Ask Wendy

My Boyfriend Has Friendships with Other Women, Help!

Friday, May 4, 2018
couple in bed looking at laptop
Hey Wendy

I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for 15 months. We have a lot going for us and we are both super attracted to one another.

He has quite a history with the ladies. He said he thinks that he slept with over 150 women, and he is 48 yrs. old.

Over time, I’ve discovered he has close to 50 ex-girlfriends and/or ex-lovers as Facebook friends. He’s close to four or five of his ex-girlfriends. He insists on having emotional ties to a variety of women and he insists on going out for drinks with some of them now and then, and I am not invited.

This is a major issue in our relationship, as I feel like he has so many ties with other women that it takes away from time and energy in our relationship together. He can be a shameless flirt at times, and I think he basically just loves attention.

I know that there is nothing I can do to change his past behavior, but my issue is with his present behavior and all of the attention seeking from women, and the women posting comments for him on Facebook and elsewhere. Though he isn't doing this too often, he refuses to give up spending time alone with exes.

Is this situation doomed, or is there a way that I can relax and be alright and feel safe with him?

CC - Washington D.C.

Hey CC,

I’m sorry your boyfriend’s entanglements have gotten your hackles up, and I get it. The continued presence of these ladies in his life must make you feel like your situation is volatile and unsafe. And you’re right—he’s not going to change. He may curb some behaviors for you (and potentially resent you for that), but fundamentally, he won’t change.

When it comes to exes, I actually believe it’s a good thing when people stay connected as friends. I see it as a sign of maturity. It shows me that the person or people in question can work things out and solve problems and conflicts with others and then move beyond them. It shows me they have compassion, and that they care more about their people than they do about being right or playing the victim. It’s baffling to me that one could love a person one day, then be completely fine with cutting them out of their life the next. There’s no need to kill the love! Loving more than one person doesn’t diminish the amount of love we have to give. Otherwise, people could never have more than one child, right?

But it is quite a different thing if past relationships are being rubbed in your face and stealing all your time.

If I had the divine ability to lay down some global relationship laws—like, real ones people actually had to follow—I’d start by instituting these three relationship best practices:

  1. All people in a partnership exercise a high level of integrity and are held accountable to honor and respect their partner’s bottom-line relationship needs.
  2. All people in a partnership don’t own each other. No monitoring friend lists or email accounts, no dictating how one’s partner (or partners) spends their time and with whom, etc.
  3. All people in a partnership practice getting really good at understanding and articulating what their “enough” looks like to be satisfied.

What does “enough time” look like with your boyfriend? What’s enough attention so you don’t feel ripped off?

I want you to ask yourself if these were golfing buddies instead of his exes, would you feel the same way about the amount of time he spends with them?

If you want to work on this, and you feel you can do so without contorting your comfort zone into too many knots, give yourself a new perspective by listening to Overcome Jealousy. (It’s me talking to you for about 20 minutes. You’re welcome!)

Alternatively, you don’t have to do this. There are a ton of guys out there who don’t need attention from other women like your current guy does. You are definitely dealing with a certain flavor of dude here, and as attracted as you are to him, he may not be the right flavor for you. If the jealousy thing is too intense and your spirit is taking a hit, don’t do this to yourself. Say your goodbyes and free yourself for someone else who’s a better fit. And if you do end up choosing this path, here’s the good news: Your current boyfriend and you can stay friends on Facebook and go out for a drink from time to time.

Good luck!

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