He’s never going to tell you it bugs him. But that doesn’t mean he won’t give you attitude about it.
Picture this. You tell your boyfriend that you’re catching up with a close male friend over coffee tomorrow afternoon. That’s fine, he says. But hang on. What was that edge in his voice? Did he not quite meet your eye when he said that? And why did he suddenly go cool on you? After all, he did say it was okay with him, right?
Wrong. The thing is, he doesn’t want to be that uncool guy who controls who his partner’s friends are, and who she gets to see. But that doesn’t mean he likes you spending quality one-on-ones with another dude – no matter how platonic the relationship. “We don’t want people to think we’re possessive and insecure,” says Herman*. “But it doesn’t mean we’re not.” And of course, it’s about sizing up the competition. “We don’t have an issue with you meeting your guy friends, but certain types will raise alarm bells,” he adds.
Like the guy who lucked out in the gene pool – you know, the one who happens to be both good-looking and charismatic. Herman admits he gets a little jealous when his girlfriend meets up with her buff male friend. “Of course I’ll say I’m cool with it. It sounds silly to say that she can’t see him because he’s too handsome.”
Some guys aren’t okay with you meeting male friends one-onone if you already see them frequently in a group. Daniel* explains: “There must be something special about your relationship with this guy if you have to see him outside of that group. That would bother me, even if it isn’t romantic.” That level of exclusivity is what hurts, he says. Like when two people giggle over an inside joke you don’t understand.
That’s also why meeting up with a “work husband” outside of office hours is a major no-no, says John*. “Her male colleague already spends more hours in a week with her than I do. Does she really need to spend more time with him?”
Don’t get him wrong. Your man trusts you to fend off predatory advances. It’s the other men he doesn’t trust. “Just because the guy knows you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean he won’t try to make a move,” Stephen* says. It makes things worse when you’re so close to that male friend, the two of you text often, and are affectionate, like touching each other on the arm or shoulder.
So how does a girl keep the peace? I took this question to an ex-boyfriend, Mark*, who told me that being sensitive to how your man might feel about the friendship can be a salve. Mark pointed to how I would hang out at my male bestie’s house, despite his annoyance. “There was no self-reflection that you were doing something that upset me,” he says.
His other piece of advice? Sound your boyfriend out on how he feels – especially if you have a feeling that he’s bugged by your relationship with this guy friend. “In the initial stages of dating, I tell her what I think is appropriate when it comes to friends of the opposite sex,” says Mark.
And be prepared. Because you can’t have your cake and eat it. If you get to see your guy friends, he gets to see his female friends too.
*Names have been changed
TEXT DAVELLE LEE PHOTO EVERETT COLLECTION