Woe Is Me! “My Partner’s Childhood Crush is Still His Best Friend. Why Am I So Intimidated?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“I have found everything I ever wanted, in my relationship with my current partner. However, his childhood best friend makes me very uncomfortable. He was in love with her, but she kept ghosting him and coming back into his life whenever it suited her. When we started dating, she threw a fit, asking him to choose between me and her. He made it clear he’s choosing me, but I am extremely intimidated by this girl because I feel like I need to constantly match up to her. I’ve told him I feel uncomfortable with her drunk calling him all the time, and he says that he cannot block her out. I have expressed my anxiety but he does nothing about her or the situation. What should I do?”
— Hitting a wall
DR: Instead of trying to decide whether your fears are unfounded, I’m going to go ahead and ask you to try to answer just one thing honestly: has your partner attempted to address this insecurity of yours at all beyond simply telling you there’s nothing to worry about? If not, I don’t think it’s worth seeing this relationship meet its inevitable end when your insecurity gets too much for either of you to handle. While it is on you to work on yourself, so you’re not threatened by every former lover of people you date, it’s also on him to ensure his partner feels secure in the relationship with him — especially so, if this isn’t a behavioral pattern you’ve found yourself repeatedly demonstrating in your relationships.
Exes can absolutely be friends! But drunk calling one’s ex isn’t reflective of a healthy dynamic. Also, I’m sorry to say this, but your partner’s refusal to lay down some boundaries isn’t portraying him in the best light. I’m not saying it necessarily means he’s still hung up on her; maybe, he just enjoys the attention. Either way, this sounds too enmeshed to me, and honestly, I think you can leave it to them to untangle themselves from whatever their situationship is, and build stronger, more respectful relationships with people who can truly value you.
AS: I think you need to confront her head on, at this point? But before that maybe speak sternly about this issue once more with your partner. However, given that he has said that he cannot block her out, the best possible option might be just to confront his friend directly. I understand that it is something that will demand a lot of courage and energy, but once it’s done, it will probably be the best thing for all of you. All the best!
AS: That’s a tough situation to be in. Your partner’s relationship with his friend sounds much too complicated, and a part of the responsibility for you feeling uncomfortable does fall on him. I can understand why you might be feeling lost, because apart from airing out your concerns candidly with him, I don’t see many ways in which you can navigate this situation without resorting to the thing you want to avoid, which is the same as what your partner’s friend asked him to do — to choose between the two of you. To work through this, you will have to keep talking about it to impress upon your partner how deeply this is affecting you. Regardless of what your partner decides he can or cannot do about the situation, I think the decision here also rests on you to take a call for yourself: is this relationship, however great it might be otherwise, good for you in the long run if you are constantly feeling threatened?
AB: This is not a matter of male-female relationships — if this girl has demanded that your partner choose between the two of you, there is a deeper level to it. This is not your fault, nor is it your responsibility. The onus is on your partner to ensure that the boundaries are set, and it seems like this girl is the one feeling insecure about your relationship. You don’t need to set an ultimatum like she did, but this situation can’t go on either. Your partner needs to understand that it’s not okay and you’re perfectly within your rights to talk to him about it. Your relationship isn’t everything you wanted if this issue with his friend is a constant source of stress. Avoid any stereotypical “catfighting,” and talk to your partner about this. You’re perfectly within your rights to demand a change — if not, walk away. Admittedly, it is the hardest choice to make, but I guarantee you will find other people without such codependency and blurry boundaries, who won’t make you feel insecure about your place in a relationship.