How to handle longtime opposite sex friendships in a relationship?
November 7, 2015 10:07 PM   Subscribe

what is everyone's take on handling opposite sex friendships when you’re in a relationship, especially as we get older? i'm 32. my best guy friend from college moved in with his girlfriend over a year ago. i have met her several times (which i initiated as i wanted to meet her) and i like her (although i have seen her freak at him and noticed she has some insecurity issues) but since they moved in together he always brings her when i ask if he wants to catch up

(which is only like every couple of months now) or will only hang out with me when she’s out of town.

we’ve always had a 100% platonic friendship and don’t really communicate between bi-monthly catchups, so i don’t get what she would have to be jealous or worried about. i respect his relationship and that relationships change as we get older (so we don’t travel together anymore, now only hang out in public etc) but i feel really taken for granted and like everything is on his/their terms. i'm sure part of the issue that i'm single, but i can't really help that, and we are really not flirtatious in any way - we've been friends for 13 years and never hooked up so there's really nothing romantic there. any advice? i'm getting a little fed up and not feeling like this friendship is worth investing in for me if this is going to be the deal going forward, plus it seems shady to me that he's only comfortable/able to hang out with me when she's out of town - if i were his girlfriend i would dislike that more than at least knowing we were having lunch and he wasn't hiding it or whatever.
posted by cultureclash to Human Relations (41 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

It's just how it is. I've seen so many people do this over the years I just feel lucky if I invite a friend out and just get the one i invited. Not that I don't like the girlfriend/boyfriend wife husband whatever, it's just that it gets old being the third wheel, two people pestering me about my dating life Etc

But every time I brought it up in the past (can we hang out just the two of us a little of the time?) it's not received well, they think I hate their SO, and it often ended or cooled the friendship.

I don't know, the pair bonding thing is the preferred and privileged thing in out culture. Accept both or let your friend go.
posted by sweetkid at 10:14 PM on November 7, 2015 [8 favorites]

He obviously loves her and wants her there. He isn't required to prioritize your friendship over his actual romantic relationship with a possible lifelong partner.

Also, she probably likes you and wants to get to know you better and be your friend, too.

You just need to accept it.
posted by discopolo at 10:26 PM on November 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Sure - but I'm hardly asking him to prioritize our friendship over his relationship. Is it really a big ask to have lunch once every three months without it being a shady, she has to be out of town thing? It's not like we don't also have group get-togethers, or like I don't invite her to come to movies or dinner or whatever sometimes...I do. I'm slightly confused by the notion that loving someone (as we all have) means you want them around all of the time.

I don't mean to be defensive, though. If this is really the deal it's probably just the beginning of the end of our friendship, because I don't like how shitty it makes me feel. Sigh.
posted by cultureclash at 10:36 PM on November 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm going to disagree with the previous respondents - this would frustrate me as well. I would understand if on occasion he brings his partner, but I find it annoying myself if a friend, even another girl, brings her boyfriend along to a one-on-one catch up without asking. I end up feeling like the third wheel.

The only thing you can do though is bring it up with him, in a non accusatory or aggressive way, say what you've said here - that you think his girlfriend is lovely, or whatever, but you miss just hanging out together. This friendship should really have nothing to do with the fact that he has a partner. He shouldn't have anything to hide from her either, it's not like he's sneaking off to meet an old flame.
posted by NatalieWood at 10:37 PM on November 7, 2015 [22 favorites]

I think it is a big ask. Some people have individual, preferred-sex friends they hang out with alone, some do not. Seems like your friend is the not kind; there's pretty much no way to tactfully ask that they leave their girlfriend at home.
posted by easter queen at 10:38 PM on November 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

Yes it's a big ask. Don't do it.
posted by sweetkid at 10:47 PM on November 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

You don't have much to lose by asking for what you want. I feel like the deal is that if you hang out with someone's SO and include them in friend stuff, they make individual time for you as well. No competition, you're all friendly, but you get privacy to continue your friendship.

I personally think it's a bit sick to essentially end one-on-one friendships just because you have a SO (what did your friends ever do to you to deserve being ditched, besides being kind and loving to you when you were single?) However, my view is not universal by any means, and he might balk. But I think it's worth the risk if you're otherwise thinking about ending the friendship.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:48 PM on November 7, 2015 [33 favorites]

I don't think it's a big ask, but I think it may well be treated as such by him. So that's the risk you take. The fact that he's happy to hang out 1:1 when the GF is out of town implies to me that the reason he always invites her along is HER hangup, not his. But he has the right to prioritize his girlfriend's insecurities over your friendship; it's not what I would choose, but many other people certainly would and do.
posted by serelliya at 10:54 PM on November 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

You know better than we do, but it could be less that he's afraid and sneaky and more that when he's alone he feels lonely. With his girlfriend around they do things together, when she's gone he does things alone. It's not really too suspicious.
posted by easter queen at 10:56 PM on November 7, 2015 [15 favorites]

It may not be shadiness that makes him only hang out with you 1:1 when she's out of town. It may be the logistics -- if she's in town, and he's hanging out with you instead of her, then he is by necessity ditching her to hang out with you. He may not want to do that; or it might be a source of friction if he did. Or even more simply he may not really think about making plans without his girlfriend when his girlfriend is available.

The fact that he does bring her to hang out with you all together suggests to me that he does not want to end your friendship, and he is trying to figure out a way to make it viable in his new, partnered stage of life. These things can be complicated. It would be a shame to end it by insisting that he's only a real friend if he prioritizes making 1:1 with you over hanging out with his girlfriend.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:58 PM on November 7, 2015 [25 favorites]

It's not a big ask IMHO. You've been buds for 13 years. I'd straight up ask why you never get to see him alone except when his gf is out of town. My partner's best friend is an ex he's known for 30 years. We've been together for 3. They see each other often cause they're both cyclists and besties. One of my girl friends married a woman who is no fun to be around. (Not that I would ever say that.) So eventually we worked out seeing each other at lunches when the wife was at work. It's common that people lose touch with old friends in the first flush of romance. That doesn't mean you can't call them out on it politely. You miss seeing your friend the way you used to. Tell him that and see what he says. He can't read your mind. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 10:59 PM on November 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Some people- especially when they decide to get serious- mostly prefer to socialize with their significant other in tow. I think for a lot of people, their relationship becomes primary to their lives in a way that they just sort of lose the appreciation for catching up with a friend without the girlfriend or boyfriend there too. I think it's pretty lame and weird, but it's a reality of maintaining friendships as you enter your thirties and beyond.

So, I feel you. But it's a little weird how you are focusing so much on it being "shady" that he seeks you out when the girlfriend is out of town. He's just trying to use that time to catch up on friendships he nurtured better before he immersed himself in his new partnered identity. Just be glad that you don't mind her company, and that she actually leaves town once in awhile.
posted by cakelite at 10:59 PM on November 7, 2015 [8 favorites]

Sorry, hit post, but it might not be that he's "afraid" to ask; it might be that they mutually just have a relationship where they don't do things that would make each other uncomfortable. So, he doesn't ditch her to hang out with you.

Frankly, you might "want to meet" his girlfriend but resent her for coming between you and your bro friend. I mean, you are already kind of resentful now; she might sense that and not be super keen on competing for his time with you. (I'm not trying to say you're like trying to STEAL him, just that she might be sensing these vibes and they would rather be together than fight over the nebulous area of why-do-you-have-to-hang-out-alone-with-your-girl-friend-who-is-weird-to-me.) She might not be thaaaaat jealous, and thus when she's gone she's like yea whatever hang out, just don't exclude me when I'm there.

I say this as someone who totally lost a BEST friend of 18 years because he started dating a woman who I just plain didn't like; I tried many times to like and befriend her too, but she was super insecure and it was pretty much a disaster, and now friend is gone. It super sucks. But that's who he decided to spend his life with.
posted by easter queen at 11:03 PM on November 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I usually see my old guy friends in group situations, not often 1:1 (I actually can't remember the last time that happened). I don't mind it, though, I get along well with their partners, and I still have those catch-up conversations with them, they just tend to happen at parties or while out. (And the friends I'm closest to aren't men. But even with them, 1:1 time isn't like a weekly thing - most have pretty stacked schedules [and/or are tired], so those convos also often happen at parties or while out. Ime the intensity of the kind of close friendship it sounds like you're talking about tends to mellow a bit over time, with all genders. Not least, because partners do tend to take priority. Mid-30s+, though.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:06 PM on November 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

This reminds me of a relationship I was in. My girlfriend was very jealous and possessive. She would always come along when I hung out with certain people, and as a result I only hung out alone with those people when she wasn't around. That's how this situation reads to me.
posted by switcheroo at 11:21 PM on November 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Also, I hang out with people all the time without ditching my's totally normal for people in couples to do non-couple activities. That's how people play one-person video games and knit.

Again, though, I suspect that the belief that a person can interact with other people without their SO without it inherently detracting from their romantic relationship is not a universal belief. But that doesn't mean you can't ask for what you want or ask what's going on. It's a good skill regardless.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:43 PM on November 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

(Actually, I do sometimes hang out with a couple of guy friends without their partners around. Usually it's related to an interest I share with them that their partners don't, though, it's not explicitly for "how are you really" conversations. Which happen in passing anyway. Still not 1:1 though.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:15 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't ask him to leave the girlfriend at home - I've just tried to send hints like "it'd be nice to catch up properly since we haven't in a while" but to no avail.

Of course that doesn't do anything, thats aggressively non-communicative.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 1:50 AM on November 8, 2015

It may not even be a gender thing, and it might just be a part of weird couple dynamics that can come up and affect peoples' friendships. You may have experienced this - a lot of people, myself included, can get into a little "world of two" kind of thing when they're in a serious relationship. If you've started living with someone and it's really serious, your whole day can become kind of structured around that, and it's easy to see things in terms of what you do as a couple rather than as individuals.

Sometimes I've invited my girlfriend to hang out with friends of mine because I wanted them to get to know each other better. I had two people, both very important to me in different ways, and I didn't want them to be isolated from each other in my life. In retrospect, I can see how it might have looked like my girlfriend feeling threatened and wanted to tag along, but no, it was all me - I was the one who couldn't quite figure out how the dynamic was supposed to work.

I'm not saying it's necessarily one thing or the other, but I did want to suggest an alternative to something worth breaking your friendship over. Maybe your friend is just having a hard time reconciling these different social spheres for himself. It can be a real challenge for anyone.
posted by teponaztli at 3:36 AM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Honestly, this reads to me like you're very jealous of the girlfriend, and I wouldn't be surprised if they're picking up on that a little bit. His behavior doesn't sound shady to me; people frequently bring their SOs along when socializing, and don't bring them along when they're physically out of town. The fact that you're actually considering ending the friendship over this, when it doesn't even sound like your friend is limiting his time around you, only your alone-together time... I mean, I have several longstanding close friendships with people of whatever gender and sometimes we hang out when my partner's there and sometimes not, but if somebody started dropping hints that they didn't want her around, I would be kinda weirded out.
posted by thetortoise at 3:51 AM on November 8, 2015 [16 favorites]

I agree with thetortoise; maybe she/they can sense your negativity about their relationship, and that's why he'd rather not deal with you alone, for fear of everything boiling over.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:00 AM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is pretty much the way it works the world over. Past a certain age, you only get the friend with his/her significant other (mostly), or you do without the friendship.
posted by Kwadeng at 4:06 AM on November 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Does your friend wish the two of you could do 1:1 time? If that's not something he's after, then there's little you can do beyond working to accept those limitations -- everyone else has pointed out all the possible (and common) circumstances behind this kind of dynamic, so if any of that happens to be the case (not that you need to confirm it yourself), it might make more sense to figure out how to make it work for you, wrt jealousy. I mean, it sucks to drift away from a close, long-time friend, and it might make sense to figure out how you can soften that hurt while keeping on appreciating the things about your friendship that made it so valuable to begin with.

I have an opposite-gender friend who always brings her boyfriend to our hangouts, even though she would like 1:1 time; just that it's caused some friction with her boyfriend in her past, and because she values that relationship as much as our friendship (and why wouldn't she), we're making that trade-off. Just how it goes.
posted by obliterati at 5:30 AM on November 8, 2015

The worst case scenario is that she thinks there is something going on between you and her boyfriend (or that one/both of you would like there to be) and is deliberately inviting herself along to intercept that. A more favourable view of her actions is that she wants to come along because she wants to be your friend too and is a bit insensitive for your need for 1:1 time. So long as he's not hiding anything from her, I actually think the fact that he meets with you when she's not in town is a good thing - he wants to see you on his own but he doesn't want her to be deliberately excluded.

How about trying to make friends with her? Perhaps bring along another friend/friends next time and meet up in a group, so you and your friend can chat whilst she chats to someone else?
posted by intensitymultiply at 6:03 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

You know better than we do, but it could be less that he's afraid and sneaky and more that when he's alone he feels lonely. With his girlfriend around they do things together, when she's gone he does things alone. It's not really too suspicious.

Basically this. My husband is out of town for the weekend and yesterday I baked a cake from scratch. I used to do stuff like that all the time when I was single, but I haven't in a long time. I did it yesterday because I was kinda bored and lonely and I had no one to talk to. And also now we have cake!

You may think your friendship isn't any different but HE'S different now, and that will affect every part of his life. What if he'd had a kid or his ailing mother moved in with him and his partner? Would you feel upset that you couldn't see him without his kid in tow, or that he could only meet up when his mother was at her monthly bridge game?

Some people do get upset and resentful at these sorts of changes, but I feel like, eh, you guys are at different parts of your lives now. It happens. We age.
posted by chainsofreedom at 6:18 AM on November 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

When I was single, I invited my opposite sex straight best friend's girlfriend out on my regular ladies' nights as soon as I knew they were serious. She & I became friends, and having 1:1 time with him was no big deal (when she was out of town he & I would hang and I'd usually make a point of texting her that she was missed). Now that I'm in a serious relationship as well, we have double dates and 1:1 time (when she's away). The truth of the matter as I understand it is that he wants to be with her all the time. 1:1 time is less of a priority for him outside that primary/romantic relationship. When she's away he prioritizes 1:1 close friend time, but that's when she's away. I see him (and her) more now that we can double date. That might be on me, since I didn't want to make her feel awkward by making her the 3rd wheel, so I focused my energy on inviting her to lady nights, saw them together at group events, and let him initiate 1:1 time. It's worked for us, YMMV.
posted by pammeke at 6:23 AM on November 8, 2015 [5 favorites]

The answers to this question show vividly how strongly held opinions are about opposite sex friendships. It sounds like his girlfriend is more in the camp of finding it threatening or problematic and he is working with and around that.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:24 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

You are willfully ignoring neon signs that THERE ARE HUGE ISSUES and you need to drop this entirely, and immediately.

- You think she is insecure (hi, mind reader!)

- He only wants to see you 1:1 when she's out of town (yuck! He treats you like a hook-up/affair -- why are you still hanging out with him??)

- You've see her freak out on him (plus the two above = they have issues you want zero part of.)

Let this friendship go. Too messy. Many here seem to be misleading you because the whole thing reads as shady, and I would assume they've argued about you/he sees you when she's out of town to avoid arguments.

Fuck their drama. Yes, the friendship is mostly over, has become distant, etc.. Let it go, things and people change. Such is life. Try not to take it personally, they sound messy.
posted by jbenben at 6:31 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a couple platonic decade-long friendships, and I usually invite my boyfriend along (though he doesn't always come due to work or whatever). I usually invite him because 1) he's not super social otherwise because of his work so I feel bad and 2) he and my friends are now also friends, so it doesn't feel like 'two friends and partner' anymore. Maybe his girlfriend isn't insecure, but actually sees you as a pal she likes being around? Maybe he just feels bad leaving her at home (like other people have said), and obviously doesn't have to feel bad if she's out of town?

I also have a good friend who brings his girlfriend to everything and we just don't have as good of a time when she's around, so I get what you're saying. I don't think I could get away with asking him not to bring her. But if a friend asked to hang out one-on-one, I wouldn't be offended (though I probably would plan it around a time my boyfriend was working). You really have to assess the temperament of your friend, because it could go either way.
posted by thebots at 7:24 AM on November 8, 2015

you are reading a lot into this, i think. it's not weird for people to socialize as a couple and it's not weird for people to seek out their friends when their partner is out of town. it honestly comes off as you being insecure, not her.
posted by nadawi at 8:10 AM on November 8, 2015 [6 favorites]

It kinda does sound you're being a bit negative about their relationship. Regardless, it's their dynamic and as a powerful female, you should respect whatever their situation is, right or wrong. I've been the single girl who has been the long time friend to many un-available guys and one thing that always stands... my rule is that, if any male friend is putting me at a distance for a reason, I 100% go by his cue. The friendship means a lot for sure, but it's not worth him getting in trouble for. If the romantic relationship ends, I think he'll respect you that much more for not giving him grief about it. He has one woman giving him grief... he doesn't need two, mama.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 8:55 AM on November 8, 2015

I think that there is a natural ebb and flow to long term relationships, including friendships. In this case, I think that you might try going with the flow for a while, relaxing your expectations of what your friendship used to be and seeing what shape it takes next. 13 good years is a lot of history to jettison given that you folks didn't seem to have an actual falling out or divergence of interests.

It sounds as if you don't have to invest as much energy into the friendship right now as you used to; fine, invest that energy elsewhere while your buddy focuses on his gf for a while and your friendship goes into maintenance mode. Meet up with him while the gf is not around (that doesn't seem shady to me, really, just pragmatic/low-drama way of maintaining the friendship on his part) and see how it goes.

If you guys drift apart, well, that happens. If eventually their relationship reaches a new point where they're not in each others pockets all the time and your bud has time to hang with you again while she's around, then your friendship will still be solid, so it's a win.

The trick, I think, is the resetting of expectations. Difficult, but not totally impossible.
posted by skye.dancer at 9:49 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think it's not automatically suspicious that he hangs out with you when the gf is not around sometimes. My husband sometimes suggests I go catch up with old friends when he is out of town. He likes me to be around, but he also wants me to have other friends and it maximizes both that way.

Also keep in mind that many new-love couples like to be around each other every spare second for the first year or two especially, and they often find a better balance later. I've also known couples where one was insecure and emotionally needy if the other was not around (wife calling every 15 minutes, asking for trivial things/excuses and husband on a mobile phone leash). I don't see any indication of a leash here, so I'm giving the benefit of the doubt until I hear otherwise.

It's very common behavior for both in the couple to be invited or go to events with the other's friends. I sometimes invite my husband, but he declines sometimes, which is fine by me. He often specifically invited me out with his friends early on, since they were curious about the new person in his life and he wanted us to all be acquainted and friends.

I'm honestly getting a "friendship my way or the highway" vibe since you say you're fine ending the friendship if he's going to keep bringing the gf along when she's in town. If you do the ask ("can you leave the gf at home?") and he senses that "highway" attitude then don't be surprised if he chooses the gf over you. You want to approach the situation non-demandingly and you really don't have the right to make ultimatums about his love life, which might be how such a demand is perceived.

Friends should be happy if their friends are finding love and the relationship seems to be genuinely good for both in it. Things change over time and I understand being disappointed in the change. Express your desires if you like, but do it carefully and don't be surprised if the girlfriend wins if you make it into a situation where he feels he has to choose between you.
posted by clickingmongrel at 10:01 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Do you know if they have the same issue with his male friends? Like, if it's an issue about them wanting to be together all the time versus some kind of heterosexist jealousy weirdness? Also, it's one thing for her to be insecure, but another for her to expect him to just accommodate that rather than working on it. These would both be huge issues for me in evaluating how to deal with the situation.

Either way I would bring it up with him, talk about how much the friendship has meant and that while you're really happy for him that he's happy, he needs to contribute emotional labor to maintaining your friendship and not treat it like a service you're providing.
posted by bile and syntax at 10:03 AM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

I sympathize because I'm going through something very similar right now. My male friend and I are geographically distant from one another; I helped him financially when he was out of work; we texted several times a week online. Our texts consisted of me listening and helping him with some significant school, career, and financial issues. There was nothing either of us ever wrote that was flirtatious. When he started seeing his new girlfriend recently, our communication essentially stopped, save for very short texts, including him telling me that she was very insecure about me.

I tend to be a "fixer," and so I discovered when he started dating her that I had some unexpected emotional involvement from trying to help him get back on track. (I'm now doing work on myself to help me get over that.) It felt deeply hurtful to me when I was left hanging high and dry, especially as I befriend people for the long term.

Small consolation, I know, but if the girlfriend is insecure about you, she is most likely insecure about all his other female friends. I felt a lot better about being friend-dumped when, on Facebook, his girlfriend called him out publicly when he shared an innocuous third-party post with another of his female friends. Hell of a weird dynamic.
posted by apartment dweller at 10:15 AM on November 8, 2015

There are so many potential combination of factors here, all that matters is this: can you be friends with him on his terms, which win out over your terms because his are more conservative?

If yes, do that. If no, don't.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:52 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Am I right that you guys hang out as a group when the girlfriend is in town, but 1-on-1 when the girlfriend is not? Honestly, this is sort of the way my husband and I tend to interact too, with no particular malice or weirdness. I would feel strange to exclude him from an invite unless it was some sort of girls night out or a work activity I knew he would not enjoy (or if he were not available) -- if you and your friend don't have some you-specific interest that the girlfriend doesn't like to participate in, I can see why he invites her along as long as she is available. Otherwise it is sort of like disinviting her from the event, which your friend might not be down with.

Obviously it's up to you whether you are ok with this or not -- you're not forced to be friends with anyone. But I think it's perfectly possible that this set-up is pretty innocent, and your friend just sees his girlfriend as, you know, his family that he does stuff with unless there is some important reason why she would not come along (i.e. event she would hate, she is out of town, etc.).
posted by rainbowbrite at 2:46 PM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Sorry this is happening. It is rude. I know it is common, but it is still rude. I am not sure why it would be the case that whoever happens to be coupled gets to unilaterally alter the friendship. If you confide in him, that does not mean you have to confide in her, and if she is there, how can you confide? I vote you bring it up.
posted by Sophia Del Verde at 7:59 PM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Honestly, i thought of this recent thread as well. This is a thing that hugely HUGELY varies from person to person. And it can even vary between the people involved in a successful, healthy relationship. It's contentious shit.

One of my best friends that i've known for a decade rarely comes out without her fiancé anymore. I met him right after they met when they were just starting to date, and have hung out with him and both of them pretty often the whole time they've been together. I've even come over to help him out with household projects when he needed tools/assistance and i had the stuff/skills/time.

I was sort of debating having this conversation with her recently, and then she brought it up independently that she both misses hanging out 1:1 and misses doing stuff alone with friends all that often in general, pretty much with the exception of her coworkers immediately after work for happy hour or whatever.

Having reflected on both that, and my past experiences, i'd try and bring this up in a sort of "hey i realized this doesn't happen much anymore you know?" sort of way and just see what he says. Don't bring it up as an issue, just sort of mention that you've noticed that's how it tends to work now.

In her case and my case, our partners would be sad if we went out to do stuff on a night that they could, and would want to, but would otherwise be left home to read or play games or whatever. We both ended up approaching that with our partners in different ways. Having the actual between friends conversation was really nice though when we realized we both had similar thoughts about it?

I don't know, no one who has been your friend for that long would take a question like that the wrong way even if they disagreed unless there were other issues with the friendship. It's worth exploring.
posted by emptythought at 8:03 PM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm slightly confused by the notion that loving someone (as we all have) means you want them around all of the time.

For some people, this is a real thing. My partner and I, who have been together for 16 years, are like that. We both try to remember that some of our friends like to see us one-on-one, and to make room for that, but the default is we're a package deal. We just really like having each other around. It doesn't hold for everyone, it shouldn't be an externally imposed rule, and in some relationships that kind of togetherness is totally unhealthy, but it works for us.

It's certainly easier to make one-on-one time when one of us is out of town, and it doesn't have to entail sneaking around at all.
posted by gingerest at 9:26 PM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've been through this a few of times with close friends who are guys. I think some of the issues might be that's how your friend is when he's in a relationship - their girlfriend before everything else. It might be that his girlfriend is insecure about your relationship with him, and that might change with time. Either way, you can only control your response and your boundaries. You can bring it up, but that might not yield change.

A couple of times when I had this dynamic, it was clearly the new girlfriend feeling threatened by my friendship with their boyfriend. They didn't like me and didn't like him hanging out with me without them. (This was confirmed later after they broke up.) I was down to hang out with them as a couple, but they weren't happy. So I gave my friend space and the friendship withered until my friend broke up and I ran into him. It made me sad but I also recognized that's how my friend was going to be - he kept dating women who didn't like me and didn't like him hanging out with other women who weren't in their circles. The friendship never really recovered but that's mostly from the passage of time and distance, which was exacerbated by the long quiet periods when he was dating.

More recently one of my closest friends started dating, got serious with/married, and had a kid with a woman in a short time frame. Each stage of his evolving relationship with his now wife felt like it was a possible death of our friendship. One-on-one time never happened unless she was working out otherwise busy. Old standing dates to watch sport or go to shows were now the three of us (my husband doesn't like doing those things). I missed the old dynamic but I also recognized that's how my friend is in a relationship. I also really like his wife and we get along well. Our friendship is very different and I've started hanging out with other groups more, but that's as much my circumstances as his. When he's distant and kind of annoying, I know that's his behavior, not his wife's. I also recognize he's busy and when the time is right we'll hang out and it will be fun. Not fun like it was five years ago, but still fun.
posted by kendrak at 10:41 PM on November 8, 2015

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