What degree of indepdence is appropriate for a long-term relationship / marriage?
July 29, 2007 2:36 AM   Subscribe

What degree of indepdence is appropriate for a long-term relationship / marriage?

Apologies for posting what may be vague and possibly unanswerable relationshipfilter, which normally I hate, but I need an outside point of view.

My girlfriend and I had an argument about a (female, platonic) friend of mine, who we'll call E. She thinks E is flirting with me; I don't think so, but I accept that I am somewhat naive when it comes to women and their intentions, so I was willing to see her side of it. She asked me to cut off all contact with E (who is now in another country, so contact was the occasional email / chatty phonecall / facebook comment). I accepted this, and did so.

The other night I mentioned E's name in conversation and she gave me a sour look and asked me to try not to mention E anymore. I objected since I didnt want to feel like I couldnt even mention her, but this led to a big discussion about whether it was appropriate, in the context of a serious and committed relationship, to have platonic friends of the opposite sex. She said she didnt think I should have any female friends. After a while, I said I would be willing to not have female friends, if thats what she wanted, but that I didnt want to feel controlled and pushed-around, and that giving up the freedom to pick my friends from both sexes kind of made me felt that way. (I'm not talking about any obviously sketchy behavior like staying out late and getting drunk with some girl -- f'rinstance I asked if she would have a problem with something along the lines of occasionally going for lunch with a female coworker, and she said yes, she would.)

The issue basically came down to the degree of independence we each thought was right for a LTR. I acknowledge that being in a relationship involves giving up some freedom - you can't just go out and do whatever as if you were single. But I thought that in an ideal marriage both people should be whole, independent people who love and support each other but arent joined at the hip all the time. She said that being in a relationship was fundamentally about not being independent. I can see the logic in this but it just seems kind of extreme to me. She has sort of a black-white kind of personality and I'm more shades-of-gray.

I've felt smothered in relationships with clingy girlfriends in the past and I guess that has a lot to do with my reluctance to start down this path. I don't really want to set a precedent that makes me feel that way, again. I've been up front about this from the beginning and tried to be as honest as possible. On the other hand, I wonder if maybe I'm just not ready to be in a committed relationship, if I feel smothered a lot. (Could have something to do with who I choose for girlfriends, also, but I dunno.) Also she's had problems with infidelity (both her father and her ex-fiancé), so that has a lot to do with her feelings. We weren't able to come to any kind of agreement on the matter. We are late 20s / early 30s.

So basically, askme, I need some external advice. What do you feel is appropriate for a serious relationship / marriage? Is it reasonable to ask your mate to get rid of an opposite-sex friend you feel threatened by? Is it reasonable to ask them not to have any opposite sex friends? Am I right to feel pushed around, or is this what being in a committed relationship is like and should I realize that? Are we just not right for each other? Is this the kind of thing a couple can ever resolve?
posted by sergeant sandwich to Human Relations (49 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Her request for you to not have any female friends is, generally speaking, beyond the pale. While we all make allowances for people our SOs feel threatened by (recent exes, for instance, especially if they are, say, famous actors, porn stars, or people you've cheated with in the past [see: Carrie, Big, and Aidan]), these should be worked through with the idea that you both are moving towards a relationship in which those things are not an issue.

There are people out there that will not ask this of you, and will in fact celebrate your relationships with other people, of all sexes.
posted by wemayfreeze at 3:04 AM on July 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


No, of course it is not reasonable. Your girlfriend is letting her fear dictate her request and you are enabling the behaviour.

There are plenty o'threads in AskMe that deal with this type of behaviour from a spouse or significant other.

Bottom line is that it is very unhealthy, you should not partake in the silliness and it it is up to her to deal with her jealousy and controlling nature. If she doesn't, you should think about what kind of relationship you are committing yourself to.

A common refrain from these discussions is "run away" if she continues to try and dictate your social life.

Now, that being said, if you are actually being untrustworthy and having an emotional affair with another woman, she is reasonable in letting you know that your behaviour is unacceptable. In the case that you don't change, she would be reasonable in telling you to take a hike.

Oh, and independence isn't the dynamic. There are lots of levels of independence that are appropriate and it depends on the relationship. What you have here is less about how independent you two are allowed to be and more about trust issues.
posted by qwip at 3:11 AM on July 29, 2007


Is it reasonable to ask your mate to get rid of an opposite-sex friend you feel threatened by?

No.

Is it reasonable to ask them not to have any opposite sex friends?

Oh my sweet Jesus God, no.
posted by jesourie at 3:20 AM on July 29, 2007


Ack. Are we really still debating this? I guess maybe each generation that enters the relationship stage of their lives has to grapple with this, but lordy...

It is absolutely and definitively unfair for any partner to try to eliminate, restrict, define or otherwise interfere with friendships. However, it is also the responsibility of each partner to make absolutely certain that no friendship becomes a point of confusion in the relationship. By confusion I mean situations that might make your partner uncomfortable with the level of intimacy (both physical and emotional) and degree to which this friendship might supercede the commitments of the partnership.

That means that it is not okay for me to be jealous of or try to eliminate the friendship that my S.O. has with a woman he met online before he met me. She is an important person in his life, and he is very fond of her. It also means that he needs to make it clear to her (and everyone else, for that matter) that I am #1 in his life, and his commitment to me is primary.

He has done that. I accept that she is a friend, that he ocassionally emails her, and has spoken to her by phone once when she was in a particularly awful personal crisis. He tells me about these things, although he is under no obligation to disclose each and every detail. He has other female friends, too. I've met several women he used to date. Each one has accepted me, and I them. It was very revealing to get to know the women he calls friends. It told me a lot about him.

Bottom line - I trust him.

I have my male friends, too. He's actually met a few of them, and knows that these guys have been 'enhanced friends' in the past. He is supremely confident in our relationship, and doesn't see my male friends as competition. (I guess it doesn't hurt that they helped us move into our new house! Any guy who will carry a sofa to help another guy can't be all bad, right?!)

Bottom line - he trusts me.

It's all about honesty, trust, commitment, and expectations. If you set your relationship expectations high, and insist that you be viewed as honest, trustworthy, and capable of serious commitment, and follow through with those behaviors - and expect the same behavior from your partner - you both should be able to find rich and rewarding friendships with each other, and that's the most important friendship of all.
posted by Corky at 3:42 AM on July 29, 2007 [4 favorites]


Your girlfriend is being beyond unreasonable. You should be able to see that - she's asking you to break off all contact with all female friends and refrain from socialising with female co-workers!

Does she have any male friends? Is she giving up any socialisation with anyone of the opposite sex.

A relationship is about compromise not lack of independence. Your girlfriend was unhappy with your relationship with E and you broke off contact with E to please your girlfriend - that's a compromise, you give up a little of something you want to please her, you should expect the same in return. Removing all contact with the opposite sex is not a compromise, she is dictating who you can spend time with.

You'll probably have a lot of responses that say just dump her and quite frankly I'm amazed some of the people here can maintain a long term relationship, if that's their attitude to resolving problems in a relationship.

Don't dump your female friends, and if you want to talk to E, then do so. If she really cant accept it then she will leave, if she really loves you, she learn to deal with it. Trust is an important part of a relationship, she has to trust you, even if she thinks all your female friends are evil seductresses, trying to steal you away from her.
posted by missmagenta at 3:52 AM on July 29, 2007


Not reasonable!

The next logical step would be to ask you to find a job somewhere where there are no female co-workers - otherwise you'd have to talk to them, have meetings, possibly business lunches (with female third parties), phone calls and heaven forbid you might actually have a laugh with each other at work! You get the idea....

She's got to either learn to trust you or find somebody who likes being controlled!
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:58 AM on July 29, 2007


I was gonna chime in, but it would be more like a pile-on at this point.

I believe that any long-term relationship with someone who controls or even defines that relationship by restricting your life.... is a BAD long-term relationship. A little bit insecure or jealous can be cute, even endearing, but your example is ridiculous. 'Beyond the pale', indeed.

Or, basically, what (everyone else) said above.
posted by rokusan at 3:59 AM on July 29, 2007


And (fuck I just can't help myself), the whole pressure of that "must not be unfaithful, must not speak with, look at or even THINK about other women..." thing...

Do people not realize this is what makes the whole infidelity thing so damn appealing in the first place? If infidelity was an industry, that kind of controlling jealousy would be the market driver.

Nobody ever gets the point of that whole Adam and Eve story, I guess.
posted by rokusan at 4:02 AM on July 29, 2007


I don't really want to set a precedent that makes me feel that way, again.

Too late. You set one when you stopped talking to E. You need to stand up for yourself, now, or you'll end up with a big knot of resentment.

My general rule in relationships: it is not reasonable to ask your partner to avoid situations because of your own fears, when those situations don't impact the relationship. For example, my partner is afraid of heights. Yet wouldn't it be ridiculous for him to specify that I cannot fly?
posted by desjardins at 4:32 AM on July 29, 2007


I agree with everyone else, but please cut her some slack if she's faced infidelity before, as you mention. She has to learn that she can trust you. If she's reasonable and has some insight, you'll get there, but it won't happen overnight.
posted by futility closet at 4:34 AM on July 29, 2007


thanks everyone who's responded so far. it didnt seem reasonable to me, either, but if there's one thing i've learned from relationship askme it's that people in a situation can really develop skewed notions of what's normal and what's not.

Does she have any male friends? Is she giving up any socialisation with anyone of the opposite sex.

she does, and i pointed this out. she said that she's been cutting back on time spent / level of interaction with them, and would cut them off completely as well if it was what i wanted. (which i don't, but at least she's being fair about it.)

Too late. You set one when you stopped talking to E. You need to stand up for yourself, now, or you'll end up with a big knot of resentment.

i know, and i did take a stand, for precisely that reason. and that's why we're at the impasse we are at. it sounds like it's just not going to get resolved unless she changes her mind.

oh well. fuck. i guess you learn. thanks again, all.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 4:50 AM on July 29, 2007


I agree with everyone else, but please cut her some slack if she's faced infidelity before, as you mention. She has to learn that she can trust you.

Yeah, she has to learn that she can trust you by being a petty dictator and seeing what kind of unreasonable demands she can get away with. Jesus, shut up.

sergeant sandwich, this girl is trying to control you in the most repugnant way-- first it's contact with E, then it's all women. Soon it will be specific male friends and before you know it you'll have no friends, which is exactly what she wants because she wants you to be dependent on her.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:51 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is there a reason that she's so defensive about this? Maybe she feels that you're not expressing enough affection towards her?

Or perhaps she senses your non-ease at being around her? I mean, most people only post to RelationshipFilter to hear DTMFA, especially if the post contains, "Is it reasonable for my nfriend to xyz?"

So, if you do love her, tell her. And tell her that you want to be with her long term, which means you want to be able to be a normal human being during that time period, which means having friends of both sexes. Just avoid rubbing your privates on your platonic friends.

Oh, and I assume this goes both ways -- she has absolutely no male friends? Otherwise, you can add hypocrite to the list of things that are wrong with this lady.

I give you props for posting non-anonymously. Incidentally, I strongly doubt that she will look at this thread and say, "Gosh, since so many online personas say I'm being unreasonable, I will change the way I think about things!"

The best way to convince is to show. Take her out along with some of your female acquaintances, and give her plenty of affection to show her that even if you like hanging out with other ladies, you'll only shake the fruit on her tree.

Of course, if all you did want was the DTMFA, you have the Deathalicious seal of approval. Just don't be an idiot next time. If I were E, I would be so pissed at you right now.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:54 AM on July 29, 2007


"Is it reasonable to ask your mate to get rid of an opposite-sex friend you feel threatened by?

No.

Is it reasonable to ask them not to have any opposite sex friends?

Oh my sweet Jesus God, no."

This bears repeating.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:39 AM on July 29, 2007


cut her some slack if she's faced infidelity before, as you mention. She has to learn that she can trust you.

Or, gosh, maybe she has to learn that her personal worth doesn't come from imposing ridiculous constraints on those she's with, or that a man may respect a woman who gives him freedom more than one who tries to take it away?

Cut her some slack? Not seeing, talking to, or MENTIONING another woman? Slack?

No, cut her all the way loose, and maybe she'll catch on that such behavior is not acceptable to anyone who's not a doormat. She needs therapy, medication, or a strong dose of cold water. Restricting others isn't the way to any kind of healthy relationship for either party. It's a great shortcut to high stress and disappointment, though.

And if she's had "infidelity" problems before, I imagine it wouldn't be hard to guess why!

Run, Sarge! Run!
posted by rokusan at 5:52 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bros before hos, even if the aforementioned Bros do not, in fact, have testicles.

A relationship is bound to fail if two people have different ideas what a relationship is.
posted by Loto at 5:56 AM on July 29, 2007


futilitycloset may be right (hard to tell since we have no way of knowing if your girlfriend is temporarily being silly or if she is pathologically this way).

Your girlfriend is sincerely insecure. Whether this is 100% her problem, or whether there are things you could (easily) be doing to make her feel more secure, what you have to do regardless is tell her that you are unwilling to continue down this path with somebody that won't even acknowledge they are being unreasonable. (It's the whole Dr Phil "you can't change what you don't acknowledge" cliche!)

Just throwing another perspective into the mix, may not be popular but it's worked for me in similar situations. I would tell your girlfriend that for her benefit, you will stop hanging out with this particular friend (E), at this point in time, on the proviso that she admits she is being unreasonable and that she is going to have to gradually get used to you having friends, male and female.

There's no reason why you can't comfort her for the time being, while her insecurities are still strong, if you can get her to admit this is controlling behaviour and that she has to work on it.

Most people aren't complete lunatics, which is why this has worked for me before. But of course, this won't work if she is in complete denial. However, if you try this little experiment, and she fails, you will know you have to leave.
posted by mjao at 6:03 AM on July 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


Try not to focus on the fact that our answers today come to the consensus of "Yes, the way she feels is unjustified," and try to focus on the fact that you now need to find a way to fix this issue. mjao is on the right track, by giving you a course of action that may actually help resolve your girlfriend's feelings. This course of action's effectiveness comes from the fact that it is sensitive to the way your SO feels, and I cannot stress the importance of sensitivity enough. (Not that I'm implying that you have done or would do this, but) Throwing up your hands and saying "You're ridiculous! I've done nothing to deserve this!" does nothing to allay her fears, and thus does not register with her as anything other than criticism and alienation, when what you need to be doing is drawing her closer and making her feel more secure.

It's her responsibility to learn not to be this way, but that doesn't mean that there aren't steps you can take to help her, so please go into this with the mindset that you Want To Help This Woman You Love (motivated out of desire to make her happy), not Want The Nagging To Stop (motivated out of annoyance and frustration). Positivity in that regard will go a long way.
posted by lizzicide at 6:28 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


mjao's final point bears repeating.

You should try to work this out, with her, reasonably. But at the end of the day, if she won't see reason, you need to get out, get out now, and never ever look back. Controlling your friendships is insane, plain and simple.

I'd have let the table and started packing the minute she was done saying "she didnt think I should have any female friends," though.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 6:44 AM on July 29, 2007


Just to nail that point home... reassure her that she's your girl, then tell her to cut out the controlling crap.

You're a grown man and she doesn't get to tell you who you can talk to. It's annoying that she tried; in fact it's slightly disrespectful.

You're allowed to be annoyed.
posted by snarfodox at 6:51 AM on July 29, 2007


Nthing unreasonable.

The only caveat is, you've mentioned that you're naive about this sort of thing. Are there any objective third parties (e.g. friends of yours and E's) who you can ask for a ruling on whether E's actually throwing herself at you and you just haven't noticed?

However, on the no-other-female-friends issue...no good can come of that.
posted by sarahkeebs at 6:59 AM on July 29, 2007


She has male friends but she thinks its inappropriate for you to have opposite gender friends? That's a double standard. Just because she says she's willing to cut off contact if you ask her to, doesn't mean she's being fair about it, if she truly believes that its inappropriate for couples to associate with members of the opposite gender then she would have cut off friendships with her male friends automatically, without being asked.

I agree with everyone else, but please cut her some slack if she's faced infidelity before, as you mention. She has to learn that she can trust you.
And she's going to learn to trust him by removing him from temptation? The only way she is going to learn to trust him is to let him socialise with his female friends, and prove that he isn't going to cheat on her. Taking all the women out of his life isn't going to gain him her trust.

Yes, she's insecure. Most people are insecure to some extent. I'm very insecure. I know that my boyfriend fancies some of my female friends and his, and I don't like it. It makes me feel insecure and uncomfortable. But, I also realise that these feelings are unreasonable and my own problem, not his. My boyfriend loves me very much and I love him. I trust him complete, despite my unreasonable fears and paranoia.
posted by missmagenta at 7:00 AM on July 29, 2007


I concur with mjao. Yes, her behavior is unreasonable and you shouldn't tolerate it. But if you are serious about this relationship you'll probably want to attempt to salvage it. There's nothing wishy-washy or passive about trying to find a reasonable solution to a problem.
posted by christinetheslp at 7:04 AM on July 29, 2007


Could have something to do with who I choose for girlfriends, also, but I dunno.

Your post says it all. These are the people you choose for mates. Why do you choose who you choose?

It might help to quit analyzing her and concentrate on that for a while. Why are you choosing clingy, controlling, and jealous people for mates? Does this feel comfortable? Can you recognize the signs that someone will be this way?

Perhaps they are choosing you? What is about you that telegraphs ease of manipulation?

You realize that you are not going to change an adult female human's basic psychological makeup, right? She's had 20+ years to solidify into the person that she is and there are literally millions of transactions that brought that personality into being. As a self-admitted 'clueless' male, do you really think you're going to engineer her into an accepting, warm and trusting woman? If so, wear the 'clueless' logo with pride... you qualify as an optimist of a particularly rare variety.

Successful relationships are those where the participants belong WITH each other, not TO each other. You are first and foremost, an independent entity.
posted by FauxScot at 7:08 AM on July 29, 2007 [4 favorites]


There are many traditional cultures in which it would be unthinkable for a married person to maintain anything like a close personal friendship with a member of the opposite sex. This may not be "fair" but it is a fact, and if the OP's woman was brought up in proximity to such a cultural nexus it might explain her attitude. She need not be a neurotic bag of low self-esteem; she may be accustomed to hearing snickering when someone refers to a married man's "female friend" and assume it can only mean one thing.
posted by zadcat at 7:22 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


There are many traditional cultures...

A fair point, and if she is from one of those cultures, it does, in fact, lower it from "incredibly controlling and insane" to.. well, no, it still is that, but its slightly more understandable. But that in no way changes the situation. No matter her excuses for her ridiculous demands, he should not suffer for it.

And besides, even if that is some cultural thing, she's in Canada now. Canada! That's a real live first-world country and everything. Get over it.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:58 AM on July 29, 2007


Jeez, if I had to get rid of all my friends of the opposite sex, I'd have no more friends. And my boyfriend would have to fulfill every aspect of my emotional and social needs. That's a lot for one person to handle, and not very healthy.
posted by lunalaguna at 8:03 AM on July 29, 2007


Is it reasonable to ask your mate to get rid of an opposite-sex friend you feel threatened by?

Yes.

Is it reasonable to ask them not to have any opposite sex friends?

No.

I've felt smothered in relationships with clingy girlfriends in the past...

Sounds like you know where this is heading. Good luck.
posted by chundo at 8:21 AM on July 29, 2007


I'm not going to disagree with most of what's been said here. Your girlfriend may in fact be insecure, insanely jealous, controlling, etc. However, you may want to reconsider the possibility that she's right about E. You know that saying, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you." Is your relationship with E such that you can explain the situation to her and ask her whether your girlfriend is justified in being concerned? (And expect her to give you an honest answer?)

Also, since you know how your girlfriend feels about E and know her established and perhaps justified issues with infidelity, why even bring E up? Were you trying to provoke the girlfriend, maybe? I think sometimes we subconsciously create crises in order to bring unresolved issues to the forefront, issues that we're particularly reluctant to deal with otherwise.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:26 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


There are many traditional cultures in which it would be unthinkable

hunh. i hadn't thought about this. is japanese one such culture? she was born and raised in the US, mostly southern california, but she is 1/4 japanese and is quite close to her mother, who was raised in a japanese household. i believe she identifies strongly with that culture, having expressed a need to maintain face, for instance.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 8:45 AM on July 29, 2007


But I thought that in an ideal marriage both people should be whole, independent people who love and support each other but arent joined at the hip all the time.

The healthiest relationships are made of 2 healthy, independent people who have made a decision to share their lives. Autonomy and independence are crucial, along with inter-dependence and partnership. No, it's not easy.

Yes, you should be careful of your relationships with women. That's not unreasonable. But it sounds like your girlfriend is insecure. Having been cheated on contributes to this, no doubt. But her requests are not reasonable. You want to be sensitive to her, because you love her. But over time, you will find yourself resentful and walking on eggshells. That is no way to live.

I got divorced over issues of control and feeling pushed around, among other issues. I've been there, and it would be a deal breaker for me in any future relationship.

Please seek some professional pre-marital counseling from a qualified counselor.
posted by The Deej at 8:55 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]



Also, since you know how your girlfriend feels about E and know her established and perhaps justified issues with infidelity, why even bring E up? Were you trying to provoke the girlfriend, maybe?


Asking your boyfriend to reduce contact with a particularly flirtatious female friend, whose closeness and behaviour makes you feel uncomfortable is not unreasonable.

When this other woman is in another country and the only contact is the occasional email/phonecall - that's a going a little far in the obsessive paranoia stakes but for the sake of an easy life well a lot of us would do it.

But being asked not to ever mention someone who was a close friend is going way too far.

She's is treating him like he's had an affair with E. If that was the case, then her reaction, in terms of E would be fairly normal, and not that unreasonable. But according to Mr Sandwich, this isn't the case. They were just friends and E may or may not have been flirting with him.

She needs to get control of her emotions, she needs to realise that her past has affected her ability to trust men but that its her problem, not his. Her feelings are irrational, and without years of therapy(*ahem* reprogramming) they'll probably remain that way but that doesn't mean she can't change the way she acts on those feelings.
posted by missmagenta at 8:59 AM on July 29, 2007


She's definitely over the line.

Now she should post her version of the same question "My boyfriend allows this woman to flirt with him!" Then compare answers and you will have the resolution.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:05 AM on July 29, 2007


I cannot believe you would stop being friends with someone at your SOs demand. Even if E was throwing herself at you, your girlfriend needs to trust that you can say no. And you need to learn how to be your own person and not fold the second someone tries to tell you what to do. If I were you I'd be more worried about being the kind of asshole friend who dumps someone on a gf's whim than the particular psycho you are dating and should be dumping.
posted by dame at 9:18 AM on July 29, 2007


She seems to have a fairly conservative viewpoint, which is not unusual in even in North America. I definitely think that your relationship and commitment to her should affect your relationship with others of her gender. I'm not saying that you can't be friends, but there definitely has to be a change in the dynamic.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:19 AM on July 29, 2007


Eharmony or some site like it has a question on just this sort of thing, with answers ranging from "I encourage my partner to have opposite sex friendships with people I don't meet" to "I expect my partner to give up all opposite sex friendships". Or something similar to that. I went through the questions but didn't sign up.

I think it's not so much a question of what being in a committed relationship should be like, as finding something that works for both of the people involved in a committed relationship.

That advice holds true for much more than this issue.
posted by yohko at 9:33 AM on July 29, 2007


Clarifying my post, which everyone seems to have misinterpreted. I agree that she's out of line, and that she'll need to change if the relationship is going to succeed. But that means she'll have to grow, and people don't grow overnight, even with the best intentions.

Jesus, shut up.

Shut up yourself. I'm glad my wife is more tolerant than you, or she'd have dumped me after the first date.
posted by futility closet at 9:53 AM on July 29, 2007


no, it is not Japanese culture to not allow your bf/gf to have opposite sex friends. But I've noticed more than a few couples who have an unspoken rule of never mentioning their opposite sex friends to their partner. It's OK to have them... if you never let on that you're hanging out with or even thinking about them. Don't ask, don't tell. But this is by no means the norm or a "Japanese" thing. It's an insecure thing. These people had relatively shallow relationships (didn't really *know* their partner, weren't each other's best friend) so everyone was perceived as a threat.

Sounds bizarre and I could never put up with that myself, but I've had a few strictly platonic male friends in the past who, months and years later, claimed to have never told their partners about me. WTF? That secretiveness made me feel weird about being "friends".
posted by QueSeraSera at 10:06 AM on July 29, 2007


But being asked not to ever mention someone who was a close friend is going way too far.
Certainly. As an analogy, what if the girlfriend were an abtaining alcoholic? Similarly it would be unreasonable for her to expect the poster not to drink ever again either. But what if the poster were obliviously waving his drinks in the girlfriend's face? Or going to bars with other platonic female friends and then coming home and casually mentioning it in conversation? Unreasonableness may be in the eye of the beholder.

She's is treating him like he's had an affair with E. If that was the case, then her reaction, in terms of E would be fairly normal, and not that unreasonable. But according to Mr Sandwich, this isn't the case. They were just friends and E may or may not have been flirting with him.
I don't disagree but there's still the possibility that there's more to this than what we here know, including the OP in that "we'. The girlfriend may have some knowledge about E or about the poster that justifiies her feelings. The poster may be obtuse about E's true intentions. E may be playing a long-shot; there might not always be a separation by country and the poster may not always be with the girlfriend. Perhaps the only reason the relationship was platonic is because the girlfriend--from's E's perspective--was "in the way".

She needs to get control of her emotions, she needs to realise that her past has affected her ability to trust men but that its her problem, not his. Her feelings are irrational, and without years of therapy(*ahem* reprogramming) they'll probably remain that way but that doesn't mean she can't change the way she acts on those feelings. Generally this may be true but I'm allowing for the possibility that in this one particular case her feelings are justified since it has created such a huge blowup. We're only hearing one side of the story; I'd be interested in hearing the story from the girlfriend's view, and from E's view.
posted by fuse theorem at 10:28 AM on July 29, 2007


I don't disagree but there's still the possibility that there's more to this than what we here know, including the OP in that "we'. The girlfriend may have some knowledge about E or about the poster that justifiies her feelings. The poster may be obtuse about E's true intentions. E may be playing a long-shot; there might not always be a separation by country and the poster may not always be with the girlfriend. Perhaps the only reason the relationship was platonic is because the girlfriend--from's E's perspective--was "in the way".

Even if E was the sluttiest, boyfriend stealing whore in the whole world, that doesn't justify the girlfriend's response. It shows a complete lack of trust on her part. Unless the OP is missing something out, he has done nothing to deserve this level of mistrust.

The alcoholism analogy doesn't really work here, it would it he had an affair with E or if he'd asked her to give up a close male friend and then was flaunting his relationship with E in her face.... but from what the OP has said, that isnt the case. He's not indulging in something that she is denied and flaunting it at her.

She's not the only person in the world who's been cheated on. Even if its happened multiple times.
posted by missmagenta at 11:00 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's funny, I was just thinking today, before I saw this question (I think it's somewhat relevant): if men and women can't be just friends - or in your case, if it's inappropriate, in the context of a serious and committed relationship, to have platonic friends of the opposite sex, because there's a potential threat there - what do bisexual people do? Do they get to have friends at all?
posted by Ira.metafilter at 11:08 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


So, you've hung with clingy women before. Obviously, just to nth, this is not gonna fly the way it is.

I think you have two decisions to make now. They both have to do with how you're not ever going to put yourself in this position again. A, is it possible to get yourself out of this situation in this existing relationship? If not, DTMFA. But, maybe you'll find there's another way to skin this cat and also that you care about her enough to try that other way, and it may not be necessary.

Part B is figuring out why you're in this situation so often. Do you choose women who are clingy at the outset? (If so, for God's sake why?) If they develop clinginess after a while, how does that pattern usually develop? How do you contribute to it?
posted by RobotHeart at 11:08 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Damn, RobotHeart beat me to the DTMFA.
posted by whoaali at 12:13 PM on July 29, 2007


Just adding my vote to the general consensus. I think everybody's already said everything.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:12 PM on July 29, 2007


I am SO in your very situation, and am quite emphatically pleased to read the responses. Monitoring closely . . .
posted by CommonSense at 6:51 PM on July 29, 2007


Adding to the not reasonable chorus.

And I would take a long, deep, introspective look at yourself to see how you got to the point that you had to ask for assistance on something that is, by response, so blindingly obvious to everyone except you.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:32 PM on July 29, 2007


Unfair Ynoxes - there are no obvious questions when it comes to relationships. The devil's in the details.

Of course sargeant, you should have all the friends of whatever color you choose for yourself. But only you know when you're crossing the line and it can be a faint one sometimes....
posted by MiffyCLB at 12:09 PM on July 30, 2007


I am a jealous insecure type from a culture where having opposite sex friends while in a relationship isn't a big taboo nowadays but still could be looked upon as kinda weird by the more conservative folks. And your story creeps me out.

She's being HIGHLY insecure. This is not fair to you. She's being controlling through her insecurity. I used to do this to some level (I didn't control who my boyfriend's friends were, but I did occasionally get annoyed at mentions) and I'm working hard on fixing this. My boyfriend has shown me a bazillion times that he is loyal to ME no matter who or what his friends are. The fact that he tells me about them, that he feels secure enough to tell me about past crushes and such, shows me this. Why bother controlling him? It only annoys him and stresses me.

Your girlfriend needs some help, counselling or some such. There could be a past history to this (I have major issues with trust that I'm still working on) and if she doesn't get this sorted somehow it will only cause her pain. Take my experience for it.

You on the other hand need to get out of there. Good luck.
posted by divabat at 8:08 PM on July 30, 2007


MiffyCLB: It wasn't meant as a dig, it was meant as a wake-up call.

Here is a fully functional adult having to come to an internet forum to ask if it is ok that his girlfriend forbids him to have, or even to mention, female friends.

It would do the poster good to have some "alone time" with just himself and his thoughts, and reflect upon how he came to this juncture in his life, to where he is so unsure and insecure that he would have to seek guidance on something that is so straightforward.

Again, this isn't a dig or insult, it is hopefully a prod to get the poster to examine himself and his life while he is still young and insure he doesn't get himself into this kind of predicament yet again.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:54 PM on July 30, 2007


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