“My boyfriend has a woman friend who knows every move we make. They talk constantly, and she knows everything he does before I get an update. They grew up together and are super close. Is this just friends being friends or suspect?” —B.A.
I can’t give you a definitive answer based on the information given. I do know that when you’re in a relationship, things go much more smoothly if your partner gets first dibs on major information. Thinking of quitting a job? Tell your partner first. Earned a promotion? Partner first. Starting a new business? Partner first. If you can’t get first dibs on information about your partner on a consistent basis, are you really a partner?
In the best-case scenario, he hasn’t adjusted to being in a relationship, or he’s unaware of some of the basics that come with the “boyfriend” title. The most glaring is that you don’t speak all your business, especially about your relationship, to other people. Another is that your partner gets major news before any of your friends of any gender.
Let’s hope for the best here and have a conversation about the amount of time spent with his female friend and the boundaries that he’s crossing by telling your relationship business to her. That she feels comfortable telling you what she knows first makes it seem like there are three people in the relationship, and that makes you uncomfortable, too. Ask him to set boundaries on the information he shares and pull back on the time he spends talking to her or with her. This is a reasonable request of a person in a relationship.
In the worst-case scenario, this reminds me of the old Biz Markie song “Just a Friend,” in which there’s a whole lot more to the story, and it doesn’t end well for you.
Let me preface what I’m about to say with this: I do believe that men and women can be platonic friends, but sometimes there is more to a so-called friendship than what meets the clichéd eye.
Several months ago, a man wrote in to complain that his long-term girlfriend had flipped out on him. He had a daughter from a previous relationship, and the child and the mother (and her boyfriend) lived in another city. He kept in contact with his daughter nightly, via Skype. After he and the child talked, every night he would also talk to the child’s mom. Not about anything in particular or anything necessarily related to the child. Just to talk about this and that and all the details of his life.
He said that he and the child’s mother had grown up together, been in a relationship, had a child and parted ways, but they had gone back to being only friends and co-parents, and he liked to just talk to her. This is his version of the situation, not mine.
After two years of this, the girlfriend had had enough and went off. He’d written to me on ask.FM to figure out what to do to make his lady happy with him again.
The amount of unnecessary chatter between the former couple who were calling themselves friends now struck me as odd. Of course, the parents of the child need to speak, but every single night and not necessarily about the child, when they were both in relationships?
That’s when he got honest. He admitted that he was still in love with the child’s mother. He liked his girlfriend; he loved the mother of his child. She was unavailable, so he had decided, essentially, to settle, and he wanted to work things out with the woman he was with since he couldn’t have the woman he wanted.
This situation probably would have continued for who knows how long, except the girlfriend made an unreasonable demand. The man asked her to dinner to apologize for all the Skype-ing with his child’s mother, his “friend.” He wanted to know how he could make things right. The girlfriend demanded he cease contact with the child’s mother and the kid, an unfathomable request.
They broke up that night.
The same night, the guy is on Skype saying good night to his kid, and as usual, asks to speak to the mom. He doesn’t have a relationship to lose, and his feelings get the best of him. He tells his “friend” that he’s still in love with her. She gets off the computer—and then she calls back in the wee hours of the night to say she feels the same way. He says he wants to be with her. She says she and the child will move to where he is, only if he agrees to get married. She says she is over being a “baby mama.”
This was in October. The same guy emailed me last week to say that he was on his honeymoon and he and his wife had brought the child along with them to celebrate the reunion.
I tell you all this to say that you may need to have a serious conversation with your man about whether he ever dated his friend, whether he ever wanted to and if he wants to now. You also need to watch how he responds when you ask him to establish boundaries and put you, essentially, in the top spot over his friend. If he’s unable to do so, you should step aside and go find someone who can put you first and let him go be with whom he really seems to want.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of the upcoming book Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.