Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Your Turn: “How Do I Stop Being So Jealous?”

In a feature I call “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter without commentary from me:

I’m 30 years old, and a painful divorce and an insecure personality has led me down an awful path of jealousy. My boyfriend is sweet, faithful, and an all-around a great guy….a great guy with a TON of girl friends. He knows so many women, and is very close to several of them. He describes his friendships with them as “little sister/big brother” type of relationships, and I’ve seen it with my own eyes-they definitely are. He is doting and protective, but not interested in these women beyond that. He was cheated on in his marriage, and I have NO doubt that he would never do that to me. Yet, I get insecure and jealous when he is around these other women. He is affectionate with them, and that’s hard for me — hugs, dancing, occasional hand-holding or back rubbing. The hugs I can get on board with, maybe even the dancing, but the other stuff makes me so jealous. He will drop what he is doing to help the few that are his very best friends, and that makes me jealous too. Rationally, I know that he has known some of these women for 10+ years, much longer than the year he and I have been together, but that doesn’t stop me from getting upset.

I know I have a problem, and want to stop. He’s given me no reason to doubt him, and is always very upfront with me about what he does and who he is with. I have met and hung out with most of his friends, and they’re all nice women. He is comfortable enough to act the same way with them when I’m around as when I’m not, showing me that he’s truly not hiding anything. I really want to stop this irrational way of thinking — that I’m not as good as these women, or he likes them better, or I’m not as important to him as they are, but I just don’t know how. Help! — Irrationally Jealous

86 comments… add one
  • avatar

    soandso July 19, 2011, 3:07 pm

    I don’t think you have a problem. I think he has the problem. I think you should tell him how you feel and where you draw the boundry line. If he doesn’t like it then he can leave you but you are not happy with the boundries he has with these other women now and probably never will be.

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    • avatar

      soandso July 19, 2011, 11:47 pm

      so many purple thumbs. Sorry I can’t write longer responses when at work so I’m a little blunt.

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      • avatar

        G July 20, 2011, 11:26 am

        I agree with your response (THUMBS UP!). It is inappropriate to be holding girl’s hands and giving them back rubs.

        I wonder how he’d feel if the LW were doing this same thing with her guy friends…

        Honestly, I hope that I’d have the self-respect to not put up with that crap if it were me.

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      • avatar

        flopsybunny July 20, 2011, 6:28 pm

        I agree with your response too. HELLO BOUNDARIES!?!?!?

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  • avatar

    JennyTalia July 19, 2011, 3:12 pm

    All I’ve got to say is I’d be jealous too. Back-rubbing and hand-holding are too far IMO. What is the status of these women? Are they single? I might be weary of their intentions. If it were me and I had a guy friend who was rubbing my back and grabbing my hand, I’d think for sure he was putting the moves on me. Maybe your boyfriend really is platonic with them and the relationships are innocent, but I’d be weary myself. How do you fare against these women? Does he treat you and them equally when in mixed company? In my opinion that’s not right – you should be on a pedestal and the only one reaping the benefits of his affection. To me, anything beyond a hello/good-bye hug/air-kiss and an occasional dance is too far.

    You definitely need to talk with him about your insecurity. Surely he will understand as he has had his own trust betrayed. Airing your feelings about this will hopefully make him realize that what he sees as innocent are actually burning you up inside.

    Bottom line, if it makes you uncomfortable he should tone it down or stop it. If he’s not willing to change his behavior, then he doesn’t respect your feelings and places himself and his friends above you.

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    • avatar

      LennyBee July 19, 2011, 4:01 pm

      Wow, so many thumbs down. I totally agree – I would be super uncomfortable if my boyfriend was rubbing another woman’s back and holding her hand. Those are boyfriend behaviors, not friend behaviors. I would also be uncomfortable if I was one of the women whose platonic friend was rubbing her back and holding her hand.

      Seriously, I see a man rubbing a woman’s back and holding her hand in public and I think “aw, look how cute that couple is”, not “aw, look how platonic those friends are”.

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      • avatar

        LennyBee July 19, 2011, 4:02 pm

        Note: that’s not to say he’s actually doing something wrong, just that if it makes the LW uncomfortable, she’s well within her rights to discuss it with him.

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph July 19, 2011, 4:17 pm

      I think the thumbs down might be because of the pedestal thing. I don’t really want my boyfriend to put me on a pedestal. I do agree that he should treat me like his girlfriend though- which means holding my hand (or nobody’s hand) not another girl’s hand.

      As for dancing, while in this current and previous exclusive relationships I have danced with friends, aquaintances, and strangers. I don’t think there’s really anything to that. My bf couldn’t make it to a wedding I went to 2 weekends ago… I didn’t sit like a lump the whole night, I danced! With single groomsmen, friends, etc. So, yeah, dancing is ok. Hand holding just squicks me out though.

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      • avatar

        melanie July 19, 2011, 4:48 pm

        I think the type of dancing may be in question. Regular dancing isn’t a big deal – bumping and grinding is moving into the inappropriate territory.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph July 19, 2011, 5:42 pm

        Oh. Oops.
        Seriously, though, the bumping and grinding is how the cool kids are dancing these days. I would be lying if I said I never grinded on a guy who wasn’t my boyfriend while having a boyfriend.
        If I’m going out to the club with my girls I’m gonna have a good time. It doesn’t mean anything but that.

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      • katie

        katie July 19, 2011, 6:21 pm

        i think that you might have a more… how do I say this… youthful attitude? i agree with you about the dancing. thats just how we, in my generation, dance. it doesn’t mean anything, its still just dancing and having a good time. it doesn’t mean there are any intentions.

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      • avatar

        Melanie July 19, 2011, 8:50 pm

        I’m 24, so I don’t think I’m far from youthful. I’m aware that’s how a lot of people dance these days. And, id be lying of I said I hadn’t done it. But, I always gauge if it’s okay by thinking “would I be okay walking into a club seeing my boyfriend doing this to some random girl?” probably not. I also venture a guess he’d be a bit upset if be saw me doing that as well. Not break up worthy or anything, but certainly reason to be uncomfortable with it.

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      • katie

        katie July 20, 2011, 1:46 am

        so you never dance with anyone other then your boyfriend? and he isn’t allowed to dance with anyone besides you?

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      • avatar

        Britannia July 20, 2011, 2:21 am

        I don’t think that it’s appropriate to “grind” in a club… since it is, in essence, dry humping/simulated sex. Dancing and grinding are very different things.

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      • avatar

        Britannia July 20, 2011, 2:21 am

        *grind in a club with someone other than your significant other

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      • avatar

        Callifax July 20, 2011, 7:25 am

        Yeah, I’m with you. I wouldn’t mind my boyfriend dancing with another girl, but bumpin’ and grindin’ is a whole different ballpark. That would make me upset.

        Luckily my boyfriend (bless his heart) is an abysmal dancer so I don’t worry about it too much. 😉

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      • avatar

        Melanie July 20, 2011, 7:21 am

        I absolutely dance with other guys, as does he with other girls. But there’s really no reason for me to grind my crotch on some dude. I think I laid out my stance on the subject pretty clearly. More power to you if your and your beau are comfrotable with it. I just know how I’d feel if I walked into a club and saw my boyfriend grinding his crotch on some girl.

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      • avatar

        Maracuya July 20, 2011, 7:25 am

        Yeah, same. To me, grinding =/= dancing. I’ve gone out dancing with friends and nowhere has anyone’s crotch been anywhere near my butt. Just not my thing to have random people up on me.

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      • katie

        katie July 20, 2011, 11:50 pm

        in my opinon, “bumping and grinding” can be done in a classy way, and it doesn’t just have to just be the rubbing of a crotch on someone else’s.

        dancing like your looking for the guy to put dollars in your pants is not dancing.

        dancing with someone (still techincally “bumping and grinding”) without anything sleazy or gross going on is dancing.

        in my experience (and i dont really go out that much) clubs are the worst examples of dancing, except for break dance circles.

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      • avatar

        melanie July 21, 2011, 9:20 am

        I think you may have a different definition than most.

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      • avatar

        JennyTalia July 19, 2011, 5:21 pm

        Call me selfish/controlling/insecure/what have you, but I absolutely want my boyfriend to put me on a pedestal. If he treats me like any other random person in his life, then I don’t feel special like the woman he wants to spend his life with. I better be and feel more important than his friends.

        I have no problem with dancing, as long as it’s nothing too intimate/suggestive.

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      • avatar

        JennyTalia July 19, 2011, 5:23 pm

        Caveat: The only person I don’t mind being placed behind is his daughter.

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    • EscapeHatches

      EscapeHatch July 19, 2011, 7:23 pm

      Perhaps the purple thumbs are caused by people like me. People who see the word “weary” used in lieu of “wary” or “leery” and cry little sad etymology/diction-based cries.

      Please, friends. Stop the abuse. I grow ‘weary’ of it. 🙂

      My generic rule for then fiance is nothing goes in. I suppose that means no one else’s hand goes in his, and no one’s hands go “in” his shirt, so no massages? I dunno. I was fed and awful lot of cake at a going away party just now and I think the india-ink blue icing may be causing me to hallucinate/prognosticate. Sunny, chance of showers. A handsome stranger will give you a shoulder-rub while his girlfriend stares daggers. Something like that.

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      • avatar

        Kate July 19, 2011, 9:45 pm

        The “weary” thing happens a lot here and I with you: I am tired of the abuse, too!

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    • avatar

      SweetChild July 19, 2011, 8:53 pm

      Erm, not to be a smartass but like EscapeHatch has pointed out, you mean WARY not WEARY. Weary= tired. Wary= suspicious. Totally different meanings.

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  • avatar

    Amber July 19, 2011, 3:14 pm

    I wouldn’t be cool with my boyfriend holding hands with other women and giving them backrubs. There are things such as boundaries, even when he thinks of them as little sisters.

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    • avatar

      JennyTalia July 19, 2011, 3:27 pm

      Yea and even think about a brother-sister relationship. Maybe I’m in the minority but my brother certainly doesn’t rub my back or hold my hand.

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      • avatar

        Tristy July 19, 2011, 3:47 pm

        Neither does my brother. And we ARE close.

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      • avatar

        TheOtherMe July 19, 2011, 3:53 pm

        I also agree, the hand holding and back rubs are on a different level than dancing or hugs ( in my opinion). Why not just tell him this ? it’s not like you are saying that he can’t have girlfriends or even be somewhat affectionate with them, just mention that some things make you uncomfortable no mater how much you trust him. I bet some of those girlfriends might also be uncomfortable with that sort of affection weather you are there to see it or not.

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      • avatar

        TheOtherMe July 19, 2011, 3:56 pm

        I even said in a previous post, when my BF held my hand for the first time that’s the moment I knew we were a couple.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph July 19, 2011, 4:19 pm

        Exactly! And when my bf held my hand in public is when our mutual friends (coed softball team) knew we were a couple too. Hand holding totally indicates, to most people, a more-than-friends relationship.

        Unless you’re helping her up after she trips and falls on the floor (which I have done) and you offer her your hand (which male coworkers have done), it means SOMETHING.

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    • avatar

      Amber July 19, 2011, 4:08 pm

      I should have added…and not because it would make me jealous exactly, but it would definitely make me uncomfortable in that I would probably start to see my boyfriend as kind of a creeper.

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  • avatar

    Billie July 19, 2011, 3:16 pm

    There are several things at play here that you might want to consider.

    First of all, you say that you have an issue, and I think deep down, you probably are right about that. Jealousy is not an issue that will simply go away if you change relationships. So I think that you should seek counseling to ease your issues concerning jealousy because you want to be at your best–inside or outside of a relationship.

    At the same time, you DO, in fact, have jealousy issues and I wonder if this guy doesn’t exacerbate these tendencies because of his physical connection to his “close friends.” I believe you when you say that his intentions are good, but for someone like yourself, who needs a man who perhaps isn’t like that with his girl friends, you might want to consider if this relationship is healthy for that portion of your psyche.

    I don’t think that the hand holding is necessarily appropriate… or the back rubbing and were it my relationship, I would vocalize that I don’t feel it is appropriate. But you have to be secure enough in your own mind to speak up if that is what you choose.

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    • avatar

      justpeachy July 19, 2011, 3:51 pm

      Counseling might be a good option if she were jealous to the point that it was driving her insane or she was screaming at her boyfriend in a parking lot when one of his female friends calls him. But you wouldn’t suggest anger management to someone who got pissed off when someone cut them off in traffic, right? I think she’s just insecure and the jealousy is a symptom of it and she needs to pick one or the other to deal with.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph July 19, 2011, 4:44 pm

        I am not the kind to toss therapy around as the cure all, but I think anytime you have things that happened in your past affecting your future, talking them out with someone can help. If the LW’s divorce was so messy and hurtful that she can’t move on in a new relationship, I think she could seek therapy and it might help her overcome those concerns.

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  • avatar

    silver_dragon_girl July 19, 2011, 3:23 pm

    I’m really not the best one to go to for advice on this topic. I had an ex-bf like yours…very friendly, tons of friends, lots of them female, very charming guy. One girl in particular he started hanging out with a lot. I told him I was uncomfortable with it, he said there was nothing to worry about, they were just friends, and I let it go. Three days later he got drunk and boinked her. Not saying that’s what’s going to happen here by any means, but if you’re uncomfortable with the situation, you need to say something. Not ALL jealousy is irrational and unfounded. I think you’d be well within your rights to ask that he stop with the physical stuff- certainly no back rubs of holding hands. Maybe an occasional hug.

    I dunno, there’s something about this that seems fishy to me, but I can’t put my finger on it. I don’t think you should put all the blame on yourself. I think your bf could cool it a little bit with the female friends. What about his guy friends? If he doesn’t have ANY, that would be a red flag for me. If he does, well, what do they think of this? Do they hang out with his girl friends too? It could be that your bf isn’t really interested in any of these woman, but he does enjoy having a “harem” of girls around him, so to speak. Or it could just be that he has a lot of female friends.

    I guess I really don’t know, but I think you should definitely talk to him about it, and I don’t think you’re all that out of line for being concerned.

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  • avatar

    Wil_Win July 19, 2011, 3:25 pm

    You say he treats these women as if they are his sisters but I don’t know many brother-sister duos that hold hands and give each other back rubs… Tell him his behavior makes you feel uncomfortable and you would appreciate if he wasn’t so touchy-feely with his friends.

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    • avatar

      MiMi July 19, 2011, 6:16 pm

      totally.
      it was nuggies and half-nelsons at our house, never once hand-holding or backrubs – ewww!

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    • avatar

      SpyGlassez July 20, 2011, 12:09 am

      I even came from a family where back rubs were more normal than hugs. We don’t hug much, and never have, but we will walk up behind one another and initiate a quick shoulder or neck rub – never more than a minute or two, never anything but shoulder or neck. Granted, I don’t have a brother, but my sister and I do it to one another, to our parents, they do it, I’ve done it to cousins, etc. If that’s what you mean by back rub, maaaaaaybe. I get the feeling though that we mean several-minute-long intense all over the back massage, and that’s NOT cool. Certainly not once you express to him that it makes you uncomfortable.

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  • avatar

    Starfish13 July 19, 2011, 3:27 pm

    I had a problem like this with my ex-boyfriend. He had dozens of female friends, who he was extremely affectionate with. I’ll be honest, it never really got better. I tried everything, talking to him, minding my own business, crying to him, begging him, getting more hobbies, getting guy friends of my own, therapy… These girl friends were just a really big priority for him, they gave him the kind of attention that he craved. Personally, it wasn’t a good fit for me, and in the end I am much happy with a boyfriend who doesn’t have very many close girlfriends. I am not saying you can’t make it work, but if you aren’t wired that way, don’t feel bad, it just isn’t the right fit.

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    • avatar

      twiglet July 19, 2011, 6:47 pm

      I’ve known some people who are like this- and for them it’s just natural. Are other members of your social group acting like meerkats? For example, do these women rub each others’ backs from time to time? A lot of dancers or factoryline workers/etc might do that sort of thing. Hand-holding, I might do with a girlfriend, if I hadn’t seen her for a while, she was telling me something big- or in the back of a car to an exciting destination . There’s a sort of grey area around what is the social norm amongst your friends. But if he’s the only pussycat curling up in people’s laps, then I reckon it would be fair enough for you to say you feel left out, and, just for that moment, belittled.
      Do these women include you in the fond physical expressions? Next time there are back-rubs on the go, ask for one.If it’s not forthcoming, hmmm.
      If it’s all working out, and you are still suffering jealousy,just try to remember that out of all these amazing women who obviously rate him- he chooses to be with you.

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  • avatar

    Jon July 19, 2011, 3:31 pm

    Simply speaking, it sounds like your problem isn’t jealousy; it’s boundaries.

    You should sit down and seriously think about the boundaries you think are appropriate in a relationship: what kind of interaction is appropriate between you and you partner and you/his/her friends, what kind of relationship is acceptable outside of your relationship, and where you draw the line and why. Keep in mind, these are not boundaries for HIM, they’re boundaries FOR YOU. Talk it out with friends, family, and actually write it down; know where you stand and what’s appropriate.

    Then–and only after you’ve really set this stuff in stone–talk with your boyfriend about why you react the way you do when your boyfriend interacts with your friends. Frankly, when you say “He will drop what he is doing to help the few that are his very best friends, and that makes me jealous too,” it sounds like he genuinely does not knows that these interactions cause you to feel so jealous. Let him know that this stuff bothers you, and be open about why you feel this way. It’s okay, and perfectly healthy, for men to have friends of the opposite sex. It’s not okay when these relationships interfere with your relationship with your boyfriend, or when your boyfriend places more priority on his (female) friends than his girlfriend.

    Be strong, be clear, and set some simple ground rules for what’s okay in a relationship–not for him, but for you. Listen to what he says, but–much more importantly–pay attention to his actions. Does he respect what your think are boundaries in a relationship? It’s important: this stuff isn’t going to “go away” on its own, and if he just is “this way” with people in general and it’s something you “just can’t get over”, you need to move on.

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  • avatar

    Quakergirl July 19, 2011, 3:35 pm

    I’ll agree with the emerging consensus on this one and say that the back-rubbing and hand-holding would make me uncomfortable and maybe even a little jealous, too. Those are not sister/brother interactions, normally, so it’d be a little weird to see a boyfriend have those interactions with another woman. The hugging and occasional dancing, like you said, are not that big of a deal, but otherwise, I can see where someone with already existing jealousy issues would have a hard time with the physical interactions he has with his female friends.

    But to be fair to your boyfriend, I can see those interactions as being completely innocent on everyone’s part, too. I trust your assessment when you say you believe there’s nothing to worry about there. That being said, though, if you voice your opinion in a reasonable way, I’m guessing he won’t have a problem with toning the physical interactions down to an acceptable level for you. Having been cheated on, he should understand how it makes you feel when he does those things– hurt. Or in your own words, “that I’m not as good as these women, or he likes them better, or I’m not as important to him as they are.” You’ve drawn out a very reasonable and clear line of where you’re comfortable, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be willing to stick to that if you ask him. Use “I feel ___ when you do ____” statements so that he understands where you’re coming from. Obviously he’s going to have female friends, and you seem to be okay with that in theory, but you two should be able to come to some kind of agreement about the physical interactions he has with them.

    As far as you feeling insecure about their importance in his life versus your importance in his life, try thinking of it this way: these friends are a really big part of his life, and the fact that he’s excited to bring you into their friendship and make your relationship a part of that friendship– by having you meet and hang out with them– shows that you’re more than a passing ship. Guys won’t bring you around the most important people in their lives unless they’re pretty serious about you.

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  • Budj

    Budjer July 19, 2011, 3:43 pm

    You aren’t being overly jealous..in fact you are quite normal. I would absolutely be upset if I was dating a girl that was like that with other men.

    This guy has a very different perspective than you on what respectable interactions with the opposite sex are in a relationship. This is likely something he doesn’t want to change and you shouldn’t have to give in to it if you aren’t comfortable with it. You can talk to him about it, but I have a feeling this relationship won’t last if he isn’t willing to tone it down. I’ll be surprised if he does stay hands off.

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    • avatar

      silver_dragon_girl July 19, 2011, 3:53 pm

      Dear Wendy,
      How jealous is too jealous? My girlfriend has a ton of guy friends. Sometimes they give her back rubs or hold hands with her, along with hugging and dancing when they all go out. I know she would never cheat on me, and she has shown me how innocent all this is by doing it right in front of me, but sometimes I get really insecure about it.

      Budjer, you brought it to my mind, I think there’s a double-standard at work here.

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      • avatar

        anonymous July 19, 2011, 5:45 pm

        Does this mean I can’t rub my FIL’s shoulders? Or give him a hug & kiss on the cheek? Yikes. I guess in 20 years my hubby could have said something…

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      • Budj

        Budjer July 20, 2011, 9:24 am

        FIL =/= platonic friend

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  • avatar

    Sarah July 19, 2011, 3:44 pm

    I love my boyfriend. I trust my boyfriend. But if I caught him holding another girl’s hand or rubbing her back I’d swarm on the both of them faster than a nest of hornets. Macaulay Culkin style. And I’m not even a jealous person….mostly. My boyfriend has lots of female friends, who he sees alone sometimes. And honestly, it doesn’t bother me. I know my boyfriend would never cheat on me. That being said….

    There’s such a thing as jealousy. And then there’s also such a thing as jealousy bred from disrespectful behavior. Your boyfriend is committing the latter. My boyfriend knows (because I have told him) that the key to me not being weirded out by him having close bonds with women is that he makes it very clear that I’m his number one girl when we’re or he’s around them. It doesn’t mean he has to paw on me or anything, many times we don’t even touch in front of company. But its what he does with other women.If a woman takes him into a corner to tell him a dirty joke, he goes “Honey? Come over hear, you gotta hear this, you love dick jokes!” The only exception to this was recently a girl he’s friends with was having a going away party and she spent the. whole. night. cuddling him and whispering about how much she loves him. At one point she even cooed at him “I want to kidnap you and take you with me! *turns to me and gives me a dark stare* “Only YOU can’t come with us.”

    I’m telling you, I had one of my hairs binded between my hands like a noose after that sh*t, but her boyfriend and I just shrugged awkwardly. I bared it because she was leaving, but man, I have never clenched while smiling so much since my last pelvic exam. Plus it helped that my boyfriend made sure to look supremely uncomfortable for my benefit, so I felt better.

    You have to find a way of letting your bf know that while you trust him, he also needs to create some barriers with women.

    And btw, who are these girls thinking its ok to be physically affectionate with some other girl’s boyfriend?? AND in front of her? So disappointing.

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    • avatar

      silver_dragon_girl July 19, 2011, 3:56 pm

      I can’t believe you put up with that, even if she was leaving. I can’t believe HE put up with that. Ick. But then, I’m not a touchy-feely person at all (with people other than my SO). Someone hanging on me like that would make me WAY uncomfortable. Plus, that chick sounds psycho.

      I agree that there’s something fishy about the other girls in the LW’s scenario, too. I would not want a “taken” guy giving me a backrub, especially not in front of his gf. I’m no good in a fight.

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      • avatar

        Sarah July 19, 2011, 4:12 pm

        I know, RIGHT?? The only reason I didn’t fly off the handle at my boyfriend after was a.) He looked really uncomfortable and kept looking at me like he didn’t know what to do, b.) HER boyfriend was right next to me and I didn’t want to make it obvious by saying something for the poor bastard, c.) I kind of pre-bunged up my advantage before we got to the party by pretending to be a wise and understanding girlfriend by saying stuff to my bf along the lines of “You know, I know I’ve had issues with how this girl acts around with you, but if you guys need private time to say goodbye, take it, I’ll understand.” *knowing grin*

        At the party I literally wanted to time travel to myself saying that bs to him and punch me right in the boob. I seriously have to knock that sh*t off.

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      • avatar

        Slamy July 19, 2011, 4:33 pm

        “At the party I literally wanted to time travel to myself saying that bs to him and punch me right in the boob. I seriously have to knock that sh*t off.”

        That made me chuckle.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom July 19, 2011, 5:26 pm

        If a situation like that ever comes up again and he is looking at you like he’s uncomfortable go over to him and whisper in his other ear that you’ve come to save him and take his hand and lead him away.

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    • landygirl

      Landygirl July 19, 2011, 5:09 pm

      You give some of the best responses ever!

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom July 19, 2011, 5:23 pm

      I think the moment she began cuddling and whispering to him he should have gotten up and moved away from her. Just because she was leaving was no excuse for poor behavior and that was worse than poor. He needed to set a clear limit immediately for both her and anyone else who was watching.

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      • avatar

        Sarah July 19, 2011, 5:42 pm

        Yeah, I mean, if I remember correctly he would move away, but we were all standing and when he would try to shrug her off she’d do that holding tighter thing and would walk in step behind him, it was weird. She’d even like say stuff like “Don’t go, don’t leave me!” From where I was standing it would have had to have been one of things where he makes it like “a thing” to actually pull her off of him.

        And we did talk about it afterward about how weird it was and she seems to be having an ish or two. Who knows, maybe I’m getting soft now that I’ve been put out to stud. There was a time in my prime dating years that if I found out from a bf that he was planning to spend time alone with a girl at her place, I’d leave and send him a text like “Enjoy your date, f*ckhead.” I once even left a guy stranded at a movie theater because I caught him flirting with the concession girl. Sigh, I miss those days.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom July 19, 2011, 5:49 pm

        It sounds like he did what he could and she was pathetic. If she wasn’t so flagrantly rude I’d feel sorry for her. It’s hard to drag yourself that low.

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      • avatar

        kdog July 19, 2011, 5:56 pm

        I really hope that at least she was wasted while this was going on…

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      Maracuya July 19, 2011, 6:12 pm

      Let me just say that if that was me she would’ve had a different kind of going-away party. Possibly, the kind where everyone wears black.

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      PinkPanther July 19, 2011, 7:01 pm

      I just wanted to say: what a bitch!

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    honeybeenicki July 19, 2011, 3:50 pm

    I agree that back rubs and hand holding seems a little too touchy feely for my tastes. I think you should speak with him at least about the more touchy behavior.

    Beyond that, I can’t really comment much on getting rid of jealousy because I’ve never been a truly jealous person. I can tell you how I’ve helped some exes and some friends in my life handle jealousy issues like this. The biggest, biggest step is being completely honest with him about how you feel. Don’t let him brush it off with “oh, you don’t have anything to worry about.” If he really cares how you feel, he will let you tell him how uncomfortable it makes you and make some changes. Of course, don’t expect him to give up his friends completely or even back off some things like a hug or platonic dancing when out at the bar.

    Secondly, get to know the girls. Try to become friendly with them. Hell, that may even get you new friendships!

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    justpeachy July 19, 2011, 3:07 pm

    Well, first things first, there’s the kind of jealousy you can act on and the kind you can’t. The fact that he holds hands and gives back rubs to his female friends, that it something you can act on. You just need to sit him down and calmly discuss with him the fact that it makes you uncomfortable. It shouldn’t take more than explaining to him that you see those gestures as romantic and you would like him to stop. If he is as caring and doting as you say, he won’t have a problem with it.

    The second type of jealousy is the stuff you cannot act on. The fact that he has female friends, what would you do about that? Tell him he can’t be friends with them anymore? Odds are that will be the beginning of the end. Making him choose will only make him resent you. Personally, I get jealous a lot, but most of the time, it doesn’t do any good. The easiest way I’ve found to get over it is to imagine the consequences of acting on it. The consequences of jealousy are 99.9% of the time bad.

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      SpaceySteph July 19, 2011, 4:09 pm

      I think this is very good advice. I think that hand holding and back rubbing your female friends while you’re in a relationship is really weird to me. Even though I have not been cheated on, this would still get me concerned. As just peachy says, these are romantic gestures to most people and you are totally justified in bringing it up to him.
      Just make sure to make it about you: “I feel uncomfortable when I see these things” rather than about him “I think you are being inappropriate.”

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        Callifax July 20, 2011, 7:22 am

        I totally agree, Steph. I would 100% not be okay with my boyfriend holding hands with another girl.

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        MsMisery July 20, 2011, 8:48 am

        Also agreed. I have male friends that I am totally platonic with. If they tried to hold my hand or give me a back rub, I’d be like…. o_o Even if they didn’t mean anything by it, the gestures should be reserved for physical relationships.

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        RavageMaladie July 20, 2011, 9:14 pm

        I don’t know. My boyfriend has this very very good female friend (who’s about to get married, btw!) who can be really emotional and high maintenance sometimes. Especially when she’s had a little to drink and/or is going through a rough time (her father died recently), I can imagine him giving her a backrub or holding her hand without me blinking an eye. But I’m not very jealous in general.

        This is not the issue, though, I think. The issue is no matter what is or isn’t ‘appropriate for a friendship’ (I hope everyone may decide that for themselves), this behaviour is making YOU uncomfortable! That in itself is a merited reason to bring it up with your boyfriend.

        “If you’re holding X’s hand, it makes me feel very uncomfortable and I’d rather you don’t” – something like that should suffice. Like justpeachy said, if he’s that caring he won’t have a problem with that.

        If you trust and merit your own feelings this way, I think you might even become less jealous. You’re really worth it to have this relationship – HE seems to think so! You best believe him:). Good luck!

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    HBomb July 19, 2011, 4:12 pm

    Try this: hold hands with one of your male friends, and then rub his back and then maybe even kiss him on the cheek as you say goodbye. See if that breeds some jealous feelings from his side.

    I do think you are on the right track to recognizing your jealousy and wanting to overcome it. Jealousy is a pesky little devil that sometimes does get out of control.
    But I think the best way to handle this is to clearly communicate with him about what you are ok with and what you aren’t.

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    Marie July 19, 2011, 4:24 pm

    Hand-holding and back rubbing is going too far though there isn’t anything wrong with hugging.Let him know you’re uncomfortable with the first two and if he really is a good guy he’ll stop.It’s too touchy feely for someone who is already in a relationship.

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    LTC039 July 19, 2011, 3:54 pm

    Um…Honestly, maybe you are a little jealous, but back rubs & hand holding are NOT ok! You need to let your bf know that ASAP. Your jealousy will most likely always be there as long as you have to witness that crap. & to me, I think that’s totally ok.
    You mentioned “He will drop what he is doing to help the few that are his very best friends, and that makes me jealous too.”
    What do you mean by that? Like, if you guys have plans & one of these girls calls him he’ll cancel on you? Basically, does time with you get impacted frequently because he absolutely needs to come to the rescue for these girls? If that is the case, put a stop to that NOW. It’s one thing to be a good friend, it’s another thing to completely blow off your gf on a frequent basis. If YOU are his S/O, YOU need to be the main priority, not his friends, regardless of gender.

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    redheadblogger July 19, 2011, 4:05 pm

    I agree that the hand holding and back rubs are too much. My BF’s best friend is a woman, and in all the time we’ve spent together, I’ve only seen them hug once and nothing more than that. I’d probably flip out if they were hand holding and back rubbing…but so would her husband:) You aren’t being too jealous. I think you need to explain to him that it just makes you feel super uncomfortable when you see him do those thing and ask him to imagine if the tables were turned and you were the one holding hands and rubbing up on your guy friends. I don’t imagine that would sail by without incident.
    And what kind of friends does he have that think it’s okay to engage in that kind of behavior in front of you? I can’t imagine holding hands with my male BFF in front of his girlfriend. It just seems a bit disrespectful to me.
    Explain it to him and I think he’ll get the hint. Good luck!

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    daisygarfield July 19, 2011, 5:31 pm

    I agree with the majority. Holding hands and giving back rubs to your friends is crossing a line. When I think about my platonic friendships with guys, or even my relationship with my own brother, holding hands and back rubs are just too weird. If he’s as loving and doting as you say he is then he’ll stop when you tell him it bothers you.

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  • katie

    katie July 19, 2011, 6:44 pm

    ok i honestly don’t think what your boyfriend is doing is weird at all. i am very close with my guy friends. when i hadn’t seen my guy friends after being away for a long time (out of state college), i came home with my new boyfriend i ran into their arms and we hugged, and they picked me up and swung me around, the whole thing. with my boyfriend right there watching. its no big deal. me and my friends give back rubs to each other, and it doesn’t matter the sex of the people… we dont have rules against opposite sex back rubs. ill admit i have only held hands with my girl friends, but i wouldn’t be weirded out by that if it happened. and dancing… lol everyone dances with everyone. dancing is not necessarily a romantic thing, and if its just two friends dancing, its really just two friends dancing. actually just last weekend, me and a guy friend stopped to get food on our way to a mini golf place, I made a joke about how everyone in the place probably thinks were a couple, and we called each other honey and sweetie for the rest of the night. like its just not weird. my boyfriend knows im with him, and i know that he is with me, even though he also has a lot of girlfriends. i guess theres just enough in our relationship that we dont worry about it, and we understand that we are just both very physical people and that is just how we interact with other people. physical interaction does not equal romantic interest. it can, but it doesnt always.

    i think it just boils down to your past relationships (which sucks, im very sorry), and the fact that you interact with people differently then your boyfriend does.

    i dont know how you should get over your jealousy, but i think that it isn’t warranted.

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    • katie

      katie July 19, 2011, 6:49 pm

      oh and also, you should not be mad that your boyfriend would drop everything to help out friends in need, and friends he has known for 10+ years at that. that shows how he a loyal, good man, who is willing to help out people in need. i would assume then, if you were ever in a time of need, he wouldt drop everything to go help you out to… that is a good quality.

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        LTC039 July 20, 2011, 1:14 pm

        Well there’s a difference between helping a friend out & constantly breaking plans with your S/O because your friend needs you (even for the most insignificant things). Relationships have boundaries & that is def. one of them.

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      • katie

        katie July 20, 2011, 10:48 pm

        thats not how i took that statement. i read it as, when a friend is in need, like real need, that he will help them. there are times when breaking plans with someone to help somebody in need is ok to do, and so i took that statement as that is what he does.

        breaking plans all the time because theres a spider in a friends house? thats not cool, and i agree that is not something that should go on.

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      Morgan July 19, 2011, 7:27 pm

      I thought the hand holding was weird, but otherwise, I tend to agree that the dancing, hugging, and back rubs seemed normal to me. I dance with my guy friends all the time, and hug them, and jokingly flirt with them, because that’s just the dynamic we have. I’m thinking in particular of one of my guy friends who gives the best back rubs and neck massages ever. Magic hands.

      But i think the thing isn’t so much the behaviors themselves, but the boundaries. This is a boundary the LW has, and if it makes her uncomfortable that her boyfriend behaves in this way, it will probably always make her uncomfortable. And I think she has to communicate that to him, and either he’ll be willing to compromise to boundaries she’s more okay with (so, say, hand holding is out, hugs and dancing are fine, and backrubs but only after a really rough day or whatever), or he’s not going to be comfortable redefining the boundaries of these friendships. But she won’t know until she talks to him, and i don’t think the jealously will magically go away if she doesn’t.

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      • katie

        katie July 19, 2011, 8:47 pm

        i agree. she is uncomfortable with what he thinks is normal. i think they are just a little mis-matched. hopefully they will be able to compromise something, but trying to change someone is never a good idea either. this is a hard situation to be in.

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      Christy July 20, 2011, 7:36 am

      Amen, sister-girl! Thank you for putting this point so articulately.

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    Flower White July 19, 2011, 7:32 pm

    That is called a ‘female harem’ he has them in place to prevent meaningful relationships.
    I would not stand for it and leave.

    Not normal not cool. Love is not a game for a harem unless you are happy with polyamory.

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    cdobbs July 19, 2011, 7:40 pm

    having friends is one thing, but what is up with the hand holding and the back rubs? i know some people are touchy feely but seriously? if i was dating someone and i saw them holding another woman’s hand i would lose it! i don’t know, dating a guy like this would bug me. i think this guy is pushing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. personnally i would flat out tell him his behaviour was bothering me, if he couldn’t respect that, i would probably move on, but thats just me.

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    Lindsay July 19, 2011, 11:25 pm

    IMO, the hand-holding and back-rubbing are going a little too far. Not to say that he’s trying to put the moves on them, but boundaries can be crossed even with the best intentions. There are just certain actions that are reserved for couples. Many people would considering back rubs and holding hands some of those. There shouldn’t be anything wrong with asking him to tone it down a little.

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    Sarah July 20, 2011, 12:03 am

    I completely agree with the second poster, justpeachy.

    I would like to add that I have had guy friends with whom I have previously engaged in platonic hand-holding, back rubs, and even sitting on their laps. That’s just how my group of friends was with everyone. But if someone brought their significant other to an event, that person would never engage in that activity with others, it’s just disrespectful. And now that we’re all older and our significant others are much more significant (as in, fiance’s instead of flavor-of-the-month’s), even though we’re all still generally affectionate (with hugs, squishing way too many people one a couch, et c.), the random hand-holding, back rubs, and lap-sitting have more or less stopped. (We are mostly all happily coupled up, I don’t know how it would be if most people were single)

    So I think the fact that he’s holding hands with girl friends around you is completely disrespectful, and really inappropriate to be doing even if you aren’t around.

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  • JK

    JK July 20, 2011, 8:53 am

    I’m also having jealousy issues at the moment. I’ve discovere my husband being inappropriate… I admit to having snooped at his email and reading something I wish I hadn’t, in a jokey tone but still something no married guy should say to another woman. I confronted him and he said that it was just a joke, that I’m overreacting, but I still feel like sh*t a week later, I get flashes of the email in my mind and I jusgt don’t know if I should cry, throw up or what.
    i am an extremely jealous person, sometimes it’s really hard to control, esp. after seeing these things, that blatantly disrepspect me. To top it off, when we started dating he was the most shy, respectful guy ever, that’s why it pisses me off so much to find out how he can be with “friends”.
    OK, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest… it’s really tough when both members of a couple differ greatly on what is appropriate behaviour with others, and I think it’s a conversation that needs to be had several times just to make sure both people are on the same page. If your bf knows how uncomfortable his PDAs with friends makes you and continues doing them, I would be tempted to say MOA but I know it’s not that easy. I guess as long as he proves to be trustworthy in other aspects it’s ok to stay in the r/ship (if you truly want to), but he should really make an effort to quit what it is that bugs you so much.

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    Lucine July 20, 2011, 2:23 pm

    My boyfriend is brazilian, the most social, touchy-feely species of human being to have ever been created. When we first started dating, I was fairly jealous of the way he interacted with his female friends. Hevery often hugs, dances with, kiss the cheek of and otherwise is very “friendly” with females. I had to learn to accept that this was just part of his culture. But, LW, your boyfriend is HOLDING OTHER WOMEN’S HANDS? WHAT?! Is anyone else extremely bothered by this? I dont understand why any man would be holding another woman’s hand that is not his girlfriend or mother. Just sayin…

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    JC Mccandless July 20, 2011, 9:43 pm

    I don’t think that asking him to stop doing this immediately is going to fly, especially if he’s been acting this way for a long time and he might unfortunately do some of these things out of habit (i.e. holding hands, backrubbing, etc.) I agree with JK that both of you need to have several discussions to find a compromise you’re both comfortable with. I’m an incredibly jealous person so I might be biased. Maybe it would help if he chose to at least calm down the things that make you uncomfortable for now. I know its vague, but maybe he can start by only doing these things with his best female friends? Also what does concern me is that you never mentioned guy friends at all, maybe it would be better if you made a point to spend more time with males so you don’t see this behavior as often. If you think you could allow this behavior in the future, and he doesn’t have to stop completely in the long term picture, then perhaps he can do a special ritual with you before he goes off and give his girlfriend a backrub, like a kiss on the cheek or a squeeze of your hand so you can remember they may get a backrub but he’s still YOURS.

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    Kells July 21, 2011, 4:49 pm

    Does he hold hands with and give massages to his guy friends? This reminds me of the foot massage conversation from Pulp Fiction. If he wouldn’t do it for a guy, it’s romantic affection toward another woman, and not completely platonic or appropriate. That would not fly with me.

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  • avatar

    Crazy in Love June 18, 2013, 3:01 pm

    I have several comments.

    First of all, I have been in a similar position myself. I recommend the book “Master Your Jealousy (Before It Destroys Your Relationship) by Francisco Bujan. I found this book to be extremely helpful to me.

    When I first met the man who is now my husband, he too had many female friends (still does). I was brought up in a very conservation home where “affections” were meant only for your intended partner. He, however, is a much more liberal type person and did not see anything wrong with his behavior towards his female friends.

    I had to evaluate the relationship on the whole. What did I like about it and what did I NOT like about it? What could I over-look and what could I NOT? And the thing that made the biggest difference, I communicated my thoughts and feelings to him. For example, I didn’t like the fact that he called all his female friends “Baby.” To me, that name is reserved for your special someone. He agreed to stop doing this. Even though it took a few months for him to correct himself, he eventually was successful and I rarely hear that word come out of his mouth unless he’s talking to me or his daughter. I told him I had a problem with all the ass-grabbing that goes on when we meet up with his friends for drinks. I don’t mind the hugs and the kisses to the cheek, but he no longer smacks or grabs booties. I told him his flirting bothered me. He saw for himself that it was inappropriate for a man in a relationship to behave that way and he stopped. His friends noticed the difference and quit flirting with him as well. He doesn’t talk to females the same way he used to because I told him I felt it was very disrespectful to me. I cannot control what friends he has and how often he contacts them or anything like that. I can’t control what his friends say to him either. But I can assure you, I would NEVER tell him he couldn’t be friends with someone. You’re asking for trouble if you try that. But I can set boundaries for myself, and you can too. If you don’t like being around his female friends, don’t go with him when they’re around. If you trust him, then it shouldn’t matter if he is with them without you there. If you don’t like hearing about his female friends, ask him to not mention them around you, etc…

    If a guy is really faithful to his female friendships, he’s not going to put them aside for you. He may limit contact with them when you’re not around, but he won’t give them up to make YOU feel better. This is YOUR issue; not his. Yes, he may be doing things inappropriate and that’s why you need to communicate with him. But the meat of the issue is that you either have to accept that he has all these female friends or you need to move on. If it’s a deal breaker, why toy around with it. Communicate and if things don’t change to your liking, then he’s not the one for you. End of story.

    I had a boyfriend several years back who was insanely jealous. He forbid me to have any male friends or male cotacts on my phone. It didn’t last and I was very resentful towards him for asking me to give up my friends because HE had a problem.

    You could also try to make friends with some of his female buddies. Get comfortable about who they are, their intentions with your man, his intentions with them, and then you have to TRUST him. This really is all about trust. If you can’t trust him, then move on.

    Most people feel jealousy because they cannot control the situation. They’re helpless and it makes them want to fight back. You need to realize you cannot control what your boyfriend does. Let him be who he wants to be. If he loves you and cares about you, he will not want to upset you and will try to come to an agreement with you about what is acceptable and not acceptable. But ask him to give up his friends and you’ll find yourself alone once again.

    Check out the book. It’s available for Nook and Kindle. Very good read… and good luck.

    P.S. My husband still has all his female friends, but there’s no inappropriate actions/words going on between them. I asked him to put himself in my position and what if I was the one with all the male friends, flirting, talking, etc… How would that make him feel? He got the picture.

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