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Laura and I have an interesting history in that her dating life matches up with mine almost perfectly for the last two years (with each of us in a seven-month relationship that ended in painful break-ups, then single for three months, then both involved in a few week flings . . . it goes on). We bonded over the shared experiences and they definitely brought us closer.
Then, in September of last year, I met “John” and she met “Tyler.” Everything was peachy for the first few weeks; we both thought we had found someone special. However, Tyler decided he was not into Laura after a few weeks. And to break a two-year streak… John stayed around!
I am still happily in this relationship and, if things continue in the way they have been, I can see this being the “real deal.” However, I get the impression that, if Laura had her way, we both would have been single back in October. Like I said, she is still a sweet and supportive person until the topic of John comes up. She was so excited to hear about him at first, when we could exchange stories about first kisses and decipher texts together. But she doesn’t try hard to hide the fact that she doesn’t want to hear about him anymore.
Now, Wendy, I’m not dumb. I am not going to blab on and on about how happily taken I am to a single friend who desperately wishes she weren’t. But if I so much as mention him in a story about my weekend, I risk her blatantly ignoring me as she texts or gets up and leaves the room! Sometimes she makes comments like “we should just move to NYC together and find hot guys there since there are none here” or a post on Facebook about how single women are ultimately healthier, a post that my boyfriend could see.
So what can I do to deal with this situation? I could just pretend John doesn’t exist, but she is one of my closer friends and I would like to be able to at least mention him every now and then! I still make time for her and we have fun girls’ nights, but I don’t want to feel guilty on date nights when it’s just he and I. She’s been my friend for a while, but this guy is so great and I don’t want to leave him just to appease her tantrums. Is there a way to bring up the subject to her without making things worse? Should I just drop it til our lease is up? Please help! — Sisters Before Misters?
Laura is being a jerk, but I wonder: Is there any plausible reason other than jealousy for why she doesn’t seem to like hearing about John? Obviously, that could be a way you could broach the topic with her. Tell her you’ve noticed that she isn’t as excited to discuss him as she was when you first met him, which you totally understand, but what you can’t quite grasp is why she seems to hate hearing about him at all. Ask her if you’re mistaken about that and, if you aren’t, ask what her reason is.
There’s a good chance she WILL tell you that you’re mistaken or that she has no idea what you’re talking about. She might be embarrassed and angry that you’ve put her on the spot. Any time you broach a potentially sensitive topic with someone you care about — and especially with someone you live with — you risk making the situation worse because you can’t control how the other person will react or respond. But the alternatives — not ever talking about your boyfriend or, God, “leaving him to appease her tantrum,” as you say — are ridiculous. And, what, are you never allowed to have him over because it’s too upsetting for her? Come on. No, I would broach the topic with her and hope that, even if she doesn’t acknowledge and apologize for her behavior (or offer up some explanation you haven’t considered), she will at least begin to modify her behavior and stop being so damn weird. Or, if you’re lucky, maybe she’ll meet someone soon and will snap out of this jealous streak she’s had.
Regardless, this is a good lesson that even great friends aren’t perfect. We — we humans, I mean — are limited by our own flaws — by our jealousy and envy and all kinds of other very human traits. In a perfect world, a friend would be happy for our happiness even despite jealousy, but it doesn’t always work that way, and, if you can find compassion to extend (which it sounds like you’ve done), it can go a long way in minimizing your own hurt feelings and keeping your friendship intact through what is hopefully just a little bump in the road. (I’ve experienced this recently as I share my pregnancy news with friends who would like very much to be pregnant but aren’t). But if the jealousy is so bad that you can’t even MENTION the thing you have that the other person wants but doesn’t have, then you may want to eventually reconsider the friendship (and certainly the living situation) or, at the very least, minimize the time you spend with that friend for the time being. Say, when’s your lease up??
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.