Dear Em & Lo,
I’ve been with my boyfriend for a little over a year, and we have a very honest and loving relationship. While I have struggled with jealous tendencies in the past, I have come to a point where I trust him completely and know he would not ever lie to me.
However, several of his female friendships still bother me. He has many female friends, and most of them I have no problem with. But he has two female friends that are very emotionally needy towards him. They constantly call him to have in-depth discussions about their boy problems or work problems or whatever else girls ruminate about. I don’t believe there is any romantic or sexual interest involved in their friendship, but their neediness still irks me.
He is a great listener and a good person to talk to when you are going through a tough time (I constantly tell him he should be a therapist), but these girls rely on him daily, not just during tough times. I guess I am annoyed that they take up so much of his time, and talking to them often stresses him out which then affects his interactions with me. I’m annoyed that he will drop anything if one of them “needs” him. I get that he is being a good friend, but I know both of these girls have other friends they could turn to.
Should I just suck it up and accept that these two girls will always be demanding of his time? Am I crazy for being annoyed with them at all? Help!
— Friends Suck
We make it a point of pride not to give any advice remotely similar to that doled on the unwatchable show, The Marriage Ref. On a recent episode, we heard (we certainly didn’t watch it!) that one couple’s dispute was over a good male friend the wife liked to hang out with occasionally. Sarah Silverman argued that since the wife was totally open and upfront with her husband about the friendship, the husband had nothing to worry about — and that anyone paranoid about being cheated on was probably someone capable of cheating themselves. A voice of reason! And from the queen of bodily functions humor no less. But then the male idiots chimed in and voted in favor of the guy: the wife should respect her husband’s wishes and dump the friend.
If this story shames you in any way then that’s a pretty good indication you know, deep down, you’re more wrong than right here. Ask yourself this: Would these friendships bother if you they were with men? (And don’t tell us guys wouldn’t talk this much on the phone — just suspend your disbelief for a second and imagine they would.) If the answer is no, then you’ve got to work on your own jealousy and insecurities. It’s not fair for you to come along and dictate who he can and cannot be friends with simply based on gender, especially if these are friends he had before you showed up and you know them to be entirely platonic. It’s one thing for you not to like his friends based on their character (if they’re assholes, then we get it), but not liking them based entirely on their genitalia is a whole ‘nother thing.
If the answer to that above question is yes, then obviously your needs in and expectations of the relationship are not being met. The problem is that you feel like you come second and his friendships come first, when you assume that romantic relationships should work in the exact opposite way. By him spending so much time on the phone instead of with you, and then you having to suffer the aftermath, you’re feeling like you’re getting the short end of the stick when girlfriends should automatically get the long one. Problem is, sometimes in long-term relationships we start to take our partners for granted — we save all the good, fun, positive stuff for our friends, who we don’t feel we can burden with the heavy stuff, and then dump all the negative energy we may be carrying around on those closest to us: our romantic partners. It’s not fair, and it’s not right, but it often ends up working that way.
You should sit him down for a gentle heart to heart and communicate all this to him. Explain how this behavior makes you feel. Admit it if some of these concerns are based, in part, on irrational jealousy and insecurities. We certainly wouldn’t endorse you demanding he sever all ties with these girls, but we think it’s reasonable for you to ask him to put you first, to spend a little less time on the phone with them (at least when you’re around or need him), and to not drop everything (at least when you guys are having quality alone time) whenever his phone rings (that’s just the polite thing to do when spending face to facet time with someone, girlfriend or not).
As long as you play the sympathy card instead of the ultimatum card, then he should understand where you’re coming from and make some slight social alterations, out of respect. If he doesn’t, then maybe this isn’t the guy for you, and you should start looking for a someone who’s going to give you a hat or a button or a t-shirt that says “I’m #1!”
Em & Lo