Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I've recently started dating "Bob." We are both 30 years old, like to have fun, and are very social. We go out a lot to hear music and try new restaurants. Our chemistry is awesome. Also, we both have good jobs (I work for a hospital, he works in the energy industry). When we started dating, neither of us was necessarily looking for anything serious. It just kind of happened. Now, six months later, we are committed to each other. I could see being with Bob for a long time.
I live alone but Bob has two roommates. One, a guy, keeps to himself. The other is a woman. We'll call her Betty. She is 27, bubbly, fun, friendly and -- unfortunately -- very beautiful. And single. Everyone likes her a lot, including Bob. Betty has never done anything specific to make me feel left out, but I do. They hang out a lot. They'll grab dinner or a drink if I'm working a late shift. Sometimes I show up and they're watching movies together and drinking beer or cooking dinner. I feel like a third wheel. They have all kinds of inside jokes. I could go on.
He swears nothing has happened with her and she's "one of the guys." I feel like I'm sabotaging my own relationship by letting my jealousy create all these doubts and insecurities. I also feel like six months in is too soon for us to live together so inviting him to live with me isn't an option. And I can't exactly tell him to move out just because I don't want him living with a woman.
I'd appreciate any advice. As Bob and I get more serious, I wonder if there's even a place for me in his world as his girlfriend.
It sounds like Bob has already found a girlfriend. Betty! Now, the question is, does he see her as a girlfriend, or girl friend? There are many reasons to trust Bob when he says she's the latter. Having a good buddy of the opposite gender has many perks. They bring a different sort of energy, are available to be your platonic plus one in a pinch and can offer refreshing perspective on the perplexing mysteries of the opposite sex. Then there's the question of whether men and women -- especially ones who are attractive -- can really be just friends. Harry and Sally thought so -- until they hooked up.
It's easy to see that all this extracurricular bonding between Bob and Betty makes you nervous. It's sometimes a fine line between buddy and bed buddy and all-to-easy to cross when two attractive people get along and spend extensive time together. Living together? That takes it to a whole new risk level. I'm not trying to freak you out, but there's good reason to be wary. There's women's intuition and then there are the facts. Maybe they aren't sleeping together, but they do live together and spend a lot of time together and it doesn't sound like that is changing any time soon. Can you live with that? If you and Bob need more time together, tell him. If you think he spends too much time with Betty, say something.
But there's no guarantee he'll listen. Bob sounds like a guy who enjoys people's company and has a pretty nice life for himself. The fact is, you may not fit into it as well as you'd like.
Well, Wanda, you're right. Third Wheel's intuition is indeed spot-on and she should listen. Oh, not to that annoying little chirp that's concerned her man might be, could be, may be cheating. But she should heed that deafening howl that screams she is sabotaging her relationship -- and sanity -- with jealousy, doubt and insecurity.
Let me bring you all in on a little secret of male life. Here's what 30-and-under guys do when their girlfriends aren't around: they hang out with their roommates, eat food, drink beer, watch terrible movies and make inside jokes. If Miss One of the Guys wasn't in the picture, I'm sure Bob would be doing this with any other roommate whether they're male, female or canine. (Well, with the majority of roommates; sounds like the third roommate in this modern day "Three's Company" is a total dud. But hey, gotta make that rent every month!)
So Third Wheel, what exactly would you prefer your boyfriend to do when you aren't around? Write poetry about how much he misses you? Learn a second language? Diversify his bonds? Not hang out with his funny, beer-drinking roommate?
Roommates come and go. Potential long-term partners are rare. Until you have proof that something other than typical roommate living is going down, get past your anxieties and stay committed to building the foundation for a new living situation down the road: You and him sharing a happy home.
• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and been to therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.