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Have honest discussion with girlfriend about her best friend

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Be honest with girlfriend over feelings about her best friend

Philly: I hate my girlfriend's best friend, "E." The reasons are complicated and go back a while. E spends a lot of time with us, both in and out of our home. I have asked my girlfriend to scale back the amount of company we have in general (that was as close as I felt comfortable to saying, "Don't invite E over anymore") and she has done that, so I don't know what else I can say. My GF and E have been like sisters for about 15 years; I know I have to accept that E is part of our extended family. Do I just suck it up and learn to like her?

Carolyn: The answer depends on the reasons you hate E. And this isn't just because I react to "it's complicated" the way my dog reacts to peanut butter. Thanks.

Philly again: I can't fit the reasons into a couple of paragraphs, so I'll stick to the main stuff.

She is very jealous of my girlfriend's and my time together and does everything possible to discredit our relationship. She doesn't like white guys (which I am) and feels her closeness to my girlfriend entitles her to say whatever she wants about me, including barbs about my race and gender. She is generally fake-nice to me but quickly attacks when she thinks I am disrespecting her friend.

She also dated a close friend of mine, then cheated on him and really broke his heart. Around the same time, before she got busted, she tried to convince my girlfriend that I was cheating. This girl really is a nightmare.

My girlfriend is the less assertive one in the relationship, so she is always the one to capitulate.

Carolyn: Wow. I now completely oppose the suck-it-up-and-learn-to-like-E idea.

It's not your place to demand that your girlfriend dump E; it wouldn't work anyway, except to lower you to E's status as one who pushes your GF around.

However, you have a right to set limits on hosting people openly hostile to you, and ask your mate to respect your needs for a safe environment.

There's also the matter of your girlfriend's inability to see E for who she is. We all have some people in our lives for whom there's no excuse beyond "I've known X forever," and I believe in granting leeway for these friends. There's no substitute for people who knew us when, even when we chose them at a time when our judgment wasn't fully developed, to put it nicely.

But still, there's a big difference between being a clear-eyed friend of someone dubious — that's just life — and being in the sway of someone dubious. That's trouble. If not with E, then with your GF's inability to think and act wisely on her own behalf.

So do tell your girlfriend that you don't appreciate the way E treats you. Explain that, while you won't keep her from seeing E, you're going to excuse yourself from E's company where possible. Ask her to see E through your eyes, just as you've seen E through hers.

Then, pay close attention to the way your girlfriend responds to this conversation, and don't be afraid to extrapolate bigger messages from her response.

Have honest discussion with girlfriend about her best friend

07/14/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 6:30pm]
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