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Having male friends while in a relationship

Hi,

So I've been dating my bestfriend for 6 months now. We've been bestfriends for about 7 years, he's always been there for support and advice through some previous relationships when I was younger, for years we've on and off liked eachother but never at the same time until oneday it just happened after I finished highschool, and here we are six months later. Our families are close, younger sisters are bestfriends, in these 6 months we've moved 200km away from home to University in Melbourne (living separately), going overseas together in July and planning on moving in together next year. What could be wrong, right?

Well, as we've known eachother for years, we already have that system of talking about problems and fixing them. We have tiffs sometimes, we make up. However I've noticed in the last couple of months something deep in him, an insecurity is the only way I can describe it. I knew it was there, he never used to have much confidence in himself. Whenever I used to compliment him, for as long as I could remember, he would dodge it. He doesn't like his appearance, his weight and overall doesn't see himself as an attractive person.

Where this spiked up for me is in this: last year during my final year at highschool, I dated a guy (let's call him Brad). Now Brad was the typical gym goer, tradie, older guy with a car - you get the picture. I dated him for 10 months, in that time i got to my optimal fitness, I gymmed with him, we went on dates weekly, I knew his family, met a couple of his friends. However we didn't truly have what eachother needed. He wasn't a committed boyfriend as much as i thought, as he cheated on me twice, dumping me to go sleep with other girls around my exam times (I found out from the girls which lead me to break up with him). Through this, I confided in my current boyfriend (bestfriend at the time). I told him details of our relationship, sex life, ect. It has taken me 8 months to feel this, but I've had casual chats with my ex online and he's very polite, expressed how sorry he is, it's only casual chats (about the gym, his cats, work). And I think I'd like to have a friendship with him. I know how much he hurt me last year, hence is why I'm no longer with him and moved on. But I see no real harm in a friendship. He's moving to the city in July, and I'd be open to coffee every now and then. As much as he hurt me, that's therefore ended any sexual desire for him, but I miss the other things like his humor, love for animals and hearing how his family is. Is there anything wrong with that? Well, my boyfriend thinks so. He gets upset whenever I mention I talk to Brad, as though I'm cheating or going to cheat. He says he trusts me, but openly says he's uncomfortable and questions me over why I really need to talk to him as though my reasons for being friends with him are not sufficient. In the next breath, he says it's his insecurity. I feel like in order to be a good partner and support my boyfriend, I have to give up the opportunity for a really great friendship, or even talking for that matter. I don't like cutting people off when there's a chance to be on friendly terms. It's like this dark shadow lingers and I'm out of line for arguing it and not just giving in and dropping that friendship completely. What do I do?

Re: Having male friends while in a relationship

hi @tashmcl 

Thanks for sharing - it sounds like you're happy in your new(ish) relationship with your bestfriend! What a lovely story of friendship and romance Heart But of course, no relationship is without it's difficulties. This stuff is tough to navigate - and there is no one rule for all couples!

Every couple has to work this stuff out together with lots of communication, trust and respect. 
Each couple will have different boundaries and expectations that work for them. 

In your case, it sounds like your partner has insight into their insecurities, and how these impact on the relationship and his expectations of it, but still asks that you not be friends with your ex. 

It's really tricky, but I'd be thinking about how important it is for you to be friends with you ex, and weigh this up with the negative impact it may have on your relationship with your current partner. 
I think it's important that you tell your partner the things you've said in this post (if you haven't already).

Also thinking about your own wellbeing, and what is going to be best for you! 

Hoping that you'll hear from some others in the community too. 

 

Who else do you have in your support network? 

 

 

 

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Re: Having male friends while in a relationship

Hi @tashmcl

 

I would respect your boyfriend request because it's a reasonable one, especially when you had a previous relationship with that person. Since your boyfriend has insecurities as you say, I believe this issue is a big one.  Ask yourself why do you want to be friends with your ex.? If it's just to have a friend then there's plenty of other people out there for you to be friends with. 

 

But it's so strange to me you would go back that your ex. He cheated on you, not once but twice yet you still want to be friends with him? From a guy's perspective and considering his past history, let's just say when he says he wants to get a 'coffee', he's not talking about coffee. 

Re: Having male friends while in a relationship

Well what I'm asking I don't see as something unreasonable. I've got two long-term exes and friends with the other. Not best buds, just we chat every now and then to see how eachother are, we were in the same friendsgroup in high school so would see eachother daily but would never discuss anything too private or get too close. He's now moved to Queensland into the navy and he's met my current boyfriend and they get along just fine. There's clear boundaries, like I'd never discuss my relationship with him, never talk too regularly or hang out for anything more than a coffee which wouldn't take longer than an hour. I don't see the issue with having that with Brad. I'm ensuring it's keeping within the boundaries of just friends ( if he ever even implied anything sexual or romantic I'd drop him in two seconds), keeping conversation light and not talking to eachother too regularly. But a huge component is that he respects I'm happy in a relationship and says nothing to devalidate/challenge that. I think that's what you hold any guy friend to? 

To me, I strongly dislike closing the door on being friends later on after a breakup. Not because I miss them, but because over that time together I got to know them, their family, and I still want them to have some place in my life. I understand he cheated, heck, he was a jerk. I left him because of it, I don't want him back ever because of it. He is a really really poor boyfriend. I'd never wish anyone to go through that. And I've berated and drummed that into him that I'm extremely disappointed and hope his next girlfriend (which certainly will never be me) to be treated better. However, after 8 months I'm over the anger, I feel that the consequence to his poor commitment has played out (he got dumped and has no chance of getting me back), and when all is said and done, he has moved on, I've moved on, and what's left is still a common interest in our animals, work, uni and families which I'd really love to keep updated on and chat about every now and then. So not best buds, but just every few months have a short coffee meet or just chat online to catch up. Nothing more. 

I understand my boyfriend is uncomfortable, but I'm constantly regulating my interactions with Brad to ensure he's respecting my relationship and not getting too close, and I'm always being very clear in reiterating I have absolutely no sexual interest in him. If anything gave me reason to question if he had intentions with me, I'd not blink when saying goodbye. But so far he only messages every few weeks or couple of months to chat about work, his cats, his family, the conversations only last a few minutes before small talk is over and we get on with our day. It's just important to me to be able to do that, be on friendly talking terms because even though the sexual component is gone, I still do care about how everything is with him. I don't think that's a bad thing. To overcome all that anger, resentment and pain to be able to calmly open yourself up to be on talking terms again is a strength to me. 

I see it as the same with my current boyfriend. If we ever broke up, of course there would be several months of working through all that anger/pain, bu5 at the end of the day of course I'd still want a friendship. He matters to me more than just for what he gave me sexually. As much as there may ever be an ugly side to him, I know there's a good one too. As long as I wouldn't get too close to put myself in harms way of the ugly side, I'd be happy to open myself to a friendship. 

At the moment, these values I see as very important to me and who I am are conflicting with my boyfriend. I don't want to have to give up being on talking terms with people who I care about because my boyfriend is uncomfortable. I never ever intended to be disrespectful or hurtful to him, but it's important to me and I want to find a happy medium because I love him, I'm planning a future with him and we both are equally as valid in having to meet eachothers needs to be happy. 

Re: Having male friends while in a relationship

hi @tashmcl  , it sounds like you're talking about a value that is really important to you - that is, staying in communication with people you care about, including Brad. 

As I said before there is no one way to have a relationship, and the boundaries you set have to be made together for both of you to feel comfortable. 

It's really difficult when there are different expectations from both people in the relationship, and when you hold different values. 
Have you expressed to your partner how important it is for you to have a friendship, at the level you've described, with your ex? 

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Re: Having male friends while in a relationship

Well you convinced me @tashmcl, now you have to convince your boyfriend. Maybe say what you have written. At the end of the day it's going to either choosing Brad or your current boyfriend. Maybe he will understand and respect your reasoning but if he is set on the idea of you guys not talking then I doubt it. Do you put your needs first or his needs before you? (I always say put your happiness ahead of others but always try to help others if it doesn't hinder your own happiness)

Re: Having male friends while in a relationship

Yes I have expressed it to him, we stayed up until 4am last night trying to come to a solution. Probably not the best time to resolve issues, but we can't stand sleeping on a fight/disagreement. I expressed how important this is to me and that the last thing I wanted to do was disrespect him and put him out of his comfort zone. But all I can offer is transparency and so far it is just an occasion chat online, nothing more, that we've agreed with. So no catching up in person. I'm completely fine with that, I still get that talking basis that I wanted and not getting too close to cause my boyfriend too much discomfort. But he's not spoken to me all day today, being very short with me, we've got a formal ball on Thursday and I'm hoping we can salvage it in us to move past this and have a nice night. I just feel like I'm being punished for pushing for something I truly care about. Maybe I should just drop it, but to drop it would make me feel like I can't choose who I can talk to, like I'm not trusted or something. I don't want to feel like I need to be guarded by my boyfriend and restricted to who I can and cannot talk to. 

Re: Having male friends while in a relationship

That is fair enough, to not feel like somebody is keeping tabs on you. I definitely would feel the same way Smiley Happy @tashmcl  Is he still quite low energy with you? Can you come to a compromise with him at all? One of the most challenging things in a relationship can be adhering to our own values, as sometimes relationships require compromise. You're doing really well to acknowledge your own feelings and consider what you want. We're all here to listen as you need Heart

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Re: Having male friends while in a relationship

Fighting is always a hard thing @tashmcl, especially when both of you have this firm idea set. It sounds like you're not completely satisfied with the outcome but you can live with the decision. Hopefully since a solution or compromise has been made he can move past this like you said. Drop it and you lose who you are, if you don't drop it you two keep fighting. It's a tough decision. I think it depends on how much you love your boyfriend and what you're willing to sacrifice for him. Likewise for him, how he is willing to sacrifice for you. 

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