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Are They Just Friends or More?

"Are They Just Friends or Something More?"

This question is from a Group Therapy post in our TrèsSugar Community. Add your advice in the comments!

Please bear with me with the long details. My boyfriend of two years is an extremely private person and doesn't have too many friends and likes to keep a few close ones to be in touch with. Most of the time, we get along great, and I don't doubt our feelings for each other. Quite a while ago, I noticed his frequent contact with a particular female friend and, over time, I got a little suspicious. Later, I did find out that the two talked a lot before we started dating and that woman was almost like a "substitute girlfriend"-type friend to him. She's a lot younger than he is and is living in another state with a boyfriend, too. Last year, I found out one time that he had to lie to me to give her a call, saying later he thought I'd get jealous so he chose to avoid trouble; earlier this year, he did it again, covering up their contact to make excuses with me and said he was doing something else. It also came to the point that he'd delete all her texts and call history. I confronted him, and he got extremely upset and said he wouldn't have done that if I hadn't been so jealous, and also kept saying there's nothing between them and he just thought I was jealous and that he didn't want to argue with me.

We finally had a long conversation over this, and he said she is his best female friend and they talk a lot, so he thought I wouldn't have understood that and would get jealous. He said they did have feelings for each other seven years ago when they worked together, but they didn't want anything to develop, plus the age difference and other things. They've kept in touch closely over the years, and he's helped her through her grad school, and he felt like he knows her better than he knows me. And he covered up their contact from me to protect the other woman. After hearing all this, I felt pretty betrayed and upset, feeling like she's in a higher and more important position on his list than I am.


For the rest of this reader's dilemma, keep reading!

However, he keeps telling me he knows there's nothing going on between them now, and it's going to be like that forever. He has no interest in her at all, and that I'm the center of his life, and he knows his intentions have always been pure. It's just our early misunderstandings and arguments made him more careful and scared of fighting anymore, so he chose to avoid trouble. I don't know how to take this because I feel like I'm scarred by this and I'll always think that the other woman matters to him more than I do now, since obviously she's a very special friend and he's willing to go this length to protect her from me. I know he'll always care for that woman a lot and I'm not sure if he'll ever be comfortable telling me about their contact from now on. Should I be concerned or should I just let this go? I admit it has affected me a little bit because whenever I see them in touch, no matter how innocent the conversation is, I get upset and try not to get him to notice. And then all the negative feelings are back, and I feel betrayed and want "revenge" by retracting, avoiding his contact, or talking to my male friends.

Look, I do understand that they've had a longer history than I have with him, and that friendship remained the same after so many changes in each other's lives, and I understand this woman likes talking to my man for emotional reliability, advice, and all that trustworthiness, and also I can tell my man cares about her a lot, too. When I'm together with my boyfriend or when we are talking, you can tell he's totally focused on me, and sometimes I even know the content of their phone conversation, no matter how long it is — it'd be pretty innocent, and they'd talk about each other's relationships and any personal developments. I know they probably wouldn't get together forever, but I'm just concerned that if my guy is having an "emotional affair," his attention/heart can be with that woman all the time. I'm not an extremely jealous or insecure type of person and I don't have a problem with him talking with other female friends . . . only this one.

Have a dilemma of your own? Post it anonymously on Group Therapy for advice, and check out what else is happening in the TrèsSugar Community.

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pairodd pairodd 5 years
I agree with ChrissyLee. The biggest issue is that he is lying to you.  2nd biggest issue is that he is manipulating to make YOU feel bad about it.  HE IS THE ONE LYING.   My SO did exactly this.  Except it was with a girl he used to date. The girl was head over heels for him, so was always eager to return his texts, to meet him for cocktails. She felt so special being the "one" that he went behind my back with, even if it WAS to talk about our relationship (and mostly it WAS that,  everytime he and I had an issue, he went to her moaning about it.)   How convenient.  He got free attention from a person that by default became instantly hopeful of a new future with him.  Although there was never a hope for a future with this girl "Eden"  (He found her to be physically repulsive,  but emotionally, they really got along well, so he continued to use her for 2 years.  Heck, he still may be using her to this very day...   Don't for a second think that it is something YOU need to do differently. I went to a lot of counseling to understand that it was HIM that was the prick, that it was HER that knew and was stepping over the boundary knowingly.  That I had every right to clarify that boundary.  And that I had every right to leave when they kept blurring that boundary.   Make no mistake, he is doing this out of a personal need for himself,  and out of total disrespect for YOU.  DEMAND respect. If you don't get it from this BOY, find a man that will give you the respect you deserve. Good luck!
ChrissyLee ChrissyLee 5 years
There are 2 problems here. 1. He's lying to you. 2. He's putting this other woman's needs in front of yours.  My boyfriend of 3 years has a best female friend as well, in fact they dated for 3 years and even lived together.  I've known about it since day 1 and know every single time they talk.  Why?  Because I am his priority and our relationship is more important than theirs.  Over time their contact has died down to once every few months because he respects me and our relationship and puts it above any other.  If he was to ever feel she was a threat to our life together he would cut her off immediately. It sounds to me like he's holding a flame for this girl and if she were to call him up tomorrow and say "I'm single now, let's get together" he would probably do more than think about it.  The fact that he's blaming you for him lying, saying you would be too jealous, is just wrong.  If he wasn't doing anything wrong why would he hide it?  People don't hide things if they're not ashamed of them.  He knows he's in the wrong and he's trying to manipulate you to think you're reacting the wrong way.  Just because their correspondence seems innocent now and he's let you in a little bit doesn't mean he's not still hiding deeper feelings.  Saying you wouldn't have understood?  BS, we all have friends of the opposite sex and when they're presented as healthy friendships they can be maintained over long periods of times even when both parties are dating, married, or committed to someone.   Be very aware.  Flip the tables; I would never hesitate to cut off a male friend to keep my boyfriend, would you?
testadura67 testadura67 5 years
"Avoiding trouble" should mean communicating and resolving conflict, not lying. If lying is his way of avoiding trouble with you, your problem is less this friend of his, and more in his ability to cope with confrontation in the relationship. You two need to figure a way to bring up uncomfortable subjects and discuss uncomfortable feelings in a way that allows you both to feel heard. His lying may be stemming from feelings that he's not being heard or that he can't win in an argument. I think the breakdown in communication is the real issue here. Once that's solved, he won't feel the need to hide things, and you won't have to wonder.
Harley-Quinn Harley-Quinn 5 years
I dont know if their just friends or not. I can tell you that based on your post. You are insecure with you relationship. So why is that? Is it because of his lies? Did some ex boyfriend cheat on you? I would suggest that you figure out what it is that you do not like with this friendship. Then I would tell him. Then I would ask him for whatever you need to feel secure.
henna-red henna-red 5 years
One more thing....I love the women on this site! So smart, so insightful, so compassionate.... love the guys too, it's just that we women talk a whole lot more LOL :)
henna-red henna-red 5 years
yes, it is a bomb. And that is what a meant....only one intimate emotions relationship with a person of the opposite sex. And your answer is great. Yes, I do understand about the "waft of sexuality" and intense intimacy. I understand that there are very specific boundaries between partners and what you can share with another of the opposite sex. Some things I've observed....there are people we're attracted to, physical and emotionaly, because they....attract us. They offer to fill some need in us. and visa versa. We're social animals, with a group dynamic. The same qualities that attract us to our mates, attract us to our friends. And frequently, in a good friendship, there are needs met that are not met within even the best partnership. So what I wonder is.....this kind of jealousy, is it ever based on a fear that has not come from inappropriate behavior? or the possiblitiy of inappropriate behavior developing. And if or when it does, if you decided to sacrifice the relationship/friendship, when there has been no inappropriate behavior....then haven't you actually ignored the source of the jealousy? And isn't that inviting the same situation to happen, until you deal with the actual source of jealousy? I do get, truly, that if sparks fly, and the pull of chemistry starts tugging, the safest course is to disengage. I get that. Sexual chemistry has nothing to do with reasonable actions, or intellectual observation. There is no instinct more powerful in primates than that the reproductive/sexual urge. None. But I've seen, several times in the past week, statements like "you wouldn't give up a friend for a boyfriend, because they wanted you to?" or sentiments to that effect. And my answer to it is, it depends on why my partner wants me to sacrifice my friendship. If I have not crossed a boundary, at least one that I understand, and if the reason you want me to dump my friend is that you believe I am only allowed to share all intimate, emotional interaction with you...then I would probably end up losing my partner. If someone wants me to choose, they'd better have a damn good reason for better than fear that is not based on my actions, past or present. I AM single....and one of the reasons is I'm very stubborn! I think the crux is "truly respect".
Bubbles12 Bubbles12 5 years
Yow! A Henna bomb! :) I haven't gotten this vibe: "I hear a lot, on this site, about your partner being the only intimate, emotional relationship in your that is the only appropriate intimate emotional relationship in your life. I think that's bullshit. No one has the right to tell you that you can only have one intimate emotional relationship in your life." I think you mean only one intimate emotional relationship _with a person of the opposite sex_ -- right? The problem begins from the various letters when there begins to be a combined waft of sexuality and intense intimacy detected. Friends? Meh. More? Rawr! As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart put it so well: "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description ["hard-core pornography"]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it." If you're with someone you truly respect and they smell it? Well...
kurniakasih kurniakasih 5 years
Oy. I don't know how to answer that, OP. Only he and his friend know what's the true nature of their relationship. By the way, I love the posts the other ladies have brought. Different opinion and always adore your 'rambling' Henna <3 they're very helpful!! Give one something to think. What I've got based on your long post are (I also comment and ask questions, therefore if you want, you can respond and elaborate! :)) : 1) " It's just our early misunderstandings and arguments made him more careful and scared of fighting anymore so he chose to avoid trouble. " This statement from you, made me very curious. Early misunderstandings and arguments, I'm assuming over other female friends. I'm asking how bad/aggressive can you get when you misunderstand anything in the past? 2) "And he covered up their contact from me to protect the other woman." Did he really say it this way? Bad bad news when he does. Unless that's you phrasing it. It's either he cares about her well-being so much more than you, and remember, she's long distance; so how bad he really thinks you behave or it can be a horrible case of 'gas lighting' (thanks Bubble for that useful phrase) and him being manipulative. Either way, self-introspection is needed and a deeper look into your relationship too. 3) "It also came to the point that he'd delete all her texts and call history." Ok first thing first, why were you checking his phone? Esp. if he's not told you about her; has this occurrence with female friends/acquaintance happened before? As in, have you been insecure to begin with, with any interaction he may have with other friends? Before all this, has he given you reason to have to check his phone? I'm not perfect, my marriage isn't perfect, but I never check my husband's cell phone. I don't even know if he's texting anyone or talking on the cellphone when he's outside the house. I don't get suspicious with him though, that's why I never got curious about it. Secondly, yeah, that is suspect behavior. He knows you're checking up on him, therefore the deletes but instead of letting you see how innocent things really are, he's DELETING them. Interesting. Only you know if you can handle this friendship with her or not; if you're that uncomfortable, it's ok to have a talk with him, let him know how you still feel, if he's a good person whose flaws you can deal with (and not destructive to the relationship); you ask him to help you to calm down over this. Find a resolution that's good for you both, that helps you to get over your discomfort and for him to be more open and honest about his friendship(s) with others. Good luck!
henna-red henna-red 5 years
You don't protect one woman from another by lying about what's going on. You protect yourself. If he was afraid of the jealousy, then there's something to be jealous of, and he knows that. Yes, we all come with history and with baggage. But when we feel some kind of need to cover up a serious relationship that we're having from another serious relationship that we're having, then there's a problem. Lying about it is a problem. If it wasn't a problem he would feel no need to lie about it......I'm not saying they're having an "affair". I'm not saying they're not. But they definately have a degree of intimacy that he is not willing to give up, whether or not he is willing to persue a more physical, sexual relationship. I hear a lot, on this site, about your partner being the only intimate, emotional relationship in your that is the only appropriate intimate emotional relationship in your life. I think that's bullshit. No one has the right to tell you that you can only have one intimate emotional relationship in your life. They can tell you that they're uncomfortable with emotional intimacy....particularly between your partner and someone of the opposite sex. I've heard a counselor on this site speak of the dangers of close friendships and emotional intimacy developing into something more.....something inappropriate between people with other partners. I'd say that's all reasonable. I'd also say that the way to deal with that is to observe propriety around your behavior, and to respect your partner's boundaries. I mean, from what I'm hearing here, on this site, it's impossible for a man and a woman to have a close, emotionaly intimate friendship (relationship) if they are married or committed to other people. WTF! Are we all so insular, so insecure, so unaware of what is appropriate behavior and inappropriate! Are we so threatened when someone we love cares for and enjoys another person? Are we so determined that if we are partnered, we alone, are enough for our partner....we will fulfill every social and emotional aspect of that person we love. Are we so determined to restrict and define someone else's life and love? I think that's hard, and sad. I do believe, in your case OP, that the fact that he accused you of jealousy, BEFORE he told you about this relationship, shows that there is something to be very concerned about. I think maybe I need to read Not Just Friends.....because for me, asking a partner to give up a friend because I'm feeling insecure and threatened by my partners' friendship is my problem. What is this he/she should be willing to sacrifice a friendship for a partner? I'm sorry, I think that is just selfish, insecure bullshit. But I'm not a therapist, or a professional counselor....not a relationship expert, at all. Just a person who values my friendships, and who always works to be very aware of appropriate behavior when my friend is married or in a committed relationship. I understand that not everyone is aware or appropriate. And that boundaries, all boundaries, have to be negotiated. All feelings need to be recognized, respected, honored. And all lies protect only the person who is lying...always. Lies protect people from having to face the consequences of their actions. I see no other reason to lie. For me, it's the lying you describe here that is the betrayal. Why would someone need to hide a friendship, even a close friendship. Maybe, from reading what people have been saying here, the past couple of days, that they have sacrificed friendships that were causing jealousy, there is a reason to hide something you don't want to give up, when the common wisdom says that you can only have an intimate emotional relationship with your partner. My jealousy, that evil green monster, caused by fear of what can happen, or is it an underlying insecurity...or is there any difference in those things? Why do we let fear, any fear, rule us, and determine whom we can have in our lives? I don't understand that. I'm sorry OP, if my rambling here has muddled your question. You need to talk to your man. Lying at the beginning of a relationship means that there will probably be lying all the way through. And lying about important relationships is a very, very bad way to live within any relationship. Best of luck!
LittleSuri LittleSuri 5 years
I agree with the previous comment...if they are just friends, he shouldn't have a problem letting her go. Although I am not in this situation, I've discussed this with my fiance and he told me that if ever I felt uncomfortable with his friendship with a girl he would break it off because it is not worth it when it came to my heart and our relationship. This just made me melt into puddles (gosh, I love that man!). It really is important to keep any friendships above reproach but to also guard the heart of the person you love the most. It also sounds like regardless of your attempts to ignore it, you still harbor some resentment towards his relationship with his friend. You do need to clear the air with him otherwise it will invade your relationship. Consider reading Not Just Friends by Shirley Glass...maybe it can give you some better advice.
Bubbles12 Bubbles12 5 years
Wow. I'm struggling with something similar, but from another vantage point -- as a close friend to a guy similar to your BF and his female friend. We've all known each other way before the wife came along. The guy even has a similar personality to your BF. I recently had confirmed by the guy my two friends have been having an emotional affair for decades. I always sensed it, they always denied it til now. Mid-lie crisis time, and I'm afraid this is all going to explode. Take your feelings about this female friend seriously. Him blaming the secrecy on your possible reaction and making you the unreasonable crazy one is called 'gaslighting'. And really easy to do in situations of jealousy: few people like the drama and don't want to be the suspicious, unreasonable one. IMHO if bothers you that much, something you wouldn't want going on probably is, even if it's the amount of intimacy between them. He should be able to let her go if your relationship means that much to him. When I've had male friends that are sources of jealousy I have let go. And when I've been the female friend that causes jealousy, I let go. It's the respectful thing to do. Sad but respectful. And if they don't stay together, the friendship can be resumed. I'm actually going to post my situation in Group Therapy. Given your situation I'd love to know what you think. Good luck!
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