Q. My name is Michelle and I have a boyfriend who is really sweet and adorable. I share my apartment with my best friend who recently broke up with her boyfriend. She was devastated and hurt and I did my best to console her and support her. Of late, she has been showing an interest in my boyfriend and this bothers me. My boyfriend often comes to my place to hang out. Every time he is at my place, she comes out of her room, joins us and even sits next to us on the couch. At first, I didn’t mind because I knew she was going through a bad breakup but over time, she has started to worry me.
She is my best friend and she has never behaved this way in the past. I am not sure if she is feeling lonely or if she is jealous or if she has a genuine interest in my boyfriend and wants to steal him from me. I talked to my boyfriend about this and he didn’t feel she was hitting on him no showing a special interest in him. However I don’t quite feel the same way. I think it’s better to be safe than be sorry, but I am not quite sure how to handle this situation.
Should I move out of my apartment and look for another place? Should I discuss my concerns with my friend? I am not quite sure how she will take it. And even if she is interested in my boyfriend, she is not going to say, “Yes, I am interested in him”, so what’s the use of talking with her. I have conflicting thoughts and emotions and don’t know what to do.
Do you have any advice you can share?
A. Dear Michelle,
Several questions occur to me regarding your situation:
1. You say your boyfriend doesn’t feel like your roommate is hitting on him.
Is there anything in your own relationship history or your family history (for example a parent’s infidelity,) that would make you particularly sensitive or fearful regarding issues of infidelity?
2. Regarding your statement: “I think it’s better to be safe than be sorry;” Sorry about what?
Whom are you having difficulty trusting-your roommate or your boyfriend? Because it would take both of them for something to happen.
3. Do you have any knowledge about your best friend that would give credence to your fears that she may want to steal your boyfriend?
4. You are giving a good description of an emotional triangle.
People “triangle” others into their relationships as tension builds up (as it inevitably and naturally does) between them. Could it be that there are unaddressed issues between you and your boyfriend that are being hidden by a focus on your roommate?
5. Are you reacting to fears that your roommate might be trying to steal your boyfriend, or to a feeling of being on the “outside of the triangle?”
No one likes the feeling of being in the outside position in a harmonious relationship triangle, but some people are more sensitive to it than others. Can you think of other times you’ve felt left out? Is this a familiar feeling for you?
Only you can decide what to do here, but I want to caution you about the potential cost of not trusting these people you care about (as long as nothing more serious than what you’ve described has happened so far).
Rather than trying to figure out what your roommate’s motives are, maybe you can use this situation to observe and learn. How does your boyfriend handle himself in the triangle? What do you do when you feel left out?
How can you use this experience as an opportunity for personal growth?