Girlfriend has a lot of close guy friends, should I be worried?
April 8, 2012 9:32 PM   Subscribe

So my girlfriend has a few very close guy friends she often hangs around with. I guess shes had mix ups with girls and shes also interested in a lot of traditionally male things. Shes very pretty though, which may help her attract guy friends.

Either way these relationships bother me a lot. We don't live together, but she hangs out with them when I'm not there, just her and a few guys. She is very close with three of them, they know a lot about her. One guy in particular she says they are like the same person, but she claims that she wouldn't date him. He bothers me the most, but two of them are apparently big womanizers and players, which I am not and this also scares me. I don't know how to feel about this all but it urks me quite a bit.

I know if I bring this up or try and tell her to hang around them less she will get angry with me.
posted by johnx to Human Relations (47 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This could really use the "Either way these relationships bother me a lot." above the fold.

As far as I can tell,
two of them are apparently big womanizers and players
Is of more concern than the fact that you girlfriend is friends with guys. Having guys as friends is perfectly normal, in my experience, perfectly compatible with a great relationship. But if you're saying "womanizers and players" in the typical, negative sense, that might indicate another problem: that her friends aren't the kind of people you'd befriend.
posted by tmcw at 9:37 PM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

these are her friends. from what you describe, it doesn't sound like there is anything romantic going on with any of them. you don't really have a leg to stand on in asking her to stop hanging out with them, or even hanging out with them less.
posted by violetk at 9:38 PM on April 8, 2012 [5 favorites]

Do you trust her? That is the only important fact here. There are many guys who have friends who are girls. This doesn't necessarily mean anything. If you trust her not to mess around with any of them, than it doesn't matter what they think, since she is not going to reciprocate.

She is living her life and making friends with the people she enjoys. It is not up to you to tell her who her friends should be. If you are uncomfortable I think it is fine to bring that up, but not in order to change her behavior. Tell her how you feel, and that way she can be more mindful about her interactions, and maybe try to include you more often so that you feel like part of her group.
posted by markblasco at 9:41 PM on April 8, 2012 [6 favorites]

And I also forgot to mention in the main post, I know very little about these guys other than what she has told me. I'm not friends with them at all.
posted by johnx at 9:42 PM on April 8, 2012

Why does this bother you so much? Do you not trust your girlfriend or have any of these guys been inappropriate with her? If this is just your own trust issues, I'd take a deep breath and bring it up with her but begin by explaining you know it's not rational and you totally trust her, but the dynamic still makes you uncomfortable. I don't think requesting a change in her behavior is reasonable or would get you very far, but the best way to deal with these things is to talk them out, because even if this is just your own stuff, it will leak into the relationship and manifest itself in weird and destructive ways. Seriously, talking about things often makes a huge difference even if nothing really changes about the situation.

Also, if you haven't already, get to know these guys more. The more time you spend with them, chances are the more comfortable you will be, and they will be even more likely to respect the boundaries of your relationship.
posted by katemcd at 9:42 PM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Don't forget that they were there before you were, and that they likely have outlasted your predecessors.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 9:44 PM on April 8, 2012 [9 favorites]

I am like your girlfriend. I think I've been friends with more guys than girls. I suspect your girlfriend sees them as brothers than anything else. Seriously, if I was interested/attracted to any of my male friends I would of dated them, but I absolutely no desire to.

Have you been cheated on in the past? That would definitely cloud your ability to trust this woman fully if you've been in the same type of situation before. You seriously need to have a discussion with her if you are worried. Not an accusatory one, but one in which you are voicing your concerns.

On preview, also what markblasco and katemd said as well.
posted by littlesq at 9:45 PM on April 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

Either way these relationships bother me a lot.

Why? Do you trust your girlfriend to not cheat on you or not? Her friends being big sluts etc. has nothing to do with her unless she chooses to have sex with them, in which case on her head be it. She is not going to cheat on you by swooning helpless before their manly charms without any say in the matter--because that's rape, which is not cheating. Are you seriously worried that her friends are potential rapists? Have you discussed this with her? I'm not even sure you should, because my boyfriend telling me "I don't trust you around your slutty friends (because I think you will have sex with them / think they will rape you because they are sluts)" would be a quick way to make him my ex-boyfriend.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:48 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

How long have you two been a couple?

Friends usually trump lovers when it comes to who stays and who goes. You may want to consider that this just isn't a good fit for you. You should feel good about her friends -- not anxiety ridden.

That being said, could it be that you view them as competition because they are more emotionally close to your GF than you are?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:51 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Why is she with you if she could be with then?

She's not. She's with you. Maybe she doesn't mind being friends with womanizers, but won't date them. Good for her if she doesn't.

But there's nothing about them that will cause your girlfriend to cheat. She has to want to do so, too. They're not magical. They can't make her cheat.
posted by inturnaround at 9:58 PM on April 8, 2012 [11 favorites]

glad you're being thoughtful here. Jealousy and possessiveness kill a lot more relationships than they save.
posted by salvia at 10:00 PM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

("protect" would be a better word than "save" in my comment there. Once something needs "saved" jealousy won't help at all.)
posted by salvia at 10:03 PM on April 8, 2012

Your follow up is interesting. If these are her best friends, why haven't you met? Your girlfriend should want her boyfriend to get to know her friends. So should you. I dont know what it says about your relationship, but it says something.
posted by J. Wilson at 10:06 PM on April 8, 2012 [6 favorites]

Jealousy is fear of loss. You appear to be afraid that you will lose your girlfriend or her fidelity because of these guy friends. Sure, players gonna play, but solid people will be solid regardless of the circumstances. You are not more likely to keep your girlfriend by restricting her friends, because honestly if she's not solid, she's going to flake out regardless. On the other hand, if she's solid, it doesn't matter who she's friends with; she'll be loyal to you.

Plus, from what you've said, she's been friends with these guys for way longer than she's known you... and yet she chose to add you to her life as her boyfriend. So really, it doesn't sound like you have anything to worry about here except your own insecurity.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:06 PM on April 8, 2012 [6 favorites]

How long have you been dating her?
posted by jayder at 10:13 PM on April 8, 2012

I think concerns like your are often about perceived "power imbalance" in the relationship than they are about jealousy. If you had a circle of women friends you hung out with, you wouldn't perceive this imbalance, there wouldn't be this imbalance. As it currently stands, though, you see these guys as potential suitors, or at least potential casual sex partners (a threat you see as real because you identify two of them as "players") so you view them as a constant threat to the integrity of your relationship; if they are "players" you see them as perhaps more virile than you? Or possibly prone to moving in on your girlfriend? Perhaps as former "hook-ups" with your girlfriend?

This kind of stuff is kind of like Cold War nuclear politics. If you had your own arsenal of hot babes to counter her arsenal of players, you could settle into a sort of detente. But right now, there is a power imbalance.
posted by jayder at 10:25 PM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

How long have you been dating? But I really think you either need to get over this or not date her. My boyfriend and I both have friends of the opposite sex - in particular, he has a lot of female friends. It is straight-up not a big deal, because I trust him. (Also, I have met them and in some cases become good friends with them myself over the course of the years that we've been together.) But you really can't dictate these things, and if you want to be with her, you're going to need to get over your discomfort with this.

In terms of ways to do this: How well do you know these friends? Can you hang out with your girlfriend and her dude friends some time? Seeing them interact might make you feel more comfortable with the situation.
posted by SoftRain at 11:01 PM on April 8, 2012

You sound insecure about the relationship and yourself. In all likelihood (and long before you met her) she's already had no shortage of opportunities to take these friendships as far as she wants. Her friendships are friendships for a reason, and those reasons are not lack of opportunity to get it on.

Your insecurity is more likely to destroy the relationship than her hanging out with friends, so focus on fixing that. In the meantime, next time you have the opportunity to all hang out together, take that opportunity. And when you're hanging out together, don't view them as competition, don't try to one-up them, don't be defensive, don't be weird. Assume they're fun people that you would eventually like to have as friends too. Maybe they won't be, but you need to get your hackles down.

Be awesome. That's all you need do.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:09 PM on April 8, 2012 [9 favorites]

This is something in you, and you need to sit with it and wait until it doesn't have power over you anymore. It's not her problem.
posted by ead at 11:14 PM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think you need to meet them. The insecurity idea is right on the nose as far as I can tell. Her interactions with her guy friends are probably nothing like your imagining them. I suspect that once you actually see how she treats them, and how they treat her, most of your fears will shrivel away underneath the sunshine of reality.

And, if they don't, you'll probably have a more articulatable reason why you're uncomfortable with them.
posted by bswinburn at 11:16 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tread carefully, grasshopper - don't let your insecurities get the better of you here or you will create the drama yourself.

You only believe that they're big womanizers, you don't know that for a fact, and you don't know if they are or would ever do anything with your GF.

If it will make you feel better, get to know them, but seriously be careful about that as well - don't interrogate them, don't belittle them, don't take on them. You will lose her.
posted by mleigh at 11:20 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't think there's enough detail in your question to give you useful advice. (How old are each of you? How long have you been dating? Et cetera.) But I do think there are ways of framing the question so you can maybe answer it for yourself.

First, what does your gut tell you? It sounds from your question like your gut tells you these friendships are a problem, but I don't want to put words in your mouth. Maybe that isn't your initial instinct; maybe it's a product of insecurity, second-guessing, overanalyzing, etc. What does your instinct say? If you absolutely had to answer the question this very moment, which way would you go?

Then ask yourself, should you listen to your gut? I generally think that people should. But that's me, and only "generally." Maybe you were cheated-on just before this girl, or maybe something happened with your parents, or who-knows-what. The point is, maybe there is some fact in your circumstance that genuinely impairs your instinct on this particular judgment. Think about it. Is there?

Think about your options. What are the possibilities? You could stifle your feelings and do nothing. You could get to know these guys. You could give her an ultimatum. You know your life and circumstances, and hers, so you're really the only person in this thread who can brainstorm this. Make a list, mental or written. Then think each one through—not to death, but a few steps down the road. If you stifled these feelings, do you think you'd get over them? If you gave her an ultimatum, what do you think she'd do? More importantly...what do each of those things say to you about your relationship? Try to think about that from your perspective, and then from hers.

Good luck.
posted by cribcage at 11:49 PM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

You're a lucky man. You're about to make 3 new friends who you apparently have a lot in common with. And they already get along with your girlfriend!

More seriously, when I first start dating a woman the fact that she has independent friendships with other guys is a big plus for me, not a red flag. It likely means she is strong and independent and doesn't need romantic relationships to boost her self esteem. It means she is dating me because she really likes me, not just because she needs to have a guy around. It means she has an understanding of the opposite sex outside the context of a relationship, which is an important part of being in a successful relationship.

Now, if you meet these guys and you think they're shady, or if you think there are some weird dynamics between them and your girlfriend, then maybe you have something to think about. But give these guys a real chance and don't let jealousy cloud your perceptions. If your gf is an alright gal, they're probably alright guys.

I know if I bring this up or try and tell her to hang around them less she will get angry with me.

You understand why she'd get angry if you said that, right? Because telling someone not to spend time with their friends is a really shitty thing to do in a relationship. But bringing it up in a respectful way is fine! Start by asking about them casually: "How are the boys doing these days?" Maybe ask how she feels about having close guy friends: "do you ever worry that one of those guys has a crush on you?" I promise you that being openly curious about these guys will come across a hell of a lot better than being quietly resentful. She will sense your jealousy, and it will be a bad scene.

Finally, if you meet these guys, give them a fair shake, talk about them with your gf and you still feel like you can't handle her hanging out with them? Well, that's your hangup dude, not hers. If you ever feel the need to try to stop her from spending time with them then it's time for you to bow out of that relationship. If a woman with guy friends isn't for you, then go find yourself a woman without guy friends. Asking her to choose between them and you means either she'll choose them or she'll resent you for it for the rest of your relationship. That's a lose-lose right there.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 11:58 PM on April 8, 2012 [12 favorites]

You should count yourself lucky. She's surrounded by all these great guys, and you're the one she chose. Just trust her.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:12 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Having lots of close guy friends doesn't necessarily mean she's going to cheat, but it might mean that she always wants to be the center of attention. Does she have a lot of female friends, too? Or is it mostly guys?
posted by Afroblanco at 12:24 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am one of the friends. Not literally one of these friends, but I am the friend in a similar situation.

You need to get to know these guys; they need to get to know you. From experience, this will help A LOT with your insecurities about her being around not-you-dudes. And if they don't get to know you, then you are just an anonymous asshole she is happy with now, but will eventually make her cry. We hate it when you make her cry.

Take an interest in her friends. Ask to hang out, talk with them, talk to her about them. Right now you are letting ignorance and stereotypes sabotage the relationship in your own mind. Eventually that will leak out. Replace the caricatures of your fears with portraits of the actual wonderful people that your girlfriend chooses to have in her life. There's a pretty good chance you will like them!
posted by jraenar at 12:59 AM on April 9, 2012 [8 favorites]

One guy in particular she says they are like the same person, but she claims that she wouldn't date him. He bothers me the most, but two of them are apparently big womanizers and players, which I am not and this also scares me. I don't know how to feel about this all but it urks me quite a bit.

This reminds me of younger-me. I grew up in a small area, the boys outnumbered the girls, I loved running around and playing "boys" sports, so naturally grew up with a lot of guy friends. My best friend, who I've known since we were 3 and whose mother would watch me after school, eventually turned into a player and a womanizer – but he never showed me that side of himself. We never dated and never would (because he's a serial womanizer and I know it!). I will admit, sometimes his friendship nags me because he is a really sweet, caring, wonderful person and yet he thinks dateable women are some sort of distinct species from women he wants to be friends with. On the other hand, he's like my brother. Anyway. I'm sharing this on the off chance it's similar to the thought process and experiences your girlfriend might have. Ask her how she met her friends, what brought them together, what they do for fun, that sort of thing.

You're on the right track, not telling her to stop seeing them. Do try to engage with her about them, and be open to meeting them. She'll probably be happy to share about them. If she's not, that would be a warning sign, but considering she's been open about them with you, I bet she'll be even more so with trust from you.
posted by fraula at 1:05 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm a straight girl and I have a lot of guy friends. Did she grow up with any of them? If so, it's very possible that she's actually grossed out by the idea of dating them, as if she was imagining dating a brother or cousin. This is how it is with me and my best friend who met in kindergarten. Otherwise, to be honest, I do have some guy friends who I know would sleep with me if I-- well-- let them (it's come up in the past), but I'm so disinterested I'd never ever do it. There are lots of possibilities; I think you should talk to your girlfriend about what these friendships are like and try to get to know the guys.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:16 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's a tribal thing I suppose. When some women are single, they surround themselves with a constellation of men. There's many reasons for it, ranging from protection, to access to dating partners, to genuine friendship. Women exist in a different place from men, obviously. And for a single woman, this behaviour offers many advantages. I suppose there's a bit of a symbiosis, especially regarding access to other dating partners. It is very much like a tribe. Further, there is often a gatekeeping effect, where a woman's male friends will suss out and test new suitors, and have an insight into their intentions and psychology. It's much harder to 'fool' your own gender than it is the other gender, I think we all can agree.

So let us not be concerned with the past, but the present and future.

Once a person of either gender is in a relationship, as time goes on, loyalities will change. This was actually quite a frequent topic of the American television show How I Met Your Mother. It's fine for a woman to be friends with men when she is single, and the opposite as well. As time goes on, however, it should be natural that you become the primary male in her life. As her interest shifts from dating to maintaining a relationship, her social circle will begin to shift. If she is no longer offering the men access to dating partners, and no longer requires their gatekeeping and protection, those male friendships may begin to disappear, for their function is no longer required. And of course, this will be true for you as well.

As the relationship solidifies, one can expect that you will find couple friends, where there is stability and balance. And in that case, she will probably have more girl friends than guy friends.

If you would really like to see something disruptive, invite single men into a couples circle. Often, the dynamic will change substantially, for the couples circle is a place of stability, where each couple deals with their sexuality internally, and thus social time becomes more activity and growth based. Single men are often interested in sex, and thus all the men in the circle will see them -- at least at first -- as potential threats. Which they are.

She will get angry at you if you ask her not to hang out with them, but perhaps not because of why you may think. You are wooig her. You are saying, what I have to offer is a good relationships and a place you want to be (not a physical place, but an emotional place). Your goal is to provide a place she chooses to move toward. If you overtly say, "Stop hanging out with your dude friends," you are essentially saying, "I cannot compete with them, so I will ask you to make this choice." You will probably lose, and then kick thyself in thine ass.

Meet them, be civil with them. You don't have to be friends, although you may become so. And focus on the life you want to life, and the life you want to live together. If she does not detach from these chaps naturally, it's either not the right relationship for her, or not the right relationship for you. You may be very surprised, they may be super-cool dudes. Or she may not want to let them go, having an inappropriate attachment to male affections, in which case it may not be the right relationship for you.

You get to have one conversation about it, I suppose. Choose your timing wisely. Too early, and it will seem weak and may scare her off. Too late, and there will already be too much momentum built up. This is a valid reason to end a relationship as well. I had a relationship with a woman a few years ago that did not know how to be friends with women. The majority of her friendships involved flirting with men. Cool when she was single, but not really the kind of relationship I was looking for. We had a chat where I brought up these concerns, and she simply said, 'I like flirting, it makes me happy. We're a couple, we're not married.' Cool beans at the time. I like flirting too. But it never changed. I thought of a future with a woman that would always be flirting with dudes as her social functioning and just lost interest. No matter how attractive a woman is, there are always dealbreakers, yeah?

As a coda, the next step is being married. A friend of mine called me once to chat about her wedding and said, 'I'm sad we can't be friends anymore.' Because her fiance just did not like me. I liked him, we had nice chats, but he was just not going to be my mate, and she knew it would always bother him. That was the first education in that if you are friends with an opposite gender person who is in a relationship and then a marriage, you must become friends with the same-gender partner. In an equal number of cases, friendships have died and converted. And it makes sense. In the successful relationships, I'm great friends with the men and all is cool.

Point being, what you are feeling is very natural and positive, for you have boundaries. As far as what you do about it, I would say do nothing. In time, either she will put down those friends and build something with you, or she will not, and you will go find something else.
posted by nickrussell at 2:42 AM on April 9, 2012 [22 favorites]

The short version:
Be very careful should you decide to broach this subject with her.
Work on your OWN jealousy and insecurity issues.
She's with you because she CHOOSES to be with you.
She's not with them because she CHOOSES NOT to be with them.
posted by THAT William Mize at 4:47 AM on April 9, 2012

I think everything nickrussell said is brilliant and on point. And i also came in to say do not let anyone in tbis thread make you feel bad about preferring your gf not to have close male friends. I think there is almost always a sexual element to cross gender friendships at least on the men's side directed toward their female friend. I have yet to find one straight man who didn't admit he would take things further if his female friend was willing.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 5:54 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you can't let go of your jealousy and possessiveness and insist on remaining in a romantic relationship with your girlfriend, you'll both miss out on a lot of great opportunities.

Just ask my husband. Or my jealous, possessive, controlling ex-boyfriend.
posted by thatdawnperson at 6:00 AM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

You've already gotten a lot of good advice, but one thing nobody picked up on was your phrasing that she hangs out with these friends specifically when you're not around. If your relationship is new, it might be that she's not ready to introduce you around to all her closest pals, but otherwise you should try to integrate into her existing life to some degree rather than replace it. Alternatively, it could be that you're giving clear vibes that you don't like to share her, so she feels the only times she can see her friends are when you're not around, which indicates a bad dynamic at play. Either way, you need to relax and let things get more established (if it's new), and then start mixing some group socializing into your solo-date routine. Good luck!
posted by acm at 6:23 AM on April 9, 2012

It sounds to me like fear of the unknown is what is really eating you, not just her having guy friends per se. I bet that once you get to know your GF's guy friends, you will feel a LOT more at ease.

So start planning group get-togethers and outings. Have your girlfriend introduce you to her friends and go out for a round of beers or whatever fun time you choose. As you get to know her friends, your anxiety will most likely dissipate over time.

If she balks at group outings or is chary of you meeting her friends and doesn't want to introduce you, THEN that's a red flag and you will want to bring it up. But not until then.

P.S. She probably knows full well about the "big womanizers and players" (if those guys really are and it's not just a bad reputation) and chooses to remain platonic friends with them because of this - and that's a very sensible and mature point of view on her part.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:26 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have a LOT of guy friends. I generally like guys more than girls in a friendship sort of way because they seem to judge less, have more fun, etc than girls. If your girlfriend has been friends with these guys for a long time, I wouldn't worry too much, especially if they are close friends. I am friends with my guy friends because I do not want to date them. If I wanted to date them I would have either done so or tried to already, in which case (and there is one case of this), we are probably better friends and less likely to ever date in the future. She's chosen to date you, not them.

I do think you should probably talk to her about your feelings, but not in a "I am trying to control you by telling you not to hang out with friends" sort of way. Bring it up as "I really care and I want to be comfortable but have never been in this situation" because I assume that's true. Then meet these guys and get to know them! You can't justify your worry without doing at least that.
posted by itsacover at 6:28 AM on April 9, 2012

(Er, phrased that last one badly. I mean, your GF would rather be "just friends" with a player than another in a long string of sexual partners. She's not seduced by his charms. Good for her!)
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:28 AM on April 9, 2012

It's fine for a woman to be friends with men when she is single, and the opposite as well. As time goes on, however, it should be natural that you become the primary male in her life. As her interest shifts from dating to maintaining a relationship, her social circle will begin to shift. If she is no longer offering the men access to dating partners, and no longer requires their gatekeeping and protection, those male friendships may begin to disappear, for their function is no longer required. And of course, this will be true for you as well.

As the relationship solidifies, one can expect that you will find couple friends, where there is stability and balance. And in that case, she will probably have more girl friends than guy friends.

I'm sure this is true (or at least a desired outcome) for many people, but it's not been true (or desired) in my life. My current partner still has mostly male friends, as did many of my exes. It's no threat to me, it makes her happy, and getting married to me hasn't shifted that dynamic at all. I honestly can't see any reason, actually, why being in a relationship would shift one's friends from male to female or vice versa (and what if those friends are gay? Does that change things in your view?)

To the original question, though, I think the key issue is to meet the guys, get to know them, and get to understand the actual dynamics. Almost certainly things are fine, it's all 100 percent platonic, etc. And remember that these guys care about her and are going to be protective of her (as one's friends should); they need to meet you and learn that you are not going to make her cry.

That's what you need to do, not try and control her social interactions (which is all about your insecurity, not about her behavior). You might not be best friends with her friends, but they are important in her life, she likes them, and they are part of the package.
posted by Forktine at 6:45 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

If your girlfriend had five brothers, you wouldn't feel sexually threatened by that, would you? Even if her brothers were sexually promiscuous, and even if their sibling relationships involved a lot of joking and teasing and even physical touching, you wouldn't believe that she was likely to cheat on you with them or that they were seeking sexual contact with her. A close male-female friendship is often more like that sort of sibling relationship than it is like a romantic relationship. My closest male friends (who far outnumber my close female friends) are like brothers to me, and the thought of having sexual contact with them seems pretty icky to me. And the idea that I should have to give them up if I start dating a man or marry one is as ridiculous to me as the idea that I would have to cut off my family because they threaten the new family I'd be building with my future husband This is all a long way of saying that you need to talk with your girlfriend, you need to trust her, and you need to spend more time getting to know her friends. If you can't trust her and you don't want to become friends with her friends, your relationship is doomed, just as it would be if you asked her to choose between you and her family.
posted by decathecting at 7:19 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

If someone I was dating had friends and we never hung out with them together, and their values were apparently very different from mine, I would wonder if it was a temporary relationship by design. I would say, "Hey, how come we never hang out with your friends?" There could be other explanations; some people keep their friend groups separate. But I would at least ask.
posted by BibiRose at 7:28 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have lots of male friends, and my husband has lots of female friends. We did before we were married, and we still do.

What I'd be concerned about, as others have said, is why your girlfriend hasn't introduced you to her best friends. If you guys have been dating for a while and she keeps you separate, I would wonder why.

Also, and this is my own thing, I do think that women who proclaim they don't like other women and only like men are often kind of fucked up. It's one thing to have lots of opposite-gender friends; it's kind of another thing to not have any friends of your own gender as a matter of principle, and someone who blames other people of their own gender for their nefariousness as the explanation has, almost always in my experience, translated into someone who has a lot of trouble with making real friendships and connecting with others.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:58 AM on April 9, 2012 [12 favorites]

It's fine for a woman to be friends with men when she is single, and the opposite as well. As time goes on, however, it should be natural that you become the primary male in her life. As her interest shifts from dating to maintaining a relationship, her social circle will begin to shift. If she is no longer offering the men access to dating partners, and no longer requires their gatekeeping and protection, those male friendships may begin to disappear, for their function is no longer required. And of course, this will be true for you as well.

As the relationship solidifies, one can expect that you will find couple friends, where there is stability and balance. And in that case, she will probably have more girl friends than guy friends.

This is a compelling narrative, and I'm sure many people believe in and aspire to it. However, there's a lot that it leaves out. Gay, lesbian and bisexual people for starters. Family and family-type relationships as well. Should she stop being close to her father, her brothers, her uncle, her grandpa, her cousins? Her father's male friends who are like uncles to her? The friends of the family who have known her for her whole life?

And family looks really different for different people, as well. Maybe her male friends are pretty much her family. It sounds like you don't really know their history. Maybe they got each other through some really hard times, maybe they've been close since they were kids and have confided and relied on each other for years. Maybe they have a beautiful, platonic, deep relationship that is a huge source of joy and sustenance for both of them. If you truly care about her, why would you want to take that away?

See, there's this story that you have to compete with her male friends for their time and attention. Which might seem reasonable. But it's not the only way to think about it. There are lots of different ways that relationships work--probably as many ways as there are relationships! And people have different patterns in terms of the genders of their friends--just look at this thread. Some women just find it easier to hang out with men than women, or, as you say, they're into hobbies that more men are into than women.

I do agree that it's strange that she hasn't introduced you to her friends but maybe you're consciously or unconsciously, quietly or loudly putting out the vibe that you see them as enemies and aren't interested in that.

Anyway, bottom line is--there's plenty of ways of approaching how to navigate friends while in relationships. I think maybe the real question here is, do you and this girl have compatible approaches? How much are you into her? Would you be willing to shift your expectations--to move away from the story I quoted above, just to see, at least, to try it out and explore whether something else might be possible?
posted by overglow at 10:14 AM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

you know the cliche where a woman asks her boyfriend/husband from time to time "do i look fat in this dress?" and the boyfriend/husband always says "no honey, you look gorgeous"? this is one of those things for you. from time to time you need to ask "so, are you attracted to any of your guy friends?" and she needs to say "no, they're just friends, i'm attracted only to you", and you need to believe her.
posted by cupcake1337 at 11:02 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

There is nothing I hate more than people just saying DTMFA.

That said, DTMFA. Seriously. You have these alarm bells for a reason--so you can avoid these situations.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:44 AM on April 9, 2012

I have mostly female friends, but my GFs never need to feel jealous for 2 reasons:

1) I'm not that type of asshole, and
2) I make an effort to include women I date into my relationships with all my other friends, male and female.

I expect the same consideration: My GFs don't have friendships that can't involve me. That's grounds for termination.

Yeah, your GF might be cheating on you with these guys. But if you really care about her, and if she's not leaving you out to hang out with them, just assume she isn't and move on.

And I also forgot to mention in the main post, I know very little about these guys other than what she has told me. I'm not friends with them at all.

Why not? If you care about her, shouldn't you make an effort to get to know her friends?

Ironmouth said: That said, DTMFA. Seriously.

Actually, that's exactly the advice I'd give johnx's GF. I don't trust people -- male or female -- who aren't comfortable with their SO having opposite-sex friends.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:34 PM on April 9, 2012 [5 favorites]

I have yet to find one straight man who didn't admit he would take things further if his female friend was willing.

Maybe one day you will meet one of my former boyfriends. When we first started dating he had a good female friend who was not shy about being extremely hostile to me. However I had no qualms about their friendship or about them hanging out one one one without me there. That was because she tried to kiss him once before I dated him, and he spontaneously vomited. Even after we broke up several years later she propositioned him again and he turned her down again.
posted by cairdeas at 1:44 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I have also been turned down by male friends before - more than one, in fact - so I know my ex boyfriend is not the only straight guy who can be good friends with a woman with absolutely no attraction at all.
posted by cairdeas at 1:47 PM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

[Couple comments removed, you all know the drill]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:25 PM on April 9, 2012

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