Terry Prone advises: I'm jealous of my girlfriend's ex
Published 28/08/2010 | 05:00
My girlfriend is really good friends with an ex of hers, which she finds totally normal, but honestly it freaks me out.
They went out together for six months last year. My girlfriend broke up with him, but she insists that it was cordial.
They decided to stay friends afterwards, and since then have met each other once or twice a fortnight for dinner and drinks, or to go to gigs together.
They also email one another at work and keep in touch on Facebook. They've even advised one another on relationships, and console each other after break-ups or bad dates.
Honestly, he's like her gay best friend, but he's not gay. Not in the slightest. I bloody wish he was.
And that's what's causing me to be suspicious of their friendship.
My girlfriend says there's no sexual element to their relationship anymore, and I think I trust her. But I certainly don't trust him.
My girlfriend has tried to make us become friends by organising nights out for all three of us, or by including him in plans we make with our friends.
He's a sound-enough guy but I can't help but think that he's still mad after her, and this is his way of getting her back.
He's nice to me when we're all together, but who knows what he's saying to her behind my back?
I've tried to speak to my girlfriend about these concerns but she says that I'm just being paranoid and immature.
Am I though?
Dear Rob, never mind paranoid and insecure. They're the least of your worries. Your biggest problem is that you don't appreciate just what a gem you've landed. First of all, your girl can break up without bloodstains on every available wall and brain matter on the ceiling. That's good for starters.
Second, she stays friends with her ex-boyfriend. Riddle me this: if the break-up was reasonably amicable, if she'd told her ex that you're now in the boyfriend slot, and if she's tried to get him to encounter you in this new role which he once occupied, how, precisely, does that threaten you?
She doesn't sound like the kind of person who is setting both of you up for a 'Sex and the City'-type melodramatic confrontation over her (no doubt desirable) body. In fact, she sounds like a pretty easy-going, warm and likeable person, who -- according to your own letter -- picked "a sound-enough guy" to have a relationship with for half a year before she decided, one assumes, that you were an even sounder guy and good for the long haul.
However -- and here's the rub -- her judgment may be flawed, in two key areas.
First, she may be a bit naive about the possibility of a continuing close relationship with a man that doesn't involve sex. It's possible. It happens. I would know of a few people who manage to exit lover relationships and transform them into life-long, mutually trusting friendships. But they're rare.
Of rather more importance is the possibility that her judgment may be skewed in relation to you, if she hoped she was falling in love with someone who saw the best in her, cared about her and would always put her happiness first. None of that is in evidence in your letter. Au contraire, as Miss Piggy might say.
The priority in your letter is you. You tell us nothing about this girl other than the fact that she stays friendly with her ex. To leave us with no clue about her personality, values, skills, other relationships, family or looks is a significant move on your part, suggesting that you look at her through the narrow lens of your needs and your shaky self-confidence.
I would suggest, as a result, that you park the "not gay best gay friend" issue for a couple of months and concentrate instead on becoming the boyfriend this girl clearly deserves to have. Reading between the self-absorbed lines of your letter, it would appear that, first of all, she likes to be happy, rather than involved in conspiracies. Help her to be happy, and if you don't know how, learn from her.
Your account of the relationship between your girlfriend and her former boyfriend also suggests that she loves company and talking about relationships. It's up to you to make sure that the company she most enjoys is the company you provide, and that you become the best confidant she ever had. Not, mark you, to displace this "sound-enough guy" in her affections, but simply to be the boyfriend she deserves.
And before I let you off the hook on which you impaled yourself, let's look at the myth of the gay best friend. That myth arises because women love to have a man who will listen to them, find them funny, appreciate their uniqueness, encourage them to enjoy themselves, give them advice that's based on affection rather than selfishness, and notice the details when they look great. What's sad is that more women don't find those qualities and behaviours in their husbands/partners/boyfriends.
Throttle back on the paranoia and concentrate on her. It's that simple. And that difficult.