Mixed signals get in the way of trusting relationship [Ellie]

Question: My girlfriend of eight months has a close male friend. Previously, they spent so much time together he thought they were dating. They’d be alone in his apartment, he’d cook dinner, they’d snuggle watching movies.

She clarified with him that they were just “friends” since she was seeing someone then, but eventually broke up. She implied she’d made the wrong choice and should’ve picked him.

Presently, he continues to ask her out to dinner and movies alone, or to spend time alone in his condo. They chat online almost daily.

He’s met me, but doesn’t know that I mind him continuing to ask her out alone (she doesn’t tell him).

She says I should trust her. I do, but I find their “friendship” strange, almost like an emotional affair. They talk about everything but she’s also honest and open with me. I have no problem with her being with him in groups or alone for dinner. But alone in the condo feels strange, given their past.

Am I silly for feeling this way?

Uncertain

Answer: The fact he “thought they were dating” is worrisome, and she should acknowledge that. It’s her job to tell him that you’re uncomfortable with them hanging out in his condo. The old “snuggling” pattern is still in the air, and is misleading if it’s going on.

She may not realize she’s sending mixed signals, but she is. She may even enjoy having a “backup buddy,” if she breaks up with you. But it’s not fair to you. Tell her so.

Question: My parents have driven people away from my two sisters and myself our entire lives. We’ve heard “nobody’s good enough,” and “they’re using us” about friends and boyfriends since childhood. My mother also tried to embarrass us in front of our guests, so we were reluctant to have friends over.

I’m now in my 40s, engaged to a wonderful, caring man. Once we got engaged, my parents showed they don’t like him and say “he’s not good enough” for me, etc.

They’re openly rude to him, humiliating me in the process. I really don’t want to have a thing to do with them, but they’re elderly and starting to have major health issues.

I’m the only one who calls, visits, and helps them around the house. So there’s guilt involved when I don’t. My eldest sister cut off all contact, my middle sister’s an alcoholic who refuses to leave her home and dogs to visit any family.

I’ve told my parents to support me in my choice or keep their mouths shut. But my mother refuses to even be civil when we visit. I refuse to go there alone due to their tag team attack about my decision when I once stayed on alone there. I’ve only visited two or three times since, with a clear escape plan laid out. How do I handle/manage this situation?

Toxic Parents

Answer: You’re doing well with your own wise strategy. Go as a couple and ignore the rudeness (he must be a great guy if he can rise above it). Look after the necessities: check with their doctors, see that they have a way to get to appointments, manage their house, etc. Look into what community resources are available for visiting homemakers and nursing care when they’ll need them.

Try to stay in contact with your sisters, if you can, so that they know what’s going on and don’t later accuse you of manipulating your parents. Given the background, it’s worth considering.

TIP OF THE DAY

When dating someone exclusively, opposite-sex friends must respect that person’s comfort level.

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