Boundary Fence

He’s Helping Me!

I think I was going above and beyond in the patience and understanding departments. I entertained several options to correct the damage done to our relationship by Tina’s imprudent actions.

Tina was reluctant to cut ties with Nate.

I told her I would never dream of asking her to cut him out of her life forever, but “right now, he’s in the way of mending us.”

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“He’s helping me through these problems with our relationship,” Tina told me when we were standing outside by my van one day.

I didn’t think people really pulled their hair in frustration, but I could only grab fistfuls of mine in response to the insanity I was hearing. This is what it feels like when trying to apply reason and understanding with someone who’s gaslighting you. “Tina, Nate isn’t helping! Nate is the entire reason we’re having these problems. Nate isn’t the solution. He is the problem.”

“I need him right now.”

“What about me?”

In a mind-bending exhibition of double-standards, Tina asked me not to talk to any of my friends about the situation with Nate. “I don’t want to give them more reason to hate me,” she said.

“Tina, you’re going to Nate for help with the situation with Nate…” My mind had to contort in ways that would make a pretzel blush. “Don’t I have a right to consult with someone about all this? Who do I get to talk to?”

She wanted to know who I might discuss it with. “I don’t know. Maybe Bergt,” I said.

“OK, Only Bergt?” She gave her reluctant blessing for me to discuss the situation with Bergt.

Over the course of a month, two mental health professionals we met with said that contact with Nate needed to cease. I proposed a temporary break from him, since Tina had allowed her relationship with Nate to become inappropriate. I didn’t think this was very much to ask at all. His continued interference was a huge detriment.Where were her priorities?

At one point, I mentioned that I had some things I’d like to say to Nate. Tina wanted to know what I’d say and I said that I’d conclude my remarks along the lines of “Tina needs good friends in her life and I want you to be her friend, but the romantic overtures are not welcome.”

Tina warmed to that idea. She suggested I compose a message to Nate to get the discussion going and she’d follow up to talk to him about it. I felt a sense of relief. Maybe a solution was finally in reach!

I was just on my way out the door to work when this came up, so I told her I’d work on something on a break and let her see it before I sent it to Nate. “This will be good,” I said. “We can get everything out in the open and deal with this, all three of us.” I kissed her and went to work feeling great.

I composed a very frank message that conveyed what I felt was necessary to assuage my anxious misgivings and ensure appropriate boundaries that respected our relationship would be enforced. I thought it was very mild, given the circumstances. I was trying to work with Tina on a solution.

It read:

Nate, First, I apologize for the tone and nature of my last messages to you.

There are some things that need expressing and so you know, Tina has read and approved of me sending this message (she has read our prior exchange as well). She will be calling you.

I’ve been thinking about your characterization of me as a “manipulative control freak.”

It’s natural that you’d imagine me in a bad light, given the circumstances.

Tina and I have our difficulties to work through, but do you really think so little of her that she’d invite such a monster to live with her?

I don’t wield any sort of power over her. We’re just in love.

Tina and I spend nearly every day and night together. Don’t presume to have a full picture of our relationship.

I tried to extend my friendship to you because Tina told me of your good nature. I gave you my trust because Tina vouched for your good intentions.

I brought her to you when you wanted to hang out. I dropped her off at that restaurant so you two could have dinner together.

Does that sound like an insanely jealous control freak?

I was accepting of your friendship with Tina until last month.

I’m still willing to try to be friends, but it’s not necessary. I just want her to be happy.

Tina needs good, supportive friends. She thinks very highly of you. Please be a good friend to her, but I’m going to need you to leave off the romantic overtures and respect the bounds of our relationship.

Sure. Tina and I have issues to work on together and some of it is hard. We get angry with each other sometimes. We need to vent, sometimes. We’ve both made mistakes. Maybe we even bitch about each other on occasion, but we love each other so much that we’re both willing to do whatever it takes to get through it all and improve our life together.

We’re working hard on us because we both believe it’s worth it. Neither of us will stand for anything or anyone coming between us.

Tina fervently desires your continued friendship, but she’s made clear that there will never be anything more than that between you. Please respect that and be a great friend to Tina.

Maybe someday you and I can be friends, too. Who knows?


“NOPE.” Tina texted after she’d read it. “Don’t send any of that. Please?”

I called her to find out what she was objecting to and to discuss how the message could be edited to suit her preferences, but she had abandoned the whole notion. “I’ll deal with Nate myself,” she said. “Don’t contact him.”

When I got done with work, I pressed for more of an explanation.

“It makes you sound possessive,” she said.

Aside from not really caring what Nate thought I sounded like, I said, “I think it’s pretty tame. I’d like to tell him quite a lot more. Anyway, a certain amount of possessiveness is normal in a relationship.”

“You didn’t have to write a novel,” she critiqued. “And, ‘there will never be anything more between you?’ That’s just going to hurt him. He already knows that.”

“What about how I feel? Does that matter? And, he doesn’t seem to know that. Not at all. If anything, he’s emboldened. I wonder if that could have anything to do with him seeing you lie to your fiance to spend three nights in his hotel room?”

“I told you I’m not attracted to him. I told you about how he smells like sour kraut, even when he hasn’t been eating sour kraut. There’s no chemistry. I’ve told him I’m with you and only you. I’ll talk to him.”

“When? Are you going to establish and enforce some respectful boundaries? I need you to show me.”

“I did text him after I read your message and asked him to block you.”


“I don’t need you sending him any more crazy messages.”

Openness and honest communication was what I thought was needed in this situation. Tina seemed to believe the opposite.

It was too much. Counseling was the last thread of hope I could hang onto. I used to feel like I understood Tina on a supernatural, quantum level, but she was making zero sense to me.

Previous: She Tells me Everything | Next: Just like Tom

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