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Advice – My girlfriend does not want me to befriend my female coworkers.

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/u/cataractman on /r/relationship_advice writes…

“My [36M] girlfriend [30F] of 3 years wants me to abstain completely from any friendships with any woman in my life no matter the context. She says she dosnt want a partner who engages in female relations of any kind, no matter the nature of the relationship. Professionally through work with co-workers is okay, but it has to be strictly confined to work environment. Anything outside that is a no go.

A little background. I love my gf very much. I think she is the most beautiful girl in the world, and the most loving big-hearted girl I have ever known. I love spending time with her, and we share common goals in life. We are ready to start a family.

The issue arose a few weeks ago, when 3 of my co-workers wanted to go out for dinner after work. We had all been talking the whole week about this really nice local cuisine, and now we wanted to go try it out. Just for that, nothing more. A normal healthy social get together for a few hours among colleagues as I see it.

The problem is that 2 out of those 3 co-workers are girls, which according to my gf is way over her personal boundaries of what she thinks is acceptable behavior for her partner, if I agree to join that dinner. She says it looks like a double date.

I can see what she means, and I tried to explain her the nature of the situation, that it is just a social work thing, and my relationship to those girls is purely friendly.

…My gf quickly extrapolated the problem into other possible scenarios such as, what if the other guy cancelled last minute, would you still go? What if it was an invitation for going to the movies, would you also go? What if the dinner took place at someone’s home, would you still go then?

I got really annoyed by all these questions, as I basically just want her to trust me, that I can handle myself in any given situation if some girl should approach me sexually or with romantic intend. However, even if it was a dinner thing with 1 other guy and 1 other girl only, I should still not join in.

I tried to middle ground the situation by telling her that she is more than welcome to join in, and that I also really would like it, and appreciate it she would get to know the people in my life more. I think that would be healthy for our relationship. However, she doesn’t want to join, because she doesn’t care for those people. And I shouldn’t either.

I feel it is a breach of trust, that she doesn’t trust me to be around other girls at all. We had a huge fight, and we still today after several weeks, can’t make common ground on the issue. Now it has gotten to a point where I’m just angry, sad and frustrated, and I don’t know if I want to continue the relationship with her.

… I feel she wants to cut me off from establishing any meaningful relationship with people just because they have boobs basically. I think it is controlling behavior and I cannot tolerate that.

Is it not normal behavior to establish friendly relationships with co-workers of the opposite gender? Have I lost my perspective?”

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Dear Cataract Man,

First off. Your name is phenomenal. You said you work as an optician. So your username is just perfect.

Let’s play the game of “flip the gender”!

How does this situation sound if we assume that you are a woman with a man who isn’t comfortable with you meeting your male-bodied coworkers outside of work environment? He wants you to never meet opposite-gendered people outside of work? He is using straw man analogies to fallaciously manipulate you into isolating you to himself? He is wielding the language of comfort and boundaries to limit your outside social interactions?

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Yikes.

First things first. The way your girlfriend approached this discussion was in poor faith. She probably felt deeply insecure about the connections you’ve already been establishing with your female-bodied coworkers, and used this particular opportunity as a way to wield her insecurity/jealousy and hamfist you into submission. That is not a good sign.

Furthermore, you tried to compromise and invite her to come join your social get-together. And she turned it down. Instead, she said she doesn’t care to join. What’s worse is that she projected her lack of interest onto you and forced you into accepting her reality. That is also not a good sign.

The core issue here is that she lacks relevant trust in you to maintain your own friendships outside of your relationship with her. If you were bisexual, she might not be comfortable with you befriending anyone. Are you actually okay with that kind of perspective on her part?

Like I said, your girlfriend is probably feeling insecure about the friendships you are establishing outside of your relationship. I don’t get the sense that you have done anything in the past three years to explicitly or maliciously jeopardize her trust in you. And this “incident” is not qualified to be one of those trust-breaking exercise for her either. If anything, I can see why you personally do not want to continue a relationship with the way things currently stand.

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It might be a good opportunity for to revisit and sit down with your girlfriend about what you’ve discovered in the past couple weeks. About how you feel that this was a breach of trust. Consider that the way she has approached your friendships with the opposite gender to be one that might be temporarily rooted in her insecurity. But it is not your job to ease her insecurity; that responsibility lies only with her. Your only responsibility is to continue to be yourself and do your best to assure her that you are not going to leave her for your female coworkers. Short of that, you too are allowed to feel the way you feel.

Good luck!

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

I want to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at teatimetomato@gmail.com.

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