When Friendships Collide With Your Relationship

Being friends.  Simple.  Right?  It is what we self-teach.  If not, our mentors, parents, or guardians teach us this lesson as we grow up.  It was the simple, “Hey, wanna come over to my house and play with my Transformers?” And when we were little, that is all it took.  Friendships were easy to forge, easy to let go, and easy to forget.  Can YOU actually stop and think about this?  Ask yourself just how many friends have you made in the past?  How long did they last?  Who did you friend?  Was it a guy?  Was it a girl?  Were you into them or were they into you?  And finally the dreaded question:  Did you date them?

Sometimes when you have a great friendship, it evolved from something more than just a casual hello.  It most likely came from a mutual thought, sharing great experiences, or even a former relationship.  Many of us are lucky to have the childhood friends we grew up with, while others are still in the process of making just one good friend who doesn’t backstab.  Friendship.  Such a wonderful thing all of us have in common.

But what happens when friendships with someone you dated go wrong?  I often find that this happens when a relationship enters the picture… it changes everything.  No one ever wants to talk about the unspoken rules, the guidelines, even the definite DO NOT’S.  And before you know it, feelings get hurt, mean things are said, and no one knows their boundaries or where they stand.

So where does this problem start?

Women.  We tend to be the PROBLEM in a friendship equation.  Hate to say it.  Reason being is that we are jealous.  Bottom line and I am not about to sugar coat that shit.  It is in our nature… in our instincts to want monogamy in every way, shape, and form possible.  And let’s face it: We protect it when we have it.  Who’s to say we are wrong with wanting a guy or girl all to ourselves?  It took you forever to find that one person you truly wanted to give yourself to and you had to fight tooth and nail for them.  So common sense would say that there should be some sort of say in each other’s lives, however, that’s not the problem.  The problem starts from wanting monogamy in other forms.  More often than not it crosses from a relationship into their significant other’s friendships.  And that is where the problem forms.

Example: Jack likes Sally.  Sally likes Jack.  Sally dates Jack, and they date for a long time.  Several years pass, and they lose interest in each other.  They were young, and just new to dating.  They shared a life together.  They met each other’s families.  They supported each other’s lifestyles, jobs, living situations, etc.  They went to dinners, movies, and concerts.  They traveled together and had several adventures.  They even had some of the best sex of their lives.  And they love each other.

But even with all that behind them, they realize they just don’t love each other enough to commit for the rest of their lives.  They have love, but not the kind of love that married couples have.  They start to fight.  They tire of the same old things.  They each want something new.  So they decide to separate – but keep in touch and become friends.

Years later Jack and Sally still talk.  They are best friends. Then Jack meets Jane, and Jane becomes the new interest.  Jack and Jane like each other, so they date. Keep in mind Sally is still in picture, but as an advisor, a drinking buddy, a movie-goer, and a confidant. Sally still cares for Jack, but in the sense of knowing it was best they parted ways. And she only wants what’s best for him.  Sally has a man of her own at this point; whom she is happy with.   And both parties know this.  Meanwhile, Jack and Jane start to get serious and not long into the relationship the questions start coming from Jane.  She wants to know who Sally is.  She wants to know why Jack and Sally still talk.  She wants to know every last detail, so she begins searching for answers.  They are in Jack somewhere, but they aren’t accessible.  We call them the ex-files, and Jane wants them opened.  So Jack decides to play both sides of the coin.  Probably not the best idea, but for a temporary time it works.

Jack tells Sally all about Jane, but he is hesitant to discuss with Jane who Sally is.  Sally wants to know more about Jane as well, but Jack doesn’t know where it’s going so he keeps the details to a minimum.  Eventually  Jack starts with a small white lie that he tells both women:  They are just friends.

Jane becomes more and more curious about Sally, so she asks more questions.  Jack obliges but  Jack leaves out the fact that they dated.  And what follows next are the insecurities.  As more time passes they begin to feel entitled to know more about each other’s past and the questions continue.  One day, they say they love each other. And EVERYTHING CHANGES.  Now they are serious.  Jack confesses everything.  He tells Jane about the trip to London.  The trip to California.  The places they went, the memories they made, the whole 9-yards… all but the sex.  Jack continues to leave out the steamy details of his past life.  He doesn’t tell Jane that Sally was his first.  He doesn’t tell Jane that they had an abortion years into dating.  He doesn’t tell Jane about the three-some he, Sally, and Stacy had.  And he doesn’t tell her all these things for a reason.  To protect her.

It’s chivalric.  Or so he thinks.  Jane is pretending this whole time to understand, yet her disgust, anger, and jealously brews.  Jane becomes more and more curious.  And more questions start coming. And before Jane realizes it, she’s in Jack’s phone.  She is looking through his call logs, trolling his emails, and gaining access to his social networking sites.  In doing so she is becoming a grade A detective.  She’s not naive, and she certainly isn’t buying Jack’s story either.  So she continues to look, continues to keep tabs, until she finds something… a NSFW picture.  Then an email.   A documented exchange of sorts.  The flood gates open. Now Jack has some explaining to do to Jane because she decides to confront him.  Meanwhile, Sally sits in the wings unknowing of the lies she’s been told, unknowing of the stories he’s been telling Jane.  Sally is doing her best to still be a good friend.  She has even offered to get to know the new girl in his life. And so what does Jack do?  He tells another set of lies, to both parties.

I’m pretty sure you can figure out where this is going.  It’s easy to see… Jack winds up digging himself a hole he can’t get out, and now he has to make a choice. Jane’s jealousy becomes overwhelming, and she gives him the ultimatum: Keep the girl he’s known and formed a great friendship with – Or lose his newest love interest who he’s only known for a year or two.  So what does he do?  Yup, you guessed it.  He violates every unspoken rule of a friendship.  He forgoes the friendship for the love of his life.  It’s similar to the bros before hoes policy guys have in place to keep their brotherhood intact.

WHY???? Why would he do something so stupid?  Sally asks herself this question every night. It’s what all female friends scream in their heads.  But the answer is obvious.  It’s the same reason why men won’t leave their wives for the woman they are cheating with.  They know that the sex controls part of the relationship and they fear to lose it.  They get the sex on a regular basis.  It’s something that is stable.  They feel like the new girl can be the replacement for the movie-goer, the drinking buddy, and most importantly – the confidant.  They feel like this love just  might be the right one.  They see their opportunity to make a family, a house, a life, a job, etc, all work.  They see the stability of it all, because let’s face it, friendships come and go.  But the girlfriend, the possible future wife, they can be forever.  So they give it all up.

Men want the stability.  They are easy, they are simple, and unless alcohol and testosterone is involved – they generally don’t want to fight.  Men want to be the peace-keeper in their homes.  It’s why we get so mad at them when they just walk away from an argument and go hide in their man-cave.  And they certainly don’t want to have complications in their sex life.  So they keep the sex, give up the former lover/friend, and go about their lives without thinking how it affects all the Sally’s of the world.  Yes, they may have a small amount of remorse, but believe me, that goes away when the Jane’s strip down and give them everything they want both sexually and emotionally.  And it definitely disappears when Jane threatens to end it.

Men do this all the time.  They violate the bros-before-hoes policy.  They put the woman they love first.  And you may not even really notice it at first because it is a slow and gradual process.  It starts with a casual decline of grabbing a beer on the weeknight.  He’d rather stay in and catch that episode of The League with his girl.  Then it’s a missed birthday party here, and an unreturned phone call there.  Eventually he makes an exit altogether from the group he used to hang out with.  But the guy friends know this might be temporary, or at least they hope.  And the female friends are left blindsided.  Now if you’re a man asking the same question, just flip all names and roles.  This sort of situation can happen to men too.  And even for the LGBT community, just replace the names and sexes with whatever suits your situation.  It’s not just a heterosexual thing!  Both men and women are guilty of this!

So how do you prevent this from happening?

Women – You need to learn to trust the person you are seeing.  No matter what, some of these friends will always be in their life.  Whether you like it or not, they have been friends with your lover longer than they have known you.  And they are friends for a reason.  If you isolate the person from doing what they want, they will eventually tire of the games and grow to resent your presence.  And eventually they will regret having picked you over their friends.  And in the end, they will do what they want to do, even if it means doing it behind your back.  And no one enjoys cheating (check out the episode), lying, or anything of that nature

Men – You became friends with the people you know for a reason.  As much as you’d like to admit that the lover is the one you always come home to, there will be certain things you just can’t tell them!  Yes they do your laundry, yes they clean your house, yes they offer you great sex, but they don’t always give you the best advice.  They offer only one point-of-view.  They can’t go to bachelor parties, they can’t keep secrets for the life of them!  They can’t party the way you do with your friends.  There are certain things you just can’t do with a lover.  And there are certain things someone you dated prior to the new interest that they would understand.

Are there exceptions?

There are only a few instances where you have every reason to be jealous.  If they were never really friends and have only been f***-buddies – that causes problems right from the start. You know that once they are done with you they will go right back to that “friend’.  If what they do between each other is inappropriate like physically touching, sending e-mails/texts with actual intentions, then yes by all rights put an end to it!  But before you start jumping to a conclusion, let’s face it, maybe you gave her a reason to start standing her ground as a friend to make you see she won’t be going anywhere.

Friendship is such a wonderful thing.  You can confide in friends in ways you CAN’T confide in a spouse, lover, etc.  Friends can offer great advice, a new insight, etc.  Friends will understand when time passes without conversation.  They will always accept an apology or apologize after a fight – even if it is long overdue.  They always accept you back into their lives even if you don’t really deserve it.  They are the people who will be there for you through a tough time or to celebrate.  And in the end, even in death, they are the ones who will be at your side or remembering you fondly for all the great times you had.

Bottom line, be smart about the friends you keep.  Be smart about the ones you toss.  And don’t lie right from the start.  Be as open and honest as you can about how you feel about the friend you are trying to hide from the jealous lover.

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