The way you interact with a friend who expresses feelings for your girlfriend can set the tone for the future of your friendship. Learning how to identify specific interactions of concern between your friend and girlfriend can provide a basis for addressing your concerns with them. By approaching this situation delicately, choosing your words wisely and clearly defining appropriate and inappropriate boundaries, you stand the best chance of preserving a good relationship with them both.
Gathering the Facts
There's a world of difference between your friend thinking that your girlfriend is attractive and planning to interfere with your current relationship. Before confronting your friend about the situation, examine his relationship with your girlfriend. If your friend only occasionally talks to your girlfriend, only interacts with her in your company and maintains respectful personal boundaries, you may not have anything to worry about. If, on the other hand, your friend talks to your girlfriend constantly, makes plans to hang out without you or makes comments to her about your relationship, it may be a sign that he have more sinister motives.
Approaching the Situation
Use a phrase such as “I’d like to talk to you about something if this is a good time,” recommends professional counselor Aaron Karmin the Psych Central interview “Tips for Talking About Tough Topics.” Asking your friend or girlfriend to talk can create a spirit of cooperation, rather than coming off as a demand. Seeking cooperation in this manner can prevent your friend or girlfriend from acting defensive as you bring up this sensitive subject.
Handling Yourself in the Conversation
You run the risk of coming off as offensive and accusatory when discussing sensitive topics such as this one. One way to control yourself, and your image, when discussing sensitive topics is to focus on how you think and feel about the situation by using "I" statements. A statement such as "You really make me mad when you sneak off behind my back and talk to my girlfriend" can be re-framed as a less accusatory statement, such as "I consider you to be a good friend, but I'm concerned about whether or not I can trust you around my girlfriend." Write down talking points beforehand in case the conversation becomes heated and then avoid blaming your friend or being accusatory. While it may require some restraint, maintaining a cool head will make you seem more credible.
Maintaining strong personal boundaries can mean the difference between your friend having a harmless crush and intruding on your relationship. Making a list of specific instances in which your friend has overstepped boundaries in your relationship can be used when setting a precedent for interacting with your girlfriend in the future, according to Dr. Susan Biali in the Psychology Today article "7 Ways to Protect Your Energy & Enforce Healthy Boundaries." If your friend cannot respect these boundaries, such as "I'd like you to stop talking to my girlfriend about our relationship," it may be time to reevaluate the friendship.
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