The Other Woman: “I” vs. “A”

couple arguingThe Wedding Date has a lot of friends.  A lot of female friends, and between the ex-girlfriends, the co-workers, the former classmates and the students, I find myself getting a bit tetchy—not to mention paranoid— at times.

I know I’m his girlfriend.  And frankly he doesn’t have the time to cheat on me but how am I supposed to feel when he calls me during Thursday night’s Presidential Debate to tell me about some important family news and I ask if I can call him back the next morning because I’m at a debate watch party and he tells me not to call him in the morning but to call him in the afternoon instead?

(Especially when I know he always talks to one of his female friends on his way into work?)

Probably I’m supposed to feel understanding.  She’s his oldest and closest friend.  She’s been his sounding board for family issues for years, long before I came into the picture.  She’s married so really, there’s no need for me to view her as a threat.  But I don’t feel understanding.  I feel pissed off.

And no, it probably doesn’t help that she often calls while he and I are in bed together.

But I’m at a party.  This is no time to make a scene, so I tell The Wedding Date that I’ll talk to him tomorrow afternoon while he’s on his way home from work like I always do and go back to watching the debate.

By the time it’s over, however, I realize that I’m even more pissed off than I was before.  I’m his girlfriend!  I never wanted to date a man with kids.  I never wanted to get emotionally invested in someone else’s family issues, but I have, for better or worse.  The things that matter to TWD now matter to me and if there is something important going on, I should be the first to know, not the last, even if that means bumping her from the morning commute conversation slot.

So on Thursday morning, I send him a text asking him to call me if he gets a chance.  I don’t want to—I know he has a lot on his mind and that this is a particularly busy day for him—but its eating away at me.  My stomach is in knots and the more I think about her, the more I convince myself that she doesn’t like me, that I’m never going to fit in with his college friends and that no self-respecting Latino man calls another woman “mami” in front of his girlfriend (as TWD did at the beach this past summer…)

(If you don’t know what “mami” means, click here for the urban dictionary definition.)

Being the dutiful boyfriend that he is, he calls me a few minutes later.  And because we’re big on communication, I ask him right away: Is the reason you didn’t want to talk to me this morning because you were talking to HER?

He says yes, her and traffic.  There was construction, so he had to take back roads to work and three different exits were blocked off and even with his GPS he still got turned around and ended up arriving late to work…

Suffice it to say, this was not the answer I’d been hoping for.  In fact, all I’m really hearing is “Blah blah blah…”

So I continue.  I tell him I don’t like being made to feel like I’m less important to him than she is; he tells me I’m not.  I tell him I know she’s his oldest friend but I’m his girlfriend; he assures me that it’s not like that, that the “important” news wasn’t actually all that important and if it had been he would have spoken to me about about it right then and there.  But I’m not through.  And, since we’re on the subject, I ask “Why do you call her mami?”

Nena,” he sighs.  “I don’t call her mami.

Huh?  In my head, I’m screaming, “Don’t ‘nena’ me!  You do to!  You did it at the beach!”  But this is the man I love.  He’s at work.  He’s closing on the refinancing of his house today and the last thing he needs is me getting all emotional over the phone again (especially as I got all emotional over the phone yesterday in regards to my grandmother’s recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis… but more on that later).

As such, I settle for a simple, “You do.  I’ve heard you.”

“I don’t call her mami,” he repeats.  “I call her ‘mama.’  Everyone does.  It’s her nickname.”

For a moment, I don’t say anything.  It occurs to me that perhaps I was wrong.  Maybe I heard incorrectly that day at the beach, or maybe I was remembering incorrectly.

He continues.  “Mama is different than mami.  I have never called her mami.

And now that I think about, I realize he’s right.  I feel like an idiot.  And not just your normal, run of the mill idiot.  Oh no.  I’m the special kind of idiot: the Puerto-Rican-who-can’t-speak-Spanish-kind of idiot.  The kind who gets all worked up over a single, misunderstood letter.

I really wish I had paid more attention in my foreign language classes.

12 thoughts on “The Other Woman: “I” vs. “A”

  1. I don’t have all the facts, but there’s one important lesson I learned dating Ms. D that I’m going to point out (and my apologies ahead of time if anything I say upsets you more. You can freely curse me out here or email): this is not my hill to die on.

    By that I mean, it sounds like you started an argument for less than perfect reasons. Forget that mami vs. mama part for sec. He called you, and you blew him off because you were at a party. By my guy-logic, if you expect him to put you first in the morning and in front of “mama,” perhaps you should equally put him first in the evening and in front of your party. If your party is more important, than perhaps you can respect that his phone call to a long-time friend is more important (if indeed those things are both true, which I doubt).

    My point is that, at least by what you wrote (and again, I know I don’t have all the facts), you blew him off, but expected him to be ready for you when you were ready. Not fair!

    • Sigh… yes, this has been pointed out to me already by a certain someone. I thought I was being a concerned girlfriend by offering to talk to him in the morning (as usually I’m not even awake early enough to talk to him on his way into the office) but I definitely see what you’re saying.

  2. You know, Adam has a female friend who he has known since he was a kid and I was jealous of her for awhile. I told him and then he told her and she walked right up to me and told me that she has never nor will she ever be interested in Adam. What made it more reassuring was how Adam almost always refers to her as ‘one of the guys’.

    I think in situations like this, your own imagination is your worst enemy.

  3. wonderful post, both for your ability to realize that maybe folks over react when: tired, overwhelmed, possibly wishing someone lived in Philly (therefore would have been at said party with you), are juggling too many things, and most of all when feeling vulnerable. Zak, well said, even though I know they do “call each other back” quite frequently, I think this one had some underlying issues, which thankfully seemed to be cleared up. Sadly Kat, the difference between mama and mami wouldn’t have been covered in class, only if you took class in Spain or PR ;)

  4. I can say with evidential support that Canadian/American women will ALWAYS have problems when dating latin men. There are a LOT of cultural things we North American women aren’t used to and I’m pretty sure it will always drive us crazy because we just don’t do these kinds of things. (Ex. mama, mami, nena, whatever, they are all cute nicknames.) He needs to come up with a nickname for you that’s WAY better and then it will make you feel better. :)

  5. I agree with Zak. That was my first thought as well.

    That said, I also see the girl POV. Landlord pointed out there was an “underlying issue.” Clearly, jealousy. The way this all went down isn’t an issue, because eventually this argument is going to come out — who’s more important — Kat, or other girl? It’s unfortunate (yet more evidence of how crappy women can be to one another), but if his friend expects her relationship with TWD to stay exactly the same when he’s involved in a serious relationship, then she’s not a very good friend.

    I am very qualified to state that fact because I’ve been there. I was always the girl with a bunch of close guy friends, and you know what? I knew my boundaries. If a guy friend met someone he *really* liked, I stepped off. Also, I went out of my way to make her feel welcome, part of the group, and NOT threatened by me. After all, what kind of friend could I call myself if I deliberately made his girlfriend uncomfortable? If I called him when I knew they’d be in bed together? If I tried to stake claim? A true friendship doesn’t need any of that nonsense, and a true friend would give him space to be with the new girl in his life. Hopefully, the new girl will be equally understanding and adult about the whole thing, and she’ll make it a point not to exclude the old friend. Because a good girlfriend, much like a good friend, isn’t going to want to take away a meaningful friendship in his life.

    So, Kat, in the spirit of sisterhood, give her the benefit of the doubt. Include her. Try to understand her role in his life. And hopefully she’ll realize you’re not so bad — you’re not trying to push her out — and, if she’s really a true friend to him, she’ll do the same for you. :)

    • Well put :) (As usual). It was actually good that everything came up because it’s been kinda bugging me for a while and now that we’ve finally talked about it, I feel better.

  6. The bonding-jealousy is bound to resurface sometime. I think it is an indicator of our insecurities – there’s always that fear of abandonment lingering behind the corner.

    Having. been. on. the. other. side. of. the. equation. … What worked for me is building a relationship with some of the important people in the other party’s life. It makes things a lot less ‘awkward’ when he picks up your call and you hear this person in the background. Having some connection builds your confidence because you understand more about the person and see that she’s flawed as well, trying to go about her life like the rest of us, maybe you’ll even like her ;) it should make you feel more in control.

    Of course you shouldn’t completely infiltrate the female part of TWD’s social circle. A good measure of trust in his complicated life having taught him the value of hanging on to someone like you should do the trick most of the times ;)

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