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Ask Sahaj: My friend’s new girlfriend is jealous and sending me abusive messages

Dear Sahaj: I am a woman with male friendshipit’s quite close, but without romance and without any desire for that type of relationship on either of our parts. A friend of mine recently started dating a woman who is actually jealous of our relationship. She sent me many angry and somewhat offensive messages that were clearly intended to hurt my feelings.

My friend says I should just reject her communication, dismissing it as some unjustified jealousy that will eventually fade away. I’m sad that my friend wonDon’t put in a good word for me, but since we’re not romantic, I don’t want to demand anything about his relationship. For now, I’m distancing myself from this friendship, but I feel sad and don’t know what to do next.

Wounded: You have two options: you can try to continue this conversation with your friend or not. Either way, it doesn’t change how hurtful and disappointing it can be to feel like he’s not protecting your friendship.

It’s unfortunate, but there are a lot of limiting beliefs about platonic mixed-gender friendships. However, just because your friend’s girlfriend shares these beliefs doesn’t give her the right to be mean or “abusive” to you.

I talked about your dilemma with friendship educator and licensed therapist Blake Blankenbecler, and she shared the heart of the problem: “When your friend suggested that you should reject harmful messages from his girlfriend, he was also dismissing your feelings.” If you haven’t done this, you should explicitly address the issue by saying something like: “I know you think this will go away, but I don’t like being talked to like that. It’s hurtful and wrong.” Just because your friend doesn’t think it’s a big deal doesn’t mean you should pretend it doesn’t either. You don’t have to demand anything from him, but you can share how it affects you. As Blankenbecler says, “At the very least, it’s important for a friend to care about how their partner feels, regardless of gender.”

Is this the first time either of you have been in a relationship since you became friends? Are you in a relationship too? In all friendships, adding partners to the mix can change our friends’ availability and priorities. However, respect, kindness and care should never be compromised. Your friendship may need to be recalibrated, and while it’s your prerogative to distance yourself, I wonder if it might be worth starting a conversation about it with curiosity. It might sound like this: “I’m worried about how this – or any future romantic relationships – might affect our friendship. Do you have any concerns about this?” Giving him a chance to share his feelings can clarify whether you are on the same page about your friendship.

This is your privilege too NO say anything – both to protect yourself and not to alienate a friend in a potentially isolating relationship. If a girl sends offensive messages to someone she barely knows, how does she treat her date? You might even ask a friend, “I just wanted to check how you’re doing. I feel hurt that she sent me those messages, but I’m more worried about your relationship. If everything is fine?” It’s possible that since his girlfriend is behaving this way, he may feel embarrassed or unsure how to deal with it himself and focus on how he is you can find a way to talk about their relationship.

You can’t change your friend’s disappointing reaction, but you can you can choose how you deal with it and how you can protect yourself during this time. And being there for your friend despite this disappointment not only makes you a greater person, but it gives your friend a safe place to go if they need it.