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This topic contains 38 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Free Moon 2 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #144587

    Free Moon
    Participant

    I’ve been ruminating about coming here and writing about my “problem,” if it’s really much of a problem…

    My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost a year now. He’s amazing in every way; he’s very patient, understanding, and caring. However, it’s ironic because my anxiety stems somewhere from him… or someone else… I don’t know.

    He has a number of female friends that he’s known for a long time way before he met me. I don’t mind any of them, except one of them makes me feel uncomfortable. When my boyfriend and I had a misunderstanding back in September, he immediately messaged her and told her in detail what happened, even going as far as telling her private things about me (e.g. me taking birth control pills during that time). It hurt me because instead of resolving things with me right away, he went to someone else about it. I partly understand why he did that though because I was upset at that time and he wanted to give me space for the time being. I communicated my feelings to him and he understood.

    They used to hang out alone together, even during the time me and him just started seeing each other, and I didn’t mind because he was honest with me about it. They even have a nickname for each other. Over time, my feelings for him developed even more and I started to feel a little jealous, and when that event happened, that was the tipping point for me. Ever since then, I’ve been anxious and paranoid about them talking, and I’d have these thoughts of, “What if he leaves me for her?” and other similar thoughts like that. They have known each other for a decade now and I’m just a new person in his life.

    The other event that happened was back in January where I found texts between them that to me were quite flirtatious. She and another one of their guy friends visited my boyfriend at work. A few hours later, she messaged him saying how she missed him and was so happy to see him, and when she said goodnight to him, she said that she’ll always be there for him. He said the same thing to her and even put a heart at the end. It broke my heart and I started crying so much because in a way, I felt betrayed… The whole situation just didn’t sit well with me. My boyfriend told his close guy friends about what happened and they agreed with me.

    The catch to this whole situation is I don’t really have anything major against her and she considers me as one of her close friends. I’ve hung out with her a few times alone and several times with friends, but since the beginning, I can’t seem to shake this “gut” feeling about her. I give her the benefit of the doubt all the time, but… This feeling just stays with me. She has said and done some things that are subtle, but made me feel uncomfortable. One time, her and I were joking around about how weird my boyfriend is, and she jokingly said, “Dump him.” The same day, my boyfriend was playing with his yoyo and she was asking him if she could borrow it, while flirtatiously grabbing it from his hand. After, when her and I were talking, and she called after my boyfriend, she called him by their nickname for each other.

    I don’t know what to feel about the situation anymore. My boyfriend has constantly reassured me I’m the only one he loves and he’s only ever seen the friend as a sister. I finally told him I don’t like the way he talks to her and I don’t like the way she talks to him. I don’t trust them alone together, even in a group setting where I’m not there. My gut feeling about her is so strong, I don’t know if I should hold on to it, but not focus on it as much, or just drop it altogether and not give a damn. The weird thing is that I don’t feel jealous with any other of his female friends at all, just her.

    Am I just over-thinking? Any advice would help right now. 🙂

    #144613

    anita
    Participant

    Dear free Moon:

    I understand you feeling jealous and uncomfortable about your boyfriend’s female friend. Some women are uncomfortable about their boyfriend having any female friends. From all the incidents you shared here, I see no indication that they are more than brotherly/ sisterly friends.

    There are women that act flirtatiously with almost everyone, it is their style. The words they exchanges, including the heart, don’t lead me to think there is anything more than strictly friends going on. The way she interacted with you leads me to think there is nothing at all going on between them, other than close friendship.

    This gut feeling that you have, I wouldn’t trust it to point to reality, not at all. Most of my gut feelings, personally, were not congruent with reality. Your jealousy is real, your discomfort is real, but no indication in your post taht there is a romantic relationship, or any such inclination between the two of them.

    anita

    #144623

    Free Moon
    Participant

    Dear @anita,

    Thank you for your response. It helped me to be a little bit more reasonable about the whole situation. I don’t know why this “gut” feeling keeps coming back when I know it’s mostly the anxiety playing games with me.

    What are your suggestions in order to stop feeling uncomfortable and just get over it?

    #144645

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Free Moon:

    You are welcome. To feel better, perhaps, see it this way: if you and your boyfriend have this relationship past a year, two years, longer… if you get married, you will be with him for a lifetime. Some time during that lifetime his friend, the one this thread is about, is likely to get married herself, move to another location (or you will), and their relationship will fade into the past. Try to see this friendship as the temporary thing it is likely to be. Focus on your relationship with him, aim for the long run.

    For as long as they are friends, no matter how driven you may be to ask him for reassurance, don’t. Practice self discipline and don’t ask. If he tells you about her, listen, ask for clarification (in a casual manner) if you don’t understand something he said, but resist initiate questions about her. This resisting will weaken, over time, your desire to ask. Every time you think about her, distract yourself and think about something else- every time. It too, will get easier over time.

    That gut feeling you are referring to is called “emotional reasoning” in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It is one of the Thought Distortions people often entertain. Emotional reasoning means because we FEEL something, we believe it is true. Often it is not.

    Do you suffer from anxiety otherwise?

    anita

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 2 weeks ago by  anita.
    #144777

    Free Moon
    Participant

    @anita,

    Out of all the people I’ve consulted about this situation, you’ve been the one who made things more clear and reasonable for me, so thank you for taking the time to respond to me.

    You’re completely right about aiming for the long run and just focusing on him, instead of the friend. The issue has come up between me and my boyfriend numerous times for the past 6 months, and sometime last week was when I actually felt exhausted with the whole ordeal. I didn’t want to expend so much energy on the situation anymore. However, there are times when it randomly pops up in my head and I feel like I’m back to square one again. I don’t ask him for reassurance because he self-willingly gives it to me which I appreciate a lot, so I have conditioned myself to not ask for it at all.

    I’ve heard of “emotional reasoning.” I will definitely look into that. Yes, I do suffer from anxiety… Weirdly enough, it only heightened because of this situation with my boyfriend and his friend. 🙁

     

    #144773

    Jennifer
    Participant

    Free Moon,

    I’m going to give a different opinion from Anita.

    At one point in my marriage my husband and I were not connecting or intimate. (All relationships ebb and flow), however I could ‘feel’ my husband was going through the motions yet couldn’t put my finger on what was bugging me. I was feeling suspicious but had no proof. Until one night I went thru his phone that he accidentally left in the bedroom. I found texts from a female co worker about how they liked hanging out together, and my husband was looking to his Care Bear time – here name was Carrie…Made me sick to my stomach. Although he didnt have an ‘affair’ he was in the flirtatious initial stages of a new relationship with her…. Trust your gut. Always. WhenI don’t I regret it, my instinct – gut is always right. I’d hold your breath and stay calm, and talk to your boyfriend. If he loves you and cares about your feelings and how this is affecting you, he will modify his behaviour and stop the flirting and if his ‘friend’ cares about his happiness and wants him to be happy and secure with his relationships, she will gladly stop the flirting. If all is done in love then everyone walks away happy. But if she or he has alterior motives/hopes for the other then they will not change or will resist changing. It won’t matter that you are unhappy and anxiety – they are getting the payoff they want which is attention from the other. Have a gentle and calm loving talk about how YOU feel about the situation. Use ‘I’ phrases and see how he responds. Let him know it would make you feel better if the flirting stopped – he can still be friends but the flirting has to stop.

     

    Good luck, Full Moon. Let us know how it works out. <3

    #144795

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Free Moon:

    You are welcome.

    Anxiety is tough. Your anxiety is focusing on that woman at this time. If she didn’t exist in his life, your anxiety would be focusing on something else, soon enough. Anxiety looks for a problem, this or that or the other thing.

    Healing from anxiety is a long, long process (I am still in that process), but it is worth taking it on. I started my healing by buying and working on a workbook called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Dummies (yes, dummies…), then googled a CBT therapist and found my first (and last) competent therapist.

    Post anytime.

    anita

     

    #144859

    Free Moon
    Participant

    Dear @nibbles,

    How did you work it out with your husband? Are you guys at a better phase in your relationship now?

    When the flirting situation happened through texts, he realized what he did wrong and sent me a heartfelt text message, apologizing for the way he acted. Recently, I told him it makes me feel uncomfortable that they have nicknames for each other, so he said he’ll stop doing that. The other thing that makes me feel crappy is that I feel like I’m limiting their friendship, then I remind myself that I have feelings too and I can’t just pretend to be the “cool girlfriend” when I’m not, and it’s a never-ending cycle of thinking.

    What are your suggestions for staying calm when talking to my boyfriend about it?

    Dear @anita,

    Anxiety is just something else… but I try to look for the bright side of it. It has made me more self-aware and increased my empathetic nature, but sometimes just a little too much. I’d rather feel something than nothing at all.

    Is the book very helpful? In what other ways have you dealt with anxiety?

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 2 weeks ago by  Free Moon.
    #144881

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Free Moon:

    I like the first part of your last post: being assertive with your boyfriend. I think it is very fair for you to tell him you were uncomfortable with the flirtation and the nick names, and well done on his part to accommodate your requests (that he stops the flirtation and nick names).

    Regarding anxiety- no, it has absolutely no advantages. Fear does, as in warning us of present or imminent (about to happen) danger, but not the ongoing excessive fear with no present or imminent danger. It only weakens us.

    The book was helpful in introducing to me the concept that people’s thinkin is often incorrect. We, humans, pride ourselves to be logical animals, but our logic is most often limited to certain areas. In most important areas, relationships, mostly, our logic is flawed.

    anita

    #144927

    Free Moon
    Participant

    @anita,

    I hope so. The way he treats me is still ever as loving, if not, even more. I just don’t want to become controlling towards him, in terms of this situation, which is one of things I’m avoiding to be. However, I have become paranoid to the point where I would overthink everything he does. I trust him, but I ask myself, “Do I really trust him?” It’s exhausting being anxious.

    Fear definitely weakens me. I’ve been trying to ingrain The Litany Against Fear in my life. It’s a slow process, but it’s happening. I will check that book out! How have you been with your anxiety now?

    #144935

    Dee
    Participant

    Hi Free Moon,
    So I think I’ve been in a very similar situation as  you are in, with my ex. He also had a female friend who made me uncomfortable in a lot of the same ways, and I struggled with what I should do about my feelings. Anyway, I tried to just put them aside and not worry about it too much. I talked to him a little bit and he reassured me everything was fine and that he’d stop letting her be so flirty with him. Anyway, fast forward a few months and they end up hooking up together and like having a whole… emotional affair while I’m abroad. Yeah. Lots of fun.
    Anyway, your boyfriend is not my ex and obviously none of us here can predict what is going to happen in the future. All you can do is decide how you want to proceed with these feelings that you have, and I think you looking for feedback here is really good! What I would say, though, is don’t ignore your gut. If something consistently feels off when she’s around, then I wouldn’t ignore it. I think talking to your boyfriend is a good step and honestly, I would be a little less afraid to tell him how you feel. I don’t think you’re at risk of being the Crazy Girlfriend and trying to get him to have no female friends. You definitely have a right to tell him how you’re feeling and make reasonable requests of him – having him stop doing the pet name thing is a totally reasonable request. You can also request that he let you know if/when they’re spending alone time together. “Like, hi Free Moon, I just wanted to let you know that Sarah and I are going out for a quick drink after work today to catch up. I’ll give you a call this evening when I’m heading home.” That’s totally reasonable. And then he can give you a call later and you can ask how it went and he’ll let you know. And just keep in mind, these aren’t demands of him – you’re asking him to do things that are relatively easy for him to do that will make you feel more comfy and happy. If he wants you to feel that way, which he should, then he won’t mind.

    The other thing you can do, if you want to, is talk to her. Now this obviously is a little more nerve-wracking and it depends on the kind of relationship you guys have and what kind of a person you think she is. I would have been very nervous to tell my ex’s friend anything because I knew she just wouldn’t care. But maybe this girl would, if she actually considers you a friend, I don’t know. But anyway, it is totally not unreasonable to tell her that the way that she interacts with your BF makes you feel kind of weird. And it’s not for any particular reason and it’s not her fault or anything. You can let her know very clearly what you’ve told us, which is that you respect their friendship a lot and you don’t want to infringe on that. But you can ask her to like tone down the flirtyness, especially in front of you. Again, it’s a request – you can say that you just think you would feel more comfortable if you weren’t quite so flirty (or physical, whatever) with one another when you are there. And then, hopefully, she would probably be like oh yeah, I totally get it, I just do that because that’s kind of the way we’ve always expressed our friendship, but yeah I can definitely tone that down a little bit.

    I say this only because I actually am also currently on the “friend” side of this equation – one of my best friends is a guy I dated for like a month in high school, and he’s always been very huggy and cuddly and physical with me, we had this running joke where he called me his wife, etc. Zero romantic interest, just a lot of platonic love. Anyway, he just got a more serious girlfriend and I’ve been like hmm, I hope she’s okay with him like picking me up off the ground with hugs…! But anyway, if it were bothering her, I would want her to tell me.

    #144957

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Free Moon:

    Anxiety is exhausting. I was anxious from a very early age, seriously anxious, so much so that I was so tired most of the time, my brain foggy, lying down a lot, resting. I started my first competent therapy (CBT with a heavy dose of Mindfulness) six years ago. This is when my healing process started. I’ve been working on healing every day since, three years in therapy and three years after. It is only in the last couple of months that I am experiencing increased energy, my brain is not foggy, I am attentive to my surroundings, etc.

    I still feel anxious but mindfully allowing the slow-slow-slow… slow process to take place. It is ongoing. Every day, and this very evening. There is a lot to it, way more than I can share in one post.

    Anxiety is very powerful, but healing is part of nature, plants, animals get injured and, if they don’t die, they start healing right away. They don’t have to manage their healing, nature does it. In my Healing Path, as I call it, I am finding out that I too don’t have to manage or micro-manage my healing. It is about making my brain congruent with reality, and so, with nature. Then nature does the healing.

    This probably reads vague. There is so much more to it, and much of it I shared in the hundreds of posts on the Forums.

    Post anytime.

    anita

    #145437

    Free Moon
    Participant

    Dear @wetheplants,

    They don’t hang out alone anymore. I’ve specifically asked him that if they want to hang out, they have to bring another person with them or they have to be in a group setting. However, they don’t really talk as much anymore, ever since I’ve started to become more uncomfortable with her around. It does make me upset that I have caused a drift in their friendship, but I feel as if boundaries have been crossed between them and I can’t pretend everything is completely okay with me. Just this past Friday, I hung out with my boyfriend and his friends with her there and I still can’t shake this uncomfortable feeling about her. She sat beside my boyfriend and was playfully hitting his head, so all I could do was ignore it. She’s the cause of my anxiety, I would say…

    I have thought about talking to her about it because we’re in this level of friendship where we can be open to each other. She even considers me as one of her close friends. I just don’t want to cause issues between me and her if I do decide to bring it up. My boyfriend has volunteered to talk to her before about it, but I said no because she might think, “Why couldn’t she talk to me instead?” I don’t know; I think I’m over-thinking a lot.

    Last night I cried about it. Right now I feel so low and exhausted. My boyfriend continuously supports me though, but I’m scared he’ll get tired of me. I told him I don’t want to talk about this situation anymore, as we are both tired of it, but somehow it still creeps back up. I feel so much anger and resentment towards it, it sucks out my energy.

    Dear @anita,

    How do you make your brain congruent with reality? Do you practice meditation, as well?

    #145479

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Free Moon:

    I re-read and studied your posts on this thread so to gain a better understanding of your situation, hoping to be helpful somewhat. This is my understanding:

    Your boyfriend reads like a decent, loving man. The relationship between him and his female friend reads appropriate to me. Her flirting style reads to me like her interacting style and nothing more.

    Regarding your great anxiety and distress regarding this woman:

    As is, for as long as she is in your boyfriend’s life in any capacity, I believe, you will continue to feel anxious and distressed. All your assertions regarding the nature of their interactions (that they no longer use nick names for each other, see each other only in group settings) will not take away your distress because like you wrote in your original post: “my anxiety stems somewhere from him… or someone else”- I think your anxiety stems from someone else.

    What I see is a pre-existing, unresolved issue demanding to be resolved; a past hurt, a past jealousy, fear, anger, all tangled up from before you met your boyfriend, being triggered presently.

    Clues to what that issue is, in your writings (not necessarily in order):

    “I’ve been anxious and paranoid about them talking, and I’d have these thoughts of, ‘What if he leaves me for her?’ and other similar thoughts like that…”- you were afraid to be left by someone, a parent, maybe, because of some competition for the parent’s love?

    What “other similar thoughts” did you refer to, these can be a clue.

    If the pre-existing issue is not attended to, something about the relationship will continue to distress you even if this woman is out of your boyfriend’s life completely.

    * Making your brain congruent with reality, at this point, would be looking at and examining the past unresolved issue that keeps trying to get your attention, your awareness.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 1 week ago by  anita.
    #145587

    Free Moon
    Participant

    @anita,

    You hit the nail on the head. I have known for a while that I’ve been dealing with something pre-existing, but I just didn’t give it much more thought and instead, focused on my strong resentment on the situation.

    When I was around 9 or 10, we had a nanny who took care of me and my younger brother. I was insecure about her because I thought she was taking away my mom from me. I was so jealous of their relationship because my mom was paying more attention to the nanny than me, and it felt as if she was wishing for her to be the daughter instead. Of course, that’s not the case, but it seemed as if I was unknowingly placed in a competition for my mom’s attention and love. Yeah… I was a weird kid.

    When I dated my ex-boyfriend before, I was uncomfortable about his friendship with a mutual friend of ours because I thought he liked her too – a “gut” feeling. The way I dealt with it was wrong; I didn’t communicate it to him at all nor did I ask for advice from anyone, so I kept everything to myself. I would spend almost everyday crying because here I was clinging on to something that was poisonous to my mental health. Over time, I got over it and I thought I had dealt with it, but really, I didn’t because I just suppressed the feeling. However, in the end, the “gut” feeling wasn’t real.

    I am scared of being left behind… I don’t want to unintentionally push away something, or rather, someone, because of anxiety. I love my boyfriend very dearly and I want to give him everything I can without stressing him with the anxiety I have.

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