Obsessive/Jealous Behaviour

Hi all, 

I have a very awkward relationship with my partner's best friend. I have never felt particularly welcomed by her, in fact I have often felt like maybe she doesn't like me, or just doesn't like me dating her friend. I have never been able to pin point exactly what it is and despite trying my hardest to 'be the bigger person', after three years, and lots of hurtful comments along the way it has gotten to the point that I actually don't feel safe around her - I never know what version I am going to get and last week it resulted in my having quite an extreme mental breakdown. This saddens me greatly, because I have been also been trying to get my partner to acknowledge this dynamic for the last three years, without avail.

To set the scene, I am 35 and very early on in my ADHD diagnosis, my partner is 42 and demonstrates very stereotypical ADHD behaviours and my partner's best friend is in her 50s. To add to the matter, we also all work together on a project (not in an office day to day, just once in awhile but quite intensely.) Their friendship is very close and I have often wondered if the best friend is a little....obsessed (?) with my partner, a feeling others have noticed and shared with me. The obsession with people is definitely something I've seen my sister and close friend do, who are both autistic.

Talking to a few others who know this person they all have wondered at different times whether she was ausitic. One of these people is autistic themselves and said it was the first thing they thought when they met her. I have also recently learnt that I'm not the only one who feels a bit uneasy with her professionally....someone even used the word terrified. 

I firstly interpreted the friend's behaviour as jealousy and I just assumed romantic jealousy but then I found out she was very happily married so didn't think much more about it. I remember our first work trip together she seemed really thrown by how connected me and my partner were. I felt like I was witnessing her getting quite upset and isolating herself. I would point this out to my parter who just couldn't see it, but I now wonder if I noticed it because she was masking - something I am learning I have done a lot in my life with my ADHD - and as a result am probably able to see it better than some. She was also trying to enforce professional boundaries between us, which at the time I of course understood and respected.

Often, when she gets upset with my partner I feel like she will take it out on me...I don't know why, but this has happened a few times both personally and professionally. 

I've also noticed she will occassionally share assumptions with me about me and my partners relationship that neither of us (as far as I’m aware) have ever communicated to her. And it's often made me wonder if she's created rules/boundaries for herself out of self protection? I don't know. I also feel like my partner hasn't made as much effort to connect me with her best friend as she has her other friends and family. That may be because she knew her best friend was funny towards me at the start, but I have no doubt it's just made her best friend feel more isolated and so a self perpetuating pattern has emerged.

All this is to say, I would never suggest to her that she autistic. I am really just at a point where I'm looking for answers of how to move forward. I have always felt like this is actually more about their relationship than me, but because of their closeness I think my partner finds the idea of her best friend being unsafe just too destabilising. Also, since learning that this friend is also hurting and frightening others it's made me feel like this is bigger than me and I'm trying to find an approach that's more compassionate and generous as opposed to hurt and angry. 

Appreciate any thoughts, experiences with something similar or suggestions of how I might move forward.

Many thanks!

  • It seems to me as if you don't need to talk about neurodivergences to start, but ethics. Could be good to just ask her to coffee to have a chat and get it all out in the open -done and dusted. Maybe she is jealous of the time and connexion you have with her bestie. Maybe her marriage isn't happy and she's lost the only person she can confide in, which is how it does work. If you offer kindness and she is autistic it could be more difficult for her not to be honest. 

    I can recall a time when I was undiagnosed and my ADHD friends were always too much for me, but I also knew they understood me better than others. It caused a dilemma. I'd have to just go cry it out as the sensory overwhelm when around some of them, would be more than I could handle - I didn't know my own limits. It's amazing how understanding montorpoism (how ADHD and Autism are linked) helped ease this, as I could reflect that hyper-signalling and chaotic mind which I also have, but without that difference in dopamine, means I don't always seek novelty. The world is already too unpredictable. Perhaps you could share your perceptions and experiences with being ADHD?

    Transitions can be difficult for us. But also, years of abuse (psychological, emotional or otherwise) can cause someone to appear autistic and intense. Economic barriers can cause these intensities as well. 

    However, it sounds like everyone could learn where their investments lie. Partnerships require degrees of emotional attachment and ones which are off-balance can muck everything up. At first glance, she may appear to know where the boundaries are, but it's hard to want to appreciate another's functional connexion if mine is dysfunctional.