Is boyfriend’s friend a threat or is it just jealousy?
Dear Annie: I’ve been dating “Tim” for about a year. When we first started dating, I was intimidated by how pretty some of his female friends were, but that feeling faded when I got to know them. They’ve all been warm and welcoming — that is, except for one girl. I’ve always gotten a weird feeling from “Meg.” She hasn’t been mean exactly, but she’s always just been a bit standoffish. I can’t put my finger on what it is. She’s been perfectly polite and not obviously cold. But something makes me wonder whether she and Tim used to have a thing or she likes him now. Oddly, this didn’t start really bugging me until about a month ago, and I’m thinking that may be because Tim and I have been spending a little less time together. I’ve been really busy with work, and so has he, and our schedules don’t line up great.
I’ve been afraid to bring this whole thing up with him. I don’t want to drive him away by acting jealous. Plus, he’s given me no reason to worry. He is very trusting of me and doesn’t mind that some of my best friends are guys. He proudly introduces me to everyone as his girlfriend. And perhaps the ultimate sign of trust in this day and age: He never hesitates to let me use his laptop.
Yet I still keep thinking about Meg and wondering whether the two of them text, and when he leaves the room, I’m tempted to look at his phone. I know; it’s bad! I haven’t given in to the temptation, but if this feeling keeps up, I’ll probably cave eventually. Am I being paranoid? How can I tell? — A Little Green
Dear A Little Green: When you find yourself acting like a private investigator with your partner, redirect that magnifying glass to examine yourself and your relationship instead. I don’t think Meg is the problem. I think that you were having some anxiety about the relationship and that she’s what your mind latched on to. Still, because it’s been bothering you this much, it’s worth gently raising the topic with Tim. Tell him you’ve always felt a little intimidated by Meg, and ask whether there was ever anything between them. He won’t get defensive if you present it as an earnest question and not as an accusation. Communication and trust go hand in hand, and if you can learn to speak openly and listen carefully to your partner, deeper trust will follow.
Dear Annie: When you divorce your spouse, are you supposed to refer to your in-laws as “ex-in-laws,” as in “my ex-brother-in-law”? My neighbor says yes, but I thought my in-laws would always be my in-laws, even after a divorce. — Just Curious
Dear Just Curious: In conversation, you can refer to them however you’d like. But your neighbor is correct: Legally speaking, your in-laws are no longer your in-laws after a divorce. It might feel less awkward to say “my ex-husband’s brother” than “my ex-brother-in-law.”
Dear Annie is written by Annie Lane, a young, married mother of two. Send questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.