Ask Lisa: I am playing second fiddle in my relationship

I’m writing to you to get your opinion on the situation I have going on with my boyfriend.  We have been dating for a little over a year.

Around the time we first started dating I noticed him texting on his phone, while trying to hide the screen from me. This was odd because we have each other’s phone passwords and we are always free to look over each other’s shoulders. So I caught a glimpse of him calling someone “hun”, which was something he only called me. When I asked him about it he said it was a female friend, named ***, who he would sometimes call “hun”. I dropped it and it didn’t come up again.

Fast forward to this Thanksgiving that just passed. My boyfriend and his group of friends were doing their own Thanksgiving get-together and *** showed up. This was the first time she ever showed up to a group event and it was the first time I met her. Again, I thought nothing of it.

Not too long afterwards I had an exhibition in an art gallery. My boyfriend and his friends came to show support. He spent the majority of the night by her side. Then afterwards, when we went to dinner, he spent the whole night literally leaning over me to talk to her. I assumed it was a one night thing and ignored it. Especially since he mentioned she was engaged.

Then as time went on, even whenever we were hanging out together, my boyfriend would always be on his phone texting her. Then one day the girls from my boyfriend’s group invited me out for a girls night.

The entire night *** ignored me, even when I asked her questions directly. I shrugged it off and spoke to everyone else. In all it was a good night. A few days later my boyfriend told me that she said I was “talking shit” about her engagement ring and that I said I didn’t want to be an EMT anymore, which came completely out of nowhere. My boyfriend waved it off and said to ignore it because she was just highly sensitive. It was at that point that I decided I didn’t like her.

Since then he continued constantly texting her. Then he began constantly talking about her and bringing her up in conversations. I also noticed the two of them were always going out to dinner together alone. And she was hanging out with him in his apartment ALONE. And the pictures of these hang outs were posted all over Instagram. And the dinners was their new weekly tradition (the two of us don’t even go out to dinner once a week). Whenever I couldn’t come over I would later see a picture posted of *** at his apartment. It got to the point where my friends were asking if we were still dating because the kept seeing this other girl all over his Instagram.

After my boyfriend’s mother passed away he wouldn’t speak to, or see, anyone but me. All of his closest friends had to ask me to find out of he was okay. As it turned out he was only speaking to me and her. And whenever I wasn’t at his apartment, she was.

Then on the night of my birthday dinner he invited her along without asking me. The entire night she stayed at the opposite end of the table and didn’t say a word to me. Then halfway through the night, my boyfriend got up and sat next to her and spend the rest of the night glued to her hip.

I finally spoke to him about it, and he swore I was just being crazy and bringing up the fact she’s engaged. He insisted they weren’t sleeping together and she was his best friend. He also mentioned how she lived right around the corner from him.  I knew it wouldn’t be right to tell him to completely cut her out of his life. So I told him to minimize the amount of time he was spending with her and to hang out with her in group settings.

Since then he has been trying not to talk about her around me. I still see him texting her frequently. And instead of not hanging out with her, he invites her fiance along. At first I thought things were getting better, until one week when I went over to his apartment. Because I work so much there are specific days that I spend over at his apartment every week without fail. It was on one of those days that two hours in to my visit he said he forgot that he made plans to go run with *** and her fiance. I asked why he would even make those plans on a day he knew I would be there. Instead of inviting me along or telling them he couldn’t go because I was there, he left the apartment to go running with them.

Whenever he’s spending time with me and they invite them out, instead of telling them no because he’s hanging out with me, he tells them some other BS excuse.

So I would like to know your take on the situation. I’m not the jealous type. We talk about each other’s exes with no problems. I have no other problems with his other female friends. All I know is that this “best friend” has suddenly appeared since Thanksgiving and he’s all he cares about. He doesn’t act like this with any of this other female friends. I don’t like feeling like I’m playing second fiddle to someone else. My gut says this whole thing is off.

Lisa’s thoughts…

I can see why the situation is uncomfortable.  It’s not to say that your boyfriend and *** couldn’t be very close in a platonic way but there are a number of behaviors that appear to be red flags – and likely what you’re responding to.  I find it curious that she is so unfriendly to you and that if her intentions were good then it seems to me she would be sensitive to your feelings and go out of her way to put you at ease.  Instead she is bordering on hostile with you.  I wonder how she would feel if her fiancé were spending as much time with you as she is with your boyfriend.  Another concern is how your boyfriend is handling your feelings by calling you “crazy” for your concerns.  This is not a sensitive and loving approach.

It would take a person with a strong sense of self and security in a relationship to comfortably allow the amount of contact there is between them.  Again, it would be ideal if both of them were being more mindful of how you might feel and act accordingly.  It seems at this point their behavior is aggravating the situation.

At the end of the day, I can in no way know what (if anything) is going on other than what you see and he is reporting.  But what I can tell you is that your feelings are valid.  Assuming this is an innocent situation, try asking your boyfriend to consider how he would feel in your shoes.  Tell him you have been accommodating this friendship but you have more needs to be met in order for you to be ok with it moving forward.  Try to be open, curious and come from an “I feel” place rather than attacking.  This approach will greatly increase the odds of a positive response from him.

If you don’t get feedback that feels right and the behavior continues, perhaps it’s time to consider what is keeping you with him. You have a right to feel secure with your partner.  The goal is emotional safety – not emotional unrest.

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