DEAR CAROLYN: I am in a very happy relationship with a great guy. We have been together a few years now but there is one issue. My boyfriend has a very close female friend whose presence is a thorn in my side.
While I understand they have been close friends for a long time, I cannot help being irked at their friendship. She seems to reach out to him on a somewhat regular basis to meet up for drinks; other times they go to movies and do other activities.
I can be OK with their friendship for months at a time (occasionally giving myself a pep talk to not let it bother me), but every once in a while I just totally lose my cool over it and all my worries and insecurities bubble to the surface.
It seems to me that she still may have feelings for him, and I don’t understand why this girl hasn’t taken a step back. I wouldn’t mind if they hung out in groups and caught up every now and then, but I selfishly want to be the most important girl in my boyfriend’s life, and I feel threatened by this lingering close friendship. I wish I could have the self-confidence to not worry about it, but nothing I do seems to work.
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My boyfriend and I have already had a few serious conversations about this, but after a couple months I find myself back in the same place. Any advice?
DEAR L.: Yes: Make up your mind, and stop looking for the situation to make up your mind for you. Look at the way you surrender control:
▪ “A very close girl friend whose presence is a thorn in my side.” You see this as something being done to you, when in fact you chose to keep seeing him when he told you about her upfront.
▪ “I cannot help being irked.” Yes, you can. You can embrace the friend and friendship, or you can break up with this boyfriend.
▪ “I don’t understand why this girl hasn’t taken a step back.” You’ve waited years for her to do this, to fix the problem for you. That’s a lot of life to put in another person’s hands.
I know you think you’ve done the hard work, but I suspect, deep down, you’re certain that you’re right and that she’s the one who needs to leave.
That never works. What does work is taking control only of what’s yours. Namely: “I selfishly want to be the most important girl in my boyfriend’s life.” That’s yours.
Sure, see what you can do about bringing the friend into your life, too, instead of just hearing they’ve gone to a movie. But if you ultimately decide you can’t see her as anything but a threat, then that’s what you say.
In other words, you can’t make anyone let go but you.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com.