Saturday, July 4, 2020

Her Boyfriend's Best Friend Is a Woman

Carolyn Hax is enjoying a vacation somewhere, so she has brought back some of her oldies but goodies. Her column of March 15, 2006 is sane and sensible. She tactfully avoids the central issue and offers some advice that the letter writer, named K, might be able to use.

The situation is not good. It seems to be flashing warning lights on K's relationship. And yet, she has tolerated it for two years, so our own understanding that she has made a mistake must be balanced against the fact that she has a considerable investment in it already.

The problem is: her boyfriend’s best friend is a female, Apparently, they communicate constantly, regardless of whether K is present. K does not live with boyfriend, but when she visits, boyfriend and his best friend are in close contact vis instant messaging. All the time.

K explains that the relationship between boyfriend and his best friend has always been platonic, though she should have said: to the best of her knowledge.

So, you will be thinking that, regardless of whether the best friendship has always been platonic, and regardless of boyfriend’s intentions, female best friend might have a different intention. Boyfriend is fairly obviously being seduced by his best friend. His female best friend is obviously unconcerned about what the steady diet of communication is doing to boyfriend’s relationship. This tells us that, no matter what boyfriend thinks, his best friend has something else in mind.

Here is the letter:

Hi, Carolyn: My boyfriend of two years has a female best friend (they met in college) who lives a couple of hours away. Their relationship is and always has been completely platonic, but my issue is this: My boyfriend spends a lot of time on the computer and they are constantly instant-messaging each other. I'm not talking a few times a week; more like two or three times a day. He often chats online with her while I am visiting for the weekend, and I find this behavior rude and annoying.

When I try to talk to him about it, he just tells me he has never had feelings for her and they are just friends … but he doesn't ever understand that the real issue is that his "best friend" is taking time away from our being together. I think that in a healthy relationship, your significant other should be your best friend.

How can I get him to understand how disrespectful this is to me, and how much it hurts our relationship?

Of course, it matters that the best friend is a girl. In truth, no male worth his XY chromosomes would ever engage in this level of communication with a best male friend.

So, Hax makes the first salient point: boyfriend is monumentally rude to detach from K when she is present.

The first is that it’s rude and annoying for him to chat online two or three times a day on the weekends you’ve traveled to see him. If this is your real point, then it’s a good one — one that has nothing to do with the sex of his friend. All you want is a little courtesy; he can chat with his friend when you leave.

Obviously, it is extremely discourteous, though some of the responsibility must devolve on the female best friend.

The second point is also correct. Boyfriend is sharing intimacy with his best female friend. That means, I will put a finer point on it, he is being unfaithful. It doesn’t matter whether or not the couple are doing the beast with two backs. They are emotionally intimate, at a very high level.

The second point is that you feel the intimacy he shares with this female friend takes away from the intimacy you share with him — and as his girlfriend, you feel you’re entitled to it.

Hax veers briefly into nonsense when she starts asking whether K would feel the same if her boyfriend was being emotionally intimate with a male friend. The point is off the mark, because, as noted above, male friends do not maintain such constant connections. 

If this is what you really mean to say, then I think you also have a good point, but a complicated one. Were this best friend male, would you be feeling so threatened? And if it isn’t about sex but instead about best-friendship, then does it even make sense to ask to be someone’s best friend? And if it is her sex that makes his attentions to her seem “disrespectful,” are you ready to say that a man in a relationship shouldn’t have close female friends?

Most females understand that a male friend’s priority must be his relationship, and not with a friend. So, it is her sex that makes it all suspect, and one should be clear about it.

Hax, like yours truly, tends to prefer that people avoid confrontations and ulimata, so she asks this:

It’s an opinion you’re certainly entitled to have, but it’s also an opinion best thought through fully before dropped on a boyfriend’s lap. It’s got that whiff of “Take it or leave it,” for both of you, and you should know that before you go in.

It’s not a question of whether or not boyfriend can have female friends. The question is: should he be having an emotional affair with a woman while he is presumably having a real relationship with K.

We would feel more enlightened if we knew more about this throuple, but, at the end of the day, K should not lay down an ultimatum-- she should simply walk away.

1 comment:

whitney said...

I used to be friends with a woman that was 'the best friend.' She ruined so many relationships for her 'best friend' over the years it was astounding and always just laughed and laughed and said the women he dated were pathetic for worrying about it. I never really knew her motivation but I could tell it was nefarious. We're not friends anymore