Julie Answers: How do I get over anxiety when my boyfriend hangs out with his girl best friend?
Sophie relates her situation: She blocked me because she wanted to “protect him” from me seeing incriminating things. I get really bad anxiety when they hang out. How do I get over her, and get over them hanging out together? I always end up giving him attitude when he’s with her and ended up calling him once crying when she was there, so she hates me since I treated him bad. I get bad anxiety because I think they’re talking bad about me. Afraid he’ll come back realizing he’s unhappy with me after talking to her.
In responding to your question, I am going to refer to a vignette from one of my favorite relationship books by one of my favorite authors. The book is The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships, and the author is Harriet Lerner, PhD. This example from the book has really helped me in helping my clients navigate situations such as yours.
Opposite sex friendships. Or more specifically, when your partner has a close friend of the opposite sex. (Please note, I will use that terminology, since you are in a heterosexual relationship. For LGBTQ+ couples it would be “having a close friendship with someone who, because of their gender, could be seen as a potential romantic partner.” To avoid the cumbersome wording, I will refer to your male/female relationship directly.)
I find that there are a lot of opinions regarding one’s partner having a close friend of the opposite sex. Some opinions say, “There is nothing wrong with platonic friendships, you should view your boyfriend’s female friend the same as you would view a male friend; if he says they are “just friends,” you need to accept that.” At the other end of the spectrum is the opinion Billy Crystal’s character famously expresses in the movie When Harry Met Sally — “Men and women can never be friends.”
Reality is likely somewhere in between these two extremes, and different in each individual situation. This is where the Harriet Lerner vignette is helpful. (I am paraphrasing, so apologies to Dr. Lerner for any details I get wrong.)
There is a couple named Joan and Carl. Carl has a close friendship with his young assistant. Joan…