His friendship with a woman bothers me

-- Question for John --

For the past eight months I have been in a serious relationship with a man that I love very much. I have dedicated myself to this relationship in a way that I have not done so before. This is why my feeling regarding a past fling of his concerns me.

My boyfriend has maintained a “friendship” with a woman who he dated right before initiating his relationship with me. He has told me about this woman and that the relationship was just brief. He shared that the reason things did not work out between them was that she was too unsure of the possibilities of their future. He told me that before meeting me, he had already pretty made up his mind to not pursue a romantic relationship with her.

When he first explained this to me I did not feel jealous because I was sure it was over. However, I learned that he had maintained a friendship with her that inconspicuously began to creep up in our relationship. My boyfriend travels often for work to the city where this woman lives and where they met. The first time he did not keep his word to call me was while on a trip to this city. She called on him for his help because she was having a family crisis. In another instance, while on another visit to that city he told me that he had met her and that she had helped him store his luggage whiled he traveled to a nearby city.

At that point I was upset and began to feel insecure. I was not sure if I was just seeing things or if he was trying to make me jealous. Either of which would make me feel bad. Furthermore, after I expressed to him my feeling of jealousy and how this friendship was affecting me he promised to end his friendship with her.

However, he did not keep his word and I later found out that he actually kept in touch with her on a regular basis, via telephone and email. They speak almost every other day. I do not want to feel insecure about this, and I wish I did not feel jealous at all, however, this is hurting and making me more and more insecure.

We have tried talking about it and he keeps attempting to assure me that there is nothing going on and that nobody comes before me. However, from his actions I feel that he is telling me otherwise. I do love him and would hate to loose him to someone else. He on the other hand says that he does not want to break his friendship because then he does not know what I will ask him to give up next.

I don’t want to control his life and I work everyday at trusting him, however, I have tried to reason out this situation and I always come up feeling insecure and jealous. During our last discussion he asked me what he could do to reassure me about his friendship with this woman. He suggested I talk with her via email. The problem is that I don’t think I can, not under these circumstances. I have met other female friends of his and have been glad to meet them, however, I know this woman knows about my jealousy and insecurities. I am not comfortable with that.

He tells me that she gives him advice on our relationship when we are upset and that it helps him to gain perspective to not be mad at me. This information only make me angry and makes me feel as if he thinks I should actually thank this woman for help him see the light.

I have thought about this a lot and have also tried to get it out of my head but it always emerges. I think we need to resolve it and I don’t really know how or what to ask for to appease my insecurities. He has made it clear that cutting off his friendship with her is not an option.

Please help me get some perspective!

-- Answer from John --

I can well understand the situation you are in. We’ve worked with other couples around this kind of issue. It’s not too unlike a place that we ourselves passed through in the first year of our relationship.

The fact is that the ONLY thing you can do at this point is to learn to grow yourself from this challenge. You cannot control him (you know that, it seems, but do you really know that?).

And attempting to GET him to cut off the relationship only sets up other problems to deal with (like him FEELING controlled by you, resenting it and having to break free later).

So that only leaves one option.

You gotta risk it all and let him be who he is — and learn how to superbly take care of your own insecure, jealous, upset feelings that reside inside of you.

The other thing to do, as far as assuring yourself that you have his exclusive attention, is to start building your relationship stronger together.

The challenge you have right now, if you both keep handling it in the same way you are doing, will only start to come between you, more and more.

This is not good as far as your true goal for the relationship, right?

If the two of you can learn to USE THE CHALLENGE as a way to build stronger intimacy and a more solid foundation for your love, you will create a relationship that is unparalleled and cannot be challenged by any outsider.