Just friends


Just friends


your avatar   Nick (18 year-old man)

My best friend and I met at work almost a year and a half ago. She lives with her boyfriend, and things aren't going very well in their relationship. Before things started heading south for them, she and I hung out and would run errands and all that other chummy stuff.

Now that things are looking rocky for them, she and I are spending more time together. Our feelings for one another are quite clear, I think of her as the sister I should have had and she thinks of me as the brother she never got to have. But her boyfriend doesn't seem to buy this... He's starting to tell her not to see me anymore. He's said before that he trusts me not to do anything, but not her. Is there any way I can convince him that we really are just friends and that he can, indeed, trust her? If not, then can I convince him that I'm not a threat to their relationship?


    Jerry Button, L.M.H.C.

Dear Nick:

I think I'm with your best friend's boyfriend. I don't think I buy the "just friends" idea either. He's just going on gut instinct, probably. I'm reading between the lines.

First of all, I suspect that you're trying to differentiate between a friendship and a relationship where there may no reason for a distinction. Is it only that you and your best friend are not having sex? How else are you distinguishing between your relationship with this woman and with a woman with whom you were having what you would call a relationship? I don't know the answer to this question, of course, but unless there are a whole lot of distinguishing characteristics, I could easily see why the other man would feel threatened.

You say, for instance, that as their relationship began to falter you and your best friend began to spend more time together. Doing what? More errands and "chummy" things? Talking more? Perhaps "sharing more of yourselves"? Enjoying each other's company? Is the woman finding in you what she is not finding in her boyfriend? What's the trouble with their relationship? Is any part of it that she is comparing him to you? After all, her boyfriend says he trusts you but not her! What's he hearing from her that makes him think he can't trust her with you?

And then, to shift the focus back to you, why is maintaining this friendship so important to you? You say it provides you with the experience of having a sister. What does that mean? Are you clear that whatever affection you have for your friend is untainted with anything stronger than that which you would feel for a sister? Are you, perhaps without even being aware of it consciously, making yourself available for a relationship with this woman? What is she picking up on? What is her boyfriend picking up on?

I believe friendship is the best soil in which to grow a successful relationship. Such relationships are much more likely to last and reward than are the WHAM, love at first sight kind. Don't let some false sense of "sportsmanship" keep you from exploring something that may turn out to be something valuable for both you and the woman. Take this time for an honest look inside your self to discover what you really want. Invite your friend to do the same for her self. Talk to each other.

If what you both really want is a brother-sister relationship, then you both should sit down with her boyfriend and say so. If he can accept that, then everything is O.K.. If he can't accept it then its likely that there's a lot more wrong with their relationship than her friendship with you.

If, on the other hand, you two (you and your best friend) want something more than friendship, then go for it!

Jerry Button, L.M.H.C.

This question was answered by Jerry Button. Jerry is a psychotherapist, personal development trainer, workshop presenter and relationship coach practicing in Delray Beach, Florida. He believes that the key to quality of life lies in relationships. His approach to interpersonal and emotional problems is relational and psychodynamic. Jerry is experienced working with individuals, children and families and welcomes challenging opportunities.For more information visit: http://www.dynamicrelationships.net/


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