I'm being that jealous girl and it's cramping my style
January 30, 2008 7:56 PM   Subscribe

I am irrationally jealous of his opposite-sex friendships, though I have plenty of my own - how to stop?

Have been dating a wonderful, intelligent, kind, sweet, sexy, funny man for almost a year. I am late 20s, he is early 30s; we had both had a full set of relationships and experiences before meeting each other. I grew up on the opposite side of the country and lived most of my adult life there, so most of my "past" still resides there; he lives/we live together in the same town where he grew up/lived for most of his adult life.

Part of what draws us together are similar personality traits, including both of us being a little bit insular, a little bit quiet, a little bit more drawn to opposite-sex friendships than same sex ones. Both of us consider people of the opposite sex to be some of our small handful of close friends; for me that includes some men I was casually involved with and some I was not. I am still in touch with some of the men I dated more seriously, but that contact is not frequent as they are across the country.

When I first met him, he was very recently out of a relationship and had also been spending a lot of time with a woman who he had dated for a couple of years before the other relationship. She had professed her remaining love for him (literally a week or so before I entered the picture). He has steadfastly told me he does not feel the same way about her and also has not been very much in contact with her since we have been dating but I can tell he misses her friendship by the way he talks about her (though I also believe he is not in love with her and was not for a long time when they were dating).

I feel awkward about this. I feel like a complete hypocrite for having close male friends and not wanting the same for him, but I also feel like it's wrong of him to desire a friendship with someone who he used to be in a relationship with and who might still have feelings for him. It makes me feel confused and insecure and angsty in a way that I do not like.

He, on the other hand, is greatly tolerant of my friendships, to the point of spending time on his own with male friends of mine and really and truly not seeming jealous at all.

Am I just being overly jealous and extrapolating where I need not? Or should I be concerned that he wants to pursue a friendship with a woman who he says he doesn't love but who said she loved him?
posted by DuckGirl to Human Relations (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This sort of thing gets asked with some regularity around here -- I'd try clicking on your tag "jealousy" up there in the top right of the page to find some of the past threads. Good luck.
posted by loiseau at 8:01 PM on January 30, 2008

Can you try to create a friendship between you and this friend of his? That may be part of the reason he doesn't seem jealous of your male friends--it's harder to feel competitive with or resentful of someone you really like.
posted by hippugeek at 8:05 PM on January 30, 2008

The way you feel is normal. On the other hand, it's not wrong for him to want this friendship. It may be naive - that is, he may believe she will be okay with him as just a friend while she may not really be able to deal with it. Who knows, she may not even want platonic intimacy with him if she feels hung up on him still. I'd call it unreasonable to try to influence whether he sees this person as a friend. How you deal with it boils down to whether you trust him. You're better off dealing with these feelings you don't like in a direct way, acknowledging them as fear rather than fact based, taking a deep breath, and trying to stick with dealing with what's actually there, rather than trying to avoid them by manipulating his relationships.
posted by nanojath at 8:12 PM on January 30, 2008

Sometimes men can really be lame. Yes, so you have male friends? Have they openly professed love for you? Yeah, I thought not. Opposite sex friends and friends that are exes are completely different...and them still being in love complicates things further.

It's not a deal breaker, but it's also something you want to talk about and set boundaries with. Doing stuff with groups of people or stuff that is really very platonic? Yes. Going to dinner/movie alone while you are out of town and then not telling you? No (errr...this happened to me).

Talk talk talk. Don't let your feelings simmer inside of you and burst out in jealous rage.
posted by melissam at 8:41 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Maybe you'll be able to relate to today's Questionable Content ?

I think some talking is definitely in order, after you've analyzed your own feelings. What's the root of your worry? Do you think he's lying about not having feelings for her? Do you think he won't stand up for your relationship clearly and forcefully if she brings up having a thing for him again? What would you be comfortable with? Hanging out in a big group with this girl? You and your boyfriend having dinner with her occasionally? Him having the occasional coffee with her?

If you believe him and trust that he'll shut things down and distance himself if it looks like she can't get over her romantic feelings, then yes, I'd suggest chilling out if he wants to have a casual friendship with her. If he thinks he can be BFFs with her while she has feelings for him, then yes, he's the one who's not thinking clearly. If you're worried for reasons beyond this particular girl, though, then talk to him about those.
posted by MsMolly at 9:20 PM on January 30, 2008

I don't think you are being irrational. It's one thing to have totally platonic friends, it's quite another to have a friend who is in love with you (or in this case, the BF).

Thing to keep in mind here is, HE doesn't have the feelings for her. She may have them for him, but it isn't mutual, and he's been clear. So, trust him.

That said, I don't think I'd be cool with them being "friends" (because to cite another comic, that is not really friendship at all, just waiting it out until the other party gives in) at all myself, because that situation never comes out well. Really, for his own sanity even beyond yours, he needs to cool it on that friendship until she gets the hell over it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:12 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Its okay for you to feel this way. Its also okay for you to tell your self that although you have these feelings that you are willing to set them aside because you know it is the right thing to do.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:19 AM on January 31, 2008

Best answer: Figure out why it's bothering you. That may not be straightforward, and it may not have anything substantial to do with your situation. As an example: I have a profoundly negative response to a man I've only met a couple of times and who doesn't have a *lot* to recommend him but absolutely doesn't "deserve" (as far as I know) the visceral "yuck" feeling I get when I see him. Eventually, after seeing a few party pictures that included him from a couple of different angles, I realized that he physically resembles (not in a superobvious way, but it's definitely there) someone I had truly terrible experiences with, and that's helped me to shrug off most of that response and certainly strip away its impact by knowing for sure that it's not personal to him.

Maybe mention to your boyfriend (in a very low-key way) that something is bothering you and seems to be attached in your head to this ex (who might just be "waiting him out"), and see if the two of you can make some progress talking out why that might be. I would frame this as "I know this is silly, but it's kind of bugging me, and I'd like to figure it out so it will leave me alone." Maybe not - maybe the better way is to at least start this conversation with a couple of longstanding friends who know enough about your history to be able to help you identify any possible associations. It could still help to talk to your boyfriend about it at some point, though, because he might have picked up on some oddness in your demeanor, and it's always good to let people who are close to us know if an occasional odd look is likely to flutter across our faces.

I would stay away from labeling myself "that jealous girl" - that's sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy, and if you use that term with him, it invites him to dismiss you as behaving irrationally. We sometimes have an emotional response to something we haven't thought about consciously, and explanations like "I'm just being jealous - I need to snap out of it" can prevent us from dealing with such a response effectively.
posted by caitlinb at 10:54 AM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

As caitlinb says figure out why its bothering you

When you can understand the root of your irrationality it becomes a lot easier to deal with. People generally find it hard to apply with confidence their own rules to other people. You know you so you dont worry about the possible implications of opposite sex friendships. With another person there's a whole bunch of unknown between what you do know and what theoretically could happen. bridging the gap is hard. Hypocritical is a hard term for something thats way more complex.

Time helps and the more you can tell yourself how irrational it is the better and dont think of it terms in hypocritical or jealousy. they're negative. The mind...you can convince yourself of anything if you think of it in the right ways. All that hype about positive thinking, it really is the key. You know the mind of its own accord will try and think of things in a way that "best for you". sometimes you have to consciously give it a helping hand.
posted by browolf at 7:24 AM on February 16, 2008

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