Dear Carolyn:

I have been dating my boyfriend for seven months. We get along great. However, we have a big disagreement on what is appropriate for relationships with the opposite sex. He has a friend whom he wants to see every few weeks -- recently, lunch, just the two of them. He saved her life when she was a teenager, and she has always led a troubled life. He wants to be her friend and continue to help her. I am fine with their being friends, I just don't understand why it needs to be just them. I believe that if you are in a serious relationship, then your opposite-sex relationships need to change. My boyfriend thinks it's ridiculous that I want them not to hang out alone. We have both tried to give in, but we end up feeling terrible because we believe so strongly otherwise. Any ideas?


Consider that you're both right? It is an election year.

If he's being honest in the way he represents this friend, then it's possible he has no romantic feelings for her whatsoever -- and if he has no romantic feelings for her whatsoever, then it's going to strike him as pretty ridiculous that he can't even see her for lunch.

Meanwhile, if he's deliberately excluding you from this friendship, then you have reason to feel it's inappropriate.

And since pandering makes my teeth hurt: You're also both wrong. Being in a relationship doesn't mean all friendships with the opposite sex have to change. Some of them, yoo-hoo, are innocent. What they need to be is transparent -- and that's where your boyfriend falls short.

So shake hands and call this a draw. Over lunch. You, the boy and the mystery friend. Meet her.

You'll either feel threatened by her -- justly or not, but a bigger problem regardless than the one you're now debating -- or you won't, in which case you can grant them leave to go break bagels without you. Or you'll get the funny feeling this "friendship" is just the two of them feeding off an all-you-can-stomach buffet of mutual need ("He saved her life . . . and he wants to continue to help her"? Ick?), and you'll grant yourself leave to say, "Ick."

Dear Carolyn:

I've been married for several years and, for most of that time, have worked with a woman, "Jane." We're good friends, and I've grown more and more attracted to her, though I've never acted on my feelings. Lately, I've been increasingly territorial, jealous of anyone she goes out with and downright angry at her and anyone she sleeps with -- punctuated by a sharp exchange between us over an alleged tryst she had. It's part jealousy but also concern for her that she not gain a reputation for sleeping around. How do I constructively deal with her?


From as great a distance as you can professionally afford. Apologize to her for your wildly inappropriate "sharp exchange." Sever the friendship. Share zero details from your hearts, beds, lives. Permanently retire the laugh-out-loud "reputation" line. Find a new definition for "not acting on your feelings." Requisition a 10-foot pole.

Then go home, and hold your wife, and put your newly freed emotional energy back where it belongs. Recommit or get off the pot.

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