I was asked to write a post about how to maintain friendships of the opposite sex without upsetting your partner or at least how to circumvent the jealousy issue and one of my friends “commented” the blog posting for me. So here is his reply with a few of my comments on the bottom. Erik writes his own blog and talks about everything from art and fire dancing to civil liberties.
In Erik’s words:
“I fell in love with and married someone with deep insecurities who saw all of my previous relationships as a threat. Unfortunately for her, I had maintained fantastic relationships with all of my past girlfriends. Not to mention, all of my friends were female. It caused a great deal of stress and I was eventually forced to tell my friends “goodbye for now” out of respect for my marriage.
It was a major trust issue. Every time she expressed her fears and discontent, she was basically saying, “I don’t trust you.” Has anyone ever mentioned those who don’t trust often aren’t worthy of trust? My virgin bride ended up cheating on me when I made certain to get rid of anyone who might threaten our relationship. hmmm. Yeah…we’re not together any more.
What advice would you give to a high school girl whose boyfriend is so jealous, she’s not allowed to hang out with her friends? Would you view the boy as manipulative? Would you view the relationship as healthy?
I think a good way to address insecurities like you mention is to let her know that she is the most important person in your life. Don’t just say it, live it and show it. Let her know that these are your friends and, by extension, part of who you are. Let her know you want her to feel included with them and do your best to make certain she is.
I now have an incredible partner I have been with for about 8 years. She and I hang out with my best friends (all girls and some who are my exes). Does she ever get jealous? Sure. We all do. When she does, I make certain that she sees, hears and feels that she is truly the most important person to me. I have never been so happy.
I know you asked Kelli, but I often give advice where it is not requested…still working on that.”
As an extension of Erik’s comment to live and show your partner how important they are — yes, there are times when you need to be more sensitive than usual and make sure to openly communicate with the person who is struggling. If they are coming from a background where they have experienced trusting someone who cheated on them or saw a parent do the same (or know that you have a history of cheating!), their heart is telling them to trust you but their mind is playing tricks on them. Having the compassion and understanding to love them through to the other side can bring immeasurable rewards to your relationship.
Never assume that your actions appear blameless to the observer. Something to look into if your honey is struggling is to ask them if anything YOU are doing makes them uncomfortable. It may be that you think putting your arm around your friend when in group conversation and just hanging out like that seems normal. To an observer, especially one who would rather be under that arm, your body language is screaming “I am a couple with this person.” Or perhaps you “chat” all day long with your ex but rarely contact your current girl to let her know that she is on your mind. This is going to send up red flags to anyone. You know its harmless and that you and your ex are “Finito!” but your actions are stating a preference that your words aren’t going to be able to cover over.
For me personally, as a gal pal, I keep a really strict watch on the appropriateness of my actions with my guy friends. I don’t flirt, I don’t do meals alone with them and I certainly don’t show up uninvited. If their significant other has expressed displeasure with me being in their life, I will either back out in respect to their relationship (many times I get invited back in by the girl when I do this) or I reach out to her as a friend. I also make sure that he and I are never in a situation where she would interpret a threat if she walked in on it — meeting up, emails, phone conversations, the works. It’s not that either one of us are untrustworthy, its out of respect and love for my friend and wanting the person who loves him to feel safe in loving him and thereby increasing the stability of their relationship.
If your significant other is generally fine with you having friends of the other sex but has specifically targeted one or two that they don’t feel comfortable having around you, PAY ATTENTION! Sometimes it’s not YOU they don’t trust. In my experience, girls have a really keen radar for when another girl is getting between her and her man. Sometimes, not all of your “friends” have the purest of intentions and some may bide their time until you “tire of all these other women and realize that she is the one.” When there is someone in your world with this attitude, you can generally trust your girlfriend or wife to pick up on it. As for guys, they can see the same thing but will often go straight to the source to get rid of the problem. Just be open to hearing concerns if your partner has them.
If you have done all of the above and still feel like your partner is unreasonably jealous, I’d suggest finding an unbiased third party to talk it all out with. Jealousy isn’t something you can ignore because, like Erik said, it indicates a lack of trust somewhere along the line and if you want to keep your relationship alive, you’re going to have to dig that root out and replace it with something better.