Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Morning Quickie: “My Boyfriend Won’t Let Me Hang Out Alone With My Ex”

A few years ago, following a split with my long-term partner, I met a man half my age and we began a relationship that was more friendship and support although we did have sex initially. We have remained very good friends since. On meeting my current partner, we discussed many things about our pasts, this being one of them. I was open and honest about it and said we were now best friends.

I introduced them at my current partner’s request. Following the meeting he said he felt there was still something between us. It’s true, we love each other as friends.

He said he didn’t think I should see him alone at my house. I made the mistake of agreeing to this. I continued to meet once a month for dinner in a restaurant. To be honest, I should have not agreed to this as we are great friends and it’s weird that he can’t stop by.

Now my partner (we live separately) has blown up and says he should come with us when we meet. I enjoy my catch-up with my good friend and do not want this intrusion just to satiate his jealousy. — Friends with Ex

You know what seems weird to me here? That you call this ex-sex pal your best friend, but you only introduced him to your current boyfriend at your boyfriend’s request. If you and this guy are “best friends,” wouldn’t you naturally introduce him to your boyfriend on your own accord because that’s what people do — they introduce their new partners to their closest friends (without anyone else’s urging)? I don’t know, it just seems a little suspect that your boyfriend had to request an introduction after you went out of your way to assure him that, although you used to sleep with this man, you two are just “best friends” now.

Is there any possibility at all that the chemistry and connection your boyfriend has picked up on between you and your friend/former sex pal actually IS more than platonic? Might he have a legitimate reason to be concerned about this friendship? Regardless, he IS concerned, and rather than just write him off as a jealous boyfriend, I think it would behoove you, if you want to keep your boyfriend, to address his concerns and go out of your way to calm his anxiety and convince him that your friendship doesn’t in any way threaten your relationship. How do you do this? Well, LET him accompany you on some of your meet-ups with your friend. It doesn’t have to be every time, but maybe every third meet-up you invite your boyfriend. Let him see, beyond just the first meeting he had with your friend, that there is nothing to worry about. If your friend has a significant other or begins seeing someone, organize some double dates. Honestly, I would be a little weirded out if I had a boyfriend who was “best friends” with someone he used to sleep with and was really protective of the private time he spent with her to the point of never inviting me to join them on their get-togethers. I’d be like, “Well, what are you trying to hide that you don’t ever want me around the two of you together?” (And, in fact, this HAS happened to me. I dated a guy who remained very close to his ex-girlfriend and insisted they were just friends. I was never invited to join him when he hung out with her. Eventually, he and I broke up. … And he went on to marry the ex).

Sure, including your boyfriend in your get-togethers with your friend may be an intrusion, but isn’t an intrusion worth it if it means giving your boyfriend more clarity and understanding about your friendship? Rather than “satiate his jealousy,” you could see it as showing your boyfriend there’s actually nothing to be jealous of . . . Unless there is. In which case, your defensiveness here would make sense. Be honest with yourself. And then be honest, and compassionate, with your boyfriend.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

19 comments… add one
  • avatar

    RedroverRedrover December 18, 2014, 8:41 am

    Just chiming in to say that it does happen, to not introduce your friends to your significant other. By the time I married my husband, he barely knew my best friend. I’m a one-on-one hangout kind of person. I don’t have big groups of friends that I go out with. I do things with only one friend at a time, generally. It’s just what I’m comfortable with.
    .
    I have two good friends, and my husband doesn’t really know them (and they don’t really know each other, either). That’s just how I am. It’s not necessarily suspicious. One of those good friends is male, and my husband had met him maybe a dozen times over the four years we were together before getting married. Actually, we did go on a trip once with him and his girlfriend. Other than that, my husband barely saw him. And still doesn’t, unless he comes to the house. I guess now that my husband and I share a home, he’s gotten to know him better, since he sees him a lot more. But before that, nope.

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  • Crochet.Ninja

    Crochet.Ninja December 18, 2014, 10:04 am

    it may be an unpopular opinion, but honestly i dont think it’s ‘appropriate’ to spend time alone with someone of the other sex if you’re in a committed relationship. i just don’t. maybe it’s old fashioned. don’t care. i would not want my husband to go over to a female friend’s house and hang out. he wouldn’t want me to do it either.

    can your friend not just come to your house? your bf can just go do his own thing and you still get to hang out with your friend.

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    • Kate B.

      Kate B. December 18, 2014, 10:45 am

      I have to say that I agree. I would be very uncomfortable if my boyfriend spent one-on-one time with another woman, especially if he went out of his way to prevent our meeting. The solution to this is for me to get to know her, then I would feel better about it. Here’s a story from my life: I had a boyfriend who was going to a sci-fi convention to which I was not going. He got a hotel room. What he failed to tell me was that he was sharing this room with another female friend of his. The only reason he told me was that this woman asked him if I was okay with it. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have told me. He said it never occurred to him, Now, they had been friends for years, he told me, and there was nothing between them. I did meet her and she was great. But, right after we eventually broke up (and I mean RIGHT after) the first thing he did was pursue her. (She shot him down, sensible girl.) So, yeah, the LW needs to reassure her boyfriend that there is nothing going on. Is it really that hard to do that?

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    • TaraMonster

      TaraMonster December 18, 2014, 11:28 am

      Eh, to each their own, but I don’t agree. One of my oldest friends is a guy and we hang out alone all the time. We have writing projects we collaborate on, and we just hang out and shoot the shit. If one of us had a significant other who was uncomfortable with that that would absolutely not fly. He just started dating someone new (who he met through me, actually), and the idea of her getting upset about us hanging out alone is super weird and would cause all sorts of unnecessary problems. Granted, we’re not excluding her (or anyone else) when we hang out. But still. Not being able to hang out with your male friends alone? It strikes me as controlling and possessive.

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster December 18, 2014, 11:35 am

        And just to clarify, I’m speaking specifically to the idea that men and women can’t hang out alone if they’re in a committed relationship. I’m actually on the boyfriend’s side in the letter, but only because LW is being shady about the relationship. It sounds like LW is in denial about her feelings for her “best friend” and is gaslighting her boyfriend about it.

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      • Crochet.Ninja

        Crochet.Ninja December 18, 2014, 1:31 pm

        and I totally get why it looks controlling and possessive. i do. and i guess while i did say i wouldn’t want/like it, i wouldn’t ultimately tell my husband ‘no’ if it was something he was set on, but i wouldn’t be happy with it. and ditto for him – he may voice concerns, but the final decision would be mine if i wanted to hang out with someone. i just prefer not to make him feel uncomfortable over it.

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    • avatar

      RedroverRedrover December 19, 2014, 1:34 pm

      My husband’s best friend is a woman. She was the “best man” at our wedding. I feel like it would be totally bizarre for him to stop having her as a best friend, or always have me around when they’re together. They were friends before we met, they should continue being friends. Him being with me has nothing to do with their friendship.

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  • dizziej

    dizziej December 18, 2014, 10:32 am

    My husband took me to meet a close friend of his when we were still dating. She was an ex girlfriend and because he did things in the right way (and I’m not a jealous person), her and I hit it off! We got along so well that when she moved to the city we live in I let her move in until she got on her feet (just a month after we got married). We are all still friends, she has babysat out kids and in November, I let them go to a concert together, alone.
    .
    I realize that this situation is unique, but my husband has been very honest about his relationship with her and so has she. Neither of them have romantic feelings for the other.
    .
    I agree with Wendy, your boyfriend may be feeling something between the 2 of you he does not like. And your unwillingness to allow him to see the 2 of you together just reinforces in his mind that there is something there, whether there is or not.
    .
    Until you make the decision to put his mind at ease, he will continue to suspect that something is going on. I think that you went about things the wrong way and now you need to do whatever is in your power to do to correct that mistake. If that means including your boyfriend on your outings and losing some of the intimacy you share with your friend then so be it.

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  • avatar

    alstrale December 18, 2014, 11:17 am

    I’m in a similar situation, except I’m the boyfriend in this scenario. The friendship could be as innocent as they come, but as long as you keep them from interacting and getting to know one another, your partner is always going to doubt you. LW, start acting like a decent girlfriend and set up more opportunities for them to mingle and get to know one another.

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  • honeybeenicki

    honeybeenicki December 18, 2014, 11:17 am

    I don’t see any problem with people being friends with (and hanging out with) people of the opposite sex regardless of relationship status. I do have a problem with being secretive about it and not addressing a partner’s concerns. LW – the way you are treating this whole situation would make me uncomfortable as your boyfriend as well. You need to address his concerns and do what you can to alleviate them. Ultimately you will both have to compromise.

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  • avatar

    Eagle Eye December 18, 2014, 11:28 am

    Hmm, one of my boyfriend’s best friends is a girl – he regularly hangs out with her without me (actually explicitly without me, sometimes we’ll hang out with her and her husband, but oftentimes its just the two of them). He has other girls who are his friends and who’ve I’ve never met, and some who’ve I’ve actually not particularly liked – although no one whose he’s slept with in the past, so I don’t know how that would change things.

    The key, I think, is just to not be shady about it – he doesn’t tell me too much or too little, he talks about them the same way he does his guy friends. He’s honest and open about it, like he is about everything else. I mean, he’s and adult, he can do whatever the hell he wants to do – freaking out about his relationship with his women friends would be a great way to fast track our breakup, however!

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  • avatar

    TheRascal December 18, 2014, 12:10 pm

    I find nothing wrong with having members of the opposite sex as friends. Many of my close friends are male and I do spend one-on-one time with them. These friendships are like brother-sister, I suppose.

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  • avatar

    booknerd December 18, 2014, 12:42 pm

    My partner has a lot of friends that are women. At first, I was skeptical and uncomfortable, but after spending time with them, they are just friends. We even went on vacation with one of them. I myself have guy friends. We talk openly about our feelings even if they are unjustified or ridiculous, and I am confident that men and women can be just friends. That being said, neither of us have former sex partners as friends.

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  • muchachaenlaventana

    muchachaenlaventana December 18, 2014, 1:17 pm

    Eh I just found out my boyfriend hooked up with one of his good girl friends, who I had no clue. I guess I would care more if I did’t like this girl, or their interactions before now had been in any way suspect. I think the way you are handling this LW is really causing your boyfriend to be jealous and an outsider. If you are open with your relationships, and include your boyfriend, as Wendy said maybe every 3rd get together, it would go a long way to alleviating some of his anxieties on this. I think any time you keep something secret or super exclusive from your partner–that is cause for concern and not really okay. You shouldn’t be hanging out with anyone in private you wouldn’t want your boyfriend tagging along with. Like if he just showed up one of those nights to surprise you, would it be awkward or would it be cool? That is how you know if this is okay. If I ever happened on my boyfriend hanging out with a girl friend of his and I felt uncomfortable or unwelcome, vs just jumped in that would be a huge red flag.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle December 18, 2014, 2:42 pm

    Wow, really disagree on this….I feel like the current partner is being possessive and looking for signs of somwthung amiss just because he is aware of her past with the guy. LW, it’s totally fine to have close friends your partner doesn’t meet. There shouldn’t be a forced meeting due to your partner’s insecurity. I’m sure you were hoping this would make your partner comfortable but instead he’s seeing shadows and forbidding you to spend time one on one with your friend. (Also, who cares if there’s still chemistry? Chemistry can between good friends who’ve hooked up before, or total strangers. It doesn’t mean your genitals will be magnetized together helplessly. It means you are people.)

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle December 18, 2014, 2:46 pm

      *can OCCUR

      *by it means you’re people, I mean. Humans experience chemistry-like feelings because of Brains and those experiences aren’t necessarily anti-relationship

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    • muchachaenlaventana

      muchachaenlaventana December 18, 2014, 2:58 pm

      I wish that my knowing this on an intellectual level would let me be super cool about it in person because it is definitely true, just hard to practice when/if you are in the situation.

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  • avatar

    Elo June 17, 2017, 8:13 am

    Dear Friends with Ex,
    Never leave your friends for a boyfriend. You can love your boyfriend, but I know boyfriends leave a true friend does not.
    If you think your moment alone with your friend is important do not stop. Your boyfriend needs to trust you because trust is very important in a relationship.
    Talk with your boyfriend and explain that you love your friend only as a friend. If him won’t understand you he will a big idiot.
    A hug.
    Elo.

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  • avatar

    Larissa Schuffner June 23, 2017, 9:24 am

    If you do not feel something for your ex and you are sure of that, it’s okay to hang out with him, because, after all, if you dated, you can be great friends, but you have to pass on this assurance that there is nothing more than friendship between you and him to your boyfriend. But if you think you still feel something for your ex you should respect your boyfriend’s opinion and not hang out with him or break up with your boyfriend because I think it should be uncomfortable to date someone who has feelings for someone else and nobody would like it.

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