DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’ve been dating my girlfriend for a year now, and we’re going strong. I love her and I know she loves me and that is an amazing thing. However, there is just one thing that makes me uncomfortable and jealous: her male best friend.
This guy best friend of hers was actually one of my good friends before I met her, and they started becoming friends when we started dating. However, as time progressed, they got closer and closer, which means more touching, more hugging, and they even say “I love you” to each other right in front of me, which makes me extremely jealous as her ACTUAL boyfriend.
These days, their friendship keeps escalating even more. They both coincidentally work at the same place they both hang out a lot over the week, and at most, I get to see and hang out with her during school and during the weekends when it’s just the two of us. It’s just gotten to the point of becoming very uncomfortable and sometimes when I’m with her and this guy best friend shows up (after she’s been asking about him for a while), I feel more like I’m third wheeling and I have to work even harder to get her attention.
I don’t want to be the controlling boyfriend that limits who she hangs out with, but I just think it’s crazy. They share “amazing” text messages, share hugs, playfully touch each other, have a crazy amount of inside jokes. Meanwhile, I’m over here with her getting mad at me for texting a good friend that’s a girl, who lives in CANADA, about how she’s doing. What should I do? Should I just bite my tongue and let it happen? I’ve been doing that for the time we’ve been dating and it’s torture and it hurts me so much. Please help.
DEAR FEELING JEALOUS: Y’know, FJ, nine times out of ten, I tell people who feel insecure around their girlfriend’s male friends to calm down and trust their girlfriends. It’s something of an insulting myth that you can’t have (straight) cross-gender platonic relationships without sex getting in the way.
(And I emphasize straight because nobody ever seems to ask this of gay men or lesbians, and bi and pan people wouldn’t be able to be friends with anyone.)
More often than not, it’s mostly a case of misplaced jealousy and the best thing you can do is talk openly and honestly about it with your girlfriend – be open about being jealous, be up front with needing a little reassurance and being walked back from the edge when you’re being an irrational bag of slop, etc and just trust your girlfriend because, hey, she picked you.
Congrats, though. You have the dubious distinction of being that one time in ten when I think there’s legitimately something hinkey going on.
Now, this doesn’t mean that I think she’s cheating… but it sure as hell seems like it’s heading that direction. Hell, even if it’s just an emotional thing between the two of them, some lines are definitely being crossed here and that’s not cool. The fact that he can casually barge into what is ostensibly your time with your girlfriend is, at the very least, a boundary violation that’s very unfair to you.
And, to be perfectly frank, when your partner starts getting on your case about being too flirty/intimate with someone… well sometimes that’s a way of deflecting potential accusations by judo-flipping it onto you first.
So I’d say it’s time for a very long talk with your girlfriend about what’s going on with her and her bestie. It’s one thing to say “you can only hang around with the people I approve of” but it’s another to say “I’d appreciate more of your time and attention, especially since we’re, y’know, dating.” Or to say “I’d really prefer if our time could be OUR time, not me hanging around with you and your BFF”. Or to say “I’m not comfortable with the way you guys behave around me.”
Or you could quit dancing around the subject and ask her “Are you sure you’re dating the right person? Because it sure as hell seems to me like you’d rather be with him.”
Regardless: I think it’s time you had that talk with her. Just be prepared; putting it all out there like that may well mean the end of the relationship.
Although, in fairness, with the way she seems to be treating you, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: So, my question is less relationship and more social, but I suppose what advice you give me I could apply to establishing relationships.
I recently got a job working as a site manager. I really like the job: Pays decent, co-workers are chill, flexible schedule, I supervise a good amount of people. Fun, right?
There’s a slight problem, though, at least in terms of appearances: It’s for a porn site.
Now, I have no problems working for this site. But socially speaking, I’ve had a really hard time discussing the extent of my profession to people. I think about 8 or so of my friends know, as does two of my old bosses who I’m on friendly terms with and my sister. For a lot of them, it was a struggle because I was really worried about what they’ll say. For most, they were supportive. A couple, however, had more straitlaced backgrounds, and it was clear that they only respected the fact I had a stable job. Talking sometimes gets dicey with them.
To complicate matters further, I’m a high-functioning/moderate autistic, and it’s not exactly easy to navigate these settings without feeling like I’m now some sex offender or something because I have trouble speaking in a way people can easily mesh with.
Of course, this brings me to my issue: If I’m having this much trouble talking to people who are long-time friends, how do I handle regular people when discussion of work comes up? I try to go for the “I’m under NDA, can’t talk about it” angle, but people get nosy these days about work, and I don’t want to look more like a curmudgeon than I already appear to be. Moreover, I live in a Midwestern city, so while there’s socially “liberal” elements, being in my field can be seen as far too much for many. On the one hand, some of my friends are moderate Christians who would not take this lightly (I was raised a lapsed Catholic). On the other, my primary social scene (DIY music) is seeing more social-justice conservative types who speak of safe spaces and triggering, and some would certainly find my line of work to be “exploitative.” The vast majority of these people would, say, probably vote yes on Proposition 60 in California (even though it’s a poorly-written referendum). And this is to say nothing of dating women (which has never been a strong suit of mine to begin with), where answering about my work could become a very loaded question.
What do you suggest in handling these situations?
-A Different Sort Of Closeted
DEAR A DIFFERENT SORT OF CLOSETED: You have two choices, ADSoC. You can play the detail game, or you can just own it.
In the former, you give people the technical truth: you work for a company that does high-bandwidth data transfer and you manage the technical side of things. Good pay, cool co-workers, flexible hours, etc. What sort of data? Meh, mostly VOIP and streaming stuff, nothing terribly interesting. So what about you? This is the version you can wheel out at parties or family gatherings when talking about working in porn – even at several levels removed – would cause more problems than it’s worth.
In the latter, you take ownership of it and don’t treat it like it’s shameful. As I’m saying all the time – hell, I’m saying it in this very column – if you don’t roll it out like it’s something to be ashamed of or some deep dark secret, then most people won’t take it that way. Just a flat “enh, I’m a site manager for Brazzers/Burning Angel/Pornhub/whatever; I just keep the back-end running” will do. What do you do? Nothing that different from keeping YouTube/Vimeo/TikTok running smoothly. You don’t have anything to do with the content.
The fact of the matter is: you’re not doing anything to be ashamed of. While porn definitely has it’s problematic issues (especially regarding things like race or performers like James Deen), if the actors are all consenting and the company is ethical (not coercing it’s actresses into scenes they don’t want to perform, following the laws about workplace health and safety, etc.) then you’re more or less in the clear, ethically speaking.
What about the people who will judge you? Well… people are going to judge you. A
holes are gonna ass. You can’t really stop people from doing that. And – as both Tumblr and Reddit have shown – there will always be people with more enthusiasm than experience who’ll treat any deviation from their cause as a crime that makes you literally Worse Than Hitler. The fact that they act like that doesn’t make them right, however; mostly it makes them annoying.
Yeah, you’re going to run into people – folks in your social circle and potential dates both – who will side-eye you for it. You’re also as likely to find people who think it’s kinda awesome; more women than ever watch porn these days, especially online. You’ll never know if they’re one of those if you keep treating your job like something to be spoken of only in whispers.
(Of course, considering that almost everyone watches porn these days, I can almost guarantee that many of the people who’ll be looking down their noses at you will have visited that site - or your competitors - at some point in the very recent past. Possibly even that day.)
And to be perfectly honest: if you’re going to date somebody and they wouldn’t be ok about where you work, then you’re not likely to be all that compatible, period. If your job is going to be a dealbreaker, you’re going to be better of getting that out of the way early on so you can find people who are right for you.
TL;DR – give the technically correct, if general details if you really feel like you need to hide things. But I think you’d be better off in the long run getting comfortable with just letting people know.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)