646779 tn?1281996041

Do I need to just accept he is best friends with a woman?

I have been with my boyfriend for 14 months. We are in our late thirties. Our relationship is good but we have one source of conflict, his female close friend.

So their friendship pre-dates our relationship. My boyfriend was single when they met, she was not and is still with the same guy. My bf and her met through a shared passion (climbing) and fast became climbing partners and close friends. They met around lockdown and maintained friendship with her going over his place to climb on his climbing wall that he built. He has also been on a climbing holiday with her and her boyfriend. So this has not had any romance - for one she has always been unavailable and another is my bf has always maintained he has not been interested in her in that way. The similarity between her and my bf is that they are obsessive about climbing and are both high ability.

So I met him in Dec 2021 and it was not long before I gathered he was a passionate climber. I had never seen anyone so driven to get up on a Saturday and Sunday morning so eager to make plans to go climbing (we never spent those days together) Despite this, I really liked him and put it down to him being a slow burner and was just not that into the relationship yet. It was only over time that I realised he had a best friend climber... I realised as they were the two from the climbing group who made plans and to go all day climbing together. One time I was at his place and waited for her to come pick him up and I waved them off with "have fun today", while I went home feeling a bit wounded.

So over the months I began to be more open with him as one of the things he would do was tell me stories about her. I mean he finds her so funny. I learned that she tells him about her sex life and when she is menstruating and laughed telling him her bf gets jealous about her going climbing for the day with a man (my bf) So overtime I was getting more and more uncomfortable with this friendship. Like I said above, he never spent a Saturday or Sunday with me due to climbing. Well the one time he didn't go, he was building her a climbing frame. This was a plan they came up with together. One thing he has been is honest - I couldn't meet up one Friday and had plans of my own, and he told me she was coming over to help build the climbing frame. He was going to make dinner for them both too - something I suspected he would do so I asked if that was happening and he said yes.

There are a whole host of stories I could say about this friendship. She is German and he learns German for her. They go on long summer days in the sun climbing and going in the sea together. She wears very little clothing when she climbs and he looks up at that (it gives you a considerable view of someone's nether-regions if they are wearing tiny shorts) But putting that to one side, I think it's best I describe where things have come at 14 months into this relationship (now). So they now see each other much less and I suspect she too has felt a little rejected as neither she nor him make much direct plans with each other. BUT there is a significant thing at present - it is off-season. They do still see each other in the indoor climbing centres.

So at the weekend my bf and I went climbing - he takes me occasionally and we go just us. He knows I prefer to go with just him as a group is a bit overwhelming for me being new to climbing. I have been slowly learning to climb for the last year. So at the weekend, we see her at a nearby climbing spot but across the other side of the landscape (quite far away). She called out in the distance and my bf was beaming, I mean excited seeing her. It was strange to me when he commented saying 'she's wearing her winter onesie'. I was like, 'oh you can see what she's wearing from here?'. After that he looked over every so often. I just felt moody about it but we carried on where we were. At the end of the day she came over to where we were, she was with another climber guy. There was about 20 mins of chat at this point about her climbing accomplishments and what she has done over the winter. One climb of note being a challenging climb that she told everyone about. My bf looked at her 'you did that and you didn't tell me?'. They looked straight at each other. He seemed disappointed to me. Call me paranoid but I felt she said it in that instance so that I would see his reaction (emotional reaction)

After that, we went for a meal, just me and my bf. She came up in conversation. I am a reasonable person when it comes to these discussions but I wanted to know about the plans ahead. He said the climbing season is on the way and he might get her back as his climbing partner and 'we will see how you deal with it', he said.

That brings us up to right now. I don't like any of it. I believe his interest in her is platonic, but I am not comfortable with what this woman means to him at a deeper level. He and her have different boundaries than what I consider normal and I don't know if that's something easy to get past. I have tried to be understanding and I have also been open with him that I struggle to accept a close friendship with another woman like this. But I leave it to him to do what's right by me rather than force him to change (I don't want to control anyone)

I have inadvertently influenced his choices and he sees her less for me, but I don't think this is what he actually wants - at least with the revelation at the meal saying he is going to make her his climbing partner again and see how I cope with it. This tells me he very much does want this woman a part of his life again.

Am I overreacting? Should this be something I should just get used to? Or am I right to be uncomfortable/ upset/ sensitive about this?
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Avatar universal
Hi. As a woman who has a best friend since childhood who happens to be a male I would alway choose my best friend over my partner, especially if they put me in a position to choose. Now he and I have never been romantic or sexual, so someone's intense jealousy over that would irritate me as I see him more as like we share a blood bond. Any sexual ideas related to him feel like incest.

However I knew he had a crush on me for ages. And I know that even now 20 years later if I said hey let's hook up he'd be up for it. Because men do have some different way of approaching these things and there's always some sexual idea going on behind it all, cause well... testosterone.
I am pretty sure, like 90% sure if she was single he'd go for it in a minute! Her climbing with other guy and not sharing her climbing feats with your boyfriend obviously hurt him, cause he doesn't want to share her in that way. He was her number one person when it came to climbing and he sees it as some sort of honor, and wants to keep it being that way. Him talking about her so often means he thinks about her alot. I don't talk about my best friend as much if I'm going to be frank.
My honest opinion, and that's just me talking, is that your boyfriend is obsessed with climbing. So much so that it passed being a hobby and is now an addiction. And she's part of thay addiction. Or it could be he is addicted to her and his only way of getting that fix is that he has to go climbing so that he get his dose of her.
This is why I don't like nor understand when someone's hobby becomes this overwhelming habit they can't stop or won't stop and everything is about that one thing. There's so much more in life and the point of living is to get a taste of it all.

Now in the end of it all, he might resent you in the end because you're becoming an obstacle between him and his addiction and if he already mentioned he doesn't know if you're gonna make it in his head he already thinks he'd rather sacrifice you. Imagine a year or two from now if you two have a child and you have to be home alone with the baby because it's your obligation and he is away every weekend chasing his passion... it's not really fair isn't it. Think about how the future with him might look like and if you don't like the picture - run!
Hi TruthLady, Thanks for your reply. It was a little hard to read but nonetheless I appreciated your take on it. Especially as a you have a male best friend. I did decide to show this thread to my bf and he said no, he would not hook up with her if she was single. And he doesn't think he is addicted to climbing because that puts it in a negative. To him there is nothing negative about climbing. He wasn't defensive in any other respects and he appreciates how this situation affects me. He doesn't hold it against me and if anything he said 'I'm on my way to hug you' when he was coming over last night. He really wants it to work out. You are right that he is living the life he wants and he prioritises what matters to him. I do see this woman is not on his radar anymore and the majority of my post was a snapshot of my first year with him. I don't think we would have made it if it was as intense with her as it used to be. Re kids - there won't be any. I have mine who are older kids and he doesn't plan to be a parent. But you have a point that he will always be living his weekends away living out his passion.
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207091 tn?1337709493
Kate, you don't *need* to accept anything.

This bothers you. That means it's valid. It doesn't matter if it would bother me or anyone else, it bothers you.

And just as an aside - it would bother me. I believe men and women can be great and close friends and it not be sexual or romantic, but I also think that if someone is in a relationship, there needs to be some boundaries.

Your guy seems to be trying to spend more time with you, but are you getting the leftover time? What will happen when climbing season starts again?

Do you think you're settling? How much are you getting out of this relationship?
Helpful - 3
Hi Jessie, thanks for responding. I guess writing need is because I do value being in a relationship with this person and our relationship isn’t built on telling one another how to live their lives.

He is a really wonderful person and brings happiness to my life. There is more to lose than to gain from ending it with him, I feel. That is why I talk about do I need to deal with it because I don’t want to give up on us.

But I do not deal with this other girl in a healthy way for either of us. I saw him last night and he cried, he was very low, he said it hurts him to see me so hurt. He said sometimes he wonders is it better to let me go than to hurt me, and followed it up by saying he doesn’t think he can. We both said it would be rough to lose each other. We both know the climbing is going to cause us more issues and so is the climbing friend, and he said he is worried we might not make it.

Regarding what he brings to the relationship, I would say him as a person. I’ve never known a better partner, someone who is kind, affectionate, sincere, deep, emotional, caring, thoughtful, sensitive, I could go on.
I don't doubt that you care for each other. I also don't view this any differently than someone who works a lot or who loves football or hockey or live music or whatever.

If one person has an all consuming hobby, or close to it, and the other person isn't into it, it can be really hard to find the balance.

If someone who works a lot has a work husband or work wife, that can be a haha funny thing until it isn't, right? How much time they spend together, how much emotional investment is shared, etc., all comes together to decide if it's crossing a line or not, or if the partner can live with it or not.

If climbing season starts and you become a single woman again, essentially, and he's off in other countries with German girl, how are you going to feel about that?

He may be a wonderful man, full of great qualities you love, but maybe there are excellent reasons he's not been in a serious relationship for so long.

Only you can decide if this will work for you, ultimately.
Absolutely totally agree with you.

I would never tolerate a relationship with someone who stays away in other countries with another woman, shared passion or whatever it might be. He knows that I would end it if he did that.

Climbing season is approaching and yeah he hopes I get into it as ‘he enjoys taking me climbing’. I just have to see how much that’s going to be a choice I make. Luckily I do love the outdoors and part of the enjoyment of the experience is the hike to and from the climbing spots.

He is worried we won’t work out but he won’t compromise on his hobby. So I guess that makes me second best. He told me I’m his world… and he has cut down seeing German girl for me. I used to feel she was the most important woman in his life, I’ll never be able to compete with her, but he has mostly proven that I mean more than she does. BUT climbing season will be another test of us.

He’s climbed throughout the winter but the summer is different - I have to get used to the idea that some days he will go with her and they will have long summer days together. It’s going to tough on me.

Like you say though, I ultimate have to weigh it up. Decide what I want in a relationship according to not just his relaxed boundaries and hers, but mine.

My take from a man’s perspective…As a man, if the situation were reversed and it were my girlfriend with the climbing passion and she shared it with a guy friend and I was the one feeling left out, I would probably have feelings of jealousy only because I would see my girl shares an intense passion with someone else who happens to be a guy. He may even have a harmless micro-crush on not necessarily HER, but what she represents in his life. She fills some sort of void in his life, and he probably doesn’t see it as something that would hurt his relationship with you.

I hate to use this term, but I think this girl could be your bf’s soul mate. I don’t mean sexually, I mean they were meant to meet and share these interests and become close enough to where they can support each other. That naturally will lead to a deeper bond…talking about sex and menstrual cycles with female friends is not that unusual to me…I work in healthcare and have lots of close female friends, and we have very few filters between us. Because we have bonded over shared experiences like death, trauma, blood, guts, gunshots, etc. I had several female friends that I treated/viewed like a blend of little sister/ex-girlfriend. My point being, passions and shared profound experiences often lead to deeper connections. My wife knows about all my “girlfriends” at work who “worship” me, and she also knows our bonds are strictly platonic. But, she’s my wife and we’re in this together forever.

In your situation, you’re not invested forever yet. You still have a choice of whether this is going to be too much to handle. Is this enough to call it quits? Can you accept that his passion is going to attract others of the same mind, and they may happen to often be females? Do you feel like you’re wasting time and treading water in this relationship? More than likely, his passion and friendships aren’t going to organically dry up. I know I’m babbling right now. I just think he is living the life he wants right now, and that life happens to involve a close female friend. I bet if he had a make that was this invested in climbing, THEY’D be tight like this too. Anyway, it all comes down to how much distraction this hobby and girl causes in your life with him. If it’s just too much, tell him directly or move on to someone who intentionally spends more time making memories with you.
Best of luck!
had a male* friend that was invested in climbing
Hi Sorpio! Thanks, it was really helpful to read a male's perspective and especially as you described how a man could feel in that situation... plus factoring in that you have female girlfriends and are therefore used to male-female dynamics. Plus have a wife. Your post inspired me to share this with my partner and he appreciated the views of others. What is good about him is he doesn't take a defensive approach in this and acknowledges my feelings. I think in part this is why he has cut back on seeing her... he has made his own choices regarding whether he wants to see her or save his relationship. That doesn't necessarily change how he really deep down feels about her, who knows that only him. One thing that isn't going anywhere or changing is his climbing. So he will climb with her, with others, with me, as much as he can. I do want it to work with him and he with me. This whole situation is largely reflection of that first year of us being together and improvements have been made otherwise I probably wouldn't still be around. He said yesterday it must have been hard at first when he already had a good friendship with her before our connection had developed. After showing this thread he still said nothing's changed for me - I still love you and want to be with you. He also joked that I put up with him. I guess he worries it won't work out but the only change he has made is the climber girl is less in our conversations, in his activities, in his radar... for now.
134578 tn?1693250592
This is you, right? https://www.medhelp.org/posts/Relationships/Relationship-boundaries-when-theyre-different-between-you-and-your-partner/show/3075074

My suggestion is to talk to a therapist rather than an online forum, since you probably aren't going to hear anything startlingly new here after all the discussion previously. Talking to someone one-on-one might throw a new light on it for you. I hope you are able to decide where you stand on this relationship and to make peace with the decision.
Helpful - 1
Hi Annie, I appreciate your advice however the forum has actually helped me despite previously posting a similar question. There are two posts above that inspired me to share this post with my partner so that he could see other perspectives on the situation and it also meant I opened up more about the situation. In the UK we do not use 'therapy' for relationships... it tends to be a medical solution that a Dr advises people. I think it is different in the US.
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