Friday, September 21, 2012


Jealousy Mutations and the 2.5 Days Game

1. At the end of this school term, I will be finishing my masters (yay!), and the long year of long distance relationship my boyfriend and I have soldiered through will be over (YAY!!). I'm moving to where a job opportunity brought him last year, and he is hard at work making sure I have a good life waiting for me there. We are so excited to enter this new chapter of our life together!

There's one tiny problem, though. His closest friend in the new city is a single woman, and she definitely has romantic feelings for him. I won't get into how I know, as I don't think that matters, but I will make sure I clarify: I'm not threatened by her. My boyfriend and I are happily, equally, in it to win it (as no one says, ugh, sorry), and so even if she were to actually make a real move on him (and I don't believe she has), it wouldn't matter to our relationship. I feel more sympathy for her than anything, because I think we all know from firsthand experience how much it sucks having feelings for someone unavailable. Nope, not threatened by, and not actually even angry with, this woman. I don't, however, particularly want to be friends with her.

I'm not going to ask my boyfriend not to be her friend. Considering I absolutely trust him, and how important of a friend she has been to him over the past year, that's not fair to him. I haven't told him about my problem with her beyond warning him that for her sake, he should be clear that our relationship is solid, with no end in sight, so just flat-out telling him that I don't want to be around her seems pretty nuts. As I said, she's his closest friend, so she is going to be around a lot. Is there away to go about this without girl-on-girl cruelty, and making my boyfriend think I'm jealous and petty? Am I stuck being chums with someone who was hoping that every bump in the road that we had to weather (and who doesn't have some of those while navigating long distance?) would be the end? And who is maybe still holding out hope for my relationship's demise? Am I being silly about the whole thing?

It seems a little weird that your boyfriend wants to be best friends with a woman who's in love with him. Does that bother you? Wouldn't he be bothered if your best friend were a guy who was in love with you, and you — well, if not led him on, then at least fed him enough scraps that he wasn't un-imprinting from you? If you [respect] someone, set them free?

Or, wait — you left out a critical piece of the puzzle, which is: does your boyfriend know that she's in love with him? That would change it. 

So yeah, what's up with your boyfriend? Is my question for you. But my answer to the other question is: no, you do not have to be friends with this woman, or anyone you don't want to be friends with. And for the sake of clarity, "be friends" = "spend time with." Let them hang out all they want, and by being unthreatened and taking the high road, you'll seem breezy and confident, and ... eventually I'm hoping your boyfriend will see that he's being kind of weird and pathetic. He wants extra attention/flattery, I'm imagining?

What absolutely will happen, however, if you ask him to stop hanging out with her is that she'll become hotter and more fascinating to him by a factor of 10. Liiike instantly. So I would not do that.

Maybe drop in for drinks with them once a month or so — at a bar, not at your house — and then leave early because you've got other plans. Treat her warmly, remember facts about her life, and follow up each time you see her. But otherwise you're a cloud of serenity floating over their weird little thing, whatever it is. And I'm guessing it'll pass.

2. What is the 100% best way to ask a woman out?

I have some thoughts on this that maybe sound kind of old-fashioned or extreme (?), but since you asked...

1. If you don't know her, find a way to engage her in conversation ("Hi, I'm ___. How's it going?"). At the end of the conversation, ask her if you can have her email address or phone number.

2. Later, call or email her. When people wait two or three days to get in touch, they actually seem less ... suave (or whatever it is people think they're being when they wait to contact someone they like) than if they follow up within 24 hours, because it's usually obvious when people are playing games or following a set of "rules," although I guess this part isn't crucially important. Communicate directly that you would like to take her out on a date. For instance, [day] at [venue/neighborhood/event]. Syntax matters. It's hot when people say directly what they want (respectfully!). Confidence + directness = hot. Less hot is the "what's up wanna happy hour it up sometime idk" text, delivered the requisite 2.5 days later, or whatever it is. I see you, Requisite 2.5 Days Game! Anyway. Like I said, maybe I'm going overboard.

But note the language. Say what you mean. Say you want to go on a date with her. Or take her on a date, or whatever. But use the word "date," if it comes naturally. Why not! It feels better than sliding sideways into things; vagueness only makes it weirder for everyone. As in, instead of "what are you doing this weekend, wanna hang out?" start off by letting her know exactly what this is to you, and she'll bring her A-game, too — e.g. "I'd like to take you out to dinner on Saturday" means she's going to wear nice clothes and not wonder whether it's A Date or a date or A dAtE or a wHatEvER. Couching the invitation in softer language — "there's this movie I heard about?" "I could do something later?" — confuses everyone. Let's all BE BOLD. Not aggressive ("I want to eat, drink, and then have sex!!!") but direct. Why not, you know?

Saying what you want is almost more powerful than getting it, sometimes. "I know what I want and have asked for it" is a better feeling than baaasically evennntually getting what you want, mostly, and then maybe fumbling it, or feeling you happened upon it semi-accidentally. TAKE THE REINS! *clatters off in a horse-drawn wagon*

Oh but also either pick her up on time, or get to the designated place five minutes early, and don't take out your phone. But I'm just one Lady, others may disagree.

3. Here's the thing: I feel like my long-term boyfriend of almost three years always wants to be friends with other girls, and it bothers the crap out of me. I don't have any straight guy friends that aren't boyfriends of my friends, and he has never cheated on me or given me reason to believe he will, but I tend to lean more on the "jealous" side of the fence. I always have. We're both really into the internet (a.k.a. we blog) and there are always times when I feel like he's getting a little too friendly for my taste with other females (commenting and messaging about things) and I tell him how uncomfortable it makes me and he says I need to quit being so insecure, and if it was the other way around he wouldn't care. Which is true — he wouldn't care, but I don't ever think of myself as insecure. The other night we met up with a girl from the internet whom we both had "known" but never had met, and after, she exchanged numbers with ME and he asked me later if he could have her number to hang out with her too, and it really hurt, and I don't think that's appropriate because why?! Why are you guys hanging out without me?! Why does he need to have friends that are girls? And how come he tends to make me feel like I'm the crazy one for thinking this way? 

So this is like the opposite of Letter Writer 1!

Questions like this make you sort of wish for the "olden" days, right? Like with the internet we're all so tied to one another — my cord is plugged into her cord, but then it's also draped under those other cords, because it has to be, because of work, and then Facebook, etc., and cords are all winding everywhere, always. To sound less vague: we have so many new kinds of relationships because of the internet, many of which are conducted purely online and never in real life, and yet are meaningful, and can be tricky. And it's all strange and newish, and so new forms of jealousy and frustration have mutated alongside. Or maybe this is what it was like when people had pen pals back in the day?

If not, though, it's like that island where Darwin observed evolution within just a couple generations of birds, or whatever it was. New jealousies, right here, right now. And jealousy is hard to give advice about, because you pretty much just have to wrestle it to death yourself.

But I also think you could boil your question down to one line: "why does he need to have friends that are girls?" which seems to be coming from a place of insecurity. He's not doing too much to help with that, admittedly — and it's weird that he hung out alone with the woman you'd both just met without inviting you — but there must be a middle ground. Maybe set rules with your boyfriend that go both ways: no meeting up with people the other one doesn't know, no conducting relationships that in your heart you feel are inappropriate, even though they're "technically" not wrong. That one's hard, though. Good luck.

4. Five years ago I was with a boy who I loved more than anything, like more than any actual person or thing on the whole planet. It was a really crazed, unhealthy, free-falling kind of relationship. We were both really obsessive and jealous and manic and sad. But also we were sometimes euphoric and insanely happy. He was the only person who ever made me feel not alone in the world. We made things and did adventures and were crazy. But also we hurt each other in sick ways, either sadistically or by being self-destructive in ways that hurt the other person. After a long time, the happiness got less and less frequent and was more fleeting and desperate. And the misery was almost all the time, so we got away from each other.

But he still haunts my waking life and my dreams in a way that's paralyzing me. It's been years since we stopped being together, and I haven't seen him at all in over a year. I've had two subsequent relationships with sweet, smart guys. They both ended amicably, in both cases by me, and in both because I just couldn't make myself honestly feel enough about them. I went to Germany, I went to Egypt, I went to Texas. I've had a bunch of different jobs. I can't really hold still or else the sadness gets huge and unbearable.

I exercise all the time to try to wear myself out. I've gone to psychiatrists who've given me drugs, but I hate them because they make me feel like I'm in a haze. I've tried cutting him out of my life for months at a time. We have close mutual friends, so he's always on the periphery of my world, but I don't always talk to him. But this crazed, unending sorrow won't go away no matter what I do.

Sometimes there are things that make me happy for a second, like doing burnouts on a dirt road or dancing at a party. But they're just part of the string of endless, unfulfilling distractions that I try to keep going forever so I don't have to think about him. It's been so long! I thought that with time it would get better, but time hasn't diminished its intensity at all. The worst, worst parts are the nightmares. They happen all the time, and they're the most heart-crushing dreams you could ever imagine. I destroyed two of my best friendships by obsessing about this guy to the point where my friends couldn't stand hearing about it. So I try not to talk about it at all to anyone anymore, because I don't want to lose any more of my friends because of it. I guess that's why I'm writing here for any advice.

Have you read The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh? In it, an advice columnist tells a lovestruck girl that the best thing she can do is to go jump off a building. I understand if that's your advice. I don't want to die. I want to be happy and healthy and excited about life. But maybe this love is just endless despair? I don't even know how to be less maudlin about it. I would almost not mind dying if it meant the sounds about this boy in my head would go quiet and the pictures of him that play constantly behind my eyes would go blank. But in the afterlife I imagine, he's there waiting and it's finally sweet and happy, with none of the fear and sadness that made everything go wrong in the first place.

Please, please do not jump off a building! It sounds like the further this guy gets from you, the more meaning you ascribe to him and what you had, making him — and your relationship — into this massive thing that it never quite was. Sort of like putting all the clutter in one closet, or seeing things getting bigger in the rearview mirror.

But really this is beyond anything I can help you with, and I strongly encourage you to look into therapy — you truly do not and should not have to be this miserable.

Previously: On Quickie Weddings and Frustrating Fantasies.

A Lady is one of several rotating ladies. Do you have any questions for A Lady?

285 Comments / Post A Comment

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood


Lily Rowan

@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood Ladder theory?

I was just going to say THANK YOU to this lady for the thing about being explicit. I am a grown-ass woman and just recently had a grown-ass man say to me, "Do you want to get together next weekend?" I said sure, he said he'd be in touch, and then on FRIDAY AFTERNOON texted me, "Do you want to meet up later?" NO I DO NOT. I want you to ask me on a DATE. And then I will say yes.

N.B. If I were more interested in that particular person, I would have asked him out myself, but I'm not, so I didn't.

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood


Lily Rowan

@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood Hahaha! But I still don't know what ladder theory is.

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood

@Lily Rowan oh god http://www.laddertheory.com/

Lily Rowan

@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood Holy crap. I'm always forgetting how terrible people are.

That makes me almost literally nauseous, but I'm going to keep reading...


@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood Oh God is the only legit response:

'Woman's rating system; So the breakdown looks like:
Money and Power: 50%

Attraction: 40%

Things Women Say They Care About But Do Not: 10%
(this includes intelligence, sense of humor, honesty, sensitivity etc. )"

Yes, all women really like to pretend to judge men based on their honesty, sensitivity, intelligence and humour etc but really they crave MONEY and CARS and BUSINESS EXECUTIVE SUITES.


@feartie "As far as intellectual whores can determine, the average female bitch has a rating system that works like this:"


Also, "intellectual whores?" Is that a whore who is intellectual? Or a woman who is a whore for intellectuals? I MUST KNOW!


@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood: OHMYFUCKINGGOD, the poem, THE POEM:

"Don't be silly!", she says, "I have lots of guy friends who are single."
But I shake my head at her naive little jingle
You're on all their ladders, it's just not outright stated
Believe me when I say, they've all pictured you naked.

dj pomegranate

@SarahDances MAYBE IT IS BOTH?!


@dj pomegranate Actually, upon further reading (like a car wreck, I can't look away), it seems that's actually his term for guys who have been "friendzoned" in the current parlance. I have no idea why.


@dj pomegranate

MLA hiring process TOO COMPLICATED going into sex work see ya later!


@ironhoneybee I would say a good 75% (possibly more, depending on who we're counting as a "friend") of my male friends have actually SEEN me naked, no picturing required. But my life is not like other people's.


@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood am i the only one having a hard time assigning a metre to this poem?

Genghis Khat

@Lily Rowan I t doesn't even make sense, since women are first supposed to be such golddiggers that money is 50%of our attraction, but then in all the ladder examples women end up fucking unemployed bikers.

I mean, I guess women are just dumb and think unemployed bikers have all the monties.


@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood

Criticism: You're just bitter.
Answer: Maybe I am. But ladder theory made me that way, my bitterness did not make ladder theory. Attack the theory, not the person behind it. And why does everyone always say I'm bitter just because 99.999% of chicks are bitches?

Mohawk Chick

@hry "Not a single woman who wasn't a bitch has ever complained about misogyny at this site. I can prove this on an abacus"

This guy is such a fucking tool


This is brilliant!@m


I feel like LW1 is more jealous than she thinks she is. Is that bad of me to think? But regardless, I kind of disagree with this lady & think she SHOULD become friends with the woman who has a crush? Like, LW, maybe this girl is cool & maybe her romantic feelings would lessen if she sees you WITH your boyfriend, because then it will be harder for her to imagine he is this single guy.

I am curious as to know you definitely know she's in love with him, though. And also curious if he knows?


@fabel I agree--there's all this "I'm not threatened, I don't hate her" but methinks she doth protesteth too much...eth. LW1, if you aren't threatened, etc., CAN you identify why you have "a problem with her"? I do agree that the situation where your boyfriend continues to be chummy with her is a little strange if he knows and the love is unabating, but you should try to identify for yourself WHAT the problem you have with her actually is.


@fabel yeah, I get that sense as well. The big question to be is WHY she doesn't want to be friends with this girl? Is it previous interactions with her or something about her that makes it clear that their friendship would never work? Or does she just have no interest in being friends with another female who is attracted to her boyfriend? It sounds like the latter and that just makes me think that she is seeing her relationship as a competition and the other girl as the enemy. Which I just don't get? Why do you want to be the standoffish girlfriend? Why wouldn't you want to get to know someone your boyfriend thinks highly of, who may have similar taste in guys and other things as you do?

And there is a HUGE difference between being in love and crushing on someone unattainable. The more she makes herself open and available to get to know this girl, the more it will be clear which she falls into. It's more likely some sort of infatuation which will fade in time especially if you seem like a sane, friendly person.


@frigwiggin I agree with both of you, though I think the LW's issue is "Hey, this woman has probably been actively rooting for our break up, and that's not cool." But from what I gather, neither of them have ever met each other. Maybe the LW is super cool and the friend is super cool, and when they meet, Girl With Crush will say, "Oh, this lady is actually really awesome and perfect for my friend, and I'm glad they're together" and it could possibly help deflate the crush.

Judith Slutler

@fabel Yup. She is trying really really hard to be The Cool Girlfriend, and it just isn't working.

I actually have a lot of sympathy with her, and I'm wondering why her boyfriend's only friend is a woman who's miserably in love with him? A Lady was absolutely correct to point that out.

Call me idealistic but I think she should be able to have a conversation with her boyfriend about how this is a weird situation, and draw him out about what's going on with this friendship. If they are really planning on spending decades together, they need to be able to discuss these types of awkward things openly imo.

In my experience, being The Cool Partner and tamping down your feelings about these kinds of issues never, never works out for the best.


@fabel @frigwiggin Agreed, so much of the letter was "I'm not threatened"/"It wouldn't matter"/"Nope, not threatened"/"I absolutely trust him" — so what's the problem? She says she's "not even angry," but she sounds resentful about potentially spending time with "someone who was hoping that every bump in the road that we had to weather (and who doesn't have some of those while navigating long distance?) would be the end." That sounds like threatened + angry to me. LW1 has to be honest with herself before she figures out how she'd like to proceed at all.


@fabel Yeah, unless LW1 is Melanie Wilkes, I am suspicious.


@meetapossum Yeah, that's exactly the issue, I think. It would be very hard to be friends with someone who you knew was hoping against hope that your boyfriend would dump you. And yeah, all people can get over crushes eventually, but I don't think that means LW has to be friends with her just because she'll eventually "get over it." I like A Lady's advice that the LW can hang out with them occasionally and see for herself what's going on, but they don't have to get chummy.


@Emmanuelle Cunt Yesss I think the LW's issue is exactly the sort of thing a well-established couple should feel comfortable talking about.


@fabel yes, and also, speaking as someone who has been on the other end of this (guy in a supposedly stable long-term, long-distance relationship, flirting with me for months on end, to the point where people assumed we were An Item; had to have a come-to-Jesus conversation with him about it; still friends but he's cooled down a bit), she doesn't say what, if anything, her boyfriend's behavior has been. This isn't necessarily all on Girl Friday here.

(oh G-d please let this not be a letter about my life)

(this is a more common scenario than I think, right?)


What's really, really needed for a clearer discussion is how LW#1 knows this galpal is in love with her boyfriend. Does she just suspect it? Intuit it? Or did he tell her? If she just thinks that's probably the case, maybe she can examine her spidey sense a bit and see if she's not just imagining it.


I feel like the problem isn't really how the LW feels but that this woman should not still be friends with him now that the girlfriend is there and she doesn't have his undivided attention. It will be really miserable for her. Maybe she won't even want to and the problem will resolve. Like A Lady says, I don't understand why the boyfriend wants to be close friends with someone who's in love with him. It just doesn't work. It never works. You have to just stop being friends with someone if you will never be satisfied *just* being friends with him or her. (Caveat: This is only if you're like really in love. I was friends with someone and not attracted, he broke up with his girlfriend and suddenly lightning struck and I was soooo into him and even miserable over it, he got back together with his girlfriend, whom he's now married to, and I totally got over it and am back to feeling like a normal friend toward him. But there are definitely people whom I could never be friends with.)


@olivebee Did she hope against hope that the boyfriend would dump her, though? I feel like the LW tried to make that sound like a really creepy, beyond the pale feeling to have, but it just isn't-- this girl doesn't have any reason to be loyal to the LW whom she apparently doesn't know at all. And if the LW doesn't know this lady, she can't possibly know that's how she felt anyway.

Also, I know some people get like that (and I've had other ladies creep on my boyfriend, ask him out the second we broke up, etc.), but for the most part I don't think that's that common. I've liked unavailable guys before, but my thoughts never went beyond "Wouldn't that be nice, someday." Anything could happen! He could break up with his girlfriend but still not like me, need tons of time to get over it, meet someone else, etc. etc. I don't think any of my friends have ever actively rooted for someone's relationship to end like that, either.


@fabel LW1&3 I don't know if this is helpful or not and maybe it makes me seem like a terrible girlfriend, but anyway, here goes.

In all of my previous relationships, I was a hideously jealous person, and also hideously ashamed of my jealousy. Partly from insecurity, partly from a history of previous boyfriends cheating. And to make it worse, I was so invested in being a Cool Girlfriend that I never would tell my boyfriends that I was jealous; I just funnelled all that energy into obsessive internet stalking and secret letter writing and the late-night composition of angry soliloquies I never delivered. It was a miserable trap, because on the one hand I knew I wasn't justified in how I felt, and I was ashamed at how petty and insecure those feelings made me seem... but on the other hand, I FELT IT. It ate up my heart, and I gritted my teeth and tried to smile my way through "casual hangs" with these girls, all the while feeling like I was going crazy and wanted to die. Because I was too proud to admit that I was jealous, I ended up ending several short-term relationships prematurely because it was easier to to be single than to go on feeling that way.

When I met my current boyfriend, I kicked off the same cycle with one of his closest friends. He swore they were platonic, but she was kind of mean to me when we first met, and that was all it took. For some reason, though, this time instead of pretending I was fine for a few weeks until my head exploded and we broke up, I just told him. I said: "I am really jealous of that girl. I know there isn't any basis for it, but that's how it is. I can't hang out with her. You can, but I can't." From then on, I excused myself from any gathering where I thought she might be present. When he was out with her, I'd stay home and drink a lot and feel sad. My boyfriend knew how I felt, but I did my best to always frame it as about me, not him, and not to make any demands on him other than to let me know if she was going to be around. It was kind of humiliating - I felt as if I was letting him know about a kind of embarrassing illness -- but at least, finally, my jealousy was out in the open.

Why this isn't the greatest story or the proudest moment of my life is that this did end up affecting their friendship for a while. He was my new boyfriend and wanted to hang out with me, which meant he ended up seeing her less. To this day, I'm probably not her favorite person. I think the fact that there were no ultimatums and that they were free to see each other when they wanted helped to defuse the "forbidden fruit" syndrome, but another guy might have a different reaction.

On the other hand, though, after a few months went by, and our relationship solidified, my jealousy just kind of...went away. That might seem like no big deal to more naturally Cool Girlfriends, but for someone who was crippled with jealousy for a really long time, it was kind of a miracle. I'm fine hanging out with her in a group now (though maybe I do spend a tad more time on my hair when I know she's going to be at a party) and when my boyfriend goes out with her, I drink happily on my couch while enjoying Supernatural marathons instead of out of a deep, existential misery.

I guess what I'm saying is, jealousy sucks, and it can be humiliating to admit to, but sometimes you need to admit that the image you have of yourself in your head doesn't quite match up with the actual, flawed person you are; ask the person you love for help, and go from there.


@yeah-elle I totally agree with you and here's my question- how does the lady friend of LW1's boyfriend know about "every bump in the road" they've had to weather? I'm guessing that he confided in her because they're friends, which the friend may have taken as a sign that things weren't going well, which, if she had feelings for him and was looking for signs that their relationship may be heading for demise, confiding in her about relationship issues would be a pretty honking big one, even if it's totally inadvertent on the bf's part. If he's like anyone talking to a good friend, he's probably more likely to mention when things are going wrong than to say "Wow! I just had an amazing chat with my girlfriend today!" If she only hears negative things, especially if that's what she wants to hear, he's probably leading her on without even knowing it.


@Kristen I think this means that your boyfriend is pretty awesome, and because he took your concerns seriously, your jealousy (whether it had grounds to exist or not) eventually dissipated because he showed you that you could depend on him. Good on him!


@Kristen Thank you for writing this. I have been equally jealous/suspicious with past boyfriends, and it is a really difficult thing to supress. I am not a girl that hates other girls, but I have been cheated on and back in those days I was also quite insecure, so the tightly supressed jealously would just eat me up inside for days and lend lots of dark drama to my everyday existence.

However, I am currently in my first mature, healthy, equal-love, adult relationship, and magically, I do not feel that gnawing suspicion or jealousy anymore - I guess once you truly trust your partner and once you feel confident(er) with who you are, those feelings dissipate.

I would like to add that sometimes jealousy/suspicion is justified, though. It's not always an irrational feeling. Sometimes the dude IS cheating on you! It seems like a bunch of people are jumping on that "girl, don't be jealous" bandwagon, which I totally support, but let's also make it clear that sometimes people *can* be cheats and liars. Hopefully not in this case, though.


@Lyesmith Yes!! So much of it is being with a person you can trust, not only not to cheat on you, but also not to pick on you or judge you or use it against you when you admit to a feeling you're less than proud of.

@Rimy I completely agree. In fact, one of the reasons the jealousy cycle was so hard to break was that I was jealous of one particular boyfriend and almost broke myself trying to stay cool about it because I knew without doubt he would judge me. Perhaps not surprisingly, he was the one who ended up cheating on me.


@themmases Ehhh, I think that's a beyond the pale feeling for someone who's a close friend (vs. attractive acquaintance). It sounds like the female version of Nice Guy Syndrome. "I'll just be over here, listening to all your problems, doing you favors, hoping you realize one day that you should dump your girlfriend for me..."

RK Fire

@Lucienne: Or Lavinia in Downton Abbey.


I totally get why you wouldn't want to be friends with someone whose interests are so clearly not aligned with yours, even if you're not worried that she will be able to effect her wishes. I don't like to be intimate with people who have actively wished me ill.

But - that's why I would definitely befriend her, at least to the degree mentioned by a Lady, if not more. The more human I was to her, the less likely that she will be able to, in good conscience, wish we would break up. The threat is neutralized, transformed into an ally. Friends close, enemies closer, best defence good offence etc. I'm sounding pretty cynical.

The problem with that tactic is that it deliberately undermines her boyfriend's emotional closeness with his friend. That's what it is designed to do - remove the exclusivity of the connection, insert yourself emotionally into the situation as a person, not a caricatures - but it might really hurt him to lose that with her, to have to share his friend's loyalties. Which may be a sign that not all is quite right with the friendship.

All of which leads me to believe that the Lady's advice is very good.

Judith Slutler


In fact, one of the reasons the jealousy cycle was so hard to break was that I was jealous of one particular boyfriend and almost broke myself trying to stay cool about it because I knew without doubt he would judge me

I know exactly what you mean on this, and yes, I have been cheated on in JUST this situation.

Not that jealousy should be fed or obsessed over, or allowed to turn into a compulsion to control one's partner, but if anyone finds themselves in a situation where it is not ok to express jealousy and they would be judged or berated or disdained for having jealous feelings... feel free to run the fuck away.

The Hyperbolic Julia Set

@meetapossum I have been on the other side of this! I was besties with a dude while his gf was away on study abroad and I most definitely did not have romantic feelings for him, but when his gf was coming home, I was all kinds of anxious that I was going to cause problems or lose a dude as a friend because girls-in-competition-for-men stuff. Even though he'd told me how cool she was I was expecting her to morph into Regina George upon return. But then she didn't! And now I hang out with her way more than I ever hung out with him and she introduced me to a magical place called the Hairpin! Yay! Happy endings are possible!


@The Hyperbolic Julia Set Yay! I actually brought up that possibility because that's what happened with my friend/former fwb/super crush a while ago. I had problems with another he was "seeing" briefly (mostly because she was a straight-up bitch to me, but also jealousy feelings). But when he started seeing the girl he is still seeing, old crush feelings and jealousy sort of floated away! She was and is just an amazing person, and I'm glad she's around and that I get to be friends with her.


@Kristen YES. This is really smart. Thank you for writing it. I think many people have an unhealthy, imbalanced relationship with jealousy. We binge and purge on it. I think instead of trying to be "cool girlfriend" and shamefully fail, we could try to learn how experience jealousy without feeling horrible about it and also how to ask for kindness and understanding from our partners when we need it.


@Emby Re: LW1, "I won't get into how I know, as I don't think that matters." She hacked his e-mail but doesn't want to say so in this forum because she knows she'll get universally dumped on, yeah, yeah, and wants us to focus on the issues she presents. Of course, if my hypothesis is correct, it kind of undercuts many of her more positive statements about her and her guy's relationship, and makes her question an entirely different question.


@LlamaLlama Binging & purging is the PERFECT analogy.


@Emmanuelle Cunt BUt is she even miserably in love with him? I mean, I just don't know from the letter! I have no reason not to believe LW1 but I also don't understand the part about "she definitely has romantic feelings for him. I won't get into how I know, as I don't think that matters" is confusing; why doesn't it matter? And if it's a definite thing, does that mean FriendGirl has actually made a move knowing fully well he is taken (because that's not cool) and did the BF take care of that appropriately? It doesn't read that way. And it doesn't seem like Girlfriend and FriendGirl have mutual friends that could have spilled the beans. Or is her "definitely" based on FriendGirl "like"ing his photos on FB or something? I'm confused!

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@RK Fire May they be happy. With my love.


@Hellcat Ah I wish these comment threads had a life span of more than a few hours because sometimes a working lady without internet would really like to participate in the discussion (aka derail it for my own purposes).

My situation is similar to LW1's, except that I am 'out' about feeling jealous/insecure of their friendship, and my BF and his friend are exes (they dated casually for about a year right before I came on the scene). She hasn't dated anyone since they broke up 8 years ago. I would also be tempted to not get into how I know because it's made up of a bunch of things that I fear sound flakey when typed out (ways she seems to manipulate situations so she 'needs' him, the weirdly possessive way she talks about him to me, how she seems to show him off to friends that already know who he is because she's talked about him so much, x8 years). Basically I know because I recognize the words and the faces you make when you are in love with someone. I don't know what her intentions are but it seems like she feels like she's got 10% of his attention, and that's enough to keep her going until the day he becomes single again, even if it's years off. And I can tell you he has other female friends, even exes, that I do not feel this way about, so I'm pretty sure I'm not making something out of nothing. In general, if my jealousy was a scale I would say it's about 10 pounds off. So I know it's not quite telling me the truth (I still feel irrational jealousy), but I also know roughly how much it's off by.

So like the commenter above, in past relationships I used to be the kind of person that tried super hard to be Cool Girlfriend and it made me self-doubting bananas. Then when I acknowledged that I felt insecure my (so wrong for me) boyfriends would become defensive and tell me to stop being crazy. A couple of them were cheating. This one's different; we can have a conversation about the jealousy and he can tell me that I have nothing to fear without discounting my emotions. So: nice guy. But he is in flat-out denial about this woman and I don't know what to do about it. I haven't come up with a good reason to worry that he is choosing not to see this in her (or maybe choosing not to deal with it) because whatever he gets from this friendship with her, I do trust that he's not going to leave me for her. I think it's weird and a bit cruel that their relationship is so one-sided, but he doesn't agree. But, it's their relationship. So far I've chosen to live with the fact that I feel threatened by her sometimes even though I know he's not interested. Acknowledge, don't dwell. Feelings are fleeting. I don't hang out with her if I can help it, because I can't keep up with weird friendly facades for more than half an hour or so, and I don't think being honest with her about it would be a good idea. However, if there was some kind of pill I could take to magically feel better about the whole thing, you know I'd be all over it.


@baklava! That sounds so tough... 8+ years and she hasn't dated anyone else?? I don't know if I could handle that! I don't have much advice to give, but maybe if you and she have a mutual friend, that friend could try to give her a "look, you are wasting your life hoping around for this dude! Get out there and explore the world of dudes!" type talk..?


@rimy Then again, she probably won't let it go till she hears your bf tell her he's not interested... having a mutual friend get in the middle of things is NOT a good idea... ugh I'm a terrible advice-giver. If anyone knows what she should do (just get over it? But it's been going on for so long!), I would love to hear what you think the solution is.


@themmases Yes, this. I have had vague crushes on male friends who were involved with other people, but I would never try to pursue such a thing. It's always like..."he's so cute and funny...but HE'S MARRIED." full stop. Also, is the LW just assuming this girl is "in love" with her boyfriend based on the fact that she's single and she spends a lot of time with him? Because it is possible to do that and not be at all in love with someone! It seems like she's ascribing all kinds of evil motives to this person that she doesn't know at all, and maybe she should get some more information.


@baklava! I think sometimes all it takes to make it at least a little easier to deal with is getting the possibly irrational feeling "out of you" via conversation. Like, you trust your S.O. and aren't all-consumed by feeling threatened, but still, some verbal reassurance from the S.O. (minus any judgment or those oh-so-helpful "stop being crazy" comments, of course) can go a long way. And it helps if the S.O. admits to understanding why you might feel that way, even if you shouldn't.


@fabel It's annoying when others flirt with your partner, even if you feel secure in your relationship. It's just a bit …rude. In a way, it's good to be reminded that the guy you're with is A Catch, but there's still a territorial reaction (unless you're a dazzlingly polyamorous, unpossessive type, which I've bever been). LW1, FORBIDDING CONTACT does come off as paranoid, but I think you are perhaps feeling more threatened than you admit. I agree with the Lady's advice though, if your relationship is as strong as you say it will blow over. Being *present* and in the same city will help. Separation can lead to an intensification of friendships with the opposite sex, even if you have no interest at all in cheating, just due to the loneliness. Once you're visibly on the scene your boyfriend will be able to rely on you more, and this lady will probably get the message. She may keep being friends with your boyfriend, but hopefully it will become truly platonic, rather than driven by some unrequited hopefulness on her part. You may as well admit you want to claw her face off, though - can see the passive-aggression from here. And it's best to be honest with your boyfriend if their friendship continues to bother you.


@frigwiggin I may be old-fashioned, but isn't acquiescing to your boyfriend hanging out with a woman who's in love with him sort of like leaving a nice, hot roast chicken alone in a room with a hungry dog? (in this analogy, the roast chicken is the boyfriend). I mean seriously, it's just dumb. If it were me, I'd just say I will not have that. I don't find that so hard to admit. Yeah, I am jealous when my boyfriend hangs with women who are obviously jonesing for him. So what? Does that make me a possessive monster? I don't think so. I'm not going to bend over backwards to prove I'm not jealous, just so people will think I'm the coolest girlfriend in the world. What's wrong with drawing the lines? I drew the line with my BF at women when we moved in together. Some friends who are women I'd totally be fine with him hanging with, even without me. Others, forget it.

If you can't tell your boyfriend that the woman he's hanging out with is in love with him and that it's not really appropriate, what on earth can you tell him?


@carolita Seriously. Isn't that just normal relationship stuff? When did it become taboo to say "Hey boyfriend or girlfriend, I am not cool with you spending time alone with this best friend person who is desperately in love with you. Please find some new friends who don't want to bone you as much". And anyway, if you have such a strong foundation to your relationship, surely it can survive the two of you saying that certain people are off-limits. That's not girl-on-girl hate, christ. If anything, being cut of from him is the swift kick in the pants that the other lady needs in order to move on with her life.


@willowz right? I mean, as long as you're not stalking or terrorizing your mate, spying on them and inhibiting their movements, what's wrong with drawing the line at seeing members of the opposite sex (or same sex, as it applies in a homosexual relationship) that are obviously interested in more than friendship? I talked to my BF about this today, and he totally agrees. We discussed the women friends I'm totally cool with him hanging with, and the ones I'm so not cool with. And to tell the truth, he would not be comfortable hanging with the ones I don't like, not just because I don't like them but because they are obviously on the make and he isn't. So I've given him a good excuse to drop them. One of them actually tried to get me into the picture, saying why don't we all hang out, and I was like, hey: if this woman was actually interesting and not just a neurotic girl who puts nude paintings of herself in her FB profile pics, I MIGHT consider it. But as it is, I don't think I'd like her even if she were happily married and hated my boyfriend's guts. Hahahahaha. I mean, really. She was so insistant, it took her months to stop texting him after he told her he was too busy with his work and his relationship to hang out with her anymore, even though he wasn't responding (on my sound advice). Which, btw, proved that I was right about her being a jerk. (Some girls aren't even hot just for him, -- though I can't blame them, ahem! -- but are also particularly hot for my BF because they think he has the power to get them work at the magazine where he works, or an "in" with certain men or women they want to use him as a bridge to. It's pathetic.)


@baklava! I am so glad you wrote this. I am in a very similar situation - BF is still good friends with his ex, who he dated on and off for about 2 yrs, before he dated me. I have no issue with his other friends who are girls but I have seen clear signs (again, too many little things to list them all out) that she's not over him.

I do know that he's not interested in her anymore, he loves me, without a doubt. But it still drives me crazy that he is friends with his ex who is still into him. And I still feel threatened by her. I have tried expressing this to him - ie. asking him why they still communicate so much (email / IM pretty much daily) and he just gets frustrated and I wonder if I'm being reasonable or just paranoid...


@eleven I wish I had the answer! One thing that helped was clarifying the respect for my feelings/discomfort thing. I really did become a much less happy person when my partner was telling me I was 'crazy' or whatever for feeling threatened over something that I genuinely felt was threatening. Although my current situation isn't ideal, when we talk about it my partner is supportive and respectful, and that is important to me.

I think my bf is just unwilling to admit to himself that he enjoys the attention.


@baklava! i think the guys definitely love the attention! i also think sometimes it is the "nice guy" complex that leads them to insist they can't cut the girl off because it would be too mean/ hurt her feelings if she's in love with them.

Anne Helen Petersen

DEAR ALL GUYS WHO WANT TO ASK GIRLS (or maybe just girls who like to read The Hairpin?) ON DATES: Write me a witty email or text and use capital letters. That's really all it takes.






@Anne Helen Petersen and proper grammar/punctuation!


@Biketastrophy Win.


@Biketastrophy I am CRYING with laughter!!!


I second A Lady's advice for LW1: go on with your breezy self! I was in a similar situation. My husband and I started dating in HS, and then we both moved out to the same city for college (at different schools). This girl that had a lingering crush on him in HS moved out to the same city as us to transfer to his college during our junior year. Then she got a job working at the same restaurant at which he worked. And then she [tried to] ingratiate herself with his friends (who were also our mutual friends). I never felt threatened by her, because I knew after 4 years that our relationship was solid as a rock, but I always told him that she likely only did all that stuff because she was trying to get with him. Eventually, he stopped talking to her, and she finally went and got a boyfriend that didn't already belong to someone else.

So yeah, keep being chill about it, but let him know she's into him, and if he doesn't cool down the friendship, then something weird is up. But he probably will. And she'll lose interest at some point.


@olivebee Yeah. It the best friend lady is really all unrequited crushy on him, she'll get over it once you become a real, local person to her. Then maybe lw1 can friend her and someday lol about how funny it was that she once crushed on bf. Or she'll not get over it and exit the friendship because the situation is too painful for her. Then it will be on her to deal with her feelings but it won't be lw1 or bf's problem. Or she'll become more intense and daring about the crush, at which point the bf will have to do something set boundaries and probably end the friendship. In any case, it's nothing for lw1 to worry about. Just be friendly and cool and trust bf, but be open and honest with him in a non-crazy way.


@olivebee Relentlessly Cheerful, Icily Polite... but I also feel like I'd need to talk to my BF about it. It's weird to me, what he has going on in his head. And she does sound more concerned than she says she does. Ugh.


LW3: "Why does he need to have friends that are girls?"

Um because girls are people, and boyfriends like to have friends who are cool people, and sometimes girls are cool people?

Seriously, LW3, time for some realtalk: this is YOUR problem. He is not in the wrong here. You need to a) accept that you are a jealous person and that these feelings are not rational b) get to work on subsuming them, perhaps through therapy or at least positive self-talk. Maybe you should make some friends who are boys so you can find out that platonic, cross-gender friendships are totally viable in a relationship.


@dotcommie Seconded. And seriously, if my boyfriend tried to initiate a "no meeting up with people the other one doesn't know" rule based on having that little trust in me, I would dump him in a hot second. That is a terrible idea.



RIGHT? Thank god I'm not the only one who pulled a what the fuck at THAT idea. What is wrong with this Lady?


@dotcommie Ahh I just said this below but THANK GOD other people were thinking that.


@SibylDisobedience Ehhh disagree. I dunno I think that it's weird for bf to asking for another girl's number (which other girl DID NOT offer him) so he can hang independently of gf. It would be different if, like, other girl and bf were both into whatever scuba diving and he sent her an email regarding this shared interest or they made plans to get up really early on a Saturday to go to scuba flea market, which gf wasn't interested in. Also fine would be ifhe included other girl(s) on group emails or group plans. If I were other girl, I'd be VERY uncomfortable if I gave my number to a girl and her bf started texting me, even if I sort of knew them both from the same context.

Plus spidey sense. It's not that she's threatened by the other ladies or sees them as not people, it's that she's getting vibes off her boyfriend, who is plainly not taking her feelings into account.


@dotcommie Yeah, lady, don't be so bonkers.

Although in this particular situation and perhaps others like it, I feel like the three of you hanging out is a really great and easy solution (since you are meeting these people from a hobby that is shared by all three of you). If he's super against this for no reason then I might be concerned.


@Lana @twitter I mean, she says "I feel like my long-term boyfriend of almost three years always wants to be friends with other girls, and it bothers the crap out of me." That doesn't say anything about vibes, it says she's bothered by the mere fact of him wanting to be friends with girls. I think that attitude could interpret vibes that aren't there in terms of blog comments or whatnot.

I don't think the number-asking is inherently weird. Sometimes it's annoying when only my dude has our friend's number and I have to bug him, "hey dude, can you ask mike to come to this?" and so on. maybe he just didn't want to have to rely on his girlfriend for social arrangements. maybe they do have a mutual hobby the LW didn't mention in the letter. there are plenty of situations where it's not weird.

and i'm not saying i'm not a jealous person. i used to be crazy jealous, but i've worked on it a lot and talked about it with the dude. i recently got a tingling of jealousy about one of my boyfriend's female friends (also my friend). finally i was like "hey dude, you don't have a crush on friend, do you?" and he looked baffled and said "what? no." and that was that. i trust him immensely, and it helps to address the jealous early before they morph into a spiraling snooping mess. also, lots of therapy!


@dotcommie Everything you just said was well said.


@dotcommie I mean, she didn't say that she was spiraling into anything. She said that sometimes his communication with these women was "too friendly for [her] taste,"-- which I interpret as "vibes"-- and that she has expressed her discomfort many times and he just dismissed them as her being "insecure"-- which gives ME vibes.

I think that he could be quite a bit more sensitive to her discomfort about his behavior towards other women. It would not be too much to ask AT ALL for him to do a better job of setting clear, public boundaries with female friends.

And right, the "Hey, can you ask Mike to come this or just give me his number" is different from "Hey, can I have the number of that girl we met once so I can hang out with her when I want independently of you." She is absolutely right, in my opinion, to be annoyed by that, especially when she's expressed that it makes her uncomfortable. An example of how he might modify his behavior while still having female friends would be to go for the former, not the later.

People are different, have different expectations. I think it's really uncool for people to tell LW that it's "her problem" or that she's being "bonkers" because she has different expectations than her boyfriend or commenters. Maybe this is an insurmountable incompatibility for them and they will break up in the long-run because of it, but if that happens, it will have as much to do with his refusal to take her feelings into account when navigating female friendships as it does with her discomfort with them. They BOTH need to have positive regard for each other and make an effort, which starts with communication. It sounds like right now, she's doing more work in that department than he is, but somehow, she's the one being called crazy!

I guess it comes down to this, LW does not sound "crazy jealous" to me. At all. It sounds like her bf is callously pushing her buttons. It's not "crazy jealous" to have the self-respect to ask that your bf be more considerate.


@Lana @twitter I think the weirdness of the number asking really requires context. Was it a purely social thing? A business-y thing like "hey, if you guys ever want me to write a guest post for your blog on Topic We Were Talking About, give me a call!"? Because one thing I've learned with my newfound hanging out with married people is that as a single woman I have to be so damn careful about what I say and do with husbands. If I was going to give my number to a couple like that, I'd definitely give it to the woman to avoid any impropriety, even if whatever business I had for them was mostly with the man.

Vera Knoop

@dotcommie Yes. My first thoughts were 1) I wouldn't want to date a guy who had ONLY male friends, and 2) Good thing LW#3 isn't a lesbian; her head would explode.


@MilesofMountains One practical thing that has worked for me in this kind of circumstance is to have business cards and jot down whatever ("Would love to have you do a guest post!") on the card itself. But again, it's not like people should have to hyperpolice themselves all the time around other-peoples-partners and people-who-aren't-their-partner, it's about having boundaries and being considerate of everyone's feelings.


@Lana @twitter I really agree with you on this, especially on your point about different expectations. LW3 is not bonkers, (LW3 - if you are reading this, you aren't bonkers!) she has a right to set her own boundaries on what level of friendship she thinks its appropriate for herself and her boyfriends to have with members of the opposite sex. Some girls would be totally cool with their boyfriends making and pursuing friendships with women they meet online, or elsewhere, but this letter writer just isn't one of them. That being said, the hard part about the situation is that her boyfriend IS okay with it. And when she talked to him about it he thought she must be insecure about herself because he doesn't think there's anything 'wrong' with what he's doing.

LW3 should ask herself 'If I knew my boyfriend was going to do this for the rest of our lives/relationship, would I still want to be with him?' Because as we all know, men don't change. At least not without wanting to change on their own accord. If you don't want to be the lady at the cocktail party whose husband is flirting with all the other ladies when you are 40,50,60+ years old then you need to move on to finding a guy who has the same expectations and comfort levels around friendships with the opposite sex.

In my own opinion, I have good guy friendships from HS, College, and work and I'm always happy to see those guys, so I've never felt uncomfortable when meeting an old friend/coworker of a boyfriend. But I don't imagine that I would enjoy having a boyfriend who was frequently increasing his stable of female friends, and that's okay.


@CasualElegance this letter isnt about him FLIRTING with other women, it's about him being friends with them. totally different beast.

and, yeah, in the spirit of relativism, we could just say "everyone has different relationship standards" and leave it at that. but, as the response from commenters shows, most modern youngins would NOT be okay if their partner told them they didn't like it when they pursue friendships with the opposite sex. it sounds like you don't trust them. i think LW3 will have a hard time finding someone okay with "well, *i* don't have male friends, so *you* shouldn't have female friends."

i like to apply the "bisexual thought experiment" in cases like this. what if LW3's boyfriend were bi--would he not be allowed to have ANY friends?


@dotcommie She says "A bit too friendly for [her] tastes" and gives example of asking for phone number in a weird way. That sounds more like "flirting" than just being "friends." Or, in anycase, indulging in behavior that is not LW is uncomf with and dismissing LW's feelings.

If he were bi then she would still have the right to ask that he set certain boundaries in certain ways with certain people WITHOUT feeling ashamed about or pathologizing her very ordinary feelings.

As I remarked above, I think it's better to find a balance with jealousy-- allowing ourselves to feel it, knowing how to ask for reasonable consideration from our SOs, and not fall into the tring-too-hard-to-be-cool-GF only to let jealousy overwhelm us and lead us into a shame cycle. I think being able to say, "I feel sad and uncomfortable when you do xyz. For me, can you try to pull it back a bit? I am working on getting over it, but baby steps!" is a lot healthier than thinking the only options are "CRAZY JEALOUS" (which, btw, the LW never described herself as!) and "TOTALLY COOL" (which is usually b.s. anyway).


@LlamaLlama I think she sounds... bonkersish maybe, but everything you said makes a lot of sense. Plus, lack of details and context in the letter make it difficult to really judge (or I am nosy and just love details). I think I am a bit on the jealous side but have managed to (mostly) know when it's me "being that way" or when it's actually something that needs talking about. I don't have anything to worry about at all with my BF but my problem sometimes is how other people might interpret what's going on if he's talking to this person in a bar (he's a musician so that sometimes goes with the territory; I assume one doesn't want to be a standoffish beast if someone who is a lady requests a song or hands him an unsolicited drink or even flirts a little bit), or going back and forth on FB with that one. I'll admit, depending on who it is, I don't love it. But that's my thing, not his and definitely not worth a fight or even just A Talk (and, ahahhahhhaaa--he acts all cool about the reverse but sometimes reveals similar insecurities if he's a bit tipsy!).

However, I don't think this LW is being bonkers or even bonkersish about that phone number business specifically. That seemed a bit much even if she is perhaps making too much of the rest (though, on the other hand, would he have outright asked his own GF for the number if he had shady plans in mind? Maybe not. Still kind of an odd thing to do, in my clearly wishy-washy opinion).



I got the vibe from this girl that she is not okay with him being friends with girls in any context, ever, and that the mere suggestion of him possibly making friends with a girl was unacceptable.

If she were nervous that he was too flirty or he was developing feelings for other girls, I'd have more sympathy for her jealousy, because we all have our stuff, but this seemed much more like "If he was really committed to me I would be the only woman he ever talked to, ever, unless he was giving her his latte order."

And that really strikes me as an unhealthy level of attempting to control the relationship.


@dotcommie I was waiting for this lady to say this also! He might sometimes want to be friends with girls because girls are people worth being friends with as often as guys are. Maybe he asked for her number because he felt kind of slighted that she appeared to like his girlfriend more than him and maybe having the number would sort of normalize things? It's kind of dumb but also human?
Or maybe he just wants to flirt with her alone. Who knows, but the LW can presumably find out, especially if they all three hang out together?
Specifically setting a "no hanging out with ladies alone" rule somehow just seems to be tempting fate.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@ohyeahmetoo I'm kind of torn about this LW. Maybe she's looking too far into it, but a boyfriend who continues to seek out other girls to be friends with that he spends time with alone? I can kind of see why she'd think this is weird. I guess it's kind of hard for us to know without seeing the situation, but, having been in a VERY similar situation where it turned out that my suspicions and discomfort actually weren't completely bonkers, I can kind of empathize.

That being said, I think she's doing the right thing by talking to him about it. I think @CasualElegance is right, LW3 needs to evaluate where this guy is at, and if he's just like that, and I guess how she can better react to it? Like maybe trying to make plans with these girls that she could take part in, or calling him out if/when he does something really uncool, like doesn't answer her texts or DOES go out of his way to answer texts from a friend, or doesn't tell her who he's with or whatever. But not all guys are that guy.


@Rookie Agree with all you said. I guess I just tend to try and see things from the other person's perspective in these advice things, because I think whoever is writing is going to be really biased. But maybe that isn't very helpful because we lack too much info.


@LlamaLlama I agree. As soon as she mentioned that the woman had NOT given the BF her number and then he asked his GF for it? Weird. Not right. A woman doesn't give you her number, it means she doesn't want you to have it. Someday maybe GF will give the woman her BF's number, for convenience's sake, but obviously the woman wanted to be friends with the GF. Doesn't she get to choose? She wasn't asking for a twofer. I do this often. I wouldn't want to hear from the boyfriend of a woman I'd just befriended. That would be weird.


@Linette I agree with you. I thought A Lady was WAYYY too soft on the LW. Limiting friendships with other people is actually often a sign of emotional abuse in a relationship - not to say that she is abusive, but girl needs some perspective on what is acceptable and tolerable from a partner. She needs to sit down with her bf and say, "I feel THIS" without immediately implying that he is in the wrong. I find that acknowledging your emotions in a non-accusatory way to your partner is so effective in getting them to sympathize and be more considerate. That said, if she does this and he totally blows her off maybe he is just an inconsiderate douche.

Niko Bellic

@dotcommie You know, yeah, girls are people and it's cool and then I get to know the girl better, which is also cool, and I never act creepy, I never "make a move" or anything, and neither does she... and precisely because of that she and I start admiring each other more and more, until... love just happens... and that's cool too! And then my "old girlfriend" notices, and suffers, and things between us end miserably, and hey...that's cool too!

If you are 23 that is. When you are 43, and have a small child, you know better than being cool.


I get a little teensy bit jealous when my boyfriend goes to hang out with his female friends without me, but that's mostly because I don't have friends in this town but don't want to/can't tag along on his friendships all the time. I mean, I go away on weekends all the time to hang out with my friends who live in the Bay Area, so it kinda balances out, but it's not the same as spontaneous hangouts, you know? Sigh.


@frigwiggin Haaaaaa. I was out eating lunch near the dining hall at the university where I work, and someone handed me a flyer on "How to Make Friends" because they thought I was a student. I brought this upon myself.


@frigwiggin That is so sad it's funny.


@SarahP Maybe god is trying to tell me that the solution is to pretend I'm a student and sit in on classes so that I can make friends! That works in sitcoms, right?!


@frigwiggin I kind of think we're "supposed" to be a teeny bit jealous when it comes to our significant others maybe? I feel like it's normal to have twinges.

Judith Slutler

TAKE THE REINS! *clatters off in a horse-drawn wagon*

This, forever and always, for all genders of people. BOLDNESS!


@Emmanuelle Cunt
AGREED. I plan to implement rein-taking this evening if I don't hear from the guy I'm hoping to hear from by then. This Lady's whole response just made me feel even more excited to do so.


@Emmanuelle Cunt Yeah that was a totally correct answer. As a cautionary tale; when I was getting together with my boyfriend he was trying to play it cool (he's told me this since) and it got to a point where I just assumed he didn't like me and stopped txting him, at which point he started not playing it cool any more and everything was great. A whole lot of faffing about could have been averted by dual reign taking!


@Fissionchips My partner's and my first month together was the most awkward month of my life! We'd been friends for a couple of years before Feelings and then we started to like each other and I could tell that all our friends thought it was the goddamn cutest thing ever, and they'd ask us when we were not together "are you and Mr TARDIStime together?" And I would say "I don't know" (he has since told me that he also used to say the same thing to our friends when they asked him about it) and then we went to see The Dark Knight and there was some serious reign-taking (for him and me) and pash rash (for me). We kind of mark that as our first proper date but we just kind of mark the yearly anniversaries on a weekend in Sept/Oct every year due to the gradual nature of the Feelingsness.

The Lady of Shalott

LW4: You need therapy. Not necessarily drugs (although appropriate use of antidepressants is never something to be ashamed of, though in a lot of cases it doesn't necessarily have to be a first-line treatment), but THERAPY. Sitting down with a professional therapist/counselor who you connect with, and laying it all out. All of it. Because this is not healthy, and thinking about suicide in relation to a five-years-dead relationship is not healthy, and you do not have to live this way!

Evelyn Waugh was a novelist. Real life is not a novel.


@The Lady of Shalott: And that particular novel is wild satire. Do not be taking life advice from The Loved One!


@The Lady of Shalott Also, LW #4, a therapist would be really great because you would finally have someone to talk to about this. You say you don't talk to anyone about it because it has ruined friendships, and I imagine not talking about it must weigh really heavily on you and probably adds to part of the obsession about it.

It kind of sounds like your head is a pressure cooker, and not talking about this is just ratcheting the pressure up even higher. I think a therapist will really help you blow off some steam (I hope you don't think I'm being flippant with the metaphor. It just seemed really apt.).


@The Lady of Shalott Yes. It really does get better. (TM)


@The Lady of Shalott Yes, I'm so sorry you are feeling all of this, lw4. I too have had my share of obsessive thinking, and it's just awful. But you need to see that this is not about the guy or the relationship. It's about the already existing parts of you that the relationship allowed you to give a shape to and outlet for. It seems as though you two have some negative compatibility (i.e., traits that brought out the manic-obsessive-painful in each other, making it hurt so good), which is hard to let go of... You tried, by cutting it off with him, but you're still in it. Getting into jobs and activities and stuff is good, but I think therapy will help. Imagine how great it will be to talk and unburden yourself someone who isn't going to judge you or get annoyed because the conversation it so one-sided. Please take care of yourself and good luck!


@The Lady of Shalott I agree. The LW needs *TALK* therapy...cognitive behavior therapy. I have no background in psychology, but I do have a background in depression and going to a therapist. That cyclical thinking goes along with depression and the you need someone to challenge your thinking and break those thought patterns. The reason why you chased away your friends is because you tried to use them like a therapist when they were not qualified to help you in the way you need to be helped. So go to a professional who can! It may take you a couple tries, but try to find someone who takes your feelings seriously and makes you think.

You may or may not be a good candidate for anti-depressants and that's for you to decide with your therapist.

Also, something that helps in these situations...when you are stuck...is the "fake it 'til you make it" approach. Sometimes, when you say to yourself every morning, "I'm going to act like a really together lady who loves life and is open to new possibilities for love," you just eventually turn into that person.


@The Lady of Shalott - Yes yes yes LW4, please find a therapist you connect with.

One thing that jumped out at me from your letter: the description of this relationship as "crazed, unhealthy, jealous, manic." And then your subsequent relationships that ended because you "couldn't make [your]self honestly feel enough." Now, maybe (likely?) these relationships weren't meant to be, and you should never be in a relationship that's not making you happy. But I wonder if your experiencing such an intense relationship has skewed your expectations for what "enough" should feel like. It's something like an addiction, no? You may be chasing the "high" that you got from the overwhelming intensity of that relationship. It's a big big step to acknowledge that this was an unhealthy relationship, so well done you for taking that step. The next, I think, is to examine your expectations for a healthy relationship.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@chevyvan Yes therapy! Lots of therapy! And also likely drugs. I am back to say YAY DRUGS because it is what I do.

LW, I am not in any way trying to sofa psychiatrist you here, but the ideas of: feeling SO MUCH with this guy; trial drugs making you hazy/dulled; the ups and downs of your relationship; not being able to talk about him non-obsessively, etc... these are all things someone who is bipolar might experience. Again, I am NOT saying you are bipolar and I am certainly no mental health expert (aside from just having a lot of treatment for it). Just that these are common symptoms of larger issues, often to do with imbalances in mood, brain chemicals, and/or coping mechanisms. Meaning talk therapy is a very important component, but that sometimes it is not enough and meds are needed on top of the talk.

Also, know that the "haziness" is a very common side effect of many of the psych drugs on the market, but that not all of them are like that. And depending on your particular body and your particular circumstances, similar drugs can work in different ways from patient to patient. I'd say that finding a good med/set of meds and getting the dosage correct can, in my experience, take about 6-12 months. This doesn't mean you stay on one rx that long, but that you meet regularly with a psychiatrist (like, every 2 weeks-2 months, depending how far you've been on the current drug) to evaluate the effectiveness and side effects.

And just as a note in general, not necessarily to LW, that "haziness" is also often a side effect that is actually indicative of the drug working. For someone who has functioned in a manic-type mindset for a long time, coming down to a "regular" level of energy and emotion can seem almost like you are losing the ability to feel. You can't necessarily trust yourself to evaluate these things, which is why you should meet regularly with a Dr.; but there is a difference between feeling different and calmer and feeling worse and numb to the world, and you want to look out for the 2nd one.


I think A Lady is being a little unfair to LW1's boyfriend. It'd be so hard if your best friend started to develop feelings for you! I think most of us in that situation would rather hope said feelings will go away than risk confronting them and losing a best friend. If it's just a little crush, it could fade quickly, but making a new best friend would take time and be very sad.

LW4, I'm sure your relationship was really nice, but he clearly wasn't perfect, nor perfect for you. It sounds like you're depressed and/or in a really bad mental place and you're unconsciously using him and your relationship with him as touchstones for a time you were in a better place.


@SarahP I agree! I've been 'the boyfriend' in this situation, and I mostly just crossed my fingers and hoped they'd get over it; ditching someone who you really like and has been otherwise a good friend over a bit of a crush seems a bit drastic. I also think it *does* matter how the LW knows- if the girl asked him out once, discovered he had a girlfriend and left off, that's a bit different to lying around in negligees trying to lure him away.


@SarahP & @questing beast
I've also had a best friend in love with me and I had to eventually just let him go because he. would. not. drop. it. He eventually started to just be mean to me because he realized I wasn't leaving my boyfriend for him, even though I gave him zero inclination that would ever happen. So I feel for the boyfriend in this case, but understand that the friendship might not necessarily survive.

paper bag princess

@SarahP I think it's also important that they're in an LDR. I have a male friend who is in an LDR right now and we enjoy flirting with each other, because he doesn't get to see his girlfriend much and likes to joke around with someone, and I am sort of scared of actually flirting with available men so I like practicing with my friend. But I'm not under any illusions about his relationship, and I fully understand that once his GF moves here that will all stop. To me it's sort of like having a "work husband" or a "work wife," someone you flirt with a little bit and then go home.

Anyway, I'm just curious how LW1 "knows" that this girl is in love with her BF. I'm sure to outside observers it might look like I'm actively hoping for the demise of my friend's relationship, but that's certainly not the case. I think she should wait until she gets to the other city and see what happens.


@questingbeast YES! I mentioned above that how she knows is what confuses me about it. If it's because of something blatant, that makes me think it is cause for alarm (or, you know, mild concern). If now, then maybe she doesn't really know-know.

@beanie Oy, me too. It was not fun. And it made me think less of my friend because it seemed like he just wasn't respecting my opinion on the matter.

Daisy Razor

Having a concrete plan for a first date when he first emailed me was 100% what got my now-husband a first date. I was so thrilled not to have to do the "I don't know, what do you want to do?" dance.

And Lady #4, I think talk therapy would be really helpful for you, because often when we focus on one thing or person to the exclusion of everything else, it's because there's something in that "everything else" that we don't want to deal with. I've been there, and therapy really helped.


@Daisy Razor Concrete plans are THE SEXIEST. Concrete plans say, "I have put thought into this, because I care about you, and I want you to have a good time."

My now-fiance's script: "Would you like to go to this event with me?" YES. "It's occurring on Friday and Saturday. Which night is better for you?" Friday. "We'll go Friday, then. Let's get dinner before. I'll pick you up at 6- does that work?" Yes. "Awesome. I'll see you then!"

I was very impressed by this. Then two days before the date, he texted to ask what kind of food I like. I gave him a broad range, and he suggested a restaurant. (This is a nice courtesy so the person being asked out can figure out appropriate attire.) Then when we got to the restaurant, he'd made a reservation. I died.

TL;DR: Concrete plans are hot, and demonstrate that you are an adult.

Lily Rowan

@TheclaAndTheSeals YES.


@Daisy Razor YES. In fact, it may be why my now-husband is my now-husband. He called me the day after we met and said, "I would love to take you to dinner on Saturday if you are free." And he had a specific restaurant in mind. Then, at said dinner, he suggested a few places within walking distance to get a drink afterwards, stated which one he preferred, then asked if I'd like to try it or one of the others. SWOON.

I also agree with your advice and to Lady 4. That misery isn't about the boy, Lady 4. He's just a distraction from the real problem(s). Therapy can sometimes also be dramatic, full of highs and lows, and lots and LOTS of work, but ultimately it will make you much, much healthier than you are right now. Good luck, and lots of internet hugs to you.

like a rabid squirrel

@TheclaAndTheSeals Agreed! My last boyfriend was very decisive about what he wanted to do when we first got together and it was a big point in his favor ("Is there anything you don't eat? No? Okay, let's get sushi at ____ restaurant at 7. Does that work?"). In turn, dating him made ME more clear and assertive about what I want to do and what does and doesn't work for me.


@Daisy Razor My boyfriend was not so good with the concrete plans in the beginning, but he was very good with calling THE VERY NEXT DAY and making it absolutely clear that he wanted to see me...a lot. He can get halfway there, i.e., setting a time and showing up when he says he will. I usually had to suggest the restaurant for dinner (and still do). I can definitely live with that.


@TheclaAndTheSeals Also, ladies can get in on the plan-making, esp. if it's a 2nd or 3rd date! My boyfriend and I used to take turns planning dates. It's a little nerve-racking, admittedly (Do you want this? Do you prefer that? DO YOU LIKE ME? PLEASE LIKE ME.), but at some point you have to grit your teeth and be like, well, this is what /I/ enjoy, and what /I/ want to do. Which can be hard for even the most self-actualized & liberated of ladies. Ironically, that often allows the other person to take more pleasure in it as well, if only b/c it will be obvious you're sharing something you like w/ them. If not, well, at least you'll have fun.


@D.@twitter Oh yeah! This is not gendered advice by any means. I was simply responding to the dude asking how to ask women out. Ladies wanting to ask dudes out would also do well to suggest concrete plans and follow through.


@TheclaAndTheSeals Or ladies asking ladies out! Or dudes asking dudes. Or any other combination.


@Daisy Razor
Concrete plans for the start of the date, at the least. I don't think there's anything wrong with, say, starting at a specific bar at a specific time for a drink, but then deciding together whether to stay/have dinner/any other activity depending on the mood. That way you get the fun of spontaneity together too.


@TheclaAndTheSeals When I first started dating my current boyfriend, he was really shy and had a hard time being direct about things. I was in his city on vacation (a pre-cursor to moving there) and really wanted to go on a date with him before I left but he would. not. ask. me. Since I didn't know the city very well I lacked the ability to make concrete plans, so I called him and said, "hey, do you want to take me on a date on Friday night? Maybe we could go out to dinner somewhere you like." And he planned an awesome date and we had an amazing time and I tried malaysian food for the first time ever. I recommend this to all girls dating certain breeds of shy boys in their 20s.


I feel like LW4's problem is way, way bigger than just trying to get over a guy. It has been five years. Multiple people have cut her from their life because she cannot let go. This is not love affair gone wrong - this is a serious lack of joy for life / human connection / reason to be. I do not want to fall into the trap of diagnosis on the internet, but this is clearly not about the boy anymore. This is about getting help, getting support and finding what it is that will allow you to move on, even if it does include a temporary stay in a hazy, less passionate world. The sort of passion these types relationships entail is not usually all that healthy and being able to feel happiness should not be dependent on having that sort of self-destructive thrill ride.

Reginal T. Squirge

I feel so sorry for her. Sometimes you hold onto that person from your past so tightly because you're worried that if you let them go, there will be absolutely nothing ahead of you.


@Reginal T. Squirge I do, too. I probably sound kind of harsh, but I do feel really sad for her.


Is it sick that I wonder if she's still feeling this way because there was something there, at the base of it, that was good and true? I don't see anything in the letter about why they can't give a second go of it. It's been 5 years, they've probably both grown up a little. I'm in the process of maybe returning to something that was a little twisted the first time around, and may still be, but if you can look at it with semi-clear eyes, I don't know why trying one more time wouldn't answer some of these questions.


@allinmycar Honestly, I don't think that this LW should get into a relationship with anyone right now, and especially not the object of what she says herself is an obsession. Her head is in a really, really bad place, and I don't think she should be focusing on anything other than getting out of this place. I think anyone that she got into a relationship with - including the original guy - would ultimately be a distraction from the greater issue, which is that she is really, really unhappy.


@allinmycar From everything the LW indicated, this was an unhealthy co-dependent relationship and no good can come of getting back together. If the letter writer said she was an alcoholic 5 years ago and is sober but still thinks about drinking, nobody would suggest she take that first drink. Relationships can be as addictive and destructive as substances.


@entangled I didn't realize this until I read your comment but that letter could have been written by my sister (though she is not as well-traveled as the LW). And it is sad... and also infuriating, to be honest.


OK, LW#1 and A Lady, I have dealt with this from the guy's perspective. Almost to the letter.

One of my very best friends in this city is a girl I met in grad school. It has always been 100% platonic, and I cannot stress that enough. I have had girlfriends, though, who've resented the time I spent with her and have told me they thought she had feelings for me. Now, I know her pretty well, and I think I would know if that were true. I am not a total idiot. It's possible LW#1's boyfriend isn't concerned about the whole thing because he knows that it's a platonic friendship and ain't no thang.

There are lots of reasons to want to hang out with someone of the opposite sex. A relatively small number have to do with that person's genitals. The fact that you have no interest in getting to know her means you will only consider the potential for sex and will miss other fine qualities he obviously sees in her.


@Emby I am pretty curious about how she definitely knows the friend is into her boyfriend. She says she doesn't think it matters, but it does! Some random friend in Town said so? You snooped through his e-mail? You read her diary?


@meetapossum The most plausible (reliable) seems like he rebuffed her a year in the past or something like that. Which actually doesn't mean that she still has feelings for him at all. I'm a pretty good lock-it-down-not-going-to-happen type when turned down, and I've turned down friends (and stayed close friends) whose crushes went away before too long.

Point is, I agree. It seems pretty likely she's not harboring some endless, deathless love for this lady's boyfriend.

sceps yarx

@Emby I had a ton of platonic guys friends before I got married, and the ones who were truely platonic and had no romantic feelings at all for me just kept on being my friend after my marriage, same as always. The ones I had a little bit of a "thing" with (no moves, just subtext) faded out of my life. And you know what? The ones who were truely platonic with me are now good friends with my husband, too. And some of my current best girlfriends are girls who married the platonic dude friends.

In conclusion, my advice to LW1 is, move in, claim your space in your boyfriends life, and try to be friends with this other girl. Give her the benefit of the doubt. If things are truly platonic, she'll become a great friend to you, too. If there's a romantic subtext, she'll bail.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@meetapossum I reaaaallly hope she read the girl's diary, but has not met her. That would be an even better letter.


@meetapossum I kinda feel like it was probably snooping related OR maybe she has met and/or talked to this woman and the woman told her she was in love with her boyfriend. I can see why she would not want to be friends with her after that.


@Punk-assBookJockey Maybe the FriendGirl has a blog and the BF mentioned it and GF checked it out? Not snooping but not not snooping either. And I know this from experience, though it was a blog written by my BF's long-ago ex and had nothing to do with the present. And even so, man, am I sorry! Oh, that was terrible when I did that.


To be fair, I dated someone who, after the first time we met, said he would call in three days. I thought it was pretty hilarious, since doesn't telling me defeat the purpose of waiting three days? But he did actually wait exactly that amount of time, and I found it sweet and stupid at the same time. Dudes!

Reginal T. Squirge

He probably didn't mean to tell you about the three days.


@Reginal T. Squirge Maybe, but he was a pretty open book. I think he was just really into rules.

Reginal T. Squirge

I said that because I can just see myself getting a girl's number and thinking "Threedaysthreedaysthreedays" and then her going, "So you'll call me?" and I say, "Yeah, in three days!" and then hating myself forever for being a dumb.


@Reginal T. Squirge Aw! As I recall, it wasn't prompted from me, but it was many years ago.


@meetapossum that's so funny! also reginal i agree maybe it slipped out hahaha

Mad as a Hatter!

@Sierra That's what she said?

tea tray in the sky.

I have a little bit of a crush on Reginal T. Squirge I think.

Reginal T. Squirge

Oh, no. This will all end in TEARS.


Lady #4: those relationships are drugs. No, I'm serious. You are addicted to the chemical highs and lows of that relationship, and are still going through withdrawal. You will never be able to maintain a stable relationship (the FEELINGS weren't strong enough) until you have therapy-not just psychiatric care (eg drug therapy), but actual, get to the root, long-term intense counseling. Something was not right *before* the relationship, and something is not right after.

But you deserved a much longer response than the lady gave you...


@hotdog yes, exactly. She sounds like she is addicted to brain chemical highs and lows in general and just not able to be comfortable without some sort of adrenaline-type distraction. This guy is just another representation of this, which sounds like the real issue in her life. To be honest, I think it's such a huge issue that there's not really a good way for A Lady to address it over the internet.


@hotdog word to that. All of it.


@hotdog Hopefully, between a handful of us we can write LW4 a super duper long response! I pledge at least 4 paragraphs, myself.


@hotdog I agree that she needs a lot more response, but I don't think it should have come from A Lady. Advice columns a for entertainment first and foremost (I'd insert a link to that interview with all the best advice columns that came out a few months ago...but I'm feeling lazy). But LW is suicidal. I think the best course of action was to direct her to therapy, pronto, and not try to hash that very serious ish out for all the internet to see.

Don't get me wrong, I LIVE for Ask A... but I think in this case, this is too serious for non-professionals to deal with.


@emilies Yeah, I mean.... a) this isn't Dear Sugar and b) ultimately any response to this sort of letter really does have to be "go see a licensed professional who can help you with this."

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@insouciantlover I responded before getting through all the comments. Three paragraphs! (Which is probably mostly gibberish. But. Words? They are tricky.)


@kfizz Definitely :)

Pariah Carey

I just gave very similar LW2 advice to a male friend. "How do I ask a lady out?" He is one of those guys who is perpetually friend zoned, and I believe lack of directness is one of the main reasons. Like, MAKE YOUR INTENTIONS KNOWN. Even as a coupled person, when I get a text from my boyfriend that says "Wanna go to (restaurant x) for dinner tonight?" or "We should see (movie y) this weekend," my first response is always "Are you asking me on a date?

I dunno. Maybe my expectations are too high/too old-fashioned, but seriously, make your chosen person feel like you're choosing them! Deliberately! For their stellar company and/or legs!

Lily Rowan

@Pariah Carey The term "friend zone" is so offensive to me. "Friend zoning" is not a thing. A woman may be friends with a man -- may or may not ONLY want to be friends with that man -- but that is not the same thing.


@Pariah Carey I have a male friend like this, too. The last time we spoke about it, he said he likes to wait for them to make the first move so that he doesn't come across as creepy. I tried to encourage him and explain the difference between "direct" and "creepy." I think when I grow up I should be a "directness coach," I swear.


@Lily Rowan Yeah, it's misogynistic in a really strange way; 'this woman's being nice to me and not giving me false hope for a romantic relationship; she's probably just keeping me for later! What a cow!'

Pariah Carey

@Lily Rowan I don't necessarily agree with you, and I certainly don't mean to offend. If someone is honest about their romantic intentions, I am more inclined to see them in a romantic light. If someone lacks directness, and their intentions seem purely friendly ("we should hang out sometime" vs. "I want to take you on a date"), it is difficult to switch brain modes and to consider them romantically AFTER that friendship has been established. I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm saying it's like I certainly feel like I've eliminated that possibility, and to have to reconsider that (by this friend later telling me that they have romantic feelings toward me) is jarring.

I don't meant that women hold friendly men at arms' length AND NOTHING WILL CHANGE EVER, and I'm not generalizing to say "all women do ____." I think we try to put people into "zones" based on how well we know them and the types of relationships we have with them. Many humans like to ascribe order to things that maybe are too complex to really benefit it, like relationships.


@Lily Rowan I think any guy that ever complains about being perpetually in "the friend zone" is just waving a giant flag of "I'm an immature ass you don't want to date anyway," honestly.

Editing for clarity: it's because it puts that woman in a place where obviously she's just there for him to hopefully sex, and if she doesn't want it, he's "friend zoned," and he's implying that not having sex with him is bad and he's been unfairly maligned by her awful sex-withholding by ending up in the "friend zone."

Maybe if it wasn't ALWAYS framed as a complaint, the idea of a "friend zone" wouldn't be so offensive. But when it's always, always framed as a horrendous complaint, it says a lot.

tea for all

@Lily Rowan Coquette would tell him like it is: "Platonic relationships are different than romantic ones. They begin differently, they progress differently, and they sure as hell end differently. You better cozy up to that fact pretty quick, because you simply cannot continue to behave like this with the new relationship. If you want a romantic relationship, you have to be emotionally honest from the get go.

"You have to put yourself out there, and if she rejects you as a potential romantic partner, you have to move on without thinking platonic behavior will eventually entitle you to something romantic."

Lily Rowan

@Pariah Carey I'm not offended by you, I just think the phrase is usually used by Nice Guys(TM).

Like what @Scandyhoovian said.

Pariah Carey

@Lily Rowan GOTCHA! I agree, and I'm a big Coquette fan. Nice Guy Syndrome is the worst. Guys who think being friendly entitles them to eventual blow jobs, as long as they just log the friend zone hours, are the worst. Guys who get angry or woe-is-me or she's-such-a-bitch-because-she-friend-zoned-me are the WORST WORST.

I'm taking "friend zone" back. It's my perrogative to friend zone dudes who are wimp-asses about their intentions. I don't want a man in the romantic zone if he's not a good communicator anyhow.


@Pariah Carey ack. I have one male friend like that who I had to stop hanging out with. Too much subtext.
Also, I have been direct and asked people out. I would like for them to return the favour.


@Lily Rowan man I am so late to this thread. But I just wanted to agreeeee with this! Friend zone is something dudes create because they don't have the guts to ask a girl who they like and are friends with out! Because there are guy friends in my zone who I might go out with if they asked, and guy friends who I definitely would not go out with if they asked. Y'know?

Also the existence of the friend zone idea makes me anxious sometimes about doing things with my guy friends! Because I worry that it's misleading because they think they're "logging friend zone hours" but then I'm like dude you're overreacting and these dudes are responsible for their own lives and you are not responsible for their behaviour/expectations. But then ... I still worry that it's misleading. I have at least three or four guy friends who I worry about this with, which probably says more about my narcissistic personality disorder than anything else.


@redheaded&crazie lady, in my experience, you can kind of tell. There are some male friends who (this happens better in retrospect, generally) it's clear there was chemistry, but no one was doing anything about it, because, fear, or, just, not right timing/person, and male friends where there is clearly not, and male friends where you're like, you really want to get laid, and I can't help you with that.
Seriously lady, I feel like it's not you. And probably, words would help the situation. They might lead to losing a friend, though.


@theotherginger ughhhh I want to talk about this so badly but PUBLIC FORUM INAPPROPRIATE TO SHARE OTHERS' FEELINGS.

The thing is that if I say something, I kind of feel presumptuous (even though yeah, I can kind of tell). And if I say, no I don't want to accept your invitation to do that thing, then I feel like I'm making something weird out of what could just be friends hanging out. Soooo I don't know what words will help these situations :S


@redheaded&crazie my solution: stop hanging out with these dudes and never talk about it ever. But it is annoying, because, like, there was a reason we were hanging out - because I liked you AS A FRIEND.


@theotherginger :( :( :(




@theotherginger i think the solution is clearly to turn a blind eye and matchmake them with other friends! a ha ha ha ha

note to self: never try to solve anything again.

okay let's use an example where you can be like "holy shit red are you oblivious as fuck." the answer is I'm not oblivious but don't know what to do! note: this dude has a girlfriend. this is the fb message he left me on my birthday: "Happy birthday my love. I will be thinking about you while dining over [identifying details here] xoxoxo have a good 25th babe"

what. on. earth.


@redheaded&crazie I mean god if that isn't just the perfect message to make all the LW1s, LW3s, and other jealous people on this planet freak the fuck out forever ... (and I am one of those jealous people)


ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE for #2: I am not a 'dater'. If you ask me on a date, I will probably not go. Especially if we've just met! You don't even know me, why is the only option now romance? Hang out! Get to know me better! Say "let's get coffee (or a drink or whatever)" but it better not be a date. If we want to be friends, we can be friends. If we establish some sort of mutual attraction, then, yes, we can go on a 'date' or just get it on or whatever.

Reginal T. Squirge

This is exactly why dating is The Worst.


@tales I think your perspective still holds with A Lady's advice, though...the key here is being straight-forward with one's intentions.

If it's "let's get coffee," it better damn be a let's-get-to-know-each-other coffee, and not a date.

If they want it to be a date, they should say so, and then (depending on how I feel about jumping right into a date) the other person can say, "let's just get to know each other first--coffee?" or "sure, let's go on that date."


@tales And this is why the answer to "how do I ask a woman out" is "it depends on the woman". We are not all the same! I think A Lady's advice was good, but it took a lot of flirting for my (now) boyfriend to decide that if anything more than flirting was going to happen, he needed to make it happen(I am not a first-move girl, it is one of my flaws).


@tales Here's the thing about saying "let's get coffee." I have been hoodwinked by these types of suggestions before. You meet some guy, and he asks, "Hey, wanna go get a cup of coffee later this week?" and you naively assume that it's a friend thing. And then you get there and TA-DA! It was a date all along. This has happened to me several times, and I was already in a relationship each of those times, and it was very uncomfortable and I had to awkwardly name-drop my boyfriend during the conversation and then I felt like a jackass for leading a guy on. Anyway, this all goes back to the point about being explicit as to whether this is meant to be a date or not!


@tales @werewolfbarmitzvah - YES. that has happened to me more than once. hate having to awkwardly mention the boyfriend.

Roaring Girl

@tales I never actually dated as such, for exactly this reason. And I recognize that this is entirely my own issue. If you tell me we're going on a date, I will freak out and probably cancel. And if you don't tell me it's a date, that is fine, but do not pull a bait-and-switch with romantic stuff and expect me to not run away screaming. My husband and I went on numerous platonic outings with no romantic pressure whatsoever before he gently suggested we admit that we liked each other, and it was LOVELY, dammit.


@werewolfbarmitzvah Ugh ugh ugh. While I don't like date requests, if you stealth-date me, I will never speak to you ever again. It's awful. I agree with y'all in this thread that whatever the preference, straightforwardness is key! Just that, for some women (like me!), consider getting to know them in general before trying to date them.

I have strong feelings about this due mainly to time spent working at a comic shop and getting asked out by, like, 90% of our single, lady-interested customers. None of whom knew anything about me except that I smiled at them when ringing them up.


@tales ew. that sounds no good.
I like going on dates. I think coffee with the direct and obvious intention to get to know one another for dating purposes is good. stealth-dating is awful.


@tales OMG. I am so happy to hear that I am not the only person that has gone on accidental dates while in a relationship. You have no idea. My friends don't understand how it happens, but when a guy friend says, "Hey, we should grab dinner and chat about x charity event," I think pizza, beer, strategic planning. I did not assume dimly lit restaurant, bottle of wine, share dessert.

My ex calls them SURPRISE! dates. At this point I think he just enjoys my suffering (in a snarky best friend sort of way, not a "Serves you right, you nasty person who dumped me" way).


@tales Thanks! I agree. Actually got into a discussion with a friend who only wants "dates" ... the guy actually has to say the word "date". I much prefer the low-key "hang out" ... keep it open, keep it loose, keep it FUN!


LW#4 - it sounds like this isn't, at bottom, about him. I know that sounds ridiculous, because it sounds like your whole experience of the problem is that /this particular guy/ is gone. Upon rereading your letter, there's one line that reinforces this thought for me: "he was the only person who ever made me feel not alone." if you were here in person , I'd ask you what this loneliness felt like before you met him. It sounds like you're painfully, chronically lonely, like the cold edges of the void are all too familiar to you. I know those edges too. They're really scary. And it sounds like thinking about him being gone is - as painful as it is - less painful than facing that void all by yourself. And if you can think about him then you don't have to think about the void (or, you know, however that shows up for you).

So, I think the first step is trying to find little ways and moments when you can see past the this-guy-shaped hole, and see what's beyond it. My guess is it's other holes of other shapes. And in order to face those, you gotta find a really safe space. Because you just can't go there when you don't feel safe. It can be actively damaging to go there when you're not safe. And finding safe space is often half the battle. For many people that's therapy - and it's a lot of really hard work to find a therapist who really gives you what you need. For some, it's taking a room in your house (or hell, even a closet) and filling it with pillows or an altar or nothing and just being in it, and let it grow into whatever you need. For me it was working with a shamanic practitioner.

So, I wish you luck and send you love, and I have faith that you'll work it out <3


LW4, there was an advice column some months ago in which the brilliant phrase was spoken: chase butterflies, not lightning bolts. I know you think that big ole constant display of chain lightning between you and toxic-ex (texic?) is the most intense feeling you'll ever feel, and maybe it has been so far, but it clearly has this really negative side-effect of, you know, sapping you dry. Imagine as if instead of a person, you were talking about a drug. And you were like, oh man, heroin, that shit was great except for the part where I was unable to function in society or poop or care for myself.

I'm coming from a place of being able to relate, as I had my own texic who I had to cut off several years ago and man, do I know what you mean about the obsessive thoughts, the constant dreams, and the nobody will ever make me feel the same way and nobody understands how connected we are to each other even though I'm really fucking miserable. I lost some friends and I flat out lied to others who I knew just did not want to hear about it, which just served to isolate me even more from the people who cared about me. Sound familiar?

I'm not sure what the psychiatrist gave you, but in my personal experience the psychiatrist was helpful for an initial prescription (benzos AND ssris!) but the talk therapist who I found has been instrumental in helping me change my life for the better. You say that you loved this person more than you've loved anyone in your life, and I say you need to learn to love yourself more than that.

Also, I love the way this A Lady writes.


@insouciantlover great response. And this is such a good point: "You say that you loved this person more than you've loved anyone in your life, and I say you need to learn to love yourself more than that." <3

@insouciantlover I did this! I weaned myself off fireworks! It is great!

Butterflies for LIFE.


@insouciantlover I remember that article - it was a Loveline quote, no? Saying that the sick parts of ourselves found each other and exploded into something meaningful but so unsustainable and unhealthy? (And perhaps someone other than I remembers a Hairpin article about Taco Tuesdays where the author said that we love people that were loved the same way we were as children?)
Anyway, both of those articles really got me in the gut, as I too (there seem to be so many of us! Thank god) have been dipping into the scary places in my head over some sick relationship that ended, so much so that everything has become a scary place and everything reminds you of him and it all and maybe I should lower all my life goals down and stay nested in some small little memory place where I can forget real life but still be splinteringly unhappy? I suppose I should agree with everyone else and say go to behavioral therapy, but mostly I just want to say thanks to everyone else who this is a "thing" for and said so. It makes me feel less like, as Harriet the Spy said, I have LOST.


Toxex, perhaps? Also, I like the way you think.

Judith Slutler


Don't throw yourself off of a building, please. This world would be a poorer, sadder place without you.

If you're ever feeling particularly dire, please call one of these hotlines: http://www.befrienders.org/ It might sound silly, but I promise it can help.

Also, therapy! It's different than the drugs, it can help. Sometimes, the drugs work better if you do therapy at the same time.

Please take good care of yourself. Things can get better.

Citizen Cunt

#4 - Real talk: the drama in your letter is exhausting. Keep trying drugs until you find something that agrees with you and keep seeing your therapist. Maybe being in somewhat of a haze would be a good thing. You're going to burn out if you keep up that level of intensity.


@Citizen Cunt Wow. If it's exhausting for you to read about, please pull on your empathy hat and imagine how difficult it was for LW#4 to ask A Lady for help.

Citizen Cunt

@HereKitty It's not that, I have empathy. I'm saying that she needs to get some help. That letter sounds like a cry for help to me. She said she had gone to psychiatrists, she needs to get professional help instead of asking a random rotating internet person. I'm sure it's clear to #4 the drama is exhausting.


@Citizen Cunt Yeah, "keep trying drugs" is about the most dismissive way you could've phrased it.

Nancy Sin

LW: 4 - it's called infatuation and it only thrives because you CANNOT be together. I had the same problem with someone I dated for mere months. Reading about infatuation sort of normalized and quantified it for me and it helped when I realized it was my brain playing tricks on me.

Also: therapy (like everyone else is screaming), hypnosis (works amazingly), and maybe still some meds? There are all kinds out there. You sound pretty manic (coming from a fellow 'polar-American, out of love) and you may need a little chemical action to shut down that loop of Crazy Love. You are addicted to the highs. I hope you get help.


"...if it was the other way around he wouldn't care. Which is true — he wouldn't care..."

I hate this justification for behavior in a relationship. So what if it wouldn't bother you if I did it? It bothers me when you do it, and the fact that we don't share the same standards of tolerance/annoyance does not invalidate my feelings.

If this is the only justification this letter-writer's boyfriend can come up with, then I think he's being selfish. I'm not saying he should stop being friends with other women, but I am saying that that's a pretty shit thing to say to someone that you're in a relationship with. Imagine how much better she'd feel if he were to acknowledge that this isn't really an issue for him, but he sees that it is for her, and so he'd like to find a way that they can both be happy with the situation.

Judith Slutler

@wee_ramekin OMG yes. First off how does her bf KNOW he wouldn't care? And secondly why are her feelings wrong because they are different from his hypothetical feelings. That is some bullshit.


@Emmanuelle Cunt @wee_ramekin .... SERIOUSLY!!!


@wee_ramekin It took me a few months to learn that in a relationship that just ended, as simple as the concept of "just because it wouldn't bother you doesn't mean it doesn't bother ME" is. But seriously, it's on point. And will be used in future relationships.


@Emmanuelle Cunt

Not to mention that when he responds like this to her bringing up the issue, it shuts down any further conversation about it. Meaning that instead of actually addressing the issue and getting to the root of why she's jealous, he's just making it about how this wouldn't bother him, GOD, why are we even talking about this?

Look, I think that LW#3 has stuff that she needs to work on. Insecurities, boundary-setting, what have you. But I don't see her boyfriend as this totally blameless, guileless party either. She has brought up the issue, and his response to her telling him that his behavior makes her uncomfortable is to basically say "Tough cookies! Doesn't bother me!". I just feel like that's not a very...loving?...response to give when your partner comes to you with a concern, and I definitely don't think it's helping her to be less jealous. He may not be doing anything - in fact, from the letter, it sounds like he isn't - but he's also not being very empathetic or looking at their relationship as if they are a team.


@wee_ramekin You are 100% right, wee_ramekin. Find a new dude or lady, LW3: one who respects your feelings and shows some empathy when you express a concern.

I had your exact problem in my last relationship. It was the pits. Nothing takes a tiny bit of jealousy and turns it into a big pile of jealousy like not having your boundaries or feelings taken into account or even politely considered.

If you've noticed that he's got a pattern of flirting/making female friendships for the express purpose of getting some sexual attention (note: some people are hobby flirters, some people enjoy dating hobby flirters. That's cool, y'all, we all have preferences) and he isn't willing to take your needs/desires into account, then you've got to make a call about whether it's something you can tolerate.

Also, some dudes (my current, for instance) have female friendships that are indistinguishable from their male friendships. It's awesome and 0% threatening. No subtext, no inappropriate touching, nada. Just like hey we read the same books, are in the same program, root for the same sports team, and talk about stuff like people friends. Ahhh, so cool. It can be like that, LW3. I promise.


This is not a helpful comment but I am compelled to make it anyway. I was unimpressed with this A Lady. I found her responses a little one-dimensional and brief. Maybe I have just become too enamoured of Captain Awkward and her fantastic blog to see other advice-givers clearly... But especially with LW4, the suggestion of therapy is GREAT but you also need give a little more actual advice. Otherwise why pick that letter at all?


@mabellegueule I was actually going to link a bunch of Captain Awkward threads dealing with similar things here (until I realized it's probably rude to link one advice column on another advice column). Captain Awkward is amazing and right about most things.


@mabellegueule I agree, except in the case of LW4: if suicide's mentioned, I think saying 'go and see someone in real life' is urgent and important. What if she didn't write to anyone else?

Roaring Girl

@mabellegueule I agree, and I felt mean for thinking it, but I thought this A Lady was kind of rambling and unclear, and her advice was not as solid as you usually get with the Ask A series. And I did think maybe she should have just emailed LW4 instead of airing her issues without being able to address them.

runner in the garden

@Roaring Girl - I think it's a useful thing to publish it. I think advice columnists should make it clear, from time to time, that there are problems that are troubling and good to talk over with people and get advice on, and then there are problems that are much more serious and need immediate medical attention.

In addition to helping LW4, it allows any potential readers who recognize themselves in her letter to hopefully get some external perspective on what's going on in their own heads.


LW1: I was the other girl once! The begirlfriended dude and I were definitely each others' only friends for several months in a new town and i was totally infatuated. It was totally silly and shameful and I kind of moped around about it a lot at the beginning but guess what? The girlfriend showed up and she was so, so great, aaaaand my feelings for the guy just kind of disintegrated at that point. And it makes sense - this guy I liked so much had chosen a girlfriend who was also a lot like me, us, whatever. It was weird for like one night and there were shots and staring, it's true, but eventually we all traveled together several times, I visited them in yet another town a year later. Happy ending!

Sort of, because they broke up a little while after that and despite successfully maintaining real, true, close friendships with each of them, now I'm only friends with the girlfriend. She really was, is, so amazing. And we've never explicitly discussed The Early Feelings I'd like to forget but I'm sure we will someday.


@pampelmuse Oh yeah, I've totally had that happen too. Also (not to get freaky) but it can be kind of fun when both people are cool and you can kind of flirt a little bit with both of them. Your "shots and staring" made me think of that.


@pampelmuse YES! This is what actually happens to most reasonable people with those awkward crushes, they disintegrate within an appropriate timespan. I recently stumbled into a friend group where everyone has unrequited crushes for friends in relationships that they have been carrying around for YEARS. Crazy people.

Reginal T. Squirge

Something about all these people hinting at #4's feelings for her ex being inauthentic is starting to bother me.


@Reginal T. Squirge I think it's more that no one should feel that way about an ex that he or she hasn't seen in a year. It's not that it's inauthentic, it's that it's tinged with a serious despair that shouldn't be linked to one person's absence, (with the exception of a child or a spouse). Especially a person with whom you were "obsessive and manic and sad."


@Reginal T. Squirge I concur. Even if she decides in ten years that it was just projection, it doesn't change how she feels now or help her in any way. That's like telling a depressed person "it's all in your head." Like, no shit, dude.

sceps yarx

@Reginal T. Squirge I don't think her feelings for her ex are inauthentic. I just think she's having feelings for him as a person, other feelings about having an intense relationship, and meta-feelings about having all those other feelings, and it's all kind of layered on top of each other. It's a feelings lasagna.

Reginal T. Squirge


I don't think it's fair to tell anyone how they should feel about someone. Time is a rubber band!

@sceps yarx

LOL @ "feelings lasagna".


@Reginal T. Squirge I don't think anyone's saying the feelings are inauthentic. I think they're saying that she needs to recognize where some of the less-pleasing side effects of those feelings are coming from. Many people have loved passionately, and then lost passionately...but this isn't about that. The fact of the matter is that no matter how much you love someone, you have to move on and preferably not feel like you want to end it all five years later.

I also feel reasonably comfortable telling anyone that writes "I would almost not mind dying if it meant the sounds about this boy in my head would go quiet and the pictures of him that play constantly behind my eyes would go blank" that these are feelings they need to get rid of for self-preservation.


@Reginal T. Squirge I kind of feel the same way. Honestly, I am surprised nobody has suggested the "third way" which is that she gets back together with this guy. Maybe it would be easier to figure out a way to make it work with him (also involving therapy?) than to escape from this misery of longing. Being obsessed with someone is a terrible way to live; all of my deranged obsessions have at least become live-able after a couple years. Five years is a long time so maybe there really is a better way. I know this sounds like a psycho suggestion but it's not like much else has worked for her so far?


@Ellie I dunno, dude. By the LW's own description ("we hurt each other in sick ways"), the relationship was at BEST kind of unhealthy/codependent and at worst totally toxic. From my own experience, and what I've witnessed in a few friends/loved ones, I know that sometimes difficult or traumatic events can spark a bigger problem that you have to address on its own merits.


So many of the commenters here are solid, intelligent, heart-feeling folks, and I'm interested to hear from those who have some input how you curb / stop jealousy. Do you believe that it really just comes down to once-and-for-all conquering your insecurity? Because, I have to say, I believe myself to be a relatively happy, confident person, and yet, there are times when I get bit by jealousy and all its frustration (I'm Not Crazy and I Love Other Women and Solidarity and I'm Better Than This Emotion Is Making Me Feel So Why?)
A curious lady wants to know. I really do think y'all are great. And I do not mean to detract for LW#1 or LW3 - I think this can help!


@freelee a friend of mine sent me some notes from a lecture she went to about jealousy that were really, really helpful. Basically the idea is to stop thinking about jealousy as an emotion and start thinking about it as a cluster of feelings. Sometimes it comes from insecurity that you aren't good enough for your partner, sometimes it comes from someone or something taking your loved one's time away from you. Sometimes it is fear that someone else is providing something you aren't. It can be a whole host of fear/anger/sadness/envy/etc. I think breaking it down that way is really, really helpful because then you can address exactly what is causing this feeling rather than trying to suppress the feeling itself.

sceps yarx

@freelee I don't get jealous when my dude says other girls are hot (in fact, I like it and it turns me on), or when he is good friends with them (the more rad friends the better), but I DO get jealous when he admires another girl's singing voice. Like, green-eyed, sulky, fantasies-about-stabbing-people jealous. The simple reason is because, while I'm very confident about my looks and my personality, I'm a little bit insecure about my musical ability. It's like, the chink in my natural-confidence armor!


@entangled That is such good advice. I would love to find that lecture. One of the methods I use is similar, and I try to identify jealousy as Fear when it comes up, instead of as a mysterious, powerful emotion. It helps me stop the crazy-town snowball effect if I can say "What am I afraid of? Am I braver than this fear?" (always say yes)


@freelee I think that entangled's advice and your response to it are really solid there: the answer is that you have to look at the jealousy and figure out where it is coming from. Are you jealous because you think it is detracting from the time/attention that should be yours? Do you feel insecure? Are you afraid that he will leave you for one of these other women? Do you simply have no role models of healthy male/female platonic friendships?
I also think sometimes we get all caught up in feelings that we think we're SUPPOSED to feel, because that's what everyone around us says they would feel, or what everyone in the fiction we're exposed to feels. Like, if you know a bunch of stories about dudes who were friends with women and then cheated with those women, you're going to expect that it's not okay. But if you have examples of healthy platonic friendships that weren't a threat to the relationships of the people in them, you're going to be more chill about it.

But the real answer is that in order to get rid of jealousy, you have to get to the root cause, which requires some serious introspection.


@freelee Thanks :). I can email you the notes if you want - they're from a presentation my friend went to at a polyamory conference so a lot of the examples deal with that, but I think the thought processes she talks about apply to monogamous relationships as well.


@freelee I am not super-jealous but probably a wee bit more on the jealous side of the dividing line than the not jealous side. I'm also impatient and easily annoyed in general. So, when I feel the nasty little pings, I try (and do not always succeed) to pinpoint if it's me being a jerk or if it's not. Like, what if my BF was annoyed at the exact reverse situation, would I think he was being unreasonable? And this is not an exact science because, while fair is fair and double standards generally suck, the fact is that different people are bugged by different things and I guess that should kind of come into play. Also is whatever the situation is worth it to have a big talk that could create a fight? Will I forget all about it tomorrow and only remember an argument? And is it a breakup-worthy offense, meaning is the fight you might have going to escalate into something else entirely? Once, an acquaintance of my BF was blatantly (I thought) propositioning him. She repeatedly grabbed his face and turned it toward herself, in what I think she thought was a sexily direct way, and asked if I (who was sitting about 15 feet away talking to some other people) was a GF or "just a date." I wasn't that mad at her actions or even his responses (polite but icy, and then he walked away) but I was mad that he, later, refused to consider that she was up to something. And we had a fight about that, and the fight itself, not the topic, became an issue (if that makes sense)--over some lady he rarely even encounters. Why did I want so bad for him to say, "Yes, she was implying I should take you home and come back for her"? Who knows? I think the jealousy came into play more because I felt like he was "taking her side" over mine when it didn't matter anyway, while also implying (I thought) that I was being shrewish. I know I am digressing, and that situation is nothing like the LW's.

I know it sounds like I have checklists and graphs but I really don't. I just try to remember that, of the two of us, I really am the less patient, more annoyable one and maybe that's what's making me feel jealousy and mean things. If a real situation came up, I think my BF would handle it admirably. If he didn't, I guess I'd just have to tell him to wake up and take care of it (because maybe he's oblivious)? This is a hypothetical I do not like!


@entangled I love this. Dudefriend and I are in an LDR and when I start getting jealous and acting petty, he calls me on it and makes me untangle things until I find what's going on. "I'm jealous that A gets to hang out with you so casually when it's all I can do to schedule a phone date this week," or "I'm sad that I can't just run up and jump on you and make you hug me like N can." He's very patient, and it's honestly the only way I can handle my jealous phases. It almost always comes down to missing him like crazy and wanting to be physically present in his life, but I hate when I act all petty and jealous because of it. I have exactly no worries about him leaving me for any of his female friends, and I've met several of them and they are lovely people who I would like to be friends with someday.

But yes. I definitely think untangling the jealousy and figuring out its components is solid advice.


Not to induce panic and paranoia, but my ex-boyfriend had a "just a friend" that was NOT just a friend. I tried to be cool & breezy about it, and even befriended the other girl for all the beneficial reasons stated upthread.

I secretly harbored a lot of suspicion and jealousy about their relationship, especially when ex-bf would ask my permission to hang out with her and I breezily said "oh, yeah, sure, no problem".

It turns out the suspicion was well-founded when I spent a night with him and in the morning I found an item of hers and he sheepishly confessed. Asshole.

To be fair, this was in college and I have gained much savvy since then so I doubt I would be so clueless again. I hope. Ugh, though. What a dumb relationship. :/


@rimy Holy crap, what a dick. And it's not clueless to trust someone you're in a relationship with! This was totally on him.

Aunt Ada Doom

@rimy Seconded over here. It happens, and you feel like a moron. 1st boyfriend (different colleges, same state) -- just a needy friend -- be cool and non-controlling -- we break up -- new girlfriend! -- pregnancy! -- marriage! Welp, that was unexpected, but fortunate.


@rimy Did he make good Negronis, too?


@rimy Ugh, man! Back in college or not, I am sorry you had to deal with that kind of crap. Terrible!


I'm sorry, Lady, but a big siren went off in my head when I read this in your first response: "He wants extra attention/flattery, I'm imagining?" The sprinklers started when I read this: "no meeting up with people the other one doesn't know" and then I had to evacuate the building.



Lady #1: I don't think the Lady or the commenters above understand where you're coming from ("what is the problem?"). Let's be clear: this is a nice girl, and you trust your boyfriend, but your interest and her interest are mutually exclusive. Your interest is to perpetuate your relationship with your boyfriend, and her interest is to hope (even, perhaps, deep down in the cockles of her heart) that your relationship ends. Nobody here is doing anything wrong, but that still doesn't mean that you and this girl need to be friends. It also still doesn't mean that your boyfriend and this girl can't hang out, which you recognize. You know what? I've had guy friends who liked me, and it was a bummer, but I made it explicitly clear that I was happy in my relationship, and if they choose to hang out with me anyway, that's their choice. It doesn't mean I'm going to sleep with them or start dating them, which my boyfriend knows. I don't think it's weird that your boyfriend wants to be friends with somebody who has been very important and special to him, just because he doesn't want to be sleeping with her as well. He's a grownup and you're treating him like one. There is no problem here. Make sure that he knows she likes him, and maybe say - once - that you are uncomfortable around her because of her feelings about him, and then let it go. If you trust your boyfriend, trust your boyfriend.

LW3: "Why does he need to have friends that are girls? And how come he tends to make me feel like I'm the crazy one for thinking this way? "

Because you ARE crazy for thinking this way. You think out of 50% of the human race, you are the only female on the planet who can offer him any social pleasure at all? You think dudes in relationships give up the right to interact with other women? Unless your boyfriend has somehow demonstrated that he doesn't deserve your trust (and your letter gives no mention of that) then this is a problem with lies within you, not your boyfriend,/i>. Trust doesn't mean "I trust my partner until they come up against something that might be tempting" - that's meaningless. Trust is "I trust that when my partner is confronted with something tempting, they will do the honorable thing." If you don't think your boyfriend can do the latter, dump him. If you think he can, the problem is in YOUR head, and bears no relation to external factors.


Oh, LW#4. Your life is not a Bronte novel.

I can say this because I was just like you. I was in the thrall of a darkish, deepish, mysterious man who said profound things and quoted poetry and was just generally broody but with a spirit of outdoorsy adventurousness that… ohhhh. I was completely undone. He made me love him without looking at me.

We had a thing, and it was extremely intense and emotional and EXCITING precisely because “We made things and did adventures and were crazy. But also we hurt each other in sick ways, either sadistically or by being self-destructive in ways that hurt the other person. After a long time, the happiness got less and less frequent and was more fleeting and desperate.”

Because we all know that awful feelings, while awful at the time, are also great entertainment. They pass the time. They occasion nostalgia. I don’t know why, but they do. I watch a movie where someone is pining for someone, and I get that old ache in my chest, and it is pure pleasure. You know what I’m talking about.

But here’s the thing. That’s a very distorted view of relationships. That is me casting myself as Jane Eyre in my own reenactment, and every time I play it in my mind, it becomes more dramatic, more intense, more meaningful than before. I have distilled the story down to the good/intense parts and left out everything else that doesn’t fit the narrative.

But your life is not a Bronte novel. You are not a tragic figure, so stop casting yourself as one.

I can’t tell you how to turn off that voice in your head that is telling you that what you had with this man is fate and the only way you can fulfill your destiny. It took me roughly five years, if that helps you set up a timeline.

That friend who left you because of your maudlin obsession was a clear message. “I am not going to enable you anymore.” Now you need to stop enabling yourself. Dear Prudence would tell you to seek counseling, and I agree with that. But you also need to make some everyday changes in your habits to push away those Jane Eyre feelings. For me it was: 1. Stop watching all those BBC period dramas on Netflix (for a while). 2. Stop listening to sad music. 3.Get involved in a very physical group hobby/sport that you can direct mental and physical energy into. 4. Stop expecting every man to be Rochester.

I think that one of the unintended consequences of all the traveling you’ve been doing to distract yourself is that you haven’t been able to make any deep new connections. Have you considered that maybe the only reason your emotional memory of this guy is so strong is that you haven’t hung around anywhere else long enough to form*new* emotional memories?

sceps yarx

@blueblazes Oh my gosh you guys, I totally have a friend who IS Jane Eyer. She is very young and ended up marrying an older guy with a tragic, epic past and a certafiable crazy ex. And he has a kid. What made it work, though, is that she is actually an even-keeled, analytical person who has a very low-drama approach to her life. And, like Jane, has strong Christian beliefs to help her through the dark stuff. Also, her husband, unlike Rochester, is not a lying dickwad (jk, <3 u Rochie!)


@sceps yarx And presumably no attic-wife?


@blueblazes I actually get the sense that LW4 is having more of a Wuthering Heights experience than a Jane Eyre experience. Jane Eyre as a character is very practical and even-keeled, and her story also manages to resolve itself into a functional relationship by the end. LW4 appears to be in a Wuthering Heights scenario, in which she and her ex have a fiery, tormented love that has no appropriate venue but in the bowels of hell. (Which is cool and all, but if she's planning to live in the world and not in the bowels of hell, she's gotta put the ghost of this relationship to bed somehow.)


@werewolfbarmitzvah Hahahaha, I agree, though I feel like Rochester might still want their relationship to be full of angst.


rochester, omg. it's 4 in the morning, go back to sleep


@werewolfbarmitzvah Oh, I agree. My own sitch was a Jane situation, but really I'm talking Gothic Romances in general.


@sceps yarx Yes, Mr. Rochester was a lying dickwad, but I always felt he had some pretty compelling reasons for being one. Enabling, maybe, but he gets my sympathy vote.


One thing that sucks as much as self-Wurthering Heights-ing is self-Rebecca-ing. I WAS MY OWN MRS. DANVERS! I WAS GASLIGHTING MYSELF! I don't recommend it.




she woulda been a sweet atheist blogger given time and internet access


♪ ♫ ♪ this is what missing the point looks like ♫ ♪ ♫

Eudora Quilt@twitter


still Jane is less of an atheist than Catherine and I do think that plays a role for the Wuthering Heights/Jane Eyre comparison. Because for Catherine, 'love' (or whatever she feels for Heathcliff) is her religion, and for Jane religion is still her religion, although her version of it may not be the conventional one. I do think that accounts for quite a bit of the difference in outcome. Religion is problematic in many cases, but love as religion always ends badly.


LW3: "Why does he need to have friends that are girls?" Well, why does he need to have friends? They're people he gets along with, and if you're confident that he's not trying to cheat on you or if his interactions with them don't seem like flirting, it might be time to start recognizing that they're just like any other friend.

Then again, if the types of interactions he's having are starting to be inappropriate, or if he's trying to explicitly exclude you, that sounds like a broader issue.


I can't help but wonder if LW1 isn't worried so much about the possibility of something sexual between boyf/other girl, but is jealous (subconsciously) of their strong emotional connection. She clearly has some feelings about this or else she wouldn't have written. I am the other girl in one of these relationships, and dudefriend's girlfriends have always had a problem with the fact that I, a girl, am his main confidante. Our relationship is 100% platonic, and I've tried to make friends with his girlfriends, but they seem to resent our history and emotional closeness.

Now I've read this and it sounds like a bad rom-com. Sorry, guys.


@falafelwaffle ugh this is so off-topic but I really like your username. It reminds me of the time I had a trivia group called the Tawdry Falafels and we came in dead last. Good times.


For LW#1:

I won't get into how I know, as I don't think that matters...

Ah, young grasshopper, but it does indeed. Either you know because you witnessed firsthand her hitting on your boyfriend, or someone (BF, third party) told you about something she did, or you came across information (emails, texts, etc) indicating she was into him.

This matters a great deal. If the ostensibly platonic friend hit on your BF when she knew he was committed to someone else, there is a whole lot of air to be cleared. Because feelings are one thing, but actions motivated by those feelings are something else. It is not necessarily disrespectful to you that she has the hots for your BF, but it is probably irreparably disrespectful if she acted on those feelings. At the very least, air needs to be cleared, and she need to sack up and apologize to you directly (assuming she wants to continue a friendship with him).

If you got the information from a third party or from your own investigation (snooping), then the problem isn't the ostensibly platonic friend. Not entirely, anyway.

I subscribe to a pretty simple rule when it comes to the feelings of my partner (vis a vis attention from a third party). "You don't make me uncomfortable, I won't make you uncomfortable." Whether your partner's discomfort is reasonable can be an issue, but, from a personal behavior standard, I knock off the behavior until that issue is resolved.


@karion Sometimes you find out without having hard court-appropriate evidence though. It becomes obvious through their words, their decisions, the way they look at him/you, etc. More of an obvious-to-everyone slow burn. It isn't always about a direct statement or an email or whatever, so there isn't always a 'thing' that you/he can/should act on.

I like your last paragraph though about the comfort! That's something I try to do to.


I really liked all of this advice. Especially to #2. I am such a big fan of directness! I try to put it into practice and have received positive feedback.

However, am I the only person who really doesn't like the "I'd like to take you out to dinner"? (FYI, I'd prefer wording like "Would you like to have dinner/get coffee/whatever somewhere around here on Saturday evening?") I have a little bit of a "thing" about getting drinks/food bought for me, but I find that wording creepy, because to me it just sounds like the guy has "designs" for me, even if I know it's meant nicely and chivalrously. Just saying "I'd like to buy you a drink" makes me feel like I am being prepped to feel obligated. Is this an insane way to think?


@Ellie Oh, I get you, I get what you're saying. I think. I always had a really weird time letting people buy me dinner or what have you (past tense as I'm out of the dating pool) because in my mind there was a certain expectation of quid pro quo that I didn't even want to get into. Also, I just didn't eat on first dates, so dinner wouldn't work anyway.

However, I imagine that if you didn't want to do dinner and turned it around and said "let's meet for a drink instead" that he might be game? Then, if you're into it, you can segue into dinner during which you can pick at your food and drink way too much.

Judith Slutler

@Ellie Kind of? I have had the same issue in the past, so I started insisting on splitting the check or trading off on rounds of drinks. It's a pretty good way of weeding out the ones who actually DO mean it in a gross obligation way.


@Emmanuelle Cunt Oh I always insisted on splitting the check. If for no other reason than to not be one of the free-loading bitches in his Nice Guy rant.


@insouciantlover I hate eating on dates too! I did it a lot on my best first date though, oddly. We got coffee and then we continued by getting pizza. I picked nervously at my half. Then later he made me dinner at his house, and I helped, which was the most nervewracking ever. (I even mentioned during that I used to have an eating disorder, but not in a way that explained why I was being weird, and it later transpired his roommate thought I was weird.) I hate eating with or in front of other people in an intimate/small setting (dinners with family friends or with large groups of people are A-OK) . . . I guess I still have a ton of anxiety about food I don't often notice.

@Emmanuelle Cunt Yeah, trading off on rounds of drinks is the way to go, I am always happy to do that. It achieves the same function (the feeling of doing something nice for someone and having something nice done for you) but more mutually and without either party feeling put out or obligated.


@Ellie When guys asked me out for coffee, I used to get there early so I could by my own coffee and be waiting for him. Kind of a shoddy trick, but, I hear what you're saying.


@smidge I DID THAT!!!! On aforementioned date! Haha.

Lily Rowan

@Ellie When someone says "I'd like to take you to dinner," you get to be direct and clear back! And say, "I'd be happy to meet for dinner, but I always pay my own way on dates" or whatever makes clear that you still think it's a date (if you do) even when you split the check. And then everyone knows what's up!

Good times.


@Ellie I have so much anxiety surrounding the getting the food from the plate to my mouth that it can really throw a wrench into my enjoyment of a date! I found that salads were the worst and finger foods the best. That's why beverages are just so much easier to navigate.


@smidge I always do that too! For me, though, it was because I'd hate getting there after him, then going up to say hi and then having to awkwardly break up the conversation by going "so...I'm going to go get a drink now..." then it always ends up being a really slow line and he's sitting watching me stand in line and it's just terrible all around. God, first dates are the worst.


@smidge I always have to stop myself from refusing invites for coffee because I don't drink coffee, but I know that the invitation isn't actually about the hot beverage.


@Ellie I have such a weird thing about dates paying for me - I always split because I am awkward about money with people I don't know, and especially on a date (for obvious reasons), but at the same time, I get mildly jealous of those girls (like my sister and a lot of my female friends) who ALWAYS get free drinks at bars, free dinners, etc. Maybe because I end up in relationships where it turns out the dude is really just lazy and a cheapskate, so I end up paying for most things once we're in an established relationship, so I feel like I should sort of take advantage if a guy is offering to pay for me in the beginning? Also a bunch of my friends have this very "you are being chased/courted/etc, he should pay for ____ for the privilege of your company." Which seems very old-fashioned/kind of backwards in a gross way, but also I think it would be nice to be treated once in a while?

Dating sucks. It makes me feel like a jerk when I haven't even done anything.


LW#4 I wish I could write more but I have to leave for a trip home right now! I think you have limerence. Go here:


You will find a community of people to talk to who a) have or have gone through exactly what you are going through, b) will listen and discuss ad nauseum without judging or getting impatient, c) suggest methods for making it easier.


@Tracy Yes! I was thinking limerence as well.

LW4: Limerence - It's painful and agonizing and many counselors or therapists will respond with "uh..huh?" if you mention it, but do a bit of research and try to start thinking about this relationship in terms of imprinting. Honey, you've been a little baby duck and have imprinted on this guy. It's time to imprint on yourself. It gets better. You can get through this.


LW3 should take LW4's idea of comparing one's life to a book and pick up Mindy Kaling's new little number!


Holy crap. I was LW4, too - when I was 21-24, and that letter sounds so much like a page out of my journal from senior year of college that it makes me physically uncomfortable. I was also suicidal over a boy who didn't want to be with me, and who I thought was just the absolute of human perfection. And after a while, it was just exhausting. And boring! Because, just like a wise, wise lady said above, life is not a Bronte novel.

The only reasons I escaped the pit of despair/obsession/sorrow/whatever: Therapy, Welbutrin, and changing the way I wanted to cast myself in the novel of my life.

LW4: please, please GET HELP, and get a new life, or at least a new life story, and don't jump off a building. The process of getting over something like that is really, really difficult---much harder than wallowing in this familiar narrative of all-consuming sadness. But it is SO worth it; it gets SO MUCH BETTER. I promise. And it doesn't mean losing what this relationship meant to you, but being able to compartmentalize it into a part of your past, while still living your present.

(Actually, LW4, if you are in the New York area, send me an email; I will refer you to the incredible therapist who saved my life.)

@BadWolf Life is Not a Bronte Novel.


Seriously, this.

I also figured my shit out with therapy, Wellbutrin, and chasing butterflies instead of fireworks. No longer hung up on douchebag! No longer in awful emotionally fucked up relationships! Have a Ladyfriend who is awesome! On the road to talking about marriage and settling down in a way that is fulfilling and wonderful!


Since we are all talking about therapy and counseling in relation to LW4, can anyone recommend a plan of action for actually getting into therapy and finding a person you click with, and not totally breaking the bank in the process? I've never done it before but I would really like to, I just don't know how. And I bet LW4 could use a few pointers as well.

@permanentbitchface Social workers. Find your local social work grad program, call them and see if they have resources.


@S. Elizabeth Just jumping in to say that my (*wonderful!*)therapist is also a Licensed Certified Social Worker, so your suggestion sounds really helpful.


@permanentbitchface This is probably kind of New York-centric of me, but... psychoanalytic institutes offer low-cost therapy with analysts in training. This obviously only applies if you think you're interested in longer term/psychodynamic therapy rather than shorter term/CBT or whatever. Also, some therapists will do sliding scale if you can come during less in-demand hours (e.g. early morning, midday). Also, if you have health insurance, it will probably pay something--and maybe even a fair amount--even if the therapist is out of network.


@insouciantlover hey! mine too!


@permanentbitchface If you live in a college town, the local university may have a counseling program open to the public.

Also, Captain Awkward has a really good roundup on ways to look for low-cost therapy in your area right here.


For LW1: When I was in grad school, my cohort consisted of a bunch of ladies and one really flirty guy. The guy had a girlfriend he'd been dating for years, but she was in a grad program a few hours away. One of the girls in our cohort really fell hard for this dude, and because he was a genuinely nice (and kind of flirty) guy, we could all just see her getting more and attached while he was pretty oblivious. HOWEVER, once his girlfriend came to visit, it was just incredibly clear that he was head over heels for her, and she was probably one of the most awesome ladies I have ever met. After that, my friend's crush seemed to cool off a little, I think it helped her to see him interact with his Actual Girlfriend.

My point is, this other girl might have an easy time deluding herself that she's a better fit for him since she never sees you, but if you two are totally solid and she gets a chance to see it for herself, it could make her face reality. You don't have to hang out just the 3 of you and rub it in her face or anything, just meet up with a bunch of people for drinks or something so she can see you interact with each other. Maybe that will help?


@Tiktaalik Yeah, maybe the LW should hold off on making any judgments on the situation for now... because it's now no longer the same situation to judge; with her move, she's changing the whole scenario/playing field/game/rules/dynamic/whatever expression fits. Maybe it would be better to just get a firsthand feel for all of this in its new format for now. And maybe the whole long-distance thing itself is actually what was spurring these feelings.


LW1: I have been the girl openly in love with her best friend, I have seen him through girlfriends both good and bad (loved the good ones, hated the bad ones), and he knows I love him but has made it clear that it isn't emotionally mutual. (We do, however, hook up when neither of us is dating someone.) She just wants him to be happy, ULTIMATELY, if it's really Real Love - that is, caring about the needs of the Other as much as you care about your own needs. So while she may not ever be best friends with YOU, she's probably not trying to be malicious or devious. Cut her some slack, her heart is probably hurting.

LW4: You sound exactly like my best friend. She had her BIG LOVE back in high school; when they broke up in college her world ended for a few years, eating disorder came back, dubious sexual decisions, etc. She sort of got herself together but I could tell that she really, really missed what her life used to be, as awful and miserable as they made each other. Right before she started grad school, she met a guy she really hit it off with. Immediately after meeting him she went back to her hometown (already scheduled), saw her Ex, and realized that there was a bigger, healthier love out there for her. She's been married to the "new guy" for a little over a year and completely blissful. Hang in there! :)

The Hyperbolic Julia Set

For LW2: The Art of Manliness had a series called "Stop Hanging Out with Women and Start Dating Them" Which was entirely about how if you want to date a women, ASK HER OUT! If she says no, and "The Brad Pitt Rule" fails, then move on! It is quite lovely. http://artofmanliness.com/2008/01/16/stop-hanging-out-with-women-and-start-dating-them/



I am thinking of you and sending good things so hard...I hope you can feel it.

I've been and am in your shoes.

1) "Get help" sounds cold and unfeeling, like no one understands, but get help. Find a therapist you can talk with. You might go through a ton! It took me about five to find out who treats me like an adult, understands that sometimes I don't have much to say, and gets that sometimes it's just about getting through the day. And you know what, it's an odd way to do it, but I think that Angie's List has a space for healthcare reviews. It might be worth ten bucks a month, and that's far better than just closing your eyes and pointing to your insurance's directory and hoping for the best. (Hell, if you think it might be a good way to find someone, and you need a few months worth of dues while you look because it's out of your price range, tell me, and I will definitely pay it for you. Having a great therapist has helped me so, so much, and everyone deserves one.)

2) The drugs...ugh. On one hand, I can be suicidal without. On the other, yeah, I can feel hazy sometimes. I think that in addition to a great therapist, you need an awesome psychiatrist. Someone who can help you figure out the right drugs in the right amounts. And what exactly you need drugs for. If you feel like a zombie, the drugs/dosage isn't right. Yes, you're going to feel odd as you adjust to having "normal" brain chemistry. Example: I'm moderately/severely depressed and bipolar. I'm on Wellbutrin and Effexor. The Effexor, for me, acts as a mood stabilizer (and it's not generally supposed to--but hey, a good psych will help you with things like this) and I still struggle with feeling emotionally "neutral"--not having the ups and downs that for years defined my emotional map. My amazing therapist, though, helps me realize that feeling neutral isn't the same as feeling negative, or having an absence of feeling. And if I feel out of touch with my emotions for an extended period of time, my psych helps me with that. Don't write off the medication yet, please! As someone whose life has literally been saved by antidepressants...please, don't write meds off yet.

3) Find something you can do. You say that there have been fleeting times you've been happy...I'm not suggesting you do those things over and over again to recapture the feeling. But try to find something you can consistently do--a routine--that you know is kind of your sanctuary. For me, it's working at an animal shelter. I have a normal shift that I work with people on, but what keeps me going is the one-on-one therapy I do with feral/abused/scared cats and kittens. On those days, it's just me and the cats, and the cats don't care if I cry. Or am happy. Or spend the whole time talking. The point (at least for me) is that it can be incredibly hard to have a routine when you're so depressed, but at least a little one can help. Sure, I know I'm helping the world by doing work at a shelter...but really, it's my mental time. The cats are going to love me no matter what. Maybe you can find something comparable? Not animals necessarily...but maybe carve out some time, doing something that anchors you.

I guarantee that every single 'Pinner here is pulling for you, hard. Please, please, find some help. You aren't alone. There are a lot of good medical professionals out there. Check out Angie's List for your area--like I said, tell me if you want help in the area of finding help. I know (at least for me) that I felt like a lot of people were saying, "Get help! You need it!" but I felt very alone in that help-search. I'm going to put out a hand here and say that you aren't alone, and if you want a virtual hand to hold during your help search, throw me a reply. I'm happy to get you my email. I am not a therapist, and I can't pretend to be one. But I truly, truly want you to know that you are going to be okay, and that sometimes it just takes awhile to figure out how. And you don't have to do it on your own.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@catsuperhero Seconded. I've never been through something exactly like what you described, LW4, but find someone to talk to. Get help. There's no shame in it. Find something to focus on, something that will help you and is good for you and deserves to have you. And most importantly, know that you have the strength to get through this, and once you find it, you'll be in a better place. It sounds kind of like you're just trying to forget everything that's happened to you, but that you know you can't. There are definitely ways to deal with this that will help you start to feel better.

Dirty Hands

"A Date or a date or A dAtE or a wHatEvER." HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA exactly.


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