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Friday, October 3, 2014

Her Boyfriend has a Girlfriend

Dear Bro Jo,

Let me just start out by saying that I've been a follower for years.

I started reading when I was 16, and you have definitely been a great help on a lot of subjects as I've learned and progressed through these past couple years.

I'm 20 now, and I can honestly say that in reading your posts and doing a bit of dating on my own, what you speak is the truth.

How to get guys to ask you on dates?

It works.

The six L's of how to get kissed?

It works.

But the biggest one that I've seen over and over again is the men and women can't be just friends concept.

I'll be honest.

When I was 16, I didn't get it. I probably didn't REALLY get it until I was 19, and my "friends" that I spent most of my time with in high school were leaving on missions.

I spent more time with the guys in my ward because our interests were more similar, and I didn't want to deal with the drama of girls.

I avoided singling any of them out and went on dates with plenty of other guys, so I felt like it was fine. I was "one of the guys" and I was very okay with it.

Fast forward to the time when they were about to leave on their missions: the truth came out. They didn't ask me to wait, but two of them made it clear that if I wasn't married by the time they got back, they would really like to pursue something, and the third hinted that he'd had feelings for me all along.

They all said that whoever married me was going to be a lucky guy.

So why didn't these guys take me on dates in high school like gentleman?

Who knows.

Maybe preparing for their missions gave them a little more perspective and they decided that the girl that was there all along was a better option than the girls they had dated in high school.

Maybe I was a backup plan all along.

These are the guys I viewed as brothers.

The ones that said they viewed me as their sister.

The guys I went to for boy advice, and in turn went to me for girl advice. AND THEY LIKED ME?!

What. the. heck.

Fast forward.

I moved and became really close to another guy that I really couldn't see myself dating.

And guess what!

Something changed my mine, and we dated.

We were together for a good amount of time before realizing that we weren't meant to be. We broke up.

I started attending a singles ward and ended up in a group of friends that were (surprise) all guys. (Maybe if I liked shopping more than video games, I wouldn't have this problem)

Did I attempt to spend time with other groups?

You bet.

Did I try to make friends with everyone?

You bet.

Did I get invited to join the group of boys more often than any of the other groups?

You bet.

And then my little group of friends started asking me on dates.

Which was great!

I didn't have much interest in dating any of them, but apparently they were interested in dating me.

But at least these RMs could figure out how to ask a girl on a date.

But this goes to prove, AGAIN, that guys and girls can't be just friends!

Fast forward AGAIN.

I'm in a serious relationship with a rather handsome young man.

With him, things are different than they've ever been with anyone else.

He treats me like a princess, and I'm always laughing when I'm around him.

We started out as (you guessed it) "just friends" which developed into a relationship. It has a lot of potential to turn into an eternal marriage, and we've even talked, in depth, about this being a possibility.

I love him and would love to be sealed to him for eternity, but there's a problem.

While I've made an attempt to distance myself from my guy friends, (which is probably easier since most of them are on missions) he has a friend that really just rubs me the wrong way.

They have been really close friends for a long time, and she suddenly has an interest in joining the church. Having been such good friends with him for such a long time, she's taking her questions to him and even wants him to baptize her.

While I think it's wonderful that she's looking into the church, their friendship makes me uncomfortable. REALLY uncomfortable.

We talked about this several weeks ago, and I thought we had reached an understanding.

Apparently not.

They go to the same school, and he casually brought it up in conversation that she was talking about switching her classes around so that they could have a class together.

In a different conversation, he mentioned that he was planning some sort of surprise for me and was involving my (girl) best friend in the process.

Later, he mentioned that he was meeting up with my best friend and this other girl to plan this surprise.

I was irked, and I (again) expressed my discomfort with his friendship with her.

He disregarded that since they were apparently planning a surprise for me, and went ahead with his plans. I was, and am, rather upset about this.

I don't really know what to do here.

I feel like I need to have a serious conversation with him, but I guess I'm struggling with how to make him see my side. I honestly don't think he understands what he did wrong here, which makes me second guess myself.

Am I the one in the wrong for being upset?

I've talked to a few motherly figures in my life about how to handle the situation and got conflicting answers. My mother thinks I need to address the situation.

The other thinks that he was just trying to do something nice for me, and wanted a girl's opinion on the plans, and that I should just let it blow over.

I also want to be clear.

I am not in any way accusing him of cheating.

I don't think the thought would ever cross his mind. I just think that if he's considering marrying me as seriously as he says he is, the friendship that he has with this girl is a dangerous one and I don't want it to be an issue later down the road.

I guess my question is this: Am I in the wrong?

What do I do to address this situation?

I need some perspective here.


- The Concerned Girlfriend.

Dear Concerned,

First of all, thank you for the kind words, long-time readership, and feedback!

Now, to your situation . .. You're not wrong.

Sure, there's a jealousy component to how you feel . . . and, yes, that's your problem not his . . . however, and this is the point: if his association with her makes you uncomfortable, for any reason, and if you tell him about that and he's unwilling to honor those feelings, then the painful truth is that he loves her more than he loves you.

Now, if you haven't told him how you feel, again that's your problem and not his. And by that I mean told him clearly.

That doesn't mean that you need to give him an ultimatum.

What it means is that you need to express your feelings.

See, as you know, the concept is true: A Man Can Not Stay "Just Close Friends" with a Woman.

Not for very long, anyway.

Opposite sex relationships seem to either grow or die. It's the natural order of things.

And I truly believe that this axiom divides us into three groups of people:
1. Those that get it 
2. Those that are naive 
3. And those that lie 

Your friend who wants to dismiss everything, who thinks it's no big deal, falls I believe, into Category 2.

Your boyfriend . . . well, for now I'd like to believe that he's in Category 2 . . . but I worry he's in Category 3. Not that he's necessarily lying to you . . . but he may be lying to himself.

See, here's the thing: if he was as madly in love with you as he professes to be, why would he spend any time alone with her?

He would neither need to nor want to.

He would see you as meeting all of his needs, and wouldn't need her companionship.

Now, perhaps what he needs IS companionship.

Perhaps he's lonely.

That's certainly something to consider.

I get the impression the two of you live in two different places; the two of them at one school and you somewhere else.

That might be part of him lying to himself.

He misses you, or at least misses being around a woman; she CERTAINLY likes him and being around him, that flatters him, and when they're together he's less lonely.

(Tangent: I hope she's joining the Church for HER, not because she thinks it's a way to land him. Whether they end up together or not, that's not the right reason to get baptized.)

Let's assume, for the sake of our current sanity, that even if she's attractive and he's lonely (or excited about helping her know the joys of the Gospel), that from his perspective he's really just being nice . . . or doesn't want to hurt her feelings . . . or she's stalking him and he doesn't know what to do . . . something like that which puts him firmly in the "naive" camp.

That's okay.

Naive we can help.

When people, young people mostly who haven't gained enough life experience yet to understand the truth about men and women and friends struggle with the concept, this is what I tell them:

I'm a married man. If I make a new woman friend and begin spending time alone with her, what will people think? 
What if we go to movies and lunches and dinners and walks in the park? 
Does it matter why she and I are friends?
Is it better or worse if I like spending time with her because I need someone to talk to and right now my wife and I aren't getting along? 
Is it better or worse if I'm worried about how my wife might feel about this relationship, so I keep it a secret from her? 
What if this woman is really pretty? (Yes, that matters.)

Or sympathetic when I'm feeling down or sad or frustrated? 
What would my children think if they saw me chatting and laughing on a park bench with a beautiful woman who wasn't their mother? 
What if we were flirting a little? 
Even if it was "all really very innocent'? 
What would my seminary students think if they saw me out on a lunch date with someone they recognized is Not Sister Jo? 
And, most importantly, how is the woman I love, the woman I've committed to spending Time and All Eternity with, how is she supposed to feel when she finds out about all of this? 

When you can answer those questions, you'll understand why I have no Close Women Friends.

Nor should I ever.

And this is what your boyfriend needs to hear.

Because when you two get married, He can't hang out with Her anymore.

He can't call her.

Can't text her.

Can't spend time alone with her.

Even if it's All Very Innocent, it will look to the world like he's cheating on you.

And you know why?

Because he would be.

Cheating includes more than just sex or kissing or whatever physical stuff with someone other than the person you're in a relationship with.  It can be mental, emotional, social . . .

So, if this man loves you, if he respects you (and I sincerely hope he's smart enough to do both), he must respect your feelings and stop treating her like the substitute for you when you're not there.

He must stop hanging out with her, just the two of them.

(Heck, in this crazy world of accusations I don't meet with ANY Women - Church, School, Clients, Anyone - it's just not prudent or safe - alone. I always make sure my office door is open, or there's someone else in the building or something like that.)

(Another Tangent - this is part of why Missionaries don't meet with women alone, either. Even if it's two missionaries and one sister, or two missionaries and two sisters . . . it's just not wise. And it looks bad.)

So talk to him.


(If I were you, I'd have the conversation NOW, but Sister Jo says I'm too impatient sometimes.)

Don't back him into a corner.

Simply tell him how all of this makes you feel.

And then let him decide what to do.

And then you'll know.

(Another way to check, by the way, is how he acts towards you when she's there. Does he still hold your hand? Does he still sit close? Does he still kiss you? Or is he shielding her from that?)

Good luck!

Let me know how it goes.

And, again, I hope he's smart enough to clue in, man up, and do the right thing!

- Bro Jo


EmilyK said...

Friendly reminder that missionaries aren't just male.

Megan said...

I agree, men and women can't just be friends. I myself and in a committed relationship with someone that 'friend-zoned' me.

From what I can see, this girl really likes your boyfriend. I have had friends that are boys that I liked and are in relationships/married. I know there are certain boundaries. I still talk to them, but it's different now. I would never even consider hanging out with them alone out of respect for them and respect for their significant other.

This girl is doing things that would make any reasonable girlfriend nervous.