This letter writer is feeling anxious because he doesn’t get along with his boyfriend’s other friends.
Accept that you don’t live in a bubble, says our elder. Talk to each other and you can work it out.
I love him so much and our relationship is caring and fulfilling, but lately I’ve felt so paranoid. It’s more my mental health than something he’s done. He has new friends that don’t like me (we have different opinions and, as he says, “our personalities don’t mix”) and they’re incredibly close. Recently we got into an argument because we’re both busy and unable to spend much time together. We got into a fight because he tried to multitask and spend time with both me and his friends, and I felt heartbroken because it was supposed to be our personal time. He involved those friends in our fight and asked them for advice, and ever since then I’ve felt scared that they talk badly about me to each other. He says that they could never turn him against me, but I still get sick with anxiety. We had a heart to heart and everything felt fine for a day, but my anxiety won’t stop and I can’t even enjoy talking to him anymore. Something doesn’t feel right, but I don’t want to ruin something good if this feeling is all in my head.
Relationships can be complicated and friends are an important part of any relationship. Sometimes those friends can enrich the relationship and sometimes they can complicate it even more.
It sounds like your relationship has fallen into the “friends complicating the relationship” category. It is very common for one person in the relationship to have friends that the other person in the relationship does not feel comfortable around. So please do not feel you are alone in dealing with this type of relationship.
I have been faced with similar situations over the years, and I think you should consider trying to keep socializing with these friends that you really do not have a common link with. There is nothing wrong with having different opinions or tastes that are different from his friends. Sometimes when you love someone, you just need to get along with the friends he has. It does not mean you have to go out with them all the time or that you have to socialize with them often, but you can be friendly towards them, and try to keep your criticisms of his friends to yourself. I do think he complicated things when he brought them into your argument, but unfortunately, that is what friends tend to do with each other and that does not mean that they immediately agree with your partner or think badly of you. In those situations, most friends just listen to whoever is venting, give advice and forget about it. If you can show your partner that you accept him and his friends then he can relax and not feel pulled in two directions. The fact is you cannot control his friends, and how they act, you can only control how you react.
This may not sound fair, and it can definitely be difficult, but by being the “bigger” person, if his friends really are criticizing you, then your partner will see that their criticism is baseless and that you do not feel threatened by his relationship with them.
If, unfortunately after giving the above advice a try, you find you just cannot be around his friends for any amount of time, then you might try, as I am sure you have already, letting him socialize with his friends while you socialize with your friends. I do think you had a valid excuse to be upset when he chose to “multi-task” and infringe on the time he was meant to be spending with you. This type of thing however happens all the time in relationships. In his defense I am sure he felt torn between wanting to spend time with you but also enjoy his time with his friends. In this case he did make a poor choice and you did say that after talking it out with him things did seem fine. I think it is very important not to make him feel like he has to choose between you or his friends unless he is constantly choosing to spend more time with his friends rather than you. If that is the case, then you and your partner might need to examine what is really going on in your relationship. If however, he is just enjoying being with his friends, which is very common, then it would be best to accept that as long as he is also spending quality time with you. Nothing kills a relationship faster than one partner feeling the other partner is trying to cage them in.
I am definitely not trying to invalidate your feelings with this situation. I think you should really take time and think about whether this issue is really enough to possibly break the relationship. There really is no right or wrong, because in the end it really does depend on how you feel and what you can live with in this relationship. I do, however, think you are just experiencing the ups and downs of any relationship. The two of you do not live in a bubble, there will always be outside influences, some good and some bad, but if you both are willing to talk to each other, in most cases this type of situation can definitely be worked out. No relationship should be so closed that there is no room for other people or activities separate from each other. There is nothing better than going out and doing different things and then coming back together to share those experiences.
Okay that is my advice, and I wish you all the very best. Please write to the EWC any time.
Article #: 437163