Carolyn Hax: Friend hides new boyfriend for fear he’ll get stolen


Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: My good friend “Bonnie” and I hadn’t seen much of each other for the past year since I took a temporary assignment in another city. We have been texting, calling, video-chatting etc. all along and I was so happy to hear she’d met someone and is getting serious with him. I couldn’t wait to meet him.

Every get-together I tried to arrange when I got back fell through, and they even canceled last minute to a dinner at my house. I was starting to get worried something was wrong, so I came out and asked Bonnie what was going on. She finally told me she doesn’t want her boyfriend to meet me because I’m the exact type of woman he finds most attractive, and she knows when he sees me he’ll realize it and that will be the end for them.

I’m hurt that she thinks I’d ever do anything with her boyfriend, I’m mad that she’s prioritizing him over us, and I feel sorry that she has such low self-esteem. She’s both a wonderful person and a pretty girl. What do I do now? Is this friendship over?

Bonnie’s Friend: How very sad. And bizarre.

Has she even thought about the endgame here? Where she and Guy never leave the house?

If this is new insecurity for Bonnie, then you need to consider whether her new boyfriend is breaking her down mentally and emotionally, introducing such self-doubt. For example, how would she know you’re “the exact type of woman he finds most attractive”? It may just be that Bonnie’s seen photos of exes and they all sort of resemble you, sure — but I can’t be the only one who has a prickly feeling that he’s reminding her constantly of who he finds attractive and how far she falls short of that ideal.

If it’s not new, then Bonnie was probably on this road long before you or the guy. Same need for help, given how extreme her possessiveness is, but different sources and risks.

Regardless of what’s going on, she needs a steady and supportive friend, even one from afar. Second, do not let howlers like her comments stand. Challenge her reasoning: “Will you never leave the house then? Won’t someone else catch his eye eventually? Are you okay living in constant fear of his leaving?”

Or just: “Bonnie, if you’re not his ideal as a complete person, then he’s not the guy.”

It helps that you haven’t met him because now you can’t criticize him. You’re just stating counterpoints to her self-negating views.

This won’t magically fix anything, it kind of goes without saying. But it’s a strong pro-Bonnie stance that I hope you will take and maintain. She’s in trouble. Keep in touch, keep inviting, keep your cool.

Carolyn: Bonnie always has struggled a little bit with her self-esteem. Her sister was a cheerleader and literally a model for a while and her parents favor sister because of that. Bonnie said that her boyfriend saw a pic of us together and said I look like Lara Croft and that started this spiral of doom for her. Sigh.

— Bonnie’s Friend again

Bonnie’s Friend again: Omg. I just want to throw things right now.

Assuming you haven’t tried this yet: Every time this old emotional injury overwhelms her, please say to her, “Bonnie, your parents were [glass bowls]. You’re awesome. Stop. Now: Dinner, all of us, Friday?”

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