Dear Carolyn: A few years ago, my husband passed away young. I just started dating a great guy; he got divorced about the same time I became a widow.
It's pretty obvious one of his close friends has a major thing for him. She texts him constantly. When we are all hanging out, she is really clingy and uses a lot of inside jokes. She is separated with two young kids and it's pretty clear she thought she was going to be with my boyfriend.
He handles this really well, talks to her but doesn't lead her on, is totally transparent the entire time. I'm not worried about him cheating. I'm just tired of the dynamic in the group. Everybody else just ignores her and thinks this will run its course. I would much rather address it.
I told my boyfriend I want to pull her aside and ask her to cool it around him because it makes me uncomfortable. He said it's totally up to me if I want to do that, he would support me, but is on record that he thinks giving it more attention is a bad idea. What do you think?
Carolyn says: Yeah … no. Bad idea. Presumably she clings to him because she believes he'll eventually come around to her — when he finally realizes she's the right one for him.
The moment you step into that vision of hers as the person actively trying to keep her away — to keep him from the life with her that is his destiny — then you will only confirm for her that you're nothing but the huge mistake he's making instead of dating her. (Yes, this is a Taylor Swift song.)
Even if that's an exaggerated or unfair interpretation of the way she feels, the absolute last thing you want is for her to see you as the reason they're not dating. He's the reason they're not dating, because he isn't interested in her, and that message needs to be as clear as possible.
If indeed he "handles this really well," then you should take your own word for it and let it play out. I do think if the clinging continues, though, then at some point (soon?) he will have to crank the truth to a volume she can hear and say outright, discreetly, he's not interested — for her sake, not yours, to spare her the mounting humiliation.
Since your motives compromise you, admit that upfront when you suggest he might need a Plan B.
Dear Carolyn (same writer): I'm a little shaky on dating — this is my first relationship since my husband died. I realize what I really want is to just be excited and all the fun parts of being a new couple and it seems like the friend is harshing that a little. I need to just not let her have that much power over this, right?
Carolyn says: Right, yes, though how your boyfriend handles it does matter. You want to see compassion, integrity and courage toward others' feelings.
I'm sorry — sounds like you're more than due for some uncomplicated fun.
E-mail Carolyn Hax at firstname.lastname@example.org, or chat with her at 11 a.m. Friday at washingtonpost.com.