Love And Life Toolbox

My Boyfriend’s Relationship With His Female Friend, Help!

My Boyfriend's Relationship With His Female Friend, Help!

Hey folks! Welcome back to yet another episode of the Therapy365 podcast by Lisa. Today, she’ll be answering a frequent question asked by her listeners, which is along the lines of, “I’m uncomfortable with my boyfriend’s relationship with his female friend.”

So, without further ado, let’s get to the meat of the matter.

The Question:

“My boyfriend and I have been dating for about two years. He has a female best friend who I feel interferes with our relationship. They were friends before we met and work together. They meet all the time for coffee before work, have lunch together, and they often bike together and do other activities on the weekends. Whenever he’s not with me, he’s basically with her or he’s communicating excessively by email or texting. He thinks she’s an incredible person. Never has said anything negative about her to me. And as it turns out, most of their coworkers used to assume they were dating before he started dating me, though he says it’s never been like that between them. He definitely seems to be the man in her life. She tends to alienate any third person who joins them, and she clearly doesn’t like me, basically ignores me and doesn’t look at me or say hello. When we’re together in a group, even when they’ve spent most of the week together on any given week, she invites him to do things with her On the weekends. The only time he and I have to spend time together, a lot of the time he’s with her. He seems to forget about me. He doesn’t respond to my text sometimes, or if he does, he can’t remember what I’ve said in them later. He knows when I’m not happy about this, and we rarely talk about it. When I have told him how I feel, he reassures me that I shouldn’t feel threatened by her and that I am his priority. My friends and family think I’m crazy to be putting up with this, and it just keeps going on and on. He spends way more time with her than me. I don’t understand why he can’t see how uncomfortable this is and do something about it. It’s not like I don’t believe men and women can’t be friends, but this is seriously impacting how I feel in the relationship, and she’s given me no reason to feel secure. In fact, her dismissiveness and demands on his time dismissiveness of me and demands on his time are exacerbating the situation. I feel conflicted because, in so many ways he’s a wonderful man, but this just doesn’t feel right”

Lisa asks her listeners to evaluate this relationship based on the following factors:

1. How Much Time He Spends With The Female Friend

Lisa is curious to find out how the boyfriend rationalizes his time with the female friend. If the friend was male, would he have spent so much time with him? Simply put, Lisa wonders about the boyfriend’s view on the relationship.

2. It’s Worth Noting The Female Friend’s Energy Towards The Girlfriend

Another thing that worries Lisa is the female friend’s energy toward the girlfriend. If the relationship between the boyfriend and the female friend isn’t intimate, then there is a high chance that the female friend would go out of her way to make the girlfriend feel comfortable.

Lisa would love to see some honesty on the table.

3. The Boyfriend’s Overall Lack Of Empathy For His Girlfriend’s Concerns

Next, Lisa highlights the boyfriend’s overall lack of empathy for his girlfriend’s concerns. Although the girlfriend has made several attempts to tell him how she feels, there is no modification to his actions. He is still spending time with his female friend, which frustrates his girlfriend. This puts him at risk of losing the girlfriend at some point, even if he doesn’t intend to.

So, Lisa would really want him to put himself into her girlfriend’s shoes and consider her feelings.

4. The Girlfriend’s Assertiveness

Moving on, Dr. Kift shows her concern for the girlfriend’s lack of assertiveness and boundaries. Even though there is no change in the boyfriend’s behavior, and she’s still uncomfortable and unhappy, she is not doing much to change the situation. Now, that’s not a good thing for the long term, and she might give up.

Lisa recommends the girlfriend bump up her assertiveness around the things that are important to her. She wants the girlfriend to articulate them and repeat them if need be, as it is ruining the emotional safety of the relationship.

5. The Girlfriend’s Emotional Safety

Last but not least, Lisa is concerned about their girlfriend’s emotional safety, which is crucial for any romantic relationship. If you’ve been following Lisa’s work, you probably know she puts a lot of emphasis on emotional safety in her podcasts. And clearly, the girlfriend’s emotional safety is compromised in this scenario

She’s dealing with issues of trust, feeling, not feeling prioritized, and not feeling heard and validated. And if her boyfriend was meeting these needs better, he would be altering his behavior, but clearly, he’s not.

It has been found that relationships with little to no emotional safety don’t usually do well in the long haul.

What’s Next?

In the next episode of the Therapy 365 podcast, Lisa will discuss authenticity and the six indicators that you are living an authentic life. Until then, be sure to check out loveandlifetoolbox.com for emotional health and relationship content.

You can click on Ask Lisa if you want to consult Lisa. On that note, it’s time for us to take your leave, and remember, at Therapy 365, you’re always a work in progress.

See you soon!

Transcript

Lisa Brookes Kift:

Hey everyone, welcome to Therapy 365. This is episode eight: Ask Lisa: I’m Uncomfortable With My Boyfriend’s Relationship With His Female Friend. So over the years, many people have asked for my feedback on their relationship dilemmas via email, and early on I used to respond to some of these questions and post them and my responses on loveandlifetoolbox with their permission. So that question, this issue of having a boyfriend or a partner and being uncomfortable with a relationship, a friendship that they have has come up a number of times. So I’ve adapted a question that I will read that tells a story, right, a scenario, and then I’ll give you my thoughts afterward. So here goes.

The Uncomfortable Scenario [1:30]

“My boyfriend and I have been dating for about two years. He has a female best friend who I feel interferes with our relationship. They were friends before we met and work together. They meet all the time for coffee before work, have lunch together, and they often bike together and do other activities on the weekends. Whenever he’s not with me, he’s basically with her or he’s communicating excessively by email or texting. He thinks she’s an incredible person. Never has said anything negative about her to me. And as it turns out, most of their coworkers used to assume they were dating before he started dating me, though he says it’s never been like that between them. He definitely seems to be the man in her life. She tends to alienate any third person who joins them, and she clearly doesn’t like me, basically ignores me, and doesn’t look at me or say hello when we’re together in a group. Even when they’ve spent most of the week together on any given week, she invites him to do things with her on the weekends- the only time he and I have to spend time together.

A lot of the time he’s with her, he seems to forget about me. He doesn’t respond to my text sometimes, or if he does, he can’t remember what I’ve said in them later. He knows when I’m not happy about this and we rarely talk about it. When I have told him how I feel, he reassures me that I shouldn’t feel threatened by her and that I am his priority. My friends and family think I’m crazy to be putting up with this, and it just keeps going on and on. He spends way more time with her than me. I don’t understand why he can’t see how uncomfortable this is and do something about it. It’s not like I don’t believe men and women can’t be friends, but this is seriously impacting how I feel in the relationship and she’s given me no reason to feel secure.

In fact, her dismissiveness and demands on his time- dismissiveness of me and demands on his time are exacerbating the situation. I feel conflicted because in so many ways he’s a wonderful man, but this just doesn’t feel right.

Lisa’s Thoughts: Setting Expectations Of A Relationship [3:26]

So there were a number of things like that come up for me in this scenario. The first thing is, it’s really curious to me how he rationalizes that much of his time is spent with her, but it would come up for anyone outside of the relationship. I mean, let’s say that she was a male friend. Would this not still be impactful? So I really wonder about his views on what a relationship looks like. My recommendation to a couple, let’s say that was in my office and were maybe talking about this, was that, you know, that they try to get more clarity around their expectations of what a relationship looks like, what they expect out of it regarding the balance of the relationship, how much time they spent together versus apart doing other things, all that stuff. That comes up a lot and a lot of times if it’s not talked about, I’ve seen people who get married and actually have never really fully understood what that looks like and have some frustration so it’s important to make sure that you’re clear and see if you can meet each other’s needs in that way.

Red Flags And Putting Honesty On The Table [4:28]

So the other thing that is worrisome to me is- and a red flag, to be honest, is the female friend’s energy towards this woman. You would think if the relationship wasn’t intimate in any way, that she would wanna go out of her way to make her feel comfortable and embrace her and be open. So it makes me wonder if she really would like to be with him. I mean, it kind of looks like that, and I can’t understand why she would be cold and dismissive. So if I was working with this couple, I would wanna understand how he is missing this piece. Is he not at all wondering if she may want more? You know, and what about the possibility that he’s also conflicted? I’d wanna really try to put honesty on the table maybe for the first time to see if there’s anything there to talk about.

So the other thing I’m concerned about in this scenario is really the boyfriend’s overall lack of understanding and empathy for his girlfriend’s concerns. She’s made attempts to tell him how she feels, and it doesn’t sound like there’s any modifications to what he’s doing. He’s still kind of maintaining his status quo and she’s getting more and more frustrated and I think probably resentful. So he’s really running the risk of ultimately losing her at some point, even if he doesn’t intend to. So I would wanna help him to try to put himself in her shoes and experience himself what she might be feeling if it was happening to him. And she was the one engaged in a relationship with someone else like that. Even a friend, I mean, with all the time, it seems very skewed.

Setting Boundaries And Being Assertive [6:04]

I noticed that, you know, clearly she’s been really patient and feels like he’s a good guy and doesn’t seem to wanna make any moves to get rid of him, break up. But I’m a little worried about her lack of assertiveness and her boundary-setting. So that’s what I would wanna talk to her about. Clearly nothing’s changing and she is still uncomfortable and not happy. So that’s not a good thing for the long term. And ultimately she could just give up. So my recommendation again to her would be to bump up her assertiveness around the things that are important to her, be able to articulate them and repeat them if needed, because this situation is literally harming the emotional safety of this relationship and that can really make or break things.

Compromised Emotional Safety Can Be The End Of A Relationship [6:45]

So last and most importantly, you know, speaking of emotional safety, it’s really so critical to the overall health of any relationship. And if you, if you’ve been following my work on love and life toolbox, or have worked with me in therapy before, you know that this is a topic I put a lot of emphasis on. And in this scenario that I presented, there are a number of indicators that the emotional safety for her in particular is being compromised. She’s dealing with issues of trust, feeling, not feeling prioritized, not feeling heard and validated. And if her boyfriend was meeting these needs better, he would be altering his behavior and he’s not. So the reality is that any relationship that’s enduring long periods of time where there’s disconnection and unresolved issues with emotional safety are at a really high risk for one or both simply giving up hope. And when you get into the land of hopelessness, the relationship may be at the end of its course and at the end of its rope unless hope can be restored.

So in the next episode, I’m gonna look at authenticity and six indications that you are living in authentic life. So as usual, check out love and life toolbox for emotional health and relationship content. And if you need a consultation, I’m happy to do that by email. You can click on Ask Lisa. So take care of yourself and remember that at Therapy 365, you’re always a work in progress.