Dealing my my bestie/roomie's new, clingy, gf.
February 6, 2014 10:28 AM   Subscribe

I, female, live with my (male) bff. He has a new girlfriend, and I'm getting clingy/possessive vibes from her that make me feel like she is trying to edge me out. He, of course, is infatuated and doesn't see this. How do I deal with this while preserving my living situation and best friend-ship?

tl;dr: Should I wait out the honeymoon phase of their relationship, or should I talk to him about how his (and her) behavior is making me uncomfortable in my space (i.e. our small studio apartment)?

So, roomie met this girl 3 weeks ago. They saw each other every day for a week, and a couple times a week since. He introduced her and I over brunch 5 days in to knowing her. All of this is very atypical for him. He's dated several people while I've known him, and while we've lived together, and normally he doesn't see the new person so much and doesn't introduce me on purpose.

So I've been trying to adjust, and also trying to figure out if his change in behavior was her or him (i.e., is he really into this girl? or is he as into her as he normally is with a new girl, but she's super needy and constantly asking to hang out?). I think it's a bit of both, because from talking to him he's *more* into her than the other girls he's dated, but also he's reveling in the "this girl is suuuuuper into me" thing because she's constantly trying to spend time with him.

Anyhow, I generally try to support what he wants to do and be there to talk him through stuff, and encourage him in the right direction because he can be a bit dense when it comes to interpersonal relations. I pushed him to decide if he wanted a relationship with this girl or not, because he is typically excessively slow to commit to a bf/gf thing, and she seemed like the kind of girl who was looking for a monogamous relationship (which he concurred with), basically talking him through what he wanted and thought etc, and he decided to ask her to be his gf.

And drama ensues. He has, in the past, dropped plans with me b/c he double booked himself. He hadn't done this for quite a while, but now it's starting (with her). He invited her to stay over last night (initially b/c her power was out, and then when it came on she decided to come anyhow). We live in a tiny apartment, it's technically a studio, and before we decided to live together had the "what if" convo about relationships -- we decided: no sex in the apartment while other roommate is there, and no staying over until it's a serious relationship. Well, he forgot about the 2nd part. i was of course ok with her crashing when she had no power or heat, but he invited her over conditionally ("if your power is still out, you're welcome to stay over'). She literally only came over to sleep b/c he got out of work at nearly 11, and in our tiny apartment where my bedroom is separated by curtains and he lives on a twin bed in a walk-in closet, it's really full to have a 3rd person. I felt really imposed upon and uncomfortable, slept like crap, and felt like I had to get out before they woke up so I wouldn't have to deal with the lovey-dovey breakfast cooking in our teensy kitchen.

So... how do I deal with this situation? She seemed like a nice girl at first, but my opinion quickly changed. Is this just because they're in the honeymoon phase, and i should just bide my time until they chill out a bit? I don't want to feel uncomfortable in my own apartment, but he's my best friend and I don't want to impinge on his newfound happiness by being upset about this. I've also read "Things my bf's female best friend should know" and the "opposite perspective" one, which were insightful and I believe a pretty accurate representation of what's happening. I'm not comfortable with having a virtual stranger stay in my space, where none of my belongings are behind locked doors. But I don't want to upset or drive away my best friend just because I'm having trouble dealing with his new relationship. Should I talk to him, and if so what should I say?

*Note: this is the same roomie I asked about before. Previous situation was resolved with us communicating and devising a solution that worked for us both -- a "chore chart" -- because he is perfectly willing and just didn't know what to do. Things have been great.
posted by Chaussette Fantoche to Human Relations (50 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
A third person in a small apartment is a big imposition whether or not that person is a "serious" girlfriend or not, so I think you may need to drop that value judgment from any guidelines on when sleepovers are OK (plus, you said the two are monogamous or considering it, so wouldn't that count as serious?). Sleepovers are either OK sometimes or they're not; figure out which one it is and go from there.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:35 AM on February 6, 2014 [7 favorites]

You should not get involved in the relationship at all unless asked.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:36 AM on February 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think you should deal with the space part - that a studio can't take a 3rd person very often. The interpersonal part, I think, you have to wait and see a little longer.
posted by mercredi at 10:37 AM on February 6, 2014 [17 favorites]

When it comes to female/male friend vs. girl/boy friend, so so rarely will the platonic friend win. That doesn't mean that you should address the fact that you were uncomfortable with her staying over the other day because it was so cramped, but it does mean that his loyalty very well may be to her now, instead of you. And if she IS at all jealous and uncomfortable with you, it is going to be that much harder.

I really feel for you. This is a tough situation to be in.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:39 AM on February 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

The sleepover thing was a one-off, I'd let it go and say nothing.

Address your concerns as they happen going forward.

If your roommate wants to hang at her place 24/7, who cares? If they're not in your grill, I'd let it alone, it will calm down soon enough.

If she wants to come over and hang, set a limit, once per week and you'll go or stay as you please. Your living arrangement is what it is and there's no privacy implied. You have a right not to have her up under you all the time, so limit visits to once per week, and she has to go home before midnight.

After that, it's your roommate's look-out. She may be needy and clingy, oh well, he likes it. You may get cancelled on, bitch about it as it happens. His relationship with her is as it is, and it's for him to manage.

Don't offer any more advice and try not to think too much about it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:39 AM on February 6, 2014 [6 favorites]

She seemed like a nice girl at first, but my opinion quickly changed.

Has she done anything actually not nice? You just don't like her being in your space, it's not the same thing as not liking her personally. She can't read your mind, and her boyfriend invited her over. She can't psychically intuit that it's a bad idea to stay over when she is invited by her bf that she adores.

You felt uncomfortable, YOU didn't want to see "lovey dovey cooking," and yet, YOU pushed your roommate to get serious with this girl. You say you "pushed" him toward making a decision--were you hoping he'd decide to bail on her? I don't get what is going on here but I have definitely never seen a dynamic like it.

Revisit the staying-over rules and butt way out of your roommate's relationship.
posted by like_a_friend at 10:39 AM on February 6, 2014 [25 favorites]

At the beginning of the question you say you're "getting clingy/possessive vibes from her," and then toward the end you say "she seemed like a nice girl at first, but my opinion quickly changed." And in between those two statements you say almost nothing at all about her, and an awful lot about your roommate.

In other words, from what you've written here, you've given very little indication that your feelings of discomfort are actually a reaction to anything she's specifically done. Maybe you need to set some clearer boundaries/expecations with your roommate about sleepovers, etc. It may also be that this is triggering some anxieties for you about your friendship changing with your roommate. But -- again, based on what you've written -- I don't see any evidence that this woman is actually doing anything to you.
posted by scody at 10:40 AM on February 6, 2014 [9 favorites]

Give him shit for ditching on your plans but internally understand that they're excited about each other and this happens. If he's still doing this 6 months in then maybe you're not as bff as you thought you were.

If she's giving you nasty vibes, that's for him to talk to her about. So tell him that you feel a little iced and he can re-assure her that you guys are just roommates & friends. Then don't be a drama llama yourself and be nice & kind to her. Why? Because your bff needs you to make nice with his 'other.' Plenty of friends will date someone you don't like and your job is to 1) let 'em know if you see sick dynamics showing up 2) back the heck off.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:42 AM on February 6, 2014

I can't tell what she's done that bothers you other than (1) seem really into him, (2) spend lots of time with him, and (3) spend the night at the apartment. If the first two bother you, I think that's on you and not the two of them. They may just really be into each other. That happens with new couples. The last one is a real issue, but is your BFF's fault. You should address that with him, but try to do so in way that focuses on your space and privacy needs and not your feelings about her.

Take care of your space and privacy needs, but otherwise don't try to get involved unless there is actually something sick or abusive going on.
posted by Area Man at 10:47 AM on February 6, 2014

Honestly, she's not the one who sounds clingy in this whole scenario. You seem pretty wound up in your roommate's emotional life. Yes, you should talk with him about sleepover logistics. But all the theorizing about the state of their relationship seems out of line to me. Focus your conversation on concrete, specific impacts and requests related to having a guest in your small apartment.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:47 AM on February 6, 2014 [45 favorites]

Gotta be honest, minus the space issue in the apartment - you sound jealous and judgmental for dating someone new. He's allowed to date someone you don't agree with or even like. You really only have say on the space issue, the lovey-dovey crap - that goes with a new relationship, you could always ask that he stays over her place.
posted by lpcxa0 at 10:47 AM on February 6, 2014 [6 favorites]

You need to absolutely separate the impact his relationship is having on your friendship, from your shared housing situation.

When you start talking about how you don't want to see "lovey-dovey breakfast cooking" and how you are bothered she's so "clingy/possessive" because she wants to see and be around him all the time, and judging how often they see each other and how your "opinion of her has changed" because of all this... that sounds very ungood.

Two people met and are infatuated and crazy about each other! They have every right to be! She has the right to meet an amazing guy and want to see him every day and he has the right to want to see her and cook lovey dovey breakfasts with her. It's really, really not for you to judge or control at all.

For you to start throwing out negative vibes about all that sounds very not cool. It sounds like overstepping, it sounds like trying to control something that isn't your right to control.

Can you imagine it from her perspective, she meets someone amazing and is crazy about him, and it seems to be mutual, and he's living in a studio with his female best friend who acts annoyed and resentful about how much you guys see each other and show each other affection? Like can you imagine how that comes off? Something like a combo of an overbearing mother and a jealous lover, who he's sharing a studio with! I am not saying you are but I am saying that is how it can certainly come off.

Now... I think this is completely separate from the shared housing situation. Bringing a third person into a shared studio is, ABSOLUTELY, an enormous imposition. Having sex in a shared studio when you've agreed not to do that is really uncool. In general, agreeing to one thing upfront and then unilaterally changing it in a way that majorly impacts the other person, is not cool.

But really, really try to keep the two separate. It really sounds like it is just time for you guys to find other housing arrangements, that this isn't working anymore and may have only been really healthy when you guys were both single.
posted by cairdeas at 10:47 AM on February 6, 2014 [28 favorites]

When he dated other women, did he follow the no sleepover rule?

They may have been worried that the power would be off and on throughout the night - that can happen if repairs are needed.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:51 AM on February 6, 2014

I think you also need to come to the realization that things just aren't going to be the same between you and him--and I would say the same thing if you were both male. A lot of the time you spend together is going to disappear. Moreover, if they are becoming serious, he's going to be closer to her than he is to you, and some of the roles you've played in the past (confidante, hangout buddy, whatever) are going to disappear. That's just going to be the way it is. Even if this relationship ends up not lasting, it will happen again.

I'm wondering if that's partly why you dislike her so much. If you want to continue to be his friend, you're going to have to be friends with both of them. And you're either going to have to work out some other arrangement regarding the apartment, or find a new housing arrangement.
posted by tully_monster at 10:53 AM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well, everyone's going to tell you you're a little witchy witch for daring to "judge" his relationship, but real talk, sometimes people make dumb choices. Sometimes they move too fast with the wrong person, or get wrapped up with someone clingy or they are clingy, or they start something with someone who turns out to be a controlling asshole.

And honestly, for some reason when a guy mourns the loss of his guy best friend, it's super sweet and moving and a true human drama, but when a girl mourns the loss of her girl best friend, she's being narcissistic, and if she mourns the loss of her guy best friend, then OMG, she is an interfering harpy who probably wanted to sleep with him and aughhh she's terrible blah blah, my point being that it hurts just as much to lose a BFF no matter what the genders, and there's probably a lot of processing to do once either of you end up in a serious relationship.

Let's just say this new girlfriend sucks and she's a weirdo, because we have no idea whether you're "right" to judge her or not. Doesn't change the situation much-- you pretty much have to decide whether you want her staying the night ("hey, we live in a tiny apartment, the no-heat thing totally made sense but if she's staying over for non-emergencies this is pretty awkward"), and you'll probably have to be nice to her-- not just civil, because they'll be able to tell (and let's be honest girlfriends are often not overly fond of girl-BFFs, I have lost like three good guy friends this way). So separating the housing thing from the relationship issue-- wise indeed.

If I were you, I'd probably wait things out but start thinking about alternate living arrangements.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:10 AM on February 6, 2014 [11 favorites]

You dated him, broke up and now sleep separated by a sheet and the door of the closet he uses for a bedroom.

If this girl really is into him, she will definitely be scheming to get him out of this living situation. She will likely avoid making too many waves until she feels she has sufficient clout with your BFF to start making incremental demands.

She will either succeed or fail depending on where your friend is at. She could definitely screw it up for herself, but if she does not and your friend is ready to move on, he will move on.

Honestly I think it would be better for you to push him out of the nest than to wait around for this messy progression.
posted by rocketpup at 11:10 AM on February 6, 2014 [7 favorites]

As to your friend situation, you might end up losing a friend when they get into a relationship. This can happen with friends of your same gender or a different gender. It sucks and I hope it doesn't happen to you, but battling over supposed "drama" will not help matters. Instead of seeing bad things as "starting", deal with situations as they come up.

As to your roommate issues:

no staying over until it's a serious relationship

Unless you discussed what exactly a "serious relationship" is, he may well have figured this is one

She literally only came over to sleep b/c he got out of work at nearly 11

It seems like you see this as a bad thing -- as you mentioned, it's crowded in your apartment with a 3rd person, maybe she only came over to sleep so as not to occupy your space as much.

If her heat had been off, it might have still been pretty cold after it came back on.

felt like I had to get out before they woke up so I wouldn't have to deal with the lovey-dovey breakfast cooking in our teensy kitchen

You are assuming things about how she would have acted in the morning that you don't know. Maybe if you were there when they woke up they would have opted to go out for breakfast.

Assuming bad faith isn't going to help with either the friend or roommate situation.
posted by yohko at 11:15 AM on February 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

I've been in exactly your shoes before. It's likely that she thinks there's competition between the two of you over your BFF.

If it were me, I would try to be gracious, kind, generous, and give them lots of space.

Also, you sound kind of disapproving/judgy about their relationship. This is probably contributing to her possessive/jealous feelings. The length/pattern of their relationship is completely normal (well, every day for a week is sort of weird, but not outside the realm of normal for two people who hit it off right away).

I don't see why him meeting someone and hitting it off right away has to be someone's "fault". I mean... how else are people supposed to do it? Is there really a "correct" way to start a relationship with someone you really like? It's also not really fair for you to "blame" this on the woman, and again, this is something she might be picking up on and reacting to.

Stop judging this woman. It doesn't sound like she's done anything wrong. It doesn't sound like your friend is doing anything abnormal by getting into this relationship. To be 100% blunt real-talk about it, it sounds like you are the one with clinging/jealousy/boundary issues, not her.
posted by Sara C. at 11:18 AM on February 6, 2014 [7 favorites]

Since the first week they're only seeing each other a couple of times a week? That doesn't really sound clingy to me - plus its only been 3 weeks so after that first week they've seen each other like 4 times?
She came over to stay the night and literally all she did was sleep and somehow that makes you feel uncomfortable in your own apartment? I'm really not seeing that either of them have done anything wrong here - you don't get to determine whether or not their relationship is "serious". Yeah, it sucks to be the 3rd wheel but if he really is your friend, shouldn't you be happy for him, rather than inventing problems with his new girlfriend?
posted by missmagenta at 11:18 AM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Most significant others are very uncomfortable with their mate living with their "BFF" who also happens to be their ex. Also, no guy really wants to live in his ex girlfriend's closet. I would look at this as the beginning of the end of your relationship, and prepare for how you are going to cover rent when he moves out.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 11:18 AM on February 6, 2014 [9 favorites]

You dated him, broke up and now sleep separated by a sheet and the door of the closet he uses for a bedroom.

Wait, wait. I don't think this is what the OP is saying unless I totally missed it. Both here and in her previous question, she gives the impression that they decided to live together as friends and did not actually date. (Unless I'm totally misreading?)

I think it can be really hard to quantify when someone is weird and unpleasant to you, so it's possible that this girl is being weird/unpleasant in a way that you kind of have to be there to notice. (Tone of voice, face, body language, timing of conversations, etc.)

If I were you, actually, unless there some other issue with her, I'd invite them both out to something casual. Or all make dinner together in the apartment. Try hanging out a couple of times, get to know her a little. A lot of this stuff will go away if you and she are on more friendly terms - I have found this myself. It may still have a slightly weird edge, but it will be more of a "aren't we young and bohemian and unconventional in our tiny apartment" weird edge and less of a "does she hate me? I think I hate her because she acts like she hates me" edge.

I have made friendships with people's girlfriends that outlasted my friendship with them. (And on one occasion, I actually made the friend because I did want to sleep with the guy, knew it could never work out, and wanted to stop feeling so jealous and mean all the time. We wouldn't have become friends if we had nothing at all in common, of course, but the whole friendship was definitely precipitated by my decision to get to know her.)
posted by Frowner at 11:19 AM on February 6, 2014

my point being that it hurts just as much to lose a BFF no matter what the genders, and there's probably a lot of processing to do once either of you end up in a serious relationship.

I completely hear you, stoneandstar. I have a female BFF. We've been BFFs for over 20 years, never dated each other, both heterosexual. When she got with her partner, many years ago, things changed radically at first. It totally hurt. I acted like a huge asshole. It would have been way, way worse if we had been living in a studio apartment together.
posted by cairdeas at 11:21 AM on February 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

I agree with everyone else that there are two things going on here.

If this is the first time someone has spent the night, I think it makes sense to have that conversation again, because three adults in a studio is two too many, but no one should feel uncomfortable in the space that they pay for.

I kind of wonder if he's accelerating the relationship a bit to get away from you. Over the course of three questions about this person you've gone from negative to negative, really.
posted by sm1tten at 11:22 AM on February 6, 2014

Wait, wait. I don't think this is what the OP is saying unless I totally missed it. Both here and in her previous question, she gives the impression that they decided to live together as friends and did not actually date. (Unless I'm totally misreading?)

There is a previouser question. (link)

OP seems perhaps overinvolved in how her BFF lives his life, I think, to the point where a girlfriend with designs would be looking to eliminate that.
posted by rocketpup at 11:23 AM on February 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Full disclosure: when Mrs. Mitheral and I started dating we went out seven times in the first week and most days after that for the next couple months. It's been 17 years now.

We live in a tiny apartment, it's technically a studio, and before we decided to live together had the "what if" convo about relationships -- we decided: no sex in the apartment while other roommate is there, and no staying over until it's a serious relationship. Well, he forgot about the 2nd part.

Unless you have some explicit metric defining "serious" that your BFF and his GF haven't met then it is probable that your BFF doesn't think he has done anything wrong because he is in a serious relationship. After all he's serious enough about the new GF to have introduced her to his BFF over a meal.

My advice: have a discussion about when over night guests are allowed (and a discussion where your view is never is an unrealistic bargaining position) and other wise but out. Your BFF obviously has romantic interest disease and the number one symptom is the afflicted spends less time with BFFs. Number two is they do all sorts of lovey dovey crap in the view of others.

Also if this is serious and ends up lasting for any significant period of time it's likely your BFF will be moving out. If you need his share of the rent/utilities I'd be saving up for that event.
posted by Mitheral at 11:24 AM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

A couple questions:

Is this the same best guy friend you used to date? The one you asked this question about?

in our tiny apartment where my bedroom is separated by curtains and he lives on a twin bed in a walk-in closet

Is your bedroom separated by curtains from his bedroom or from the rest of the apartment? Can you please clarify that? I know it may seem like a small detail but it will affect my answer.

She seemed like a nice girl at first, but my opinion quickly changed.

Other than being around him a couple times a week, what has she done that comes off as clingy to you? What makes her seem like she's not nice to you?

I had to get out before they woke up so I wouldn't have to deal with the lovey-dovey breakfast cooking in our teensy kitchen.

Is it the occupation of the kitchen space or the acting lovey that would make you want to leave? If the latter (or both), why would your friend acting affectionate with a woman be a bad thing? Why would it bother you so much that you couldn't stand to be in your own apartment?

This information would aid me greatly in giving a more helpful answer to your question. Thanks!
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:26 AM on February 6, 2014

I'm getting jealous vibes from you a little bit. I'm not saying that you're jealous of their romantic relationship and want to date your best friend, but I've definitely lived with a best friend (sharing a room at one point), and felt a little jealous when they started dating someone. You have this whole routine down together, spend a ton of time together, care about each other--and then there's this other person thrown in the mix, all up in your space, changing your routine, making your feel weird at home, and it sucks!

So I don't think the way your feeling is unusual or crazy, but I do think you're going to have to learn to share your BFF with a significant other.
posted by inertia at 11:26 AM on February 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

Okay, with this new information - I too have lived with an ex, and although our break-up had been initiated by me and we'd lived apart for several years, we both occasionally said and did kind of petty shit that was obviously about unresolved stuff from the relationship. In the main, it was a great situation - we lived together for years, actually! - and neither of us wanted to get back together with the other at all even a little bit, but there was a lot of freefloating emotion and a little bit of competition over "proving" how attractive we were by dating others successfully.

It does sound, in light of the ex-ness, like this is pulling up some feelings for you. If true, that's okay - I completely get that the feelings can persist without meaning that you want to get back together, and the feelings can persist even when you are basically completely committed to the "friend" track for your relationship.

What about chilling out for a month or two? Anything that isn't totally out of line (like constant sleepovers in a tiny place), just roll with it. I bet that once you've gotten used to the whole thing, most of this frustration will disappear because the feelings will have been processed and worn away. This girl may still be irritating and your housemate may still be frustrating, but the sheer level of annoyance will fall.

And I still suggest getting to know the girl as well.
posted by Frowner at 11:32 AM on February 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yeah based on the old information, it's not the new girlfriend who is clingy or jealous. I would suggest a change of apartments.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:38 AM on February 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

I was in a house once with three guys who I considered VERY close friends.
When any of them would get into a new relationship there would be some SERIOUS honeymoon phase behaviour that was often way over the top - I'm talking kissy-kissy noises all the time, moony eyes and continuous PDA.

How did I react to it? I rolled my eyes occasionally, laughed about it with them and just rode it out for the length of time it lasted.

You said in previous questions that you used to date the guy. What you are exhibiting is classic jealous ex-girlfriend behaviour and if you're not careful, you're going to push him away.

You were the one that "pushed him to decide if he wanted a relationship with this girl or not" - guess what? he chose to have a relationship with her. I think you would do yourself a favour if you just admitted you still have feelings for him. If you didn't have any feelings for him you'd just let him get on with his life and wait for the honeymoon period to be over like any other platonic friend would.

I'm sorry you're in such close quarters and you're having to deal with this if it's painful for you, but you can always consider moving out!
posted by JenThePro at 11:50 AM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

The truth is, if the relationship progresses as you've described, she will become his best friend. That is what it sounds like is happening, and there's not a darn thing you can do to stop it. What you can do is modulate your relationship, pull back a little, think about a new living situation, step up with other friends, and know that if you really are bff's, once his new thing settles in, you have a new phase to look forward to. It will be different, but if you enrich your own life beyond him, you will have more to share.

Also, one teeny note of caution, don't blame her. You sound like you want to turn her into a predatory female cliche, but your friend is quite probably showing her an unguarded different side to himself, and she is responding, NOT PLOTTING.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:02 PM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

If she stays over a second time, remind him that he needs to abide by the rule you guys have.

Beyond that:

If he keeps double- booking you and canceling, tell him you are his friend, not his backup plan, so he needs to stop it so you are free to make other plans.

Live in the apartment like it's yours and his, because it is. If you go out of your way to give them more space, they will simply take it, so don't volunteer to do that. If they're uncomfortable with you around, then they need to hang at her place or get their own place, too bad so sad, because it's a studio. Engage with them as they are, refuse to engage with drama they invent, and stand your ground that she is a guest not a roommate, and you're a roommate not a guest, and you all have to behave accordingly.
posted by davejay at 12:08 PM on February 6, 2014

Oh, and: if it turns out you were actually thinking of him as a boyfriend by proxy, at least now you know why you find her annoying and you need to either move on and accept he's not going to fill that role for you right now (possibly never again) or make arrangements to move out and just before signing the lease, ask him out to see if he's felt the same way the whole time (moving out quickly yourself if he says no.)
posted by davejay at 12:12 PM on February 6, 2014

Part of being friends with an ex is being magnanimous when there's a new relationship. You go out of your way to prove that your friendship is not a creepy jealous secret feelings sort of friendship. You don't get to breathe a negative word about his relationships until he decides they're over. You are his relationship cheerleader, not his confidante or coach.

You are not supposed to be his best friend. You are supposed to be his platonic best friend, and there was always supposed to be a relationship that is more important. It will be weird because you will always have more history than them. But you have to the big person and try to let her know you won't play that card.
posted by politikitty at 12:12 PM on February 6, 2014 [17 favorites]

Yeah, politikitty nailed it.

It's not universal of course, but a whole lot of people want their romantic partner to be the closest person in their life. It can be really jarring and hurtful when you've built a close friendship over years, to suddenly be knocked down to #2 by a complete stranger.

But even though I understand, and absolutely have felt hurt in life when that happens, I also think it's natural and normal and I don't think it's good to get in the way of it if it's what someone wants.
posted by cairdeas at 12:16 PM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I (cis female bi) have lived with my BFF (cis male het) for ten freakin' years. We are, essentially, each other's default spouse. (When someone flounders for a pronoun I like to suggest "companion".) We've kept each other from bad choices and helped each other through their aftermath, too. For the first year of our cohabitation, we shared not only a one bedroom apartment, but a futon. Platonically. Yeah. There was a period before living together when we were "in love" but that quickly made no sense for either of us. We've moved across the country together. We'll probably buy a house soon. I'm just saying this to sort of explain to you my cred in this.

Over the years we've each had sundry people we've dated or slept with or had things for. Some stuff quickly became apparent:

1. We absolutely have to have separate bedrooms. While everything else is shared to the point that most people are really perplexed that we call each other just roommates, bedrooms are absolutely vital to our sanity. It's a matter of privacy, yeah, but it's also about having safe spaces for our things so our non-mutual friends (or lovers) are clear on where not to tread. So for you I suggest, if you want to keep living with this guy, you prioritize the privacy/sleeping situation. This is within your rights. You are not wrong to be feeling weird about this.

2. The only time it's either of our place to speak up about someone the other of us is dating is if we think they might do something physically harmful. There's been some weird people over the years, and I'm kind of dumb about the people I like. But in terms of emotional hurt it is just straight out not our place to judge, and if it's a matter of relationships changing that's something we have to deal with each other about, not the new girlfriend. If you're worried about your friendship with this guy changing because of the new girl, you need to become okay with that change. It's going to happen no matter what. But unless he's doing things that are actively harmful then it's a matter of *difference* not *endings*.

3. It is good to quickly engage the new girlfriend/boyfriend in an honest friendship. Like, any good relationship starts with friendship, and if you're best friends with this guy then chances are the two of you have some level of compatibility. Once you're more comfortable with each other then they are less creepy to be around, of course, but also you can do things like ask them to keep out of your space without having it translated through your roommate. It's also good for breakups because when one of you is going through the "what did i ever see in her? I wasted the last six months of my liiiife!!!" stage the other one of you can be like "she wasn't all bad, it just didn't work out, there there". The most important thing that being companionable with the significant other can bring is the way it diffuses the lingering third wheel sensation. If you get along with this girl then eating dinner at home with the two of them goes from fraught with awkward to comfortably homey.

4. Hardest one to hear, but yes, Feelings happen. It would be a thousand times easier if my BFF and I were romantically and sexually compatible, but we're simply not. We've each been jealous, angry, resigned, in denial, and whatever else about each other over the past decade. But the truth is that our friendship and our compatible living situation trumps any of those massively, any day. Sure, it is very probable that one or the other of us will have change in our lives and it won't make sense to live together anymore. That's a bridge to cross when we come to it. Are you in the same boat? Or are you unsure? If you're unsure you have to give this relationship with your BFF (because it is a relationship) the legitimacy it is due, and go from there. If you can't handle Feelings, because your friendship doesn't trump them, then you need to reevaluate your expectations. Some of the things my BFF and I have reevaluated over the years are things like touch, amount of time expected to spend with each other casually, who we go to for what sorts of problems, are we allowed to nap on each others' beds, is it okay to have a pet, how the forks all need to nest in the cutlery drawer... Yeah. It's hard work! We change all the time. Our friendship changes all the time. Your friendship is changing too and you have to roll with it. But stay *out* of the new girlfriend's business. She is not responsible for either of your baggage.
posted by Mizu at 12:21 PM on February 6, 2014 [10 favorites]

So the information that this is your ex complicates things.

I have been the girl whose ex is her best friend, but she really, really, doesn't want to get back together with them and there are no sexytime feelings there and cheers them on romantically. I have been that person.

But when I was doing that, I won't deny that a part of me was still happy that I, the ex, was still the best friend - that my connection with him was so awesome that he still wanted to keep me in his life as a best friend, that I was still the priority, even when he was dating other ladies. It made me feel special, and like we had something special.

I think, back then, that if I were in your situation, I would have felt supercool about being cool enough to be able to be roomies with my ex and best friends with my ex and able to talk about and cheer on relationships as long as there was no sex in the apartment. But I also would have felt upset and weird and angry if it appeared there came along someone that he seemed to like more than he had seemed to like me. Because it would have made me feel less special.

You say, "He's dated several people while I've known him, and while we've lived together, and normally he doesn't see the new person so much and doesn't introduce me on purpose."

That sounds like he's prioritized you the whole time, and you haven't been threatened. But now he's prioritizing her - dropping plans for her. This isn't just some girl he's sleeping with. This is someone he cares about - and might grow to care about more than you.

If true, how would that make you feel? And if the answer is "awful", move the fuck out.
posted by corb at 12:22 PM on February 6, 2014 [13 favorites]

First of all, it's only been three weeks. Maybe she's The One, maybe not but it's hard to say right now because it's so early. I don't see evidence that she's trying to edge you out. I'm not there and maybe you left stuff out but I don't see her behavior as described as being clingy or possessive. And the statement that "She seemed like a nice girl at first, but my opinion quickly changed" seems kind of rough. Honestly, I think some girls wouldn't date a guy who lives with a woman. This girl likes your friend enough to look past that. To me, that sounds like she might really like him and it sounds like he really likes her so you should be happy for them.

Focus on the stuff that directly affects you - dropped plans with you, her staying in your apartment, and cut them some slack for now. Support your friend while he deals with something new and exciting. Listen to him. If he's happy, you should be happy for him. If he says things that sound unsettling or sound like they're red flags, mention it but extremely gently. Think of how you would want to be treated in this situation - you wouldn't want your friend to treat your new boyfriend like a jerk or to tell your new boyfriend off.

It seems like you're inclined to demonize this person - it's her fault that your friend isn't spending as much time with you, that your living situation might change. But unless you have the 30 year fixed mortgage - and even then! - very, very few people have a living situation that is 100% stable. Your living situation was going to change at some point - you were going to find someone you wanted to move in with or get a job in a place where you have always wanted to live or he would. It's a matter of time. The sooner you come to that realization, the happier you will be, I think. It's exciting! Maybe your next apartment will be amazing. Maybe you will live next door to underwear models. Who knows?

Start looking for a new place - not because you're moving necessarily but because it's a good idea to see what's out there once in a while. Maybe things between your friend and this girl will fizzle out quickly, maybe not, but it's always good to have a plan B.
posted by kat518 at 12:35 PM on February 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

I wish I could give you a hug.

I think you should move out. I really, really do.
posted by sockermom at 1:07 PM on February 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's quite possible that when the honeymoon period is over, she will look at your ex/ best friend/ roomie and decide that his decision of living with you in what is essentially a studio doesn't make him too attractive.

Then, this question of yours that seems to be tinged with jealousy and possessiveness will be moot. Of course, you or he could try to get out of this living situation even for future relationships - it seems to be a recipe for drama, but... to each their own.
posted by Everydayville at 2:19 PM on February 6, 2014

Btw, upon looking at your previous posts re: your roommate, the frustration of dealing with him, etc... seems to me there's a lot more here than meets the eye for you emotionally. This whole thing seems rather unhealthy and, IMHO, you should both find alternate living situations.
posted by Everydayville at 2:23 PM on February 6, 2014 [6 favorites]

Ex boyfriend who you find immature and incapable of living life and making good decisions (the job, the "he is annoying" post, the way you seem to think he needs you to walk him through relationship choices) is literally living IN YOUR CLOSET? Nothing about this situation sounds like it involves cool, healthy boundaries, platonic or otherwise. It honestly sounds like he's becoming less dependent on you, and that's both freaking you out because it means he might leave you or stop prioritizing you, and because he's doing this while living in your fucking walk in closet. Both of you need to change this unhealthy, enmeshed living situation ASAP.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 2:38 PM on February 6, 2014 [20 favorites]

It doesn't sound like you have completely resolved how you feel about your bff. As said above, your reactions sound pretty much like the Standard Jealous Ex, and New Partner is picking up on that.

Or maybe you're the Standard Jealous Best Friend.

Either way, this isn't healthy. You two need more defined boundaries, starting with a physical one: one of you needs to move. You, especially, need to gain some space and perspective.

Cred: I just spent the past five years living with an ex. And his boyfriend moved in for the last two. I know what it's like to be in your shoes (we did have separate bedrooms, but not for the first four months, because Reasons), I know what it's like to have strangely conflicting unresolved emotions ("I really don't want to be with you but I miss you in That Way," for example), and to continue feeling the lover-responsibility for someone long after you are no longer lovers.

We managed, barely (and to be fair it was 'barely' on my side which was only made possible by generosity and understanding on his), to get through brief periods of jealousy the first time each of us started actually dating someone. But we had physical space between us, and while we were and are extremely close/best friends, I don't think we had quite the same leftover intensity of connection that you two seem to have.

So. Seriously. You need to move out or he does, as soon as possible. When I read that you'd pushed him to make a decision, well, that sounds to me like there was a decision you wanted him to make and this one wasn't it.

It's also worth pointing out again that you spent lots of time in your question talking about him, yet very little talking about this girl, or showing how needy and clingy she apparently is. Perhaps that's something you should reflect on.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:55 PM on February 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

You need to stay out of their relationship. You are his roommate not his mom.
posted by ladoo at 7:45 PM on February 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

I wish I could give you a hug.

I think you should move out. I really, really do.

Yeah, seriously, WTF with all the lack of empathy in this thread. This sounds like a really unhealthy living situation, and the level of obvious jealousy you feel toward your bestie/roomie/ex-whatever is natural, but not good. He's not doing anything wrong, but you guys can't live like this.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:15 AM on February 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

I was once told the only way to keep a best friend/best friend of the opposite sex/ex etc was to win over the new person. It's hard and painful especially if you get any tricky vibes from them or omit any for the range of reasons that may be. You lose a level of intimacy you probably hold very, very dear... sometimes there could also be something to gain I guess.
posted by tanktop at 11:17 AM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

The thing you gain by stepping back is being morally or ethically responsible for their well being in certain ways. Like, guess what? He's no longer your ex you feel guilty for and have an amorphous duty duty to help, he's your best friend who's a flake and living in your closet. Flaky friend convos are way easier than "our love is all you have" convos. For instance, it's way easier to slip in a "srsly u need to move lol for real though."
posted by spunweb at 10:04 AM on February 9, 2014

This is a great response from Captain Awkward to a letter about a somewhat similar situation. Maybe some of this good advice is applicable here.
posted by ottereroticist at 3:14 PM on February 11, 2014

To those who say I sound jealous -- I have a hard time dealing with change and it looks like jealousy. I'm not jealous of the girlfriend, or the relationship they have. I'm acting jealous because we've had the "bff prioritize each other" and that's changing, and it's hard to deal with sudden change. I'm dealing with it, because I know that is something I have to deal with in myself, but it's lagged a bit because of how fast he's gone with this girl (and how slow and casual his other relationships have been).

For background: yes, this is my ex. We never lived together while dating -- that happened well after. Our living situation is not uncommon where I live because we are in college and live in an expensive city. Our studio is big for a studio, and we have separate bedrooms (just tiny bedrooms), with most of the space shared. We live together because we like being roomies, and because we've been successful as roomies. The frustration question is totally resolved -- a lot of our issues have been due to mis-communication/lack of communication, and that got sorted out by a change of attitude on my part and some talking. Our dynamic is not one of exes -- I honestly forget sometimes that we are exes -- it is more of a brother/sister thing (I'm an only child, so I have to "adopt" siblings). We broke up a year and a half ago, and took some time off from being friends to deal with "feelings."

So as far as this question -- we talked, and cleared up the boundaries issue (space usage and such). I also asked him how serious he is about her, and he thinks she'll be around for a while. I am also going to reach out to his gf and try to form an independent friendship with her. I do have reservations about her (and I didn't elucidate her behaviors that make me think she's clingy, because I'm trying to give her the benefit of the doubt and at the same time I would understand some jealousy on her part). I have not said anything to her or acted to her in any way that wasn't friendly and inviting, regardless of how I was feeling. My bff likes her and that's enough for me to treat her with respect and friendliness. So, I'm going to try to get to know her better, and just deal with the lovey-dovey stuff while they're in the honeymoon phase. (My dislike of lovey-dovey is a general dislike of PDA, bff is just really big on PDA.)
posted by Chaussette Fantoche at 4:53 PM on February 20, 2014

I have a hard time dealing with change and it looks like jealousy. I'm not jealous of the girlfriend, or the relationship they have. I'm acting jealous because we've had the "bff prioritize each other" and that's changing, and it's hard to deal with sudden change.

That is practically the definition of jealousy. Everything you stated above as being 'clingy' sounds like normal bf/gf behavior to me.

Let's be clear. The relationship you have with your ex is wholly incompatible with him having a stable, monogamous romantic relationship with someone else. You're not his 'sister.' You're his platonic girlfriend / mommy. As long as you resist recognizing this fact, nothing is cleared up. And if you don't take steps to change your dynamic, you're going to find this ends very badly for you.
posted by rocketpup at 7:14 AM on February 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

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