationship, then go your separate ways with a simple "I'm sorry, but I can't do this." You don't have to blame him or Vanessa, you just need to recognize that you're not happy in the relationship and act on that.

What you can't do is make Leopold or Vanessa do what you want them to do. Your choice is what you do.
posted by fatbird at 4:34 PM on January 6, 2009


And the lying and general weaselness do happen when guys have an insanely jealous girlfriend but are too big of weenies to accept the consequences of also having female friends.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:34 PM on January 6, 2009


There are so many reasons for me to recommend you DTMFA, but they've already been mentioned. Number one on my list? He lies to you about being with her.

Every other point you've made could be explained away or viewed under a soft-focus lens, but lying to you when he's with her? Hell. No.

Please, lose Leo. I'm sure he'll work through the pain as long as he has Vanessa there to help him out.

(FWIW, I really am sorry you're going through this. It sounds like you care a lot about him and have given him every benefit of the doubt.)
posted by _Mona_ at 4:44 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Lots of good opinions here. Not to the exclusion of them, here's mine:

1. This is messed up. I do not think that it is irretrievably messed up, without knowing all of Leopold's strengths, but . . . if your post is an attempt to elicit support for your feeling that you should break up with him, you probably have it. My strong suspicion is that his behavior is driven as much by his reservations about your relationship as it is by anything particular having to do with Vanessa.

2. If you plan to break up with him, consider the following experiment: give Leopold your permission to sleep with Vanessa, and even your encouragement, so long as he gets it out of his system within, say, a week.

Why in God's name would you do that, which I probably saw in a sitcom or something? Well, for one thing, it might elicit information from him by changing the terms of the question -- he might confess, for example, that he had considered the idea, or proposed it, previously. You can react to that as you wish.

It might lead to him trying to do so, and pressing the question with Vanessa with a fresh urgency. I am unable to predict where that conversation would lead. If she refuses him, perhaps it will cool his ardor. If she accepts and they do it, perhaps he will declare that he wants to end your relationship, or perhaps they will rue it. Again, react as you wish.

Here's the basic reason I would consider this gambit. Based on what you've said, they are incompatible as a couple, and he must at some level realize that; what keeps this peculiar relationship afloat is its forbidden character and its perpetual Plan B nature. If he is placed in a position where he can actively consider where it might lead, and perhaps even discuss it with Vanessa, he may reboot. Even if that's not the case, I think this is a way of softening, considerably, the "it's her or me" shrilling that concerns you.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 4:52 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Everything I have written here, I have said to him.

I hope he wasn't wearing a white shirt because blood from the ear canal is a bitch to get out. This Vanessa girl sounds like a harmless ditz and you need to redirect your energies and tell Leopold that of course he can hang out with his buddy (like he needs your permission, but never mind), but if he gets up to any sordid business, you'll take his balls.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:01 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I did read the whole question - I think we're just interpreting it differently.

She has stopped insisting he make time away from me for private phone calls as frequently. They talk much less often now. He admitted their meetings were somewhat covert, but insists that was unintentional. He also says I have no right to ask to know where he is all the time or who he spends time with

So Leo doesn't think he did anything wrong, admits that he "unintentionally" kept things from the OP, and has prohibited the OP from asking about it when we already know that without her asking he won't tell. That's what smells, to me. Do I think that people have the right to demand full account of their SOs whereabouts? No, that's it's own red flag. But in this case, with this particular friend, I think that her concerns are completely reasonable.
posted by moxiedoll at 5:04 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Look, this is pretty straightforward: your significant other is showing the kind of intimacy you feel should be yours alone to someone else. If the two of you were married, this would be seriously questionable behavior on his part. Given that you're not married, the cop-out answer would be to say that he can do whatever the hell he wants, and in a sense that's still true. But even outside marriage, you don't have to put up with this. He is cheating on you. There's more to cheating than sex. This is what you're freaked out about. Emotional intimacy is just as much cheating as f*cking. If nothing else, the emotional energy which should be directed towards your relationship is being diverted towards her.

Granted, you're willing to have sex with this guy who has made no public binding commitment to you, so you aren't exactly arguing from a position of strength. But you're finding out that relationships have a nature all their own; you don't get to dictate how things work. You are acting in many ways as if you were married, and you naturally feel the kind of hurt one would expect if this were done in the kind of relationship you're acting out.

But that aside, you have absolutely no reason to put up with this. There's nothing keeping you to this guy except your own affection. Tell him that either she goes or you go. If he tries to burn the candle at both ends, DTMFA.
posted by valkyryn at 5:07 PM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


drama sucks, change the channel.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:10 PM on January 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


flabdablet, he's making her miserable now. He's choosing Vanessa over her now. That's why she's here in the first place.

I'm not so sure about that. I don't think he is making her miserable. I think she's perfectly capable of doing that herself, and I think she's going about it the same way as so many of the respondents in this thread are: by allowing insecurity to dictate her emotional stance.

She stopped calling him in the middle of the night. She has stopped insisting he make time away from me for private phone calls as frequently. They talk much less often now. He admitted their meetings were somewhat covert, but insists that was unintentional. He also says I have no right to ask to know where he is all the time or who he spends time with, and I agree.

The way I read this, Leopold is doing his best to do the right thing by his partner without alienating a valued friend, and is actually doing a reasonably good job in a very difficult position.

It seems to me that the best thing the OP can do to get rid of her own misery is to stop trying to pretend Vanessa isn't there and stop trying to wish her magically away. In my opinion, she'd be far better served by accepting that Leopold's friendship with Vanessa is part of the Leopold package deal, and continuing to identify and resolve her own insecurities until they no longer cause her this kind of stress.

Let's dispose of the "DTMFA because he's a lying swine" line of reasoning, too:

Obviously, I don't like Vanessa. Leopold could tell, so avoided talking to me about her unless to complain. Leopold has never lied to me as far as I know, but because he could sense my uneasiness, be began to omit information about their meetings.

The Vanessa-related misery here is pretty much all self-inflicted, as far as I can tell.

I finally met her last week after dating Leopold for about 22 months (emphasis mine)

The reason this question was so eye-rollingly difficult to read is that it is just a great big splatter of pus from a freshly lanced emotional boil. Once Vanessa gets her due downgrade from "incomprehensible boogeywoman" to "Leopold's obnoxious friend", the teacup around this storm will clearly reveal itself.
posted by flabdablet at 5:13 PM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Just one other thought before I go... you might want to think about why you'd allow the behavior he exibited in the beginning and continue to stay with you. Do you have self-esteem issues at all? Most people, as you've probably noticed in the comments here, would have bailed right off the back when they found out about the 'secret sleepovers' and the lying, but you stayed in it. I can think of at least two dozen times in my life where I was in a similar situation (where I was with someone who was lying to me, talking to exes, and doing things I KNEW were wrong) and I took it too, all in the name of love.
After the worst, worst relationship I ever had (which lasted a measly 4 months), I took 2 years off from dating and saw a therapist and a psych. It helped me immeasurably. There were a lot of other self-destructive behaviors I had that needed addressing; cutting, irresponsible and excessive drug use, incredible self-loathing. It took only six months (this was about two years ago now, I think), and I'm honestly a changed person, down to my very core. All the things I used to hate about myself are still there, but they're definately overshadowed by the qualities I have that make me KNOW I'm worth more than some of the garbage I've been dished. Maybe Askmefi isn't the best place to be talking about this... maybe you should find a therapist?

*shrugs* I really do hope you the best of luck. I think I know what you're going through... when it's hard to breathe and your mind just keeps running through 'what if's', each scenerio a little stab in the heart. Maybe I'm assuming a lot, but if any of this stuff sounds familiar, know that, chances are, with a little professional help, your outlook (and your life) will change so, so much for the positive.
posted by Bageena at 5:39 PM on January 6, 2009


This sounds oddly familiar to me, and more than once over. I'm afraid all I can do is warn you that this will probably not end well at all...
posted by Dysk at 5:40 PM on January 6, 2009


active volcanoes of latent sexual accident.

That was the title of my school science fair project in 4th grade. It did not go well.

In a nutshell, ignoring all the other nonsense and drama: he's behaved in a way that makes you unhappy, with another person who makes you unhappy, and even after changing his behavior somewhat as you've asked, you're still unhappy. Why stay in a relationship where you're unhappy, for whatever reason?
posted by davejay at 5:54 PM on January 6, 2009


your significant other is showing the kind of intimacy you feel should be yours alone to someone else

Intimacy is not fungible. The OP will degrade, not improve, her relationship with Leopold by attempting to drive a wedge between him and Vanessa.

I'm bowing out now, because it's all getting a bit "Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!" in here.

OP, the only unhelpful thing you've done so far is attempt to deny or block out the bizarre reality that is Vanessa. Everything else about the way you're dealing with your relationship sounds just fine. It's only been a week. Meet her a few more times. Try to see the person behind all the assumptions and categories. Treating her as if she's no threat to you will give you the best chance of making that the reality.
posted by flabdablet at 5:54 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sweeping aside all the delicious details:
He is who he is.
She is who she is.
They do what they do.
You can't control any of that.

Since you really don't like all that, just say goodbye to Leopold!

There are plenty of eligible men out there, but don't waste any time, because they are disappearing into marriages every day. Find one who really loves you and doesn't have any friends/exes he's still tangled up with. (Since that's what you want, you can go shopping with that in mind. Plus all your other requirements.)

Then look back on your time living with Leopold as really, really valuable to you as an educational experience. So much of our lives are spent in circumstances that turn out to be beneficial because they were so educational.
posted by exphysicist345 at 6:02 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was trying to figure out what her appeal might be, since you describe her in such harsh terms, and say that they have nothing in common, until I got to:

Vanessa is a ... college-senior-virgin

I believe that Hercule Poirot would be leaning in at this point and announcing the arrival of a clue. They are having a lot of fun doing the we-wanna-but-we-shouldn't-but-we-wanna dance with each other. Intimate phone calls, intimate sleep overs, all edging right up against that tantalizing forbidden sexual fruit. Don't downplay hormones and sublimated desire.

Personally I'd not be ok with this, at all. And I'm someone who has always been very friendly with exes, and am fine with the same in my partner. But the not-quite-truth-telling, and the snuggle parties on the down low, wouldn't work for me.

But that said, I think flabdablet makes some really good points, as does desjardins. He has, apparently, made changes in response to your concerns -- how much more should he be expected to do? Can you imagine any way for him to interact with this woman that won't make you unhappy?

Because it's ok to demand that a partner cut off contact with their exes (most people I know, I think, expect that kind of clean break with the past), but it's not ok to be all passive aggressive about those expectations. Be clear and upfront about your needs, and recognize the risk that your partner might say "Sorry, my needs are different, this won't work for me," either things end or you renegotiate.
posted by Forktine at 7:05 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whenever Vanessa called, he would either leave to speak to her privately or offer to call her back when he was alone, because she told him she didn't feel comfortable talking to him when I'm around.

Didn't need to read past this. Total red flag. This is how my ex-fiance acted right before he admitted to me he was in love with the 'other woman.'
posted by CwgrlUp at 7:22 PM on January 6, 2009


Call a spade a spade.
You did.
He didn't.
Will he?
If he won't, I would call it a full house and get out.
posted by mumstheword at 7:22 PM on January 6, 2009


I once dated someone with a woman like this in his life. Here's what worked for me. He had described her to me as "almost like his little sister," and it was easy to look at her as a little sister. She was cute, naive, annoying, and kinda lost, and he felt loving and protective towards her. If you believe you can trust him and decide you want to stay in the relationship, maybe a mental shift like that could help you deal with it.

(Interesting footnote on that story: he later got engaged to her much later, long after things didn't work out with us. Then she nearly flaked on the wedding, and he decided -- without knowing whether she was ultimately going to flake or whether she'd come through at the last minute -- that he didn't want a marriage like that and called it off.)
posted by salvia at 7:52 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have lot of male friends. Even with the gay ones, unless it was freezing-ass cold, we would not "snuggle" all night in a bed. And even then, if I had a choice of sleeping on the couch with a dog or "snuggling" with the guy, dog and sofa would win.

Do you feel uncomfortable talking to your friends when your SO is around? I don't. Normal people don't. Do you feel uncomfortable talking to your little sister or that special someone who mentored your through a rough patch when you SO is around? I don't. Normal people don't.

Run away. Seriously. She's a one-woman cult.

Dump him. A lot of the women here have nice single friends to fix you up with.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 8:16 PM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


FWIW, I think desjardins, moxiedoll, flabdablet and forktine make some good points, though they are obviously in tension with one another. It's hard to evaluate how cooperative Leopold really is, or how much understanding Vanessa will really change the situation. Personally, I'm not sure I follow why meeting her matters that much.

OTOH, I'm far less enamored of those chiming in to complain that reading a question is miserable and burdensome and should please be stopped (as if the chief casualty is the reader), or to say clever things like "drama sucks, change the channel," or to spell out some card pun -- with the common theme that the situation is self-explanatory, beyond reason, and all that matters is their vote and, critically, how witty or pithy they can attempt to be. Maybe people are so blind to their own personal dramas that only tough talk will shake them out of it; I can see that to a point. On the other hand, maybe people are so blind to their own postings that they don't realize how they come across, or how little value they're contributing to someone whose first priority isn't securing style points.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:20 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


One of my best, dearest, friends in the world has gone through a series of insecure, possessive, obsessive girlfriends who could not deal with the fact that he and I had been friends for 10 years, had supported each other through horrible breakups, career moves, and other life traumas. When he sends out an email saying, "hey, this great thing just happened to me," on the list are his parents, his brother, his best friend from grade school, and me. He considers me to be family. I am in a LTR of 5 years now and I have no feelings at all whatsover in a romantic sense. I love him but not that way, more like the brother I never had. He's not even an ex, there never was anything between us.

BUT yes, he has snuck out in order to talk to me and lied about the fact that he was speaking to me because these women would go ape shit when he told them the truth.

on the other hand, I think (as usual) Forktine has it nailed. The sleepovers are not cool. Otherwise I would say, guess what, deal with it, or end the relationship. Right now he is getting exactly what he wants. Clearly she is serving some need.
posted by micawber at 8:36 PM on January 6, 2009


In all seriousness, the real question is, Is it okay for YOU if BF, etc.

Here's why I say that:

a) It might be the case that you're being unreasonably jealous...
b) and it might be the case that you're being reasonably jealous...
c) because the difference between these two cases is set by the rules and expectations you and your BF set for the relationship.

To help clarify those rules, here are some factors to consider:

a) Leopold and Vanessa very likely have, *at the least*, an intense sexual attraction.
b) He's "omitting information" about their meetings? Hmm...
c) They

Actually, I'm going to stop right here. As has been suggested by earlier posters, L and V actually already have a very intimate relationship. There's nothing wrong with that, in and of itself-- but you have to clarify what you want, expect, and will accept... and then pass it on to L.

Obviously, it might not be the case that your respective standards and practices mesh.
posted by darth_tedious at 8:40 PM on January 6, 2009


It may not be fair to tell Leopold at this point you don't approve of his and Vanessa's relationship. But it is certainly fair to tell Leopold that you are unhappy that you don't understand his relationship with Vanessa. I would use that as your most constructive starting point right now. This isn't a simple friendship with a member of the opposite sex and you are not out of line demanding that he work with you to help you understand, if in fact it is non-sexual/non-romantic.

From your post I can't tell if Leopold and Vanessa's relationship is a normal close relationship, just a little excessively needy, a little dysfunctional, or a lot dysfunctional. And I don't think it's up to us to decide this for you. The issue is that things aren't working for you right now and you need a way to make it work for you.

You are absolutely *not* a jealous crazed girlfriend. This is an unusual situation and your feelings are totally valid.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:53 PM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


He told me she is waiting until marriage to have sex, but doesn't care if her husband has had sex before.

If this were a lie and they were fucking every chance they got, would you necessarily know? Maybe you should look at it from my perspective, which is that I read your story and figured "He's two-timing you."

Also, what The World Famous said in his first comment.

Before I went on vacation, he complained for weeks that he would miss me and be bored to death. When I called him from the airport on my way home, he couldn't talk because he was at Vanessa's apartment, where he had spent most of the week.

Is this the relationship you want to be in? No, nobody would.

Get out of it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:44 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


A couple thoughts, sorta different situations, but sorta not. I'm a guy with views/politics that sound much like L's. I've been good friends with a guy with views/politics much like V's--to include big-time God and Guns. He was much a good guy in terms of being honorable, caring, genuine, etc., and it was an interesting experience to go with him to the gun range, get some experience firing handguns, which is to say we were both intrigued/curious about someone with fundamental views so unlike ours. Maybe there's some of that going on?

In the boy-meets-girl realm, I went out with a few times with a woman and things were really good... and stuck in platonicville. She had an ex around, a close friend. The woman once said she tried to pull away from him and he kept reeling her back in. That struck me as weak; she was not a fish. She was a person who couldn't or wouldn't step away from someone who was jamming up her ability to move forward with someone else or at least start to see what was there. My sister nailed it when I related the above, said I didn't know if things w. the woman and the guy were still physically intimate. "Doesn't matter." As people have noted, emotional intimacy generally holds at least as much power/influence as physical.

Other things noted. In conversations about this, L says he doesn't have to tell you where he is all the time and who he spends time with. True. True, but incomplete. I assume you don't want/need to know those things across the board... just as they relate to V--which feels more than reasonable.

Someone made a good point about how to address this in conversations with L, that something along the lines of "Help me understand..." comes across better than things more like, "I do not like...".

Feels possible that L and V can be close friends w/o the mastubration talk, sleepovers, blowing you off for her, etc.

Best sense: At some point some people will have to make hard choices. If he thinks things with V are fine and good and won't make changes, your odds of happiness are probably minuscule and it's probably time to move on. If he's willing to scale things waaaaaaaaay back--to include no sleepovers--then the odds of happiness feel markedly greater than minuscule.

Be smart. Protect yourself at all times.
posted by ambient2 at 11:04 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, some advice if you end it - don't make this about Vanessa. This has nothing to do with her politics or intelligence or neediness or anything. You are (maybe?) dumping him because he (flagrantly!) disrespected you and your relationship, both with his actions and with his lame-ass-half-true "explanations."

Yeah, this is a strong read on the situation. This isn't about whether Vanessa thinks Alan Keyes is making sense or if her favorite book is Not Guilty At Nuremberg. If you don't mind my saying so, you seem to be hesitant to size up Leopold himself and what he's made of. Instead, perhaps to avoid your disappointment in the way the relationship has turned out, you are choosing a kind of Obamaniac bluster against his lady friend for being a social conservative.

You also have to ask yourself if you are dating the kind of person who gets a kick out of two people fighting for his attention. You and she might be in the same boat.
posted by Kirklander at 11:10 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anonymous, take a listen to Ask Amy's take on "emotional affairs".
posted by blueberry at 1:39 AM on January 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


your boyfriend cuddles and has sleepovers with this woman!!

does anything else need to be said? jesus, i mean, you could have saved all our heads from exploding from having to wade through your post (and i thought i posted long-ass questions!) with just that one statement.

which is not acceptable. i'm not saying DTMFA but you need to have a conversation with him that includes statements like "cuddling and sleeping over at another woman's house is not acceptable" and "cuddling and sleeping over at another woman's house is shady and it makes me not trust you regardless of whether anything hinky is actually going on because the very act of cuddling and sleeping with another woman who is not your gf is hinky in and of itself." if he tries to protest, just reiterate that it's not acceptable. end of story. and if he doesn't cut that shit out than there will be consquences (altho you'd better be prepared to back that up). there shouldn't even need to be an explanation as to why. i mean: really? really??

and you are not being a crazy or jealous girlfriend by expecting your boyfriend to not be cuddling and sleeping over at other women's houses. you are being a girlfriend. period.
posted by violetk at 1:50 AM on January 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


In my experience, people who act on their jealousy come off second best in the long term. People who extend the courtesy of complete trust to their partners are occasionally let down and suffer an emotional mauling as a consequence, but this is no reason to spend your whoe life afraid that you're about to be cheated on, which is the consequence of failing to extend that courtesy.

If you're in a relationship with somebody who is trustworthy, then you have no reason at all to distrust them regardless of how weird the circumstances appear. And if you're in a relationship with somebody who is not trustworthy, there is no upside in adopting an untrusting posture; all that will do is make them work harder to hide their betrayals.

Look, I'm all for DTMFA if there is clear evidence of cheating, or if there is ongoing emotional or physical abuse, or if there is no love left. But suspicion is not evidence, and if it's allowed to fester to the point where it's the basis of your entire relationship policy, it amounts to emotional self-abuse - and how are you going to D that MFA?

Yes.

If I were in your shoes, I'd be out of there. It's right to trust to your partner, but a good partner doesn't make trusting him hard for you to do.


Yes.

Both I, and my wife, maintain vast networks of exes and platonic friends (well, ok, not, like, a small village vast, but a decent number). We like them and most of us know each other. But at the same time, we don't go around kissing and hugging and making asses of ourselves and hoping the other doesn't find out. We're liberal by any standard, but we vet and show each other what we're doing beforehand, and respect each others' requests to knock it off or join in the fun.

I don't see any right you might have to try to end their friendship, but he needs to quit with the sleepovers if they bug you this much. I think the deeper issue here might be that your boy Leonard might be a drama addict. Oh yes - they exist. They're the perpetual hangers-on of drama kings and queens, relying on the validation of being a shoulder to cry on. They need a lot more validation than the average, healthy person can give, but use a reciprocal means of gaining it rather than lashing out and deliberately seeking attention. They glom on to psychos like this because they need that quick fix just as badly as the psychos. I really don't think Leonardo is cheating on you, but I suspect he is a very giving, hesitant, and slightly overdependent person. You may want to look and see if that vision of his personality squares with your experience.

He might be cheating, but both he and you, from the way I read what you've written, seem to be too supportive of each other to do that.
posted by saysthis at 4:54 AM on January 7, 2009


Leopold! Joy of joys, I'm retarded.
posted by saysthis at 4:55 AM on January 7, 2009


My guess is Vanessa is probably less obnoxious than your neurotic description of her.

I'm also guessing that Vanessa and your boyfriend are probably doing stuff they aren't supposed to do. Hardcore Christian girls are dangerous.
posted by chunking express at 7:54 AM on January 7, 2009


I think the whole story would make more sense if, rather than referring to them as Leopold and Vanessa, we changed their names to Paolo and Francesca.
posted by The World Famous at 10:53 AM on January 7, 2009


your boyfriend cuddles and has sleepovers with this woman!!

USED to. The OP asked him to stop and he did. There is no present tense.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:25 AM on January 7, 2009


Yes, it is an emotional affair he is having with Vanessa. But that's not enough of a reason to dump him.

We all have emotional baggage and relationships... and we only get more the older we get... so get used to it. Every guy you date from now on is going to have more and more relationship baggage, most likely.

If you want to preserve your relationship with him, drop your resentment and feelings about it and let it go... chances are his relationship with Vanessa will wane over time. Maybe have a "Last Conversation" with him about this: "Here's what I have to say about Vanessa and what I'd like our boundaries to be regarding her, and I promise I won't bring it up anymore after this."

Your points to make:
1. I respect your friendship with Vanessa. I'm glad she helped you through a tough time.
2. You know I don't like her. I'm sorry.
3. I will trust you with her if you help me to trust you- no, I don't have a right to know every little thing you do, but since Vanessa is a emotional issue with me it would really help me and us if you could let me know anytime you see her or plan on seeing her, and please don't avoid it or forget to tell me. If I find out you met with her without telling me ahead of time or as soon as reasonably possible afterwards, it makes me wonder what you're trying to hide, which really distresses me.
4. Please no more sleepovers- I do believe that they are platonic, but the implications are unsettling and distressing, not just to me but to any of our friends, which in turn embarasses me.
5. Please accept calls from me even if you're with Vanessa- otherwise it seems like you care more about her feelings than mine. And it would make me more comfortable if you didn't feel the need to always speak to her in private- I understand sometimes, but always seems suspicious (even though I trust you!).
6. I promise I will stop being upset and making an issue out of this.

If you want your relationship to move forward, you'll really have to let go of all your feelings about Vanessa, otherwise it will just continually drive a wedge further and further between you and you'll have a self-fulfilling prophecy. Clearly he is not ready to give up his relationship with her- she's essentially a girlfriend without the committment or sex, and she helped him through a tough time, and he's loyal to that. Good for him! So if you make any sort of ultimatums that would diminish his relationship with her, he will resent you and continue to sneak around, making you more distrustful, and poisoning your relationship. I don't think the above boundaries would diminish his relationship with her, but make sure he knows it's negotiable and understands your feelings and tries to address them.

If you just let it go (after the final talk) and treat her like one of his clingy, obnoxious, but UNTHREATENING friends, that is most likely what she will become. I think these types of emotional relationships can't last too long, because eventually one or both parties finds the real versions of what their relationship is a substitute for (an intimate, loving, romantic relationship).

Hopefully as your relationship and intimacy with him grows, his need for Vanessa will wane and their friendship will become more normal and less clingy.

Good luck! :)
posted by thejrae at 11:39 AM on January 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is his behaviour going to change?

If yes, problem solved. If no:

Is his behaviour tolerable?

If yes, end questions. If no, dump him.

This situation could very easily turn into a "choose between her or me" situation, either by you asking him to do that, or by being pissed off when he's with her.
posted by Solomon at 12:12 PM on January 7, 2009


This guy, your Leopold, isn't that different or unique. Most people have friendships with people of the opposite sex that would be inappropriate if either/both of these people are in a relationship. Leopold's friendship with Vanessa wouldn't be a problem if he were single. When single, friends of the opposite sex have slept in my bed (without sex), called me in the middle of the night, done spontaneous playdates, etc. It was great. When I enter relationships, this shit stops. It's not right, you know it's not right and he knows it's not right.

Most of these friends know that the reason it stops is because I'm in a relationship, and there isn't some lengthy explanation needed. It's ok to use friends as a "crutch" to get you by when you're single or when the chips are down as he has, but when you have a SO, that ends, full stop. Hiding behind this "we're such great friends" or "s/he helped me through a really tough time" is mostly bullshit. When you commit to one person, you are also committing to being subjected to their idea of commitment. If that's too much for him, if this makes you a crazy jealous girlfriend in his eyes, then so be it. Otherwise, you'll need to compromise by having a part of your relationship that you really don't like, and life's too short for that bs.
posted by littlelebowskiurbanachiever at 12:54 PM on January 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


I wonder if some of the phone call thing might be different ideas of etiquette. I rather briefly dated a guy who (it turned out) thought I was cheating on him because I wouldn't take calls when I was with him. I thought I was being polite.

Of course, when we first met he told me most of his girlfriends had cheated on him. I was too naive to realize was a red flag, and I now suspect I'm yet another girlfriend he will claim cheated on him. I broke up with him because I don't want my partner to be someone to whom I have to prove my fidelity.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:59 PM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


A lot of the focus here seems to be on Vanessa, but if I were you, I would be paying attention to how Leopold treats romantic-platonic boundaries, and if the way he approaches the separation between "friend" relationships vs. "romantic, committed" relationships is different from what you want or expect from a partner. Sleepovers, private phone calls that (consistently) can't happen when you're around, lying and omitting information about meeting to be together, and telling you that he can't pick up before you leave for vacation because he's spent all week with her and can't make time to talk to you for five minutes all point to inappropriate behavior on his part at the least, and infidelity of one kind or another at worst.

I will echo previous posters who have said that this is the kind of neither-here-nor-there "friendship" that tends to happen when people are single, and is not sustainable or proper when those people in a relationship--at least, not in my book. These things are hard to objectively judge. Maybe, to Leopold, all of this is perfectly fine and appropriate. Seeing as how he already knows you're concerned and uncomfortable and, despite making a few isolated changes to placate you, has continued this "friendship", I would regard this as

a) a good indicator that you two are on different pages in terms of what is or is not acceptable in terms of boy-girl friendships in the context of your relationship, and

b) a good indicator that similar problems could come up again the next time he makes a close female friend and you want to be a good, reasonable girlfriend by trusting him and not meddling in that friendship. if his boundaries of "okay" and "not okay" are so different from your own, chances are that you can continue to be put in the rock-and-a-hard-place situation of swallowing your discomfort or going through this all over again. Not a happy situation.

The fact is that Leopold is making you uncomfortable, and he knows it, and hasn't completely addressed that fact. Regardless of any of our determinations as to whether his friendship with Vanessa is appropriate or not when he has a girlfriend (cough not appropriate at all cough), the fact that this is even still an issue for you guys is a giant, waving red flag, covered in blinking red lights. I would be very concerned.
posted by teamparka at 2:43 PM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Run, don't walk, from this whole sorry, nasty, icky mess because it will shortly explode and cover you in egg-sauce. And shit.
posted by Jofus at 7:27 AM on January 8, 2009


In my mind, I read "we just snuggled together" and "she's a college-senior-virgin" as "We didn't fuck, but there are a lot of other things that we might have done." "We just snuggled" reads as a warning shot, as if to gauge your reaction to previous relationships. I don't think people do that maliciously. Sometimes it's polite. (For example, I wish one guy I dated had been a little more delicate about his love of analingus. I was so taken aback by the abruptness of his conversation on the subject that I couldn't muster the courage to talk to him again. Terrible on my part, yes. But rather uncouth on his part also.) Other times it is underhanded. My vote for this situation is for underhanded.
posted by greekphilosophy at 2:17 PM on January 8, 2009


Seconding zoomorphic. I've been the Leopold in this situation, where I was insanely attracted to a girl that could never have been a serious partner for me. The problem was I knew that the girl I was with was far better for me in the end, but relationships are not built on rational thinking. Not taking phone calls from her when you're around reeks of emotional cheating, as does not being able to talk to you after you've been on vacation because he's at her place. This is the kind of stupid shit I did because I a) really cared for the girl I was with and didn't want to tell her outright that another girl was making me crazy, and b) I was fighting with myself trying to do what I knew was right. If there is nothing physical between them (and it's entirely possible) at the very least he is attracted to her and she knows it and is leading him on. 100% guaranteed, unless either of them have strange social or mental conditions.

If you have a desire for the normal-type relationship that most people do, where the boyfriend is focused on the girlfriend, and the girlfriend is focused on the boyfriend, and they're more interested in each other than other people, tell him. Demand it. Get what you need. If he can't provide it because he finds her more interesting, DMTFA, already.
posted by '' at 4:17 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know I'm waaaay late here, but this question gave me a sick feeling, because I've been in the -exact- situation. Down to every last detail. It's almost creepy.

To me, she was his "best friend." To his guy friends, she was "the woman of my dreams."

He said he HAD to have sleepovers with her and pay her so much attention because he was just trying to help her through a horrible emotional time, and because she was suicidal.

He said he was sleeping on the couch during their sleepovers, and her "insanely jealous boyfriend" would even be calling several times to confirm that. Yeah, they were fucking the whole time.

He said he was going to the next state to see his parents. Really, he was flying clear across the country to have sex with her.

Abruptly ended phone calls, online chats, webcam sessions, when I showed up? She was "just shy." I'm sure you can see where this is going.

I don't know whether your boyfriend was having sex with this girl or not, but at the very least, he was emotionally cheating. This is not a normal platonic relationship.

It's been 11 months, so I wonder what you ended up doing. I think if you walked, you did the right thing.
posted by Ashley801 at 6:30 PM on November 9, 2009


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