Lately, I’ve been a little possessive of my boyfriend. It’s irrational and cruel to keep him from other women in his life, but I feel uncomfortable when a female I don’t know approaches him. I have no reason whatsoever to distrust him. Suggestions?
Practice and patience, basically. The first step is knowing that the thoughts you’re having are irrational. That the discomfort you have is a problem that you need to confront. It sounds like you’ve already reached that point.
This is a question particularly close to me right now since so many of my friends have been cut off from people they care about because of their S/O. I don’t believe love should ever come between friendship, unless the friend is a genuine poor influence that makes clear and unavoidable hits at the relationship. For instance: If your boyfriend had a good female friend who also happened to be addicted to crack and shared with your boyfriend whenever they were together. (Who shares crack, anyways?) It would be entirely within your right as his girlfriend to say “Hey, this crack thing is kind of whack, and you only do crack when you’re with this girl. If you don’t stop the crack I’m going to leave.” He would be making a lifestyle choice that you didn’t agree with and it isn’t so much related to the girl, but the choices he makes with the girl.
You know? But it really grinds my gears when people “declare” that their partner can’t see someone because it makes THEM uncomfortable. The worst part is: it’s not always so clear cut. For instance, your boyfriend probably knows that you are uncomfortable when he sees other women in his life. That discomfort alone (even if you never voice it) may be enough for him to cut ties with important people in his life.
It’s not immediately noticeable when you’re in love. He might gladly give up the occasional weekend get-together once in a while to hang out with you. But then it cascades into this “you’re more important than anything else in my life” which is sentimental and sweet, I suppose, but also ridiculous. Somewhere, somehow, we’re taught that only one person should be the depository for our love and affection. We learn that friends come second.
The doesn’t-like-boyfriends-girl-friends seems to be a pretty particular kind of thing though, right? I’ve been looking at this from a general perspective, but lets look at it from yours. Are you insecure? Are you scared? Why? It can be incredibly helpful to remind yourself of some important things.
1. He’s with you. Period.
2. If you don’t trust him, your relationship has bigger problems.
3. Don’t you have male friends?
Three little points. He chose you. He’s with you. You have to trust him. If you don’t, why are you together? And if you have male friends, how is this any different?
I get that it’s hard and I get that it hurts and I get that when he leaves you feel really uncomfortable and sad and like you may have lost control. I suggest that you let go of some of that control that you think that you have (because really, we don’t have any control at all) and let your boyfriend talk to, interact with, and spend time with other women. If you can get to the point where those fears start to wash away and you realize that he keeps coming back to you, and continues to love you, you’ll find that your fears aren’t just irrational, but they were taking up valuable brain power.
Not everyone agrees with flooding therapy but I’ve found it helpful. Get used to difficult emotions and experiences that you know make you feel irrationally by exposing yourself to them more often. Encourage him to spend time with his friends, introduce him to other women in your life, and spend time with your friends while he’s with his.
And, of course, there are limits. If you ever feel like he is being disrespectful of you by being with other women in ways that you aren’t comfortable with, talk to him about it. Tell him what your boundaries are. And tell him what your triggers are, so he knows when something might set you off so he can be delicate about it and help you through it. In fact, talk to him now. Explain how you feel and what you want to change, and let him know so he knows.
Lastly (and I know you know this) you don’t own your partner. No one owns anyone. You’re not mine mine mine mine all mine. Two people come together to form a relationship but it doesn’t mean they give up themselves. When you lose yourself and your identity to become a “we” you find yourself forgetting the person you fell in love with to begin with – among other important things, like your sense of self and your general freedom. Your partner is with you because he chooses to be with you every single day, not because he just hasn’t found a girl he likes better yet.
Let go of the fears and you’ll feel free and happy, and hopefully your relationship will be too. Good luck!