Part of a healthy relationship is respecting each other’s independence, including your friendships. But if a friendship of your partner’s—particularly one with another woman—seems suspicious to you, chances are that’s for a reason, says psychotherapist Barbara Neitlich, LCSW. But how do you know when your S.O. is just close with a friend and when they could be emotionally cheating?
Here are a few signs your S.O.’s friendship could be cause for concern.
1. They’re secretive.
If your partner’s not telling you a lot about what they do with their friend, doesn’t want you to hang out with both of them, or always seems to meet them in a private place, it’s possible they have something to hide, says Neitlich.
2. They compare you to their friend.
If your S.O. does this, says Neitlich, they might’ve thought about what dating their friend would be like. Comparing you to other women is also just generally not cool.
3. They always take their friend’s side.
If you’re unhappy with something your S.O.’s friend says or does, they should listen to you. Even if they don’t agree, it shouldn’t be a problem that you’ve brought it up. If your S.O. defends their friend at all costs, that could be a sign there’s something more than a friendship going on, says Neitlich.
4. They’re not confiding in you.
If your S.O. is getting more distant, not telling you about their life, or even saying they prefer to talk about things with their friend, it could mean that the emotional needs you would expect to meet are being met elsewhere.
If nothing feels wrong with your S.O.’s friendships, chances are you’ve got nothing to worry about. If something does, examine your own tendencies. Are you prone to jealousy, or is it this situation in particular that’s getting to you?
If things really do seem fishy, psychotherapist Marni Feuerman, LCSW, LMFT recommends saying something like, “I feel jealous/hurt/insecure about how much you interact with ______. I’m not comfortable with such frequent contact and I think it threatens our relationship.”
How they respond could tell you a lot about whether the friendship is actually a problem. If they get defensive, that’s another sign they’re hiding something. Even if there’s really nothing more than a friendship going on, your S.O. should be eager to reassure you of that, help you feel more comfortable, and make sure no other relationship gets in the way of the one between you two.