In one of our fave rom-coms, When Harry Met Sally…, Harry explicitly states, “Men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.” But is this true? Haven’t we evolved since 1989?
He’s the boyfriend. You’re the girlfriend. But then there’s his girl (space!) friend. She’s super cool, almost a little too cool. You can see how they connect, how they go “way back”… but he picked you. So, what do you have to worry about? Nothing… right?
Here are some ways to tell if your guy’s female friend might actually be a little something more to him.
Sign #1: He’s Overly Protective of His Phone
Honesty is the best policy; that hasn’t really changed since our pre-K days. In a stable, healthy relationship, everything should be on the table. While there should be a certain level of trust present in every relationship, a super secretive boyfriend could be hiding something.
Sharing a few texts here and there and talking about random homework assignments or inside jokes is to be expected between friends. But when friendly crosses the line into flirty, there may be a problem. Winky faces, playful emojis and late-night conversations could reveal his true feelings for his “friend.”
A man’s relationship with his phone says a lot about him, says Mike Lindstrom, co-author of Men: Ten Secrets Every Woman Should Know from Two Guys That Do. “If his cellphone is on his person at all times, or… if he’s just overly close with it, that should be a big red flag,” he says.
Sign #2: He Puts Extra Effort Into his Appearance Before Hanging out With Her
“That’s strange. He styled his hair a little differently tonight. Is that mousse…?” That could be a warning sign. The only girl your man should be trying to impress is you.
Of course, he, like many others, may just be trying to look decent before stepping out into the outside world. But Lindstrom has a different take on the situation. “If they are truly just friends, he wouldn’t mind going to see her unshaven with his hat on backwards,” he says. “If he’s going out of his way, there’s something going on.”
That extra spritz of cologne, unnecessary primping in the mirror and too much time spent picking out an outfit could tell you that he thinks of his friend as more than a friend and seriously values what she thinks of his appearance.
Sign #3: He Talks to Her or Hangs Out With Her More Than You
Guys appreciate it when you can honor his bro time and just let him hang out with his friends for a change. And when those friends happen to include girls, it can earn you major cool points in your boyfriend’s mind. Ryan, a sophomore at the University of Missouri––Kansas City, agrees. “My ex-girlfriend didn’t get jealous when I hung out with other girls, and that was a bigger deal than you’d think,” he says. But if your boyfriend starts caring more about hanging out with his girl friend instead of you, that could spell trouble.
Tweeting at each other, liking each other’s Instagram posts (Every single one? Really?), and constantly texting each other is a bit much. You’re an understanding collegiette. You get that they’re good friends, so naturally they have a lot to talk about. But when he starts doing more of these things with her than with you, you could have a problem on your hands.
Charlie, a junior at Loyola University Chicago, says he once fell for one of his girl friends while he was dating someone else. “If a guy is talking to another girl more than his girlfriend, there’s got to be something there,” he says. “No guy should treat his girlfriend like that if he really cares about her… There’s definitely a line.”
Sign #4: He Invites Her Over to Hang out When He Knows You Won’t be There
If he’s hanging out with his gal pal when you’re not around or when he knows that you’re busy, that could raise some red flags. He knows that you always study on Wednesday afternoons at the library, so he makes it a point to invite his lady friend over during that time. He says he does this so that she doesn’t bother you or intrude when you’re over at his apartment with him.
So, why should you be concerned? Lindstrom says this is a huge red flag. “Inviting his friend over when he knows you won’t be there? Why doesn’t he want you there?” he says.
While he simply could be a very thoughtful guy, if he’s planning his hangouts with her around your schedule, maybe he’s doing that to purposefully have some alone time with her—and without you.
Sign #5: He Frequently Brings up Her Name in Conversation
“That reminds me of the time when she and I went to this music festival and we camped out in a tent. It was a crazy couple of days,” could just be another one of his entertaining experiences he has shared with his good girl friend. And you like hearing about his life before you came along. You like hearing all his charming anecdotes, which almost always make you laugh. But when one too many of those anecdotes involve the same two characters, you could start to see a pattern.
“He’s doing that [talking about her constantly] to test the waters,” Lindstrom, says. “If there’s interest or attraction, he’s going to bring it up more often because he wants his girlfriend to see her as a friend.” By doing so, Lindstrom says this will give the guy more freedom to argue: “She’s my friend; I talk about her all the time. If anything was going on, why would I talk about her?”
Maybe he’s just talking about her so much because they do have so many great memories together. But does he always have to tell you the stories in which she plays a main role? And does her name seem to come up in random conversations? If so, she could be on his mind… and maybe even in his heart.
Sign #6: He Confides in Her About Your Relationship
She’s a good friend, listening to him talk about his daily hardships. But when it comes to venting about the ups and downs of your relationship, that could be going a little too far.
Lindstrom chalks this situation up to two different kinds of cheating: emotional and physical. “Even if she [the female friend] is really just a friend—and they’ve never hooked up—but he’s giving a lot of very personal information, that could be close to emotional cheating,” he says. While it depends on each person’s self-described cheating barriers, Lindstrom says giving another girl all the personal details of your relationship could be crossing a line.
Maybe he just needed someone to talk to before you were available, or he wanted to clearly frame his ideas on a subject before confronting you about something. Naturally he would turn to his good friend, a fellow female, for advice. But when this becomes a regular occurrence and she knows more about your relationship than you do, it might be time to draw some boundaries.
Sign #7: He Can’t Say No to Her
She needs his help on an English assignment for class when he already promised to help you with your physics homework. He elects to help her because she’s already struggling in that class. She needs to go to the grocery store, but she doesn’t have a car. Your boyfriend offers to drive her even though he was planning on seeing his professor during his office hours today. When he can’t seem to find the word “no” for her, your boyfriend may be struggling to commit to you. When she starts to become a first-tier priority for him, it may be time to have a serious conversation with him.
Girl friends of boyfriends walk a fine line between maintaining their friendship with their guy friend while also respecting the boundaries of his relationship. If you notice your guy becoming a bit distanced from you and a bit closer to his friend, you might want to step in. If it appears as if Harry from When Harry Met Sally… was right about guys not being able to have girl friends, you should definitely (calmly) confront your boyfriend. After all, if you don’t make the top tier of his priorities, why should he make yours?