Greetings, Captain Awkward!
To get to the point, I keep getting inklings that my boyfriend isn’t as loyal as I would like but I’d love your perspective and any advice you might have.
My boyfriend has a couple of female friends who are not friendly to me, and he doesn’t seem to mind this.
For instance, after Boyfriend and I spent time with some of his friends, I said something kind about “Alice” (I can’t remember what it was) and he said he was impressed by how I rise above her, because “she sure isn’t kind to you.” Alice flirts with him and is mean or dismissive of me. It’s textbook boring high school stuff (we’re in our late 30s, for Christ sake!) and she’s kind of flighty and blabby, so I just roll my eyes inwardly and move on. But I didn’t realize that he sees how rude she is to me. He flirts right back with her and gives her big hugs and kisses, which is pretty gross to me since he’s aware of her rudeness.
It would be great to have a game plan and/or script for the next time this person is around and decides to avoid making eye contact with me and ignore what I say while flirting with him.
There’s another female friend with whom he has a brief physical past, has known for many years, and wanted to be in a relationship with not long before he met me. She flaked on him then, not responding to letters or texts, and she only came back into the picture after he and I started dating.
All throughout our 4-year relationship, “Sue” has sent him little texty-texts saying she misses him and “How long is it going to be before I can see you again?” They get together every now and then. He’s always said she’s a very good and close friend, but that it would be “weird” for she and I to meet. Two years into our relationship, I had to insist that she and I meet. However, Sue backed out of meeting me at that point saying (via text) that she’d have to put their friendship on hold while she searched her heart…but a few months later she was back to her little texty-texts and wanting to see him.
More than three years into our relationship, he wanted to see her and I again said, wait, if you have this supposedly close friend who lives in the same city as us and is so important to you, then she and I need to meet. It’s so fucking basic. But she became angry and spouted something about prudes and Catholics, and that she’s known him for so many years that she shouldn’t have to meet me in order to see him…before finally agreeing to meet me (with him). She then flaked a few hours before we were supposed to get together, and didn’t respond to his follow-up text to pick another day. Now it’s been another few months and he wants to see her and tells me that he knows she needs to be willing to meet me and acknowledge our relationship, but I don’t feel like she’s ever going to be someone I can trust even if she does put on her big girl pants and actually meet me.
I have a lot of other things in my life to think about and focus on, and these women are like annoying flies buzzing around in the background. But when I focus on them, I doubt my relationship. When my boyfriend and I talk about them, he tends to say that I’m making a bigger deal of it than it is and that Sue is just a good friend and that Alice is kind of gross. I think he’s mostly innocent but likes their attention, the thrill of the non-girlfriend and all that.
Do you have any thoughts on these situations, or talking points to help me feel empowered?
My read is the same as your read: “I think he’s mostly innocent but likes their attention, the thrill of the non-girlfriend and all that.”
Your boyfriend loves the idea that all these women are interested in him and he loves dangling that idea in front of you to make you feel jealous and off-kilter and loves dangling you in front of them all “I have a girlfriend, back off ladies!” and he loves the drama and the charge he gets out of telling you that you’re making a big deal out of nothing. And he likes painting himself as the put-upon one when really he’s sitting in the middle of this web of drama like a big fat spider.
If he wanted this to be different it would be different. He’d be like “Alice, quit being rude to my girlfriend if you want to keep hanging out with us” and “Ugh, Sue, enough. Either you want to hang out as friends or you don’t” and he’d ignore her 10,000 cutesy “I miss you” texts.
If you’re not ready to break up with this living Taylor Swift song yet, try these things:
1) Whenever he wants to subject you to Alice, say, “No, I’m not hanging out with Alice anymore. She’s rude to me and I don’t like her. If you want to be her friend, go have fun, but stop inviting her to group hangouts with me.”
Be prepared for him to accuse you of being jealous. If you were jealous, it would be okay, since she/he/they are trying to make you feel that way, but a response of “You say jealous, I say bored & annoyed, either way I don’t hang out with Alice anymore in this lifetime. Go have fun.”
2) Whenever he talks about “Sue,” roll your eyes and change the subject. “Whatever, Sue’s gonna Sue, who cares, howabout that local weather team that’s playing sports in the subject change bowl this week?” Don’t plan any more dramatic meetings/showdowns with her. Her feelings and weirdness are 100% not your problem and you wouldn’t even know about them if your boyfriend didn’t keep shoving it in your face.
3) Ask him directly, “What’s this all about? What are you going for when you tell me this stuff?”
Can he be honest and self-aware about it or will he double down on gaslighting you and trying to set you against these women that you don’t really know or care about?
Theme song: Gloria by Laura Branigan