Question: Dating in Grief, and a Manipulative Girlfriend

Q: Hello, My brother (let’s call him John) lost his wife in a car accident and started seeking out his next partner rapidly. After 8 months of his wife’s death John met someone, and he moved in with her at 6 months of dating, despite him expressing many times that she pressured him to move and had an anxiety break down when he first moved in, demonstrating his lack of confidence in his decision.

My brother stuck by his decision, and only 2 months later, she’s pregnant.

John was very upset and shocked upon first reaction, as they were not trying for a child. Birth control pills were their agreed upon method for birth control. My brother asked the possible/likely reason for this birth control fail, and she said it was because she took antibiotics with her birth control, and she attributes that to becoming pregnant. The news came to a big shock to my family as well, and my other 2 siblings and I believe she is lying to some degree at least, on how she got pregnant.

We ultimately believe she got pregnant on purpose and is using the antibiotic story as a cover up. My siblings and I believe that at best (although we feel very unlikely) she was irresponsible by not taking a backup method of birth control while taking the pill with her antibiotic, and at worst she purposely missed pills and tried to intentionally get pregnant without John’s knowledge or consent. I have yet to ask John more details of the story beyond what we already know (the family was just informed she is pregnant), such as if she knew at the time she was on antibiotics to take a backup method of birth control, as there may be a decreased efficacy of the pill when antibiotics are combined.

John seems to be under the assumption (or is at least ignoring the potential that she could be lying) that his girlfriend is telling the truth and it was just an accident, as he told my siblings and I that it was an accident and to not think she did it on purpose. After getting the news of her pregnancy story I have been researching antibiotic’s effect on birth control and there is no concrete evidence that antibiotics actually reduces the effectiveness of birth control, and that most women are told that antibiotics can reduce effectiveness as a just in case. I’ve also read that if antibiotics do affect birth control, it would be at most minimal, and that the most common antibiotics that could interfere with birth control effectiveness are not even the ones commonly prescribed. Even if antibiotics did indeed interfere with her birth control effectiveness, and she did take her birth control perfectly otherwise outside of this, that would mean that 2 weeks out of 8 months is when she got pregnant. Though possible, it all just seems so unlikely.

Other factors that make my other siblings and me wary of his girlfriend’s story are:

• His girlfriend already has two other kids that were not planned

• She expressed to John at the very beginning of the relationship that she was dead set on having another kid no matter what, despite her doctor advising against it due to potential serious health risks for her

• When his girlfriend told John she was pregnant, she had her kids bring a bowl with baby shoes in it to surprise him of the pregnancy, as if he should have reacted happily, as if they were trying for a baby. She didn’t tell him previously that she missed her period, or that she took a pregnancy test, she jumped straight to telling him the news by having her kids present him with the information as if it were a happy surprise.

It’s hard for me not to assume this method of telling him the news wasn’t manipulative, as I find it strange she used her kids to assist telling him the news, as opposed to the two of them discussing it first together before the kids were told. If my brother wanted to discuss the idea of an abortion, the kids already knew she was pregnant.

• She has demonstrated other red flags about her personality, and my siblings and I can tell John holds back on how much information he gives about her. John also makes excuses for her for actions that in a typically healthy relationship are not usually considered okay. Example, she goes through his phone text messages on a consistent basis. John said she does this because she’s been cheated on in the past.

John’s also afraid to express himself to her about certain things about their relationship because he’s afraid how she will react.

I don’t know how to approach my suspicions with my brother, and my other siblings don’t want to express their opinions at all, as they do not want to get involved. They feel that if they talk to John about their suspicions, he will inevitability tell his girlfriend. My siblings do not want potential conflict with the future mother of their niece/nephew, as accusing/expressing concerns she intentionally got pregnant is a very big thing to suspect someone of, as it is a very manipulative, horrible thing for someone to do.

My siblings also do not want to express their feelings to John about the situation because they feel it won’t make a difference regardless, as we don’t think he would leave her even if the truth were to come out that she did intentionally get pregnant to trap him, as he has an obsession with not being alone/being in a relationship (he has perused 100+ women since literally the day of his wife’s death; his current girlfriend was the first woman not to reject him).

Due to John’s fear of being alone, we think he would stay even if she did do this on purpose.

I’m sorry for the long backstory. I guess I am just looking for some outsider thoughts on the situation and I respect your thoughtful answers, as well has your knowledge on sex education. I know it’s a lot to unpack, and also, a lot of suspicions/assumptions. I want to ask John more questions about her pregnancy story, potentially tell John my suspicions of his girlfriend’s pregnancy, but at the same time we have no proof that this pregnancy was intentional on her end. But it’s very hard for me to give his girlfriend the benefit of the doubt, especially on all the factors involved in the situation. I don’t know how to approach it, asking him details about her story, without being accusatory.


A: Wow. I’m so sorry your brother is in this new, manipulative, unsafe relationship.

I think you should trust your gut.

Whether or not she intentionally got pregnant, there’s clearly something about her that sits the wrong way.

Is he seeing a therapist? If he’s not, I would advise that he start to see someone. You could gently nudge him to talk to someone about the pure number of unexpected life events he has experienced in the last couple years. Don’t make it about her, make it about seeking support for change in general.

Beyond that, just remind him that you’re there for him. Likely he already knows how you feel about her, about the relationship, and about the pregnancy. It’s hard to hide how you feel about someone when the level of mistrust is that high. When he needs you again he’ll know you’re there, and he’ll know he can talk to you. That’s a hard role for you, so be sure that you seek out someone to talk to, too. Even if it’s just a trusted friend.

Planned Parenthood advises that the only antibiotic that impacts birth controls effectiveness is rifampin, prescribed for tuberculosis. I understand the sweeping generalization doctors place over antibiotics, but it leads a lot of women to thinking that their prescription medication was to blame for their accidental pregnancies.

More likely is, if they were on the pill, they did not take it as prescribed.

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How Can You Boost Your Sex Drive?

 My boyfriend and I haven’t been having sex as often. He initiates, but I am just not interested. I can tell he gets sad over it, and we’ve talked about it several times over the last six months. He says it’s just been difficult not having sex as much, and lately I find myself starting to become defensive in these conversations. I am also becoming more careful about how I cuddle/play around with me in order to not lead him on only to later tell him I’m not in the mood. This has been tough too. It’s killing me to feel like such a disappointment, but I think the underlying issue here is sex drive and my general feelings around sex. It’s not that I don’t want to have sex with my boyfriend; it’s that I don’t want to have sex with anyone. (Ahem, not even myself.) I have completely lost interest. I keep googling things intermittently, but I don’t know how to boost my sex drive. Do you have any advice for me?

Changes in sex drive are normal. Most people will experience ups and downs in their sex drive throughout their lives. Have there been any changes in your life recently? Stress? Grief? Depression? Any new medications you’re taking? Six months is a long time to experience this kind of change but I wouldn’t say it’s abnormal.

Here’s a question: do you enjoy having sex as often as you currently are? Do you feel satisfied with your sex life? Does your disappointment about your sex drive feel internal (you wish that your drive was what it used to be) or does it feel external (you wish that your drive was what it used to be so you wouldn’t have to see that sad face on your boyfriend.)

No matter the reason, it often becomes a vicious circle. You’ve not been in the mood so many times that when you are in the mood for sex there’s so much pressure to stay in the mood and have sex and have good sex that you rapidly lose the mood.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Attempt to remove the pressure from sex by finding other ways to be intimate with your partner. Indicate that you will not be having sex. See if putting sex off limits changes how you feel about having sex. This can also be a good way to become closer by exploring just touching, just looking, just being naked together.
  2. Talk to a counselor or therapist about what you’ve been experiencing and see if they have any suggestions. The root cause of your disinterest could be attached to something else entirely, like something you’re struggling with internally, or how you feel romantically about your partner.
  3. Take the night into your own hands – start thinking about some of the favorite things you and your partner do in the bedroom. Get that image in your head a good hour or two before you let on to your partner that you might want to have sex. Essentially, give yourself a “head start.”
  4. Just let it be – really. It’s okay not to want sex all the time or as much as you used to, if you’re comfortable with it. You may go a while having sex less often and maybe in a few months you’ll be full swing in the opposite direction! Don’t medicalize it, don’t shame yourself for it, and don’t let your partner do either of those things either.

Ultimately what to do next depends on how you feel about this change. If it’s really bothering you because you wish you could be having sex more with your partner, think about looking into some different exercises to find that place again. If you’re comfortable with it and feel like you just want to exist in this space for a while, that’s totally okay too. Just communicate with your partner what you’re feeling in the best way you can, and find ways you can be intimate together that comfortably satisfy those needs for both of you.

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Q: Sex Therapy and Making Things Work Together

Partner and I are looking to strengthen our relationship after a breach of trust. We also have ongoing issues with not being on the same page with our sex life. We are considering seeing a couples and/or sex therapist. 2 questions- 1) what might we expect from seeing a sex therapist? It was suggested to us by a couples therapist on our first visit but seems intimidating. 2) Book suggestions for a couple of bookish people who are a bit skeptical of anything too fluffy or cheesy-self-helpish?

Sorry to hear you’re going through a rough patch. Cheers to you guys for making the effort!

Like any other kind of therapist, the experience you have with a sex therapist will probably depend on the therapist you find, their expertise or area of focus, and what methodologies they use. Without knowing more about what you’re interested in working on, I may suggest finding a general therapist who also has a background in sexuality so you can see the same person to work through a variety of issues. I have never been in sex therapy myself but my understanding is that is pretty similar to what you may already know of regular counseling, just with a heavy focus on sex and relationship dynamics. However, if your issues largely pertain to sex and sexuality, the recommendation to seek one out may be the right call.

Therapy can be super intimidating. Especially when you’re talking about your wants and needs sexually. One thing you may experience is a weird sense of uncomfortable freedom. What I mean by that is, you’ll probably be saying some things you’ve been thinking and wanting to say, but haven’t known how to say. Your partner may tell you things you had no idea what they were thinking. Moments like this are uncomfortable but they are freeing because they create a sense of openness, transparency, honesty, and forward momentum. Odds are that you’ll experience a few moments like this where you feel naked, emotionally. 

Don’t worry about anything too weird, though. Your sex therapist won’t have you strip down and hop up on the table for an interactive demonstration. At best they may assign you and your partner some homework to do in your own time.

As far as book recommendations, here are some books I’ve read and would recommend for a couple struggling with maybe rebuilding their foundation a bit.

I know a lot of these books are just about love and relationship dynamics. That’s because I feel like sexual intimacy often overlaps and intersects with general emotional intimacy. Gain strength in the ability to talk openly, lovingly, and with humor to your partner. Find spaces in those conversations to be real to yourself and what you want. Be vulnerable with one another. I think that’s where connections are made, and those connections are transferable to the bedroom.

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Life as a Woman

I’m going to transition male to female. As a cis woman, what bits of advice could you offer in the day to day living as a woman, that I haven’t clue about and really would help save time, money and stress? Be as expansive as you want.

I thought a long time about this question because my first instinct when someone asks me “what does it mean to be a woman?” has always been kind of negative. Help rise up others. Try to not get in the way. Be quiet and know when to speak and when not to speak. Dress right for every occasion. Look pretty. Be smart but not in a way that intimidates others.

Gender means nothing but it’s also in everything. We construct ideas of gender. What’s normal or what’s not normal. I say I “suffered” as a woman and that’s what it means to be a woman. But that’s not right. You’ve suffered too. We all do in different ways. I think you might know more about gender than me because you’re asking yourself these questions: what does it mean to be a woman? I didn’t start asking myself these questions, changing the narrative of womanhood, until the last couple of years.

I haven’t fully figured out exactly what being a woman means, but I know it’s not about being quiet and helping other people be happy at the expense of my happiness. To me being a woman is more about finding confidence and an inner truth to who I am as a person. 

A lot of the silly answers I came up with are things that any person could know already and I don’t want to sit here and be patronizing like “did you know you should take your makeup off before bed?” because – well – everyone should wash their face before bed, and maybe you already wear makeup, and maybe you don’t want to wear makeup, and why are these my assumptions to make? 

Be prepared to be completely overwhelmed by messaging towards woman. Not necessarily in a bad way. Every magazine will be shouting at you THIS IS WHO YOU CAN BE. For a long time I feel like we (women) have looked at those messages and tried to make ourselves into this one concept. I feel now, the media is becoming more diverse. Now when I open a magazine I don’t see it as a guide book. I see it as options. What do you want to look like? Who do you want to be? Here are some suggestions to get the idea-juice flowing!

I guess what I’m saying is, what do you want to know about my lived experience? Cause it’s just mine. I hope yours is different! I hope you get the joy of making your life exactly what you want it to be. I think that a lot of the details of living day-to-day as a woman will begin to appear to you as you go through these motions. And that’s probably pretty hard, but hopefully very freeing and fulfilling.

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Q: “Is it ever OK not to believe?”

In this world of Political Correctness, is it ever ok to have a non-PC opinion? To voice that opinion? Or is that something that you keep hidden because of the perceived wrongness of it? Specifically, with the recent bombardment of sexual assault accusations, I’ve noticed a tone of disbelief surrounding the allegations. Many comments read as – not victim shaming- but victim disbelief. For example – Kevin Spacey’s accuser waited nearly 30 years to come forward – How much of his statements have to be taken with a grain of salt? Is it ever ok to not 100% believe the victim? To have serious questions about their story?

If someone’s first reaction to a story about sexual assault is disbelief, I feel that the more important question is “why are you struggling to believe this person?” I think asking these kinds of questions of oneself is important and in the end, much more difficult than questioning a person that we don’t even know.

I’m not saying that every single person who has ever said they were sexually assaulted was telling the truth. I would say that by a huge margin most are. I would also say that letting a handful of bad seeds impact the perception of the prevalence of sexual assault – and why victims wait so long to come out – kinda sucks.

I get having a questioning mind and wanting to know the truth. But we’re not the authority on their story. We don’t know anything about their experience. And offering ourselves into the conversation as some kind of faux-testimonial to that experience really, just… again, kinda sucks. 

If we start building this scale of believability we trap ourselves in little boxes of who is an acceptable victim. They have to report to these specific authorities, in this specific time. They have to look a certain way. Be of a certain socio-economic status. They must be beautiful and interesting. People must look at them and think the story they are telling is believable. It’s fucked up to judge a story on these characteristics.

And, of course, the issue of men being sexually assaulted is another thing entirely that we have barely tapped into. It is difficult to have this conversation alongside the issue of men-assualting-women because when we’re discussing power dynamics and gender equity, this is often where the conversation begins. Both conversations are important to have and they intersect at multiple places.

I can completely understand why a person who had been assaulted by a man, especially a man of significant social status, would not immediately come forward. Would you want to become famous for calling out a powerful man? To detail your assault publicly, risk coming out in the open with that story, and have no one believe you? Have it derail your life, your safety, your career? How difficult it is to face that head on? How it could impact your family? It’s easy to make assumptions and judgments when you haven’t been there. But that situation, true or not, isn’t a game to pick at. There are people who get paid to seriously ask these questions. They get paid to make their best (often terrible) determination of what happened. I’m not that person. Most of us probably aren’t.

In the end, I think it’s always better to step back and listen. Not only is it more constructive, but it’s also a more effective way to express compassion in a world that is seriously and deeply lacking it.

And, in the process, do what you can to support the people who are helping end sexual assault & sexual violence. A quick google will lead you to all kinds of organizations near wherever you are.

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On Questioning Our Feminist Intent

Q: I crossdress and I am planning to eventually transition, MTF. The issue is money. I have heard women can earn extra cash selling their underwear online. I don’t know if it actually is a good money making idea but ethically speaking, do or should I tell the guys I’m still male? Not sure on this point, but if I can earn more income, does it matter? Or am I glorifying women’s bodies (even if it’s my body) to be objectified by creepy men? Why does it feel like I’m being a traitor to womenhood?

Saying that being a woman is complicated is an understatement. There are so many messages women get on the right way to be, think, feel. Even from other feminists. I really enjoy the book Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. If you haven’t read it yet, or if you’re not familiar, I highly recommend you check it out. The general idea is that there is no such thing as the perfect feminist. All women are imperfectly perfect.

I would also check out Kate Bornstein who you should wiki if you do not know her. Here are a few suggested reads from her writings:

A Queer and Pleasant Danger
Gender Outlaw
My New Gender Workbook

Bottom line: Follow your gut and your instincts. If something does not feel right, don’t do it. But I don’t think you’re under any obligations to not do it, either. If it doesn’t make you feel good, if you feel unsafe doing it, I would advise not to do it.

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How Do You Arrange a Heterosexual MMF Threesome?

Q: How do you go about having a 3some? With 1 girl, 2 straight guys

I like this question because a lot of conversation tends to focus on the two girl / one guy threesome.

My advice for having a successful threesome is very simple: you cannot expect perfection; learn to seek adventure and fun between the lines of what you imagine perfect sex to be and the actual experience you’re having. Expectations for an experience can often ruin that experience. Prepare as best as you can for shared goals, general compatibility and safety.

One common issue in threesomes is that three is an odd number.

That means that one person is often left to be the circling participant. They are either watching or meandering around the outside of the action. That’s perfectly okay if they are aware of that, prefer that, or are comfortable making their way back in.

Another common way to handle this balance is by making one person the center of attention.

In a two straight guy one girl threesome, it’s likely that the attention is focused on the girl.

There is some difference of opinion on how to arrange a threesome. Should it be people you’re really close to and comfortable with? Should it be people who you’re just kind of friends with? Should it be people you don’t know very well and don’t see again? Different people are going to have different opinions on this. How you form your threesome depends on what part of the threesome you are, and whether or not you’re in a relationship.

Each participant matters (!)

Generally I would go into the planning process with the understanding that everyone in the threesome is sharing an experience, so everyones experience matters. So, if you’re planning the threesome, take everyones feelings into consideration.

One size doesn’t fit all 

Because threesomes vary so much, it’s difficult to give advice that’s one size fits all. Are you in a relationship and looking to plan a threesome? Are you single and looking to have a threesome? where in the world do you live? What is your age range? Do you feel like you’re generally surrounded by pretty sex-positive friends? Are you in a pretty sex-positive community? Are you looking for a one-time threesome? Do you want to really plan it out to hopefully achieve a certain scenario or are you looking for something more laid back and relaxed with no agenda?

Think about these questions and how they apply to you and if you have additional questions on the subject, let me know, and we’ll talk more!



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Q: New Partner Struggles with Erections?

I’m a 31 year old female who had been seeing a guy for a few months. The relationship has been fairly happy with some minor bumps in the road. He’s 29 and I’m his very first girlfriend. Sounds weird, I know. My problem is, we’ve been intimate several times with less than spectacular results. Being his first partner, I thought he’d have little trouble becoming erect and/or climaxing. I have been with several virgins in the past. I sadly have an extensive sexual past. I have no trouble getting him hard, it’s getting him to stay there us the trouble. Also, when we give up on intercourse and ultimately settle on separated masturbation, he gets super close but can’t finish. I have no trouble finishing whatsoever. Dont know if this is relevant but we are both overweight. Please help because my libido is incredibly high and I’m getting tired of my own hand.

It’s often the case with new partners. Sometimes you orgasm too quickly, sometimes you orgasm too slowly. It’s an extra curveball when your new partner is also new to sex, period.

My best guess is that he’s just nervous.

I don’t mean that he’s necessarily actively feeling nervous. When we’re not totally in-the-zone during sex, it can be difficult to get and stay aroused. If he’s not used to the flow of sex, being naked with someone else, or fooling around in general, he may be struggling to stay in the right mindset to stay that maximum level of arousal. Once you struggle to stay hard once, that fear that it will happen again can be self-fulfilling.

For me, the answer rests within this question: when he masturbates by himself is he able to orgasm fairly easily?

If yes, there’s something holding him back when you’re together. Maybe he is anxious or stressed or nervous or maybe he just hasn’t quite found his groove yet. I’d remove any pressure to have intercourse and I’d remove any pressure to actually orgasm. Take a step back and just be naked together and explore what does or doesn’t feel good. It may even help to encourage him not to orgasm, and rather see how many orgasms he can give you prior to his own.

That puts the attention back on you, gives him something positive to focus on, and likely results in a relaxed atmosphere that is more conducive to orgasm.

It could also be that there’s something you two are doing together that is mentally or physically turning him off. Maybe the thing doesn’t feel good, and he’s unable to communicate clearly that it doesn’t feel good. You’ll have to consider this and see if you can pinpoint how clear your communication has been thus far. Of course, sometimes people also have very specific fetishes or kinks, and if he’s been living 29 years in the head of those fetishes/kinks it might be an adjustment having actual real physical sex without those things. Have you brought up kinks or fetishes yet? He could have one very specific thing he’s doing when he gets himself off that he’s not doing when he’s with you. Whether it’s a kink, or the way he plays with himself.

Finally, and I don’t know if this is what you meant by sad, but I hope you know there’s no shame in having a lot of partners. All of that experience can make you a great fit with this new partner. While it’s possible to have weight-related issues in the bedroom, from what you described, I wouldn’t jump to that as the root cause. Knock it back a few steps and start over, more slowly. Whether you’ve been dating for a few weeks or a few years, it’s never too late to get to know each other all over again.

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Thinking About Gender Identity in Dating

I am new to dating as a closeted CD.planning on eventually transitioning MTF, and an interesting guy is communicating with me, online dating. I like men, but he’s dated other cd/tg and cd himself. Not sure how I feel about that, I like masculine men, here’s his last message: “Ooohhh the dating questions!! 😄😄 well, I am open right now and hope I can find a serious LTR. And in terms of dating history I have dated some women, but mostly TSs, TVs and CDs since I was a teenager, in fact, I have done (and still do regularly) some CDing myself with bad to mild results at best LOL! Logest relationship I had was with a pre-op TS that took me to live at her house (with her 2 brothers, sister, nephew, brother in law and mom) and for 2+ years we were a big happy family. So, what about you?” Should I give him a chance? I feel like a hypocrite, but fear STDs with his attraction to cd/ TG peopleand his sexual attraction to CD himself. Does this make any sense? I guess I want a masculine man without the urge to cd himself. I don’t want to be a fetish. my gender feelings are not related to clothing. I am making a moutnain out of a molehill?

Go with your gut. If something doesn’t feel quite right, you shouldn’t force it to fit. Do you feel the heart flutter? Are you attracted to him? If no, life is short, on to the next one!

If you are into him and he does seem to be legit, try coming to him with these concerns. Ask him about his sexual health history and how often he gets tested. Be clear about what kind of person and relationship you’re looking for. He’s already given you a little bit of that himself and it can be an ongoing and evolving (over the span of months, or years!) conversation. Express your concerns for being fetishized. Does your experience and your gender identity play a role into why or how he’s attracted to you? That might be one thing. But does it feel like it’s all he sees – and all he thinks about? That’s another thing entirely.

If you think you feel a little something for him, you should give it the opportunity to flesh itself out a bit more. I don’t think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill – you have every right to be specific in what you’re looking for, and you deserve to be loved and respected as an complex human being with many facets.

Dating is hard, and dating when you’re flourishing in your identity and sense of self is even more difficult. Stay true to who you are and what you want and make sure to have fun in the process.

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Can You Lessen That Jealous Feeling?

Hi Lorelei, I’m a female in a longterm, serious, 7 year relationship with my boyfriend. Throughout our relationship he has never had a close female friendship up until this past year. I have also never experienced real jealously within our relationship until their friendship became close. My boyfriend is incredibly loyal, honest, and faithful, and I know any jealous feelings I experience is my own thing, and nothing to do with his intent or actions. They hang out alone regularly, typically at bars. I have always been clued in on every aspect of their friendship, and have tagged along with them a few times, when my work schedule permits. His female friend respects our relationship and we genuinely like each other, but the friendship between my boyfriend and her is close, whereas her and I are not close friends. I know their relationship is fully platonic but I still experience frequent, small surges of jealously. When I have these feelings of jealously they are very short lived, and I am typically able to be rational and counter my irrational feelings. For example, when they tell each other “I love you,” I’ll remind myself its completely in a platonic context, even though it feels icky to know they say that to each other. What makes me feel uneasy is the level of an emotional bond they share, although I know my boyfriend’s emotional attachment to me, and what he shares with me, is certainly more and different than what he experiences with her. 
I recently told my boyfriend that I have been experiencing jealously of his relationship with his friend, although this is something I have kept mostly to myself, because I know my feelings are irrational. But I thought he should know how I was feeling, as he would want to know. He started by saying something to confirm my irrationality, insinuating that they weren’t that close. He also mentioned that I only feel this way because she was female and it shouldn’t matter about her gender, which I agree. I then said “I think what makes me feel jealous is that you guys have an intimate relationship.” And he responded “Well yeah, you’re not always fully present when we’re talking.” This really hurt, him insinuating an emotional need was being met by her that I wasn’t meeting. As hurtful as this was to hear, it is now something I can work on. My boyfriend has had several close male friends screw him over in the past, as he gives his all to his friendships, as he understands the value of close friendships, but his past friends have not. Overall, despite my jealously, I am happy he has her as a friend (which I’ve told him), because she reciprocates the value of their friendship unlike his male friendships of the past. I was hoping from some input from you on how to lessen these feelings of jealously, because although I can mostly talk them down, I’m tired of experiencing these feelings so frequently. If I know rationally and truly that there’s nothing to be concerned with their friendship, why can’t I stop experiencing these feelings so often? Unfortunately I can’t talk to my best friend about this for her support because she is more jealous of a person than I am, and would likely not allow, for lack of a better term, her husband to ever have a close female friend. So I don’t think she could give me objective feedback and would likely make me more anxious and jealous than actually help. Is jealously a feeling you can lesson its frequency?

You said “I know” throughout your question quite a few times, and I think it’s important:

  • I know any jealous feelings I experience is my own thing
  • I know their relationship is fully platonic
  • I know my boyfriend’s emotional attachment to me
  • I know rationally and truly that there’s nothing to be concerned with their friendship

I’m not sure you know these things, reader. I think you are looking for relief in them. Your boyfriend isn’t just insinuating that his emotional needs are being met elsewhere. He’s spelling it out for you by saying that “you are not fully present” and (so) he’s seeking out that emotional support elsewhere.

It’s a poor excuse to minimize your very real feelings of concern here. When we lack something in our relationship, when our emotional needs aren’t being fully met, we should come to our partners and find ways to meet those needs together. I think what you’re doing, and what others may try to excuse, is the fact that in monogamous relationships it’s perfectly acceptable and important to have good, strong friendships. Even friendships that satisfy some emotional needs that your relationship doesn’t fulfill. But it should be fairly clear when that friendship crosses the line and it seems to me like this one did a while ago.

He might not even fully recognize this himself, but I’d trust your instinct. If he’s going to her for emotional support and telling her that he loves her and you’re feeling a distance in your relationship, that’s not okay. He should validate your concerns. I would hazard a guess that there is an emotional bond forming there in place of him doing the hard work of repairing whatever it is that has prevented him from being able to talk to you. Instead of confronting that, he’s putting it on you. You’re not always fully present relieves any responsibility on him to share those difficult feelings.

It’s hard to tell our partners difficult things. Often times that moment slips by when we first feel it. She’s not as attentive as she used to be, but that’s okay. She’s a little distant lately, but that’s okay. She doesn’t seem to care as much as she used to, but that’s okay. Then we normalize. We weren’t getting exactly what we needed but it feels normal now. Maybe he needed something specific and it felt too late to explain to you what exactly that was. Maybe he didn’t even know what it was. Maybe he said hello one night to his friend and she said exactly the one thing he’d been waiting to hear and it just felt like applying a cold pack to a hot burn. And so he went back again, and again, and again, looking for that relief, because it was easier than figuring out why he couldn’t talk to you anymore.

In ethically non-monogamous relationships we might go deeper into themes of compersion. Compersion is sometimes referred to as the opposite of jealousy. A warm, happy feeling you get when your partner is happy even if you aren’t the one making them happy. It’s seeing your partner with their other girlfriend and feeling contented that they are in love with someone else because it makes them happy. A lot of people in non-monogamous relationships strive for this feeling of compersion because they, like you, realistically understand that jealousy is a normal emotion. They want to move past that jealousy and seek peace. That’s not always realistic, and in monogamous relationships, the bonds that are acceptable are different than the bonds in non-monogamous relationships.

Finally I’d consider (and this is also often a topic in ethical non-monogamy) the possibility that he’s experiencing some NRE (New Relationship Energy.) Sex & Love writers talk a lot about how NRE is experienced in romantic relationships. Sometimes it’s experienced in new friendships too. It’s that burst of energy and excitement you feel when you meet someone new and you really really click with them. It’s that feeling in the honeymoon period, that rush of hormones, that feel-good feeling. If your partner is feeling that with this girl, romantically or otherwise, it could be pulling his attention away from you.

Maybe he really is just friends with her. Maybe she just gives him a little extra of whatever he’s missing right now. Maybe it’s not romantic in nature. Maybe their love is platonic. But the way it’s making you feel, and his flippant reaction that makes you feel to blame, isn’t okay.

Move the conversation away from his friend and the jealousy you feel. These are symptoms of something bigger. It’s time to sit down and talk to your boyfriend about how your relationship is changing and how you can get back on the same page again.

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