His best friend gives him gifts

Stay safe from the snow, Massachusetts people. Remember there's a podcast to binge.

Also, it's a perfect time to send your own relationship/dating question to [email protected] (or use this form).

I started dating someone about four months ago, and things have been going great. I knew from the beginning he has a female best friend and was comfortable with this, but I keep learning new information that makes me uncomfortable. The most recent was that they exchange both Christmas and birthday gifts every year.

I understand that sentiment when you are 20 years old, but as you grow, your relationships change. Your priority should now be your romantic relationship and your family. She has a partner and I feel it his responsibility to celebrate these things with her. I understand celebrating milestones and achievements, but the necessary gift-giving multiple times a year seems way too intimate for just friends. My boyfriend has said that she always initiates it, and he only sends gifts back because he doesn't like getting gifts and not returning them. It is my opinion that she has feelings for him.

– Gift Exchange


I tend to give these relationships the benefit of the doubt.

I never assume longtime friends have romantic feelings for each other, or that one person is hiding some unrequited crush. I think it's very possible for two friends to care about each other – and love each other and be there for each other – without having an emotional or physical affair.

I know that's not always the case, and that yes, sometimes people secretly want to kiss, but heterosexual men and women can be friends. It's true! Maybe you believe that too, but it doesn't sound like you have much faith in this case. Perhaps you're right.

But I'm not confident that after four months, you have a real sense of this woman's place in your boyfriend's life. Maybe if you get to know a bit more about her – and their history – you'll feel better about who she is and why she gives gifts. It's possible she loves giving gifts. Maybe she also celebrates these occasions wth her partner, and in a more romantic way.

You didn't disclose much about anyone's relationship history, but when people are single for a long time, they celebrate big occasions with friends, family, maybe co-workers. It's not just a partner thing.

It sounds like there's a bigger issue here – that even without the gifts, you don't like the friendship. There's not much you can do about that other than to wait and see, and then decide whether her presence in his life makes this whole thing a dealbreaker. It's not in anyone's best interest for you to ask him to end traditions with important people. If his world makes you uncomfortable, you don't have to be in it.

– Meredith

Readers? Is it weird to give gifts this way? I wonder how others feel about sharing this kind of ritual with friends.