He Said/She Said: Are Outside Relationships Okay?

He Said/She Said: Are Outside Relationships Okay?

Dear Aaron & Rachel,

My boyfriend of four years has a lesbian friend.  At first, I was okay with the relationship.  Then the longer he & I dated & the more serious we became, he finally disclosed that if she were not a lesbian, she is whom he would be with in a relationship – that he loves her!  This has made me very uncomfortable.  Especially considering that when they are together, I am not allowed to be around.

My Boyfriend Loves Me AND Someone Else!

 

When she calls, he pretty much drops everything to attend to her.  Not to mention that she treats me very unkind at every opportunity she gets & he defends her actions.  I know nothing sexually will happen. However, I always wonder when they are together if he is wishing things were different.  If he is wishing that she was the one he was sharing his life with instead of me.  He tells me that he loves me more than he has ever loved a woman. However, his words are hard to believe, especially considering all he has disclosed about his feelings for her & his actions towards her.  They have been friends for almost 20 years & their relationship was a factor in the demise of his 30 year marriage.

Sincerely,
My boyfriend’s in love with a lesbian!

She Said

So sorry to hear about your situation with your boyfriend and his friend. To be very clear: You are in an unhealthy relationship. In fact, you are in a triangle. Three is a crowd here, and it was a crowd in his previous marriage too.

I think your boyfriend needs to be honest with himself. Why is he letting his relationship with this friend get in the way of his relationship with you if he he loves you? Words are words. If he loves you, his actions will show that he does not want to hurt you. If he doesn’t start doing what it takes to make you feel better about your relationship, my suggestion is to break up with him. You deserve to be with someone who loves you and only you!

He Said

This is one of the rare times where Rachel and I will disagree (yes, it does happen…sometimes. See?). I agree with Rachel that you’re caught in a triangle, but do you mind if I ask you why you’re asking him to stop a relationship where there’s no risk of infidelity?  Esther Perel, who is one of the leading minds on sex and relationships, states that we often make these requests to our partners out of our own insecurity and need to be loved.
It’s nice of you to want to be your partner’s one and only but it’s also unrealistic. Your partner is multifaceted and infinitely complex. You simply can’t meet all his needs. So  in addition to you he’s going to have friends, hobbies, family members, etc. that will fill his needs, too. There’s no reason to get upset about them, he’s just a multifaceted person. Now, if the relationship with his friend was sexual (or at risk of becoming sexual) then I’d be telling you something else. But as it stands, it seems this is just another close (albeit a little too close) relationship that he enjoys having.
Remember, everybody does things their partner disagrees with. Whether it’s leaving makeup on the sink, leaving dirty underwear on the floor or continuing to support family members who have made bad decisions, sometimes couples just disagree. And just because you’re irritated, doesn’t mean your partner has to change. This inherently makes your relationship manipulative and entrapping. You’re essentially sending him a message that he must do what you say because you’re together and you disagree with what he’s doing.
About Rachel:  Rachel Russo is a Dating, Relationship, & Image Coach who works with marriage-minded singles and couples in NYC and throughout the US. Checkout her website at RachelRusso.com

About Aaron: Aaron Anderson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, owner of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado and writer for various websites on marriage and relationships.

6 Responses to He Said/She Said: Are Outside Relationships Okay?

  1. This article is absolutely nuts. I can not believe that a licensed, professional, family and marriage counselor would give such advice. This is NOT family friendly nor does it bode well for this woman’s future relationship with this man.

    “….. he finally disclosed that if she were not a lesbian, she is whom he would be with in a relationship – that he loves her ….. when they are together, I am not allowed to be around…When she calls, he pretty much drops everything to attend to her… she treats me very unkind at every opportunity she gets & he defends her actions…they have been friends for almost 20 years and their relationship was a factor in the demise of his [previous] 30 year marriage.

    Then the ‘professional advice she gets is to essentially “cool her jets” and stop being so “selfish” as to think her boyfriend will not have needs that another (man or) woman can meet better than she can. She just needs to grow up emotionally and get “realistic”.

    Aaron agrees with his co-counselor that “Rachel is caught in a triangle” (a 3 person intimate relationship), but then asks; “why are you asking him to stop if there is no chance of infidelity”?

    Aaron then makes the statement that in addition to her, there will be friends, hobbies, family members, etc. to fill her boyfriend’s needs that she cannot and should not attempt to restrict those in his life either. This is nuts….completely nuts…Aaron.

    Here Aaron is where you are “missing the boat”:

    1. This is not a girl looking for a polyamorous lifestyle.

    2. This guy has already demonstrated that his relationship to his lesbian girlfriend is more important than his previous 30 year marriage, OR to his current relationship with this girl for that matter. (He drops everything at a moment’s notice to attend to her).

    3. Any other “friends, hobbies, family members, etc.” that will get priority OVER his future wife should NOT be tolerated either. This is not the same as saying you cannot have your life filled with family and friends and other interests, BUT when these friends, family and hobbies ALL exclude your spouse, and prioritize over your spouse you have a much bigger problem.

    4. You yourself have clearly stated in other posts that intimacy and sex are not necessarily one and the same. Intimacy can be shared without sex, and sex without intimacy, as many in the polyamorous lifestyle will tell you. This clearly is an intimate relationship though that he has with his friend of 20 years.

    …….Con't next comment

  2. continued……

    5. This guy is clearly not concerned about his girl. Saying he has never loved a woman more is nothing but mere dribble. He has NO idea what love really is. His actions belie his empty words. He is not prepared to realign his priorities. He has no room for compromise and to include his future wife in the relationship. This alone speaks to the fact that his relationship to his lesbian girlfriend is also an exclusive relationship.

    6. This guys future wife is not welcome into the existing friendship. The lesbian girlfriend does not like the future wife. This is an environment hostile to the future marriage and should not be tolerated.

    7. When there is a marital home and children are involved will the boyfriend spend time and financial resources that belong to the family on his lesbian girlfriend? AND, WORSE yet, will he take the children out for recreation WITH the lesbian girlfriend AND EXCLUDE the wife and mother?

    8. Your last bit of advice “falls totally of the wagon” Aaron:

    “Remember, everybody does things their partner disagrees with. Whether it's leaving makeup on the sink, leaving dirty underwear on the floor or continuing to support family members who have made bad decisions, sometimes couples just disagree. And just because you're irritated, doesn't mean your partner has to change.”

    If this is the counseling you give married couples in crises you must have a very high divorce rate among clients. This relationship has no parallel with “leaving makeup or dirty underwear laying about”.

    Any couple who make independent decisions about things that affect them both will ultimately grow apart emotionally, then physically, then divorce. Two people in a healthy relationship may have other people, interests, and independent activities in their lives. BUT, and it is a BIG BUT, in a successful life-long marriage these two people are sharing a “single life”. They make all decisions that affect them both together. Your version of marriage Aaron, is two people living two independent lives with partners that just need to grow up and stop manipulating and putting limits on each other.

    ….continued next comment

  3. Wow, Herald, this seems to have struck a chord with you.
    Trust me, it's not that I don't think the boyfriend has some things he needs to sort out. I just don't think the girlfriend (the person who wrote in) needs to bother herself with it. It's his issues, he needs to sort them out. She can sit back and relax that nothing sexual will occur while he figures out how to have healthy relationships. Yes, it's no fun when your partner puts other loving relationships first (e.g. family, friends, etc) but the partner needs to sort it out, not the writer.

  4. Sorry Aaron, but I strongly disagree with you on this one. This boyfriend may not be engaging in a sexual relationship with this "friend", but he is engaged in an emotional relationship with her, one that ended his 30 year marriage and is jeopardizing his current relationship. The "girlfriend" who wrote to you needs to set clear boundaries for herself and if those boundaries are crossed, she needs to move on and find a someone she can have a healthy relationship with. Yes, we all have people in our lives other than our partner whom we need to have in our lives, however he has crossed a line and is in love with his lesbian friend. He is in an emotional relationship with his lesbian friend, even if it's one sided. To me, that's cheating and worse than if he had engaged in anything physical. Just my two cents 🙂

  5. This guy needs to make a choice and follow his heart in ONE direction. I think that he definitely crossed a line, even though there is no future with the friend, he is taking away from his relationship. It's about prioritizing. Great food for thought!

  6. I think relationship is a mutual bond to built trust between and there is need to exchange each and every feeling related to spouse and issues. Nothing can be more powerful than trust, if you can perform at your own side it will reflect other end definitely because your emotions never wasted.

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