Q. My boyfriend has this “Rakhi” sister who, in my opinion, is an extremely unpleasant girl (in the vernacular, a pure b***h). She is nice to me on my face but bitches about me to my boyfriend. I feel like I just can’t stand her anymore. She also tries to get physically close to him all the time. I have talked to him about my problem but I don’t think he gets it. I have come to a point where I just can’t deal with her any more and I also know that my boyfriend won’t give her up for me. I also don’t want to keep irritating him with this matter time and again. Should I break up with him?
A. One of the basic rules of life is:
You cannot change other people.
You can only change your own response to them.
If our partners’ actions hurt us, the first thing we should do is to let them know in a calm & mature way. This is meant to give them an opportunity to change their ways if they want. If they continue to behave in ways which hurt us, we have two options:
- Break up with them if that particular aspect is central to our needs from the relationship.
- Adjust our expectations from our partners and take actions accordingly.
“Mutual need fulfilment” is one of the three main elements of a successful relationship. Assure yourself that if your basic needs are not getting fulfilled in a particular relationship, breaking up is not only acceptable, but the most natural and healthiest solution for both of you.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why am I in this relationship? What do I want from my partner? (Intimacy, emotional support, sharing, pride, stability, peace? … There can be practical reasons too.)
- Is this development preventing my partner from giving what I want from him? (Is this hurting my pride so much that I’m unable to function? Is this creating emotional distance between me and him? Has this broken my trust irreparably? … )
Irrespective of whether you feel like you can’t go on anymore, or you continue, I’m sure you’ll at least give your relationship another chance before giving up. The rest of this post is about what your best attempt at making this work should look like.
You can’t stand this girl but she’s important to your boyfriend. You have already discussed this with your boyfriend but he’s unwilling to do anything about it. Your immediate next step is to stop requesting him to change his attitude towards her. Like I said, you can’t change his priorities. Trying will only make you feel out-of-control.
Being around this girl causes you immense nervous stress, right? So consider her non-existent in your life. Stop interacting with her. Stop talking about her. And stop thinking about her. Just let her go.
For you, she doesn’t exist.
Let your boyfriend know that you’re unwilling to interact with this girl any longer. Be calm & mature but firm while stating this. Do not use strong language like “because I don’t like her”… Or “because she’s xyz…” That is likely to lead to another fruitless argument. Instead you can mention something like, “as you know, we don’t really gel well…” or something mild and reasonable like that.
Unless he wants to break up with you he has no option but to accept this decision of yours. He’s made it clear that you can’t control who he makes friends with. But no one in the world can deny the simple fact that you can control who you make friends with. Hence you have a right to stop interacting with this girl, even though you cannot force him to do the same.
If he ever mentions her in conversations detach yourself emotionally for that moment and give vague, non-committal replies like, “OK”, “I see…”, “Oh right..”. Overcome your curious urges to know what she tells your boyfriend about you. You don’t need to know that. ’Cause you don’t care. Believe me, you really don’t.
Do not demand that he stops discussing her with you. Because – again – we can’t control what others do. You can’t control what he says to you, but you can control how you react. If he’s worth his salt, he’d get the cue and after a point stop bringing her up in conversations with you.
If you can do this right you’d have scored a major achievement in your relationship. You’d have established a simple but crucial term of the relationship – that it’s between equals, with none more important that the other.
Sure, you can’t expect him to stop being so close with this girl just for your sake. But in that case he can’t expect you to do something that you don’t like just for his sake either – accepting this girl as a part of your life, for example. :D
In the meantime, focus on yourself. Focus on your career, dive headfirst into that long-forgotten hobby, reconnect with old friends, make new ones… Do everything you have to do to find happiness and balance within yourself. It’s the key to enjoying a healthy relationship. Always remember:
Your partner is a very important part of your life, not your life itself.
This is not to say you shouldn’t be affected by any action of your partner’s. We all are, and it’s most natural to be. But you cannot let his actions determine your self-worth or sense of wellbeing.
All the best Sheetal. :)
Penguins – what would you have done if you were her?
Let me know by leaving a comment. :)