Wayne and Wanda: Why do I feel jealous of my boyfriend's close friendship with another woman?

Apr. 28—Dear Wayne and Wanda,

I started seeing "Tyler" last summer. I met him at the gym and working out, running and fitness is a big part of our relationship. He's really funny, outgoing and extroverted. He has a much bigger friend group than I do, and his friendships are important to him.

I am bothered by one friendship he has, with "Lisa." They hike together. They both have dogs, so that's something they've bonded over. They work in the same industry and text each other a lot throughout the day. Sometimes it's about work, sometimes it's just chitchat. Occasionally they grab lunch or drinks. I've hung out with Lisa and she's super nice, though I get distracted by how close she and Tyler obviously are, with their inside jokes. And of course she's very pretty.

I have never considered myself a jealous person. But I am definitely uneasy that Tyler and Lisa are so close and I sometimes feel left out when she's in the room, not to mention when they're off on their outings. The closest I came to discussing my feelings with Tyler was noting how much time they spend together. He said she's "like one of the guys," and talked about how important it was "for the dogs" to spend time together. He also said he was glad I was "so cool" about the relationship and that girls he had dated before weren't as understanding. Ugh.

I don't want to ask Tyler to cut Lisa out of his life. I know that sounds unreasonable. I also know that I don't like how I feel when they're together. What should I do?

Wanda says:

It sounds like Tyler is completely forthright about his excursions with Lisa and transparent about their conversations. You've socialized with her and concur that she's a nice person. The problem isn't that they have a friendship, go hiking, or text: It's that she's a woman, and a pretty one at that, and it's got you off balance.

I don't know that you're actually experiencing low self-esteem. It seems to be more about your own self-esteem in terms of what you bring to the table in your partnership. Don't be concerned that Lisa's friendship contributes something to his life you don't, because it probably does. This is healthy and normal. We don't get everything we need from our romantic partner. That's what family, friends and co-workers are for: to round out our social network, provide comfort and counsel on a broad range of issues, and to be partners for a whole array of life's experiences.

Lisa is someone Tyler likes to hike with, and maybe grab a beer after. Sometimes they text. Sub in the name "Jeff" or "Bob" for Lisa — and is there still a problem? Probably not. Nowhere in your letter have you expressed any reasons why Tyler can't be trusted. Rather than focus on their friendship, focus on your relationship, and the knowledge that you don't have to be anything and everything for Tyler. His friends will fill important roles in his life, and that's something to be grateful for, not threatened by.

Wayne says:

Here's a weird idea: Instead of treating Lisa like a threat, why don't you turn the tables, go all-in, and grow a friendship with her? Seriously. She is, in your own words, super nice, and you clearly have something in common: You both like hanging out with your boyfriend. So getting to know her and including her more in your life could help get you past this awkward feeling you're harboring. Being proactive might defuse this whole situation quickly. And if Tyler's happy that you're cool with their friendship, he shouldn't have any problem with the two of you hanging out.

Once you two are girlfriends, you can get to better know what she's looking for in life and love, or if she's even interested in a relationship. She could be perfectly happy having a doggy park and lunch buddy, and living her life. Or maybe she's not even looking for a man? Maybe she dates women? You'll never know until you get to know her.

So trust your boyfriend. Get to know Lisa so that you can trust her. Heck, go to the dog park with them every once in a while. And if either of those two throw up any red flags along the way, then you'll know that some other discussions need to be handled. Until then, loosen up, have fun, enjoy a healthy, balanced relationship with your boyfriend and new friendship with Lisa.

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