Stan recently took on a part-time job about 300 miles away, so we see each other about every two weeks (two here, two there). There’s an old female friend of his whom we both know from school who has recently popped her head up. She’s never been married, she had a baby about five months ago, she moved 1000 miles away from the baby’s father (they have no relationship) and she ended up in the same city as Stan. “Lianne” is the same age as Stan.
So one day they got chatting via Facebook and arranged to have coffee now that they are staying in the same city. He offered his help/assistance if ever she needed anything (since she’s a single mom, I guess). I understand that his heart is in the right place, and that’s fine, but last week she called him up and said that there’s a function at one of the local schools, where people are having a night-time picnic gathering to watch the solar eclipse from 7pm – midnight. She said it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing and she’s too afraid to drive at night by herself so she was asking if he could go with her.
Stan agreed on the spot and said he would go, and the “date” was set. When he called and told me, I got very upset, saying that it’s a very romantic thing to be doing with a friend, this “star-gazing” on a picnic blanket together. He says I’m jealous and I don’t trust him. He says she’s just a friend and he’s helping her.
I do actually trust him; trust has never been an issue between us, but I’m just shocked by his idea that this sort of activity is fine and normal. Is this normal behavior? Am I overreacting? Should he be doing something like this with another woman? I am gob-smacked by his lack of consideration.
Surely he could have said, “Just give me a minute, and I’ll call you back” so that he could quickly phone me to see how I felt about it? I’m dying to know what other people think—men and women. Where do most “normal” healthy relationships stand on issues like this? — Gob-smacked over the Star-Gazing
Yeah, it’s strange that Stan views star-gazing with this woman as “helping her.” I’m not even sure what kind of need would warrant calling an old high school friend whom you’ve just re-acquainted yourself with for help except, I don’t know, putting in a good word with a potential employer the friend might know or maybe calling for a ride somewhere if your car is dead and you have to be somewhere and there’s no Uber or taxi service where you live and you’re desperate (and, really, even that’s a stretch). Asking for a ride to go stargazing because you’re “too scared” to drive at night is not a normal request of someone you aren’t close with (or trying to date). And calling it “helping out” is total bullshit. It isn’t an act of generosity. It’s a date. Or, at the very least, it’s a social activity that, as you said, veers to the romantic (although the idea that it’s at a school and there are probably lots of families, including Lianne’s baby, I’d assume, might make it less romantic).
I’m also struck by your live-in boyfriend taking a part-time job 300 miles away. Does that mean you no longer live together? Did he get his own place in the city where he works? Is the job just temporary? Is there an end-date to your being long-distance? And who moves so far from his girlfriend at 43 years old for just a part-time job? What’s going on here? Something seems off, though maybe, with more details that you didn’t share in your letter, it would make more sense. But the long-distance move for a part-time job, followed by this questionable friendship and star-gazing with the single mom and then the gas-lighting of you when you expressed some concern, all send some big red flags.
You need to have a conversation with Stan about the state of your relationship, how this job affects things, and your expectations in terms of friendships with people of the opposite sex. This isn’t so much about trust as it is about seeing whether you’re still on the same page, whether you want the same things from your relationship, and whether you see it moving in the same direction at a pace you’re both comfortable with. Finally, this is about respect. Tell Stan you feel disrespected by his going star-gazing with another woman without even running it by you first. His response to that will tell you a lot about how he’s valuing you and your relationship. Does he place the “need” of this old high school friend above your need for some basic respect? Does his argument remain that he was “just helping her,” and “you’re being jealous”? If so, that’s pretty fucked up, and depending on whether there have been additional red flags (like his moving 300 miles away from you for a part-time job), you need to re-evaluate just how “wonderful” this relationship still is and whether it’s one worth continuing…
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.