Boyfriend's Secret Friendship Has Me Wondering
Dear Annie: I've been seeing this guy since early December. He's perfect in every way, except he seems to be attached to this one woman, "Suzy," who he became good friends with due to unfortunate pasts connecting the two of them. Since the very beginning, he has always been honest with me about his platonic relationship with Suzy.
While I have no issue with him being best friends with Suzy, there were a couple of instances that I found troubling. He seems to want to keep his friendship with Suzy in the bubble just for the two of them, while he's "forcing" me to accept her by mentioning her name so very often. I know part of it might be that he wants to be honest with me whenever he has plans with her. The last time he mentioned that he was planning to watch her son's event with her, I offered to join them -- it was a public event, so no one would feel like a third wheel -- but again he rejected the idea.
I'm somewhat confused by their relationship because if they're just friends, I don't understand why he always has problems including me so I can get to know her, too. I feel that their relationship is definitely more than a platonic one because he seems to be very involved emotionally with her, even if they do not have a physical relationship. Do you think my new relationship with him is doomed? Should I give up now before I get hurt later on? -- Confused in Michigan
Dear Confused: His friendship with another woman does not constitute a problem, but his secrecy of it does. Even if there is no infidelity, his behavior is making you feel like a second choice.
Tell him that it's important to you to spend some time with Suzy. Frame it as an expression of your love for him rather than your suspicion of her: "If she's an important part of your life, then of course I want to get to know her!"
One thing to consider: You say your boyfriend's friendship with Suzy formed "due to unfortunate pasts connecting the two of them." If he and Suzy have experienced similar traumas or losses in their lives, perhaps he views her as a safe space. Through couples therapy, he can better communicate what he values in his friendship with her, and you can better communicate your concerns.
Dear Annie: You gave "Want Peace and Quiet" some good advice, except for one thing: You never mentioned the fact that her daughter may also be going through some mental health issues of her own.
Taking care of a parent all the time is a tremendous stressor on the child.
I used to be extremely patient, too. I tried to take into consideration all the things my mom had been through.
I had taken care of my father when he was dying. I was already exhausted.
I moved to be closer to my mom and help her. Helping turned into her taking advantage of me, never saying thank you, constantly criticizing everything and never being the least bit happy.
It sucked every ounce of patience out of me, and I didn't like me anymore. Cut the daughter some slack. -- Tired Sandwich
Dear Tired Sandwich: Thank you for this valuable perspective. Both mother and daughter owe it to themselves to take responsibility for their health -- mental and physical.
"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.