75

Background

My partner (27F) and I (26M) have been together for about a year. We live together. Throughout our relationship, my partner has been jealous of my friendship with my best friend (25F) of 4 years. This has been manifested by her sending me passive aggressive messages and saying hateful things about my best friend whenever I hang out with said friend (and usually other friends). This makes me feel very anxious and uncomfortable.

Problem

Because of that behaviour, I started seeing my friend less and not telling my partner the truth about what I was doing, out of fear of a reaction. This caused her to feel excluded from our friendship which seems to have intensified the jealousy. She also feels that my best friend made little effort with her. In my best friend's defense, she did invite both of us to a couple of her house parties, however during those parties she and my partner did not speak much. That being said, I suppose my friend could have done more. Recently my partner called me saying that she cannot handle it any more and wanted to break up. I felt like I was forced to choose between my best friend and my partner and I made an extremely emotionally difficult decision to break it off with my best friend to save our relationship. Since then, I felt lonely, depressed as well as been feeling like I made a terrible decision and constantly think about changing my mind.

Questions

How do I communicate to my partner that I cannot emotionally handle breaking it off with my best friend just because she doesn't like her?

Controversial Post — You may use comments ONLY to suggest improvements. You may use answers ONLY to provide a solution to the specific question asked above. Moderators will remove debates, arguments or opinions without notice.

  • 23
    Are there any specific reasons that they don't get along? – apaul Jan 30 '18 at 16:19
  • 1
    @apaul My partner just gets a 'bad vibe' off my friend and cannot help but to be negative when speaking about her. There was no wrongdoing on either side. – Anon Ymous Jan 30 '18 at 16:35
  • 3
    @Amon Ymous, how do YOU define best friend? Do you think you can have more than one, or is this 25f best friend your ONLY best friend? – user3316 Jan 31 '18 at 17:09
  • 2
    If it came down to it, would you be willing to break up with your GF rather than stop being friends with your friend? – corsiKa Feb 1 '18 at 19:39
  • The question in the title seems to be on-point, but the question at the end of the post doesn't make much sense. You might want to edit the question to replace the end question with the title question. – Nat Feb 2 '18 at 3:47

14 Answers 14

91

Directly and honestly. I think that your last line contains the exact information you need to express to your partner:

My friendship with [best friend] is really important to me, she's been a very important part of my life. I know you don't like her or how close we are, but I would be devastated if she just dropped out of my life for good.

How effective that will be, I can't say. It's not unreasonable to want your girlfriend to at least try to deal with her discomfort rather than you irreversibly changing your life for the worse. But it may be the case that, for whatever reason, she can't do so successfully. At that point you are both in similar positions of being emotionally unable to satisfy each others' demands. So, in addition to looking for ways to communicate effectively with your girlfriend you should also consider preparing for an outcome similar to what you've already had, where you are choosing between them.

As an aside, I'll reiterate what some people have mentioned in comments. This is a deeply manipulative behavior on your girlfriend's part, even if she is sincere and truly focused on herself in assessing what she needs from you and your relationship. Especially since there was no precipitating event that caused your partner to not like your friend.

Manipulative, though not necessarily dishonest or malicious (I have no information to suggest that she is doing this specifically to exert more control over you, for example), because she (per what is written in the question) is unwilling to compromise at all. Instead you have to do 100% of what she wants, because she wants it, regardless of the cost to you, or else.

It bodes poorly for the future if your relationship lurches forward from ultimatum to ultimatum, with you giving up things that matter to you each time. I'm not advocating any course of action in particular, but I think it would be good for you to bear in mind that, however strong your feelings for your partner may be, the relationship may not be a great or healthy one, and that will have consequences far afield from her issue with your (former?) friend. That may or may not affect your decision making process here, but is worth considering.

59

To make it easy, I'll use the genders of your situation, but I believe this applies fairly directly when the genders are reversed.

Generally speaking, girlfriends don't love it if their boyfriend has a best friend who is a girl he could potentially date; it's an inherently awkward situation, often made worse by inside jokes or things the friend knows which the romantic interest doesn't (because the friend has been there longer).

When I've seen it work - most of the time I haven't seen this - it's because the boyfriend makes a lot of effort to include his girlfriend in his friendship. For example, instead of texting your female friend, you could consider a group text that includes your GF so she doesn't wonder what you're saying. Ditto for other forms of communication.

Last, honesty and transparency is critical. If you're lying to your GF about seeing this person, then she is most likely to view the dishonesty as a confirmation of her suspicions that something isn't on the level, or it's going to make her more jealous, or give her a stronger bad vibe, or however you want to phrase it.

  • 13
    This is not always the best option. On the one hand you are totally under the control of your partner and on the other hand you will raise even more suspicion when you talk to the friend alone some time. Think about having trouble with your partner. The usual thing is to ask your best friend for advice. With her having the same gender as the partner, she may even give the best advice. But breaking the group chat to a one to one chat just when the relationship is troubled will increase the trouble. – allo Jan 31 '18 at 9:40
  • 9
    Bob meets Alice and got a crush for her, they are young ~20 years old. Alice don't holds romantic/sexual interest in Bob but find him a nice guy to talk to and "friendzone" him. Bob likes Alice and since he is dating other girls he gladily accepts to be "friendzoned". 4Year later Bob meets Carol and they start a romantic relationship. Alice becomes to realize Bob is more than a friend but Bob is just not paying attention and don't realizes Alice change of heart. Carol is paying attention and demands Bob to stop hanging with Alice. Bob refuses and breaks up with Carol. Alice starts to date Bob. – jean Jan 31 '18 at 11:15
  • 5
    It's a very common history and Carol can say she see it's coming and that's why some people can become jealousy of parter friends (sometimes they are right to). IMHO the problerm is Carol is using the wrong strategy – jean Jan 31 '18 at 11:19
  • 4
    @allo I disagree -- I think this is the absolute best option. However, you've just hit on the crux of the issue with your criticism: If you can't be honest with your best friend or your significant other for any reason, something is wrong. This should be a red flag. – Dan Esparza Jan 31 '18 at 19:04
  • 3
    And I totally disagree with the "your partner should be your best friend" people here. I see that as two concepts. Or you just call your "best friend" your "second best friend" when you consider a partner as best friend. And then you are still lucky to have a second best friend to help you in all troubles. With a friendship which is not affected by romantic feelings and the problems coming with them. – allo Feb 1 '18 at 9:05
44

It is very natural for your girlfriend to be jealous of your (female) best friend. She views your best friend as competition. Competition for your time, your affection. The platonic-ness of your relationship with your best friend is almost irrelevant.

In order to demonstrate to your girlfriend that your best friend is not competition, you need to have boundaries. Your girlfriend needs to have a spot the best friend can't replace. She needs to get privileges that the best friend doesn't get. She needs to get time the best friend doesn't. She needs to feel important; a priority. The priority.

Ultimately, your girlfriend wants to be your best friend (at least best female friend). She wants to be the one you call, she wants to be the one you look to for support first, before anyone else.

You need to think about the roles that each person plays. Who is most important? Who gets the most time? Who fulfills what need in your life? Your girlfriend is jealous because she sees an overlap in her role and your best friends' role. Why would you need her if your best friend is there to be a support? When you fight with your girlfriend, do you run to your best friend for support and to vent?

It is possible to keep your best friend, but you may need to seriously consider if they should rather just be a friend so that your girlfriend gets to be your best friend instead. Keeping your friend and girlfriend happy requires setting very strong boundaries on their roles, it requires saying no to your friend sometimes. I means not relying on them for things, like emotional support, that you should be getting from your girlfriend.

So to answer the question:
You need to be very clear to your girlfriend that she gets the primary place. You need to emphasize that she is where you get emotional support. I'd spend some time working on just her and you, and if you want to reintroduce your friend, you need to explain to your girlfriend exactly what place your friend is going to have in your life. Exactly why she isn't competition for your emotions and your time. And show her by giving her preference to as far of an extent as possible.

If you want to spend significant amounts of time with your friend and depend on them emotionally, then you will have a tough time getting your girlfriend to agree. Ultimately you need to make one a priority, because you can't have your cake and eat it.

  • 14
    "Ultimately, your girlfriend wants to be your best friend (at least best female friend)." I believe this applies regardless of gender. Honestly, I don't know why more people don't consider just dating/marrying their long time friend; it's a nice foundation to build on. – jpmc26 Jan 31 '18 at 0:45
  • 13
    Exactly. Partner cannot be second-best. – WGroleau Jan 31 '18 at 2:00
  • 2
    "you need to explain to your girlfriend exactly what place your friend is going to have in your life". An explanation could be that many people have best friends and one need a best friend. The difference to most people is that your best friend is a woman (the other gender) but nothing more. – IQV Jan 31 '18 at 7:07
  • 8
    @IQV The definition of "best friend" is important and subjective. If the best friend is taking the place of the girlfriend, then there is a conflict there. Yes, many people have best friends, and friendship is important, but it is important that those friends don't take over the role where the partner is supposed to be. Otherwise the partner will get jealous that their role is being replaced. – user6818 Jan 31 '18 at 9:37
  • 2
    I agree with this answer. It is too easy to blame the girlfriend for being jealous, without considering that the partner might not put enough effort in the relationship to make her feel the most important and the most necessary element in his life. A girlfriend that comes second after anyone else is not a girlfriend, but rather a temporary filler. This might not be a problem if that anyone else is male, but it surely is if it is female. – Patrick Trentin Feb 3 '18 at 10:50
28

In order to (successfully) communicate this to your partner, you have to answer the following question for yourself:

Why are you in a relationship with your partner and not with your best friend?

I am honest with you, in my personal experience deep, platonic friendships with people of the opposite sex almost never work out in the long run - the situation you are in is one example of the problems surfacing in this constellation. The only instances where it does work are those in which there are very good reasons for the two friends not being together romantically, such as sexual orientation or both being in healthy long term commitments.

This is the core fear your partner has assuming she is not an abusive person trying to control you for controls sake.

(although her behaviour - isolating your partner from his friends - is a red flag and textbook abusive behavior, this might not be out of malice but out of desparation and inability to properly deal with her own feelings). For the following I assume that she is not malicious. Otherwise my advice would simply be to get the hell out.

It is what she probably thinks herself:

What will it take for him to leave me and date his friend?

I can't really blame her for those thoughts. Relationships can and will go through hard times. You will most likely not be able to guarantee that your (at the moment strictly platonic) feelings for your friend will never change and even if you might be - you certainly are unable to guarantee that for your friend's feelings. Feelings can change and hard times will put everything to the test, often promoting change like that.

So you have to find a good answer to that question and convey it to your partner to have any chance for the rest of the conversation being successful. Put her at ease, tell her why she is your partner and not your friend and why that is not going to change. The rest is not really hard to make clear, as you have basically already said it yourself:

I am sorry, my friend is important to me. I can't just drop her out of my life, you would not want to be cut out by your friends either. Let us work out a solution that makes you feel comfortable with the whole situation.

But all of this is in vain when the answer to the question above does not put her at ease. The sad truth however is, if your own answer to that question is not better than "uhh i don't know, i've always just seen her as a friend" or "uhm she is more like a sister to me", I don't think you will be able to convince your partner and given how depressed you are at the moment, maintain your current relationship in a healthy way.

  • 4
    I'd say that textbook abusive behaviour should be considered unacceptable regardless of whether it originates out of malice or insecurity. The underlying cause of the behaviour has no effect on how detrimental it is to the victim, however it would be relevant if one were to try to fix the abuser. – David Scarlett Feb 2 '18 at 4:15
  • @David Scarlett I agree. My answer is assuming that she is not an abuser per se. Edited to make that clear. – Randolph Carter Feb 2 '18 at 17:11
  • This part should be in bold, as it is the true core problem of the situation: tell her why she is your partner and not your friend and why that is not going to change. Also, don't only tell it: make her feel it through your daily actions. +1 – Patrick Trentin Feb 3 '18 at 10:54
21

I would have to disagree with the idea a lot of answers/comments have expressed that the partner is manipulating and forcing OP to choose. From OP's description it seems clear that his partner called with the intention of breaking up, not manipulating him into ending his friendship. She was not okay with the close-ness of the friendship; and whether or not that reasoning is valid, just because she took OP back when he promised to change to fit what she was looking for in a relationship does not mean she was forcing him to do anything.

How can I convince my partner to accept my best friend instead of wanting to break up?

My answer to this question is Don't.

The way I interpret that question is that you are looking for a way to circumvent your partners boundary. In your question you said that she felt excluded and jealous and then she told you she could not handle it anymore and decided to break up. Whether or not her feelings are justified, this is clearly a boundary and trying to find a way to get around her boundary is not advisable.

Freedom to choose seems to be pretty fundamental in your situation. While you are free to choose your friends, your partner is also free to choose whether she wants to be with you or not. People change, adapt, compromise and grow in relationships, and proper communication will be key in figuring out what each of you want to do. However I simply can't agree with the premise of going into the conversation with the goal of convincing her to do something she has clearly expressed not being okay with.

  • 4
    Totally agree with this. It's not healthy to continue a relationship when you are not comfortable with an important aspect of your partner's life so she made her choice. Even if he somehow manages to convince her, the problem is not automatically going away. She would still be uncomfortable with his friend and she may adjust for a few more days but it will come back at some point. – svj Jan 31 '18 at 11:41
10

It is actually quite common for a partner to not want their significant other to spend time alone with a friend of the opposite sex. My and my brothers were all playing some video games one day and we got talking and discovered that we had all gone through the same experience of our wives having gotten upset that we had pictures on Facebook with old girl friends. In my case (and my brother's) The old girl friend meant nothing to me so I deleted the picture to show my wife that I am dedicated to only her.

I know not every man or woman will behave the way I've described, but there is a substantial number who will disprove of their partner having a close and personal friendship with other people they could be attracted to.

Now your situation is unfortunate because you have made a really big mistake. By hiding the fact that you were spending time with this friend you have given you partner proof that

A)you were dishonest, (you need to own the fact that you were dishonest. Regardless of how your partners behavior you should not have hidden your visits from her since trust is the most important aspect of any relationship).

B) that that your friend is as important as her if not more so.

Your partner is likely to interpret those things as equivalent to you having an affair.
If she is willing to accept that you did not cheat on her, she would actually be showing a good deal of maturity.

So how to:

convince my partner to accept my best friend instead of wanting to break up?

Step 1, tell her you love her.

Step 2, apologize for being dishonest and hiding your visits.

Step 3, a verbal apology may not be enough. You may have to prove your future honesty with actions such as only visit your friend with your Partner present. Or perhaps always telling your partner before hand that you are going to visit your friend. You can negotiate with your partner what the appropriate behavior should be.

Step 4, follow through with what you agree to in step 3.

You also ask:

How do I communicate to my partner that I cannot emotionally handle breaking it off with my best friend just because she doesn't like her?

You're quite eloquent. I would recommend your own words as used here:

I cannot emotionally handle breaking it off with my best friend just because you don't like her.

Be careful if you say that your partner is likely to take it as proof that she should leave you.

Personal Advice:

If you truly feel that you can't give up your friend, well it's probably best for both of you to go your own ways.

It sounds like you and your partners value systems regarding loyalty are irreconcilable. It is probably in both of your best interests to separate rather than suffer through the grief that comes from having two different beliefs about what loyal behavior entails.

  • Be careful if you say that your partner is likely to take it as proof that she should leave you. Agree, +1 – Patrick Trentin Feb 3 '18 at 10:59
10

Your partner cannot be second best and continue to be your partner.

You used the word “emotionally” in a sentence about giving up the friend. What things do you derive from this friend that you cannot derive from your partner? If any of these are emotional, you have the roles reversed. If it’s some hobby or professional interest, you might need to either give it up or find a different source.

For a monogamous relationship to be healthy, you must share more than fifty percent of your lives. Probably a lot more.

  • 2
    A relationship is not a numbers game. It is about deriving joy out of the relationship rather than continuously measuring your rating at the chart. It is better to leave the PvP aspect out of the relationship if any longterm happiness is sought. – Adnan Y Feb 1 '18 at 19:47
  • 1
    I wasn’t suggesting measuring. And it’s not just deriving. Giving is quite important. – WGroleau Feb 2 '18 at 1:21
8

This is not the answer you want to hear but it is THE answer....

You don't.

Your best friend is a rival (to your partner) female who you wish do to things with that you don't want to do with your partner.

Now, you do things in secret with said best friend.

All you are doing is confirming the suspicions in your partner's head.

Put yourself in your partner's shoes and reverse the genders.

How would you like it if your partner had a best male friend? One they do secret stuff together? Maybe he goads her to put you down to undermine your relationship and further increase himself in her eyes? Every snigger when you pass by MUST be about you (whether that is true or not is beside the point, it is the perception of the action).

Many people think the idea that a truly platonic friendship between the sexes with realistic mating potential to be incredibly naive. I know that if my partner has an opposite gendered best friend, it means I am failing because I want to be that friend. Her gal pals are not my rivals but another man is.

Go ahead and try to continue the relationship and see what happens. You will watch your relationship deteriorate slowly and it will eat at your partner's heart everyday.

7

It may not be possible now that you have accepted your partner's ultimatum, but if there is any possible way, I think it must start by you rejecting the ultimatum from your partner, instead of accepting it.

Which means telling your partner you have changed your mind. That you are too depressed about breaking your friendship, and you are going to resume it. You can tell her there is nothing sexual going on, you do not cheat, there is a difference between friendship and romance. But if this cannot be worked out then you accept her decision to break up. Your course is decided.

I could join the chorus of this being far too controlling of your partner, but in the end her motives are not that important if the outcome causes you pain. You can't find another lifelong friend, you probably CAN find a more understanding partner.

  • I don't know if I'd say "depressed" here. I do think a sit down with the girlfriend and trying to explain that the friendship is important to OP and that the OP doesn't wish for the friendship to go beyond that (if that's truly the case. No reason to lie). From there, it'd be best to ask the girlfriend what are the underlying objections that she has about the friendship and not to be defensive about it or attempt to negate how she feels about it, but to try to find some kind of middle ground (only in group settings, girlfriend comes along for drinks or whatever, etc.). – Robert Jan 30 '18 at 20:20
  • 1
    4 years is not lifelong... and who is to say OP would never find another best friend. – Jesse Jan 31 '18 at 3:50
6

You say you love your partner but that obviously means something different from what your partner expects from you. You are deriving joy from the presence of some other person that your partner isn't in a position to give. So she makes sure that she at least is in a position to take it away.

I don't know how conscious she is about what she ends up doing, but controlling you in that tight-fisted manner is not going to work for a long-term relation. The usual way of life is that immersion into a relation might cause old friendships to become more distant or dormant over the course of years through nobody's fault but limited time and focus.

That's not enough for her. She cannot bear to see you independently happy: that's incompatible with her self esteam.

I have a hard time seeing myself in your shoes and this relationship lasting, but then I have a big shoe size. It is unlikely that this kind of sacrifice will stay the only one of its size, or even the largest one.

Consider carefully what kind of freedoms you value enough that sacrificing them would be sacrificing a major part of who you are, and communicate that. And then you'll have to see whether you'll be better off without one another in the long run.

6

Relationships are about accepting each other as we are. The includes friends, family, stalker exes and anything else.

Understand that it is not your job to make your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse like other people in your life. In fact, they don't have to like each other. They just have to be able to tolerate each others presence.

It is a bad idea to change your life/friends/job/hobbies because of your potential spouse. It is a slippery slope on which once you start, you can't stop until you reach the absolute bottom which is, being a puppet.

Also, I wouldn't blame your partner unless if she directly asks you to do such a thing.

The relationship is between you and your partner. If she wants or threatens to break up because of a third person, it shows bad judgement and lack of ability to separate external concerns.

Do not try to accommodate such behavior; you will regret it.

3

Oh boy, I've been in your shoes buddy. Here's the true realistic answer you don't want to hear.


You have to choose between your best friend or your life partner.

This is not complicated:

  • People get jealous.
  • There's nothing you can do about it.
  • Stop fighting it.

Accept this and life becomes easier.


There is no way to talk yourself out of this situation. Accept it.

  • Your partner's jealousy won't go away no matter what especially after being manifested this long. It's a part of her now. Accept this and move on.
  • Ultimately you need to decide what you can live without.

    (Ask yourself, what is going to hurt less in the end / what is easiest for you personally)

  • Is deleting your best friend worth no more fighting and (potentially) spending the rest of your life with the woman you (might) love?

    Decide this yourself. Move on. Time will heal your pain.

  • Sounds more like the OP has to choose between a best friend for life and just simply a partner. No contest... – Mazura Jan 30 '18 at 21:15
3

I have been through the exact same situation for around 2 years and then broke up with my girlfriend. My then best friend is now my current girlfriend and we are planning to get married soon. I have realized that this is something I always had but never considered it. You should not break up with your friends ever for any relationship, instead break up with your partner if nothing else is possible and then you'll realize eventually that what you did has made you much happier and a better person.

Addition: As I can see that your partner is not clearly happy with what you're happy with, this can raise some doubts about your partner's love for you as they don't see their happiness in you being happy. Since you have been feeling lonely after losing your friend, that answers that you had some extra feelings for her and should not avoid it.

Answer (or you can say suggestion): Talk to her when you are feeling super low because of your breakup with your friend, that will bring out more emotions from you and you'll be able to communicate every feeling that you have. Hope you turn out to be happier and better after that.

  • 2
    I see how your decision has shaped your life, but I fail to see how it answers the question asked here. Please answer the question. – NVZ Feb 1 '18 at 11:31
1

Your question has one extremely confusing element in it: You mention:

  • My partner
  • I
  • my best friend

You say that as if these are three different people.

The reason this seems confusing is that how this is supposed to work is that the person you permanently unite with is supposed to be your best friend. So, "my best friend" and "my partner" should not be different people.

If that's not the case, then focus more on that relationship until that person is your best friend and in a position worthy of the title "partner". Until then, consider the person to be someone you are dating.

When people get married, the ideal is for them to marry their best friend. If you're not at that point yet, the person hasn't yet reached the status of being your primary "life partner" yet.

So, if you do use the term "life partner", but then refer to the other person as your "best friend", then your very language proves that there is plenty of cause for confusion and jealousy on the part of the person who you have been calling your partner.

Solution: Get things straightened out in your own mind, first. Before you do that, nothing else is likely to work out nicely. Also, the situation you describe is problematic. Rectifying this is likely to take time, and cause feelings to be hurt for at least one person, which is the person that takes on a lesser role in your life (to make room for the person you pursue as a life partner). Expect such pain. (Realize that relationships can be complicated. That is why emotional pain is an expected result from this type of scenario.)

If you pursue avoidance of pain, that will lead you in different directions than pursuing a stronger and healthier situation, which will cause more pain (rather quickly, or eventually). So make sure you decide you will make the choices that are smart, and not just settle for whatever option seems like might minimize unpleasantness in the short term.

  • I know a couple of other answers touched on the core concept of "partner" and "best friend" should be the same person. However, the other answers elaborated on other points, and sometimes comments started discussing those other points. I wanted there to be one clear answer which is more focused on just this one issue. – TOOGAM Feb 3 '18 at 17:25

protected by NVZ Feb 1 '18 at 11:53

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