I've been with my boyfriend for about a year. He doesn’t have many friends and his ex-girlfriend is one of his closest friends. They "share" her dog. He loves this dog and sees his ex like a sister. I don’t have a problem with that.
What does bother me is that 1) the ex does not like me, and 2) boyfriend refuses to make any effort to change that situation.
Why doesn't she like me, you ask? About six months ago, boyfriend and I addressed some trust issues. Now she sees me as untrustworthy.
I've asked him if he thinks she could ever learn to like me, but he claims she’s very stubborn and probably won't back down. He then shrugs and says it sucks for him to be in the middle, but there's nothing he can do.
Currently, he sees her and the dog about once a week, and it doesn't usually conflict with our time together. It sucks to feel like a part of his life is completely walled off to me.
It breaks my heart that he can't and won't budge on this. I'm not sure what to make of the fact that he won't put in any effort to help his best friend/ex see me in a better light.
Kathy G. Chicago, IL
This problem you have is not your boyfriend’s to fix. Please don’t put this on him or put him through the paces about it. He doesn’t have the magical power to change people, and that’s a good thing, because everybody gets to own their own feelings.
Instead, try this: When you see her, be cordial, hold your own space, and don’t give her any of your power. Esoteric words, I know.
Holding your own space and not giving away your power means not collapsing into needing other people to manage other people’s feelings about you, and not letting yourself be driven by what other people think of you—that’s needy behavior, and you don’t need that in your life.
What you can do from this day forward is simply be nice to her every time you see her (as long as she’s decent to you). If you want her to like you, this is the path to you working on that, little by little, day by day. And if she never likes you? That, my friend, is very much her problem, not yours. She may have some weird jealousy issues she needs to work through on her own, or she might have just made up her mind about you, whether she’s right or not—both of which, again, aren’t your problems to fix. Let your BF and her have their friendship. If you two recently addressed some trust issues together, then trusting him to maintain this friendship with her sans you might be something to bring up in light of this.
One last bit of advice: Focus your attention on people who do like and trust you. Guaranteed to feel better than worrying about the ex.
I’ll leave you with my favorite quote of all time, and one I live by: What other people think of you is none of your business.