Q. I’ll just cut to the chase. I love my boyfriend loads. He has brought some positive change into my life and I’m grateful. The only thing is that he doesn’t want me to have male friends. He says men and women can never be friends. He also says he should be my only male friend because I might get close to the other males.
Because I love him and accepted that the condition came with him, I ghosted all my male friends (none of that felt good). But I couldn’t help but feel extra guilty and ashamed of what I did to one male friend whom I know was a genuine friend. I’d wake up feeling sad and I missed our friendship (I was genuinely torn over that friendship breakup), so I texted him to apologize. He accepted my apology because he believes “two wrongs don’t make a right.” I am grateful I was able to apologize to an old friend and make things kind of right before it was too late.
The problem is my boyfriend is not aware I did that, and I’m scared he’ll leave me for reconciling with a male friend when I tell him. What should I do? Your advice would really be appreciated.
- Stuck in the Middle
A. Drop the boyfriend. Make plans to break up with him as soon as possible. Grieve the relationship — with support from any friend you want — and move on.
Look, I wrote a few versions of this response. Some have me saying “we all have different boundaries, and we can choose the rules we’re comfortable with when it comes to partnership.” But this particular rule — the one your boyfriend set because of his own discomfort — is controlling and bad for you.
Your boyfriend says he’s your friend? Well, good friends don’t stop loved ones from having other positive relationships.
You have a bunch of bad feelings about all of this, and they all lead back to an incompatibility that isn’t going to change. What happens when someone new (a man) is nice to you at work? What will you do if you want to join a club where men are present? What happens if/when your boyfriend’s rules change and become more limiting?
You signed up for this knowing it was a dealbreaker for him, but you didn’t promise forever. If you’re panicking about delivering an apology — one that made you feel like a better person — you need to make a change. I’m sure you do love your boyfriend a lot, but that doesn’t make him the right partner.
I’m sorry I can’t give you any other magic solution. If you have to end good friendships for love, something is wrong.
It started with him separating you from your male friends. Next up you will be asked to “not spend so much time with your family.” Step 3 will be the old “I don’t like your female friend.” Then you’re alone. HIKERGALNH128
You could try talking to your boyfriend kindly but firmly, saying his “rules” are controlling. You can show him lots of articles/advice online about what IS and IS NOT healthy love and respect. LITTLEPENGUIN456
Really, the issue isn’t with him not trusting them, it’s him not trusting you. Don’t be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t trust you. THEREALAMIGHTY-ZEESUS
Find the new season of the Love Letters podcast at loveletters.show. Meredith Goldstein wants your letters! Send your relationship quandaries and questions to email@example.com. Columns and responses are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.