Strug­gling to make room for her boyfriend’s bestie — a woman

The Washington Post Sunday - - DIVERSIONS - Carolyn Hax Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@wash­post.com. Get her col­umn de­liv­ered to your in­box each morn­ing at bit.ly/ hax­post.

Dear Carolyn: I am in a very happy re­la­tion­ship with a great guy. We have been to­gether a few years now but there is one is­sue. My boyfriend has a very close girl friend whose pres­ence is a thorn in my side. When we first started dat­ing and were ask­ing the stan­dard clos­est friend/who knows you best ques­tions, she was the an­swer. He has since ca­su­ally men­tioned that years ago she con­fessed her love to him (he did not re­cip­ro­cate). He also says she tells him ev­ery­thing.

While I un­der­stand they have been close friends for a long time, I can­not help be­ing irked at their friend­ship. She seems to reach out to him on a some­what reg­u­lar ba­sis to meet up for drinks; other times they go to movies and do other ac­tiv­i­ties. He seems to think this is no big deal and doesn’t un­der­stand why I am both­ered by an in­no­cent friend­ship.

I can be okay with their friend­ship for months at a time (oc­ca­sion­ally giv­ing my­self a pep talk to not let it bother me), but ev­ery once in a while I just to­tally lose my cool over it and all my wor­ries and inse­cu­ri­ties bub­ble to the sur­face. They do have a nat­u­ral chem­istry and more sim­i­lar back­grounds/ per­son­al­i­ties than my boyfriend and I, who de­spite our dif­fer­ences are a good match.

It seems to me that she still may have feel­ings for him, and I don’t un­der­stand why this girl hasn’t taken a step back. I wouldn’t mind if they hung out in groups and caught up ev­ery now and then, but I self­ishly want to be the most im­por­tant girl in my boyfriend’s life and I feel threat­ened by this lin­ger­ing close friend­ship. I wish I could have the self­con­fi­dence to not worry about it, but noth­ing I do seems to work.

My boyfriend and I have had a few se­ri­ous con­ver­sa­tions about this, but af­ter a cou­ple months I find my­self back in the same place. Any ad­vice?

L.

Yes: Make up your mind, and stop look­ing for the sit­u­a­tion to make up your mind for you.

Look at the way you sur­ren­der con­trol:

“A very close girl friend

l whose pres­ence is a thorn in my side.” You see this as some­thing be­ing done to you, when in fact you chose to keep see­ing him when he told you about her up­front.

“I can­not help be­ing irked.”

l Yes, you can. You can em­brace the friend and friend­ship, or you can break up with this boyfriend. It might help you do the for­mer, by the way, if you hang out with them some­times, like cou­ples and their re­spec­tive besties tend to do.

“I don’t un­der­stand why this

l girl hasn’t taken a step back.” You’ve waited years for her to do this, to fix the prob­lem for you. That’s a lot of life to put in another per­son’s hands. Plus, you’re wait­ing for her to do what you would do in this sit­u­a­tion, in­stead of rec­og­niz­ing that what she’d do is the only met­ric she’s go­ing to use.

“I wish I could have the self­con­fi­dence

l to not worry about it.” Okay. I wish my fa­vorite pants still fit. All that means is chronic dis­con­tent­ment un­til I ei­ther ex­er­cise more or buy big­ger clothes. So what’s it go­ing to be for you — hard work to change your out­look, or the hard de­ci­sion to give up on a re­la­tion­ship that’s never go­ing to fit?

I know you think you’ve done the hard work, but I sus­pect “noth­ing . . . seems to work” be­cause, deep down, you’re cer­tain that you’re right and that she’s the one who needs to leave.

That never works. What does work is tak­ing con­trol only of what’s yours. Namely: “I self­ishly want to be the most im­por­tant girl in my boyfriend’s life.” That’s yours. That’s what you want, and it’s right be­cause you get to de­cide what’s im­por­tant to you. ( Yes, just as this friend can choose to stay close to a guy who re­jected her ro­man­ti­cally, and just as your boyfriend can choose to stay close to his fe­male best friend de­spite your dis­com­fort with her.)

And since that’s what you want, own it. Sure, do another round of think­ing and try­ing to ac­cept the sta­tus quo, and see what you can do about bring­ing the friend into your life, too, in­stead of just hear­ing they’ve gone to a movie. Best friend­ships be­long in the fab­ric of a cou­ple’s shared life, not skulk­ing off to the side. But if you ul­ti­mately de­cide you can’t see her as any­thing but a threat, then that’s what you say. “I can’t stay in a re­la­tion­ship where I’m con­stantly look­ing over my shoul­der.” In other words, you can’t make any­one let go but you.

3Join the dis­cus­sion live at noon Fri­days at wash­ing­ton­post.com/ con­ver­sa­tions.

NICK GALIFIANAKIS FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

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