Dear Wendy: “My Girlfriend’s A Black Belt. Should I Be Worried?”

I have a great new girlfriend who is funny, positive, cute and very sexy. I am so happy with her and I wouldn’t want her to change. But there is one issue: she happens to be a black belt martial arts expert and works part time as an instructor in that area. So basically, even though you could never tell from looking at her, that beautiful 5’7” female body of hers is actually, for all intents and purposes, a lethal weapon. It’s absolutely great that she knows how to defend herself, but it makes me wonder a bit what she thinks about me. I mean, the guy is supposed to be able to protect his girl and this makes me feel a little insecure and inadequate. Is there a risk she thinks less of me because I can’t give her that? I also — and I guess this is a stupid male ego thing — think it’s a little embarrassing that my 5’7” 130 lbs girlfriend could easily kick my ass any time she wanted. I am 6′, rather strong, 185 lb guy, but I have absolutely no fighting experience, so of course I’d be toast if I was stupid enough to fight my girlfriend (I never would of course, but just knowing that I wouldn’t stand a chance against her almost makes me blush). Basically the guy is supposed to be the stronger sex in a relationship, but, because of her martial arts, in our case it’s the other way around. Could this be a problem for us? — Lover, Not A Fighter

Finding a man who could beat her up isn’t a quality most women are looking for, so I wouldn’t worry that you lack any fighting experience, LNAF. If your girlfriend really wanted to date another black belt, she’d be dating one. I’m sure she meets plenty of men in her martial arts world who fit the bill, but she chose you to date, didn’t she? Probably because she’s attracted to you, enjoys your company, you have great chemistry, and let’s not overlook the fact that you find her “funny, positive, cute and very sexy.” It’s probably a relief for her to be with a man who appreciates her feminine qualities despite having a body that’s a “lethal weapon.” You see her for who she is (when you’re not seeing her as a lean, mean fighting machine, that is) and that counts for something. So don’t get hung up on stupid gender role stereotypes. Would you think less of her if you happened to be an amazing cook and she didn’t know how to boil water? No! You’d probably appreciate having the kitchen all to yourself. So get it over and enjoy having a woman who’s in kick-ass shape (literally) and can defend herself if push came to shove.

Like many women, I live in fear of becoming the crazy, jealous, insecure girlfriend. But I can feel myself falling into that trap. My current boyfriend and I are very serious now, but when we started out it was rocky and painful (basically, he wasn’t sure that he was ready for a real relationship, and I was). We dated for a while, stopped, and during that time he started going out with a good friend of his — who I had always suspected was interested in him. He ended up breaking things off with her to be with me, and everything has gone perfectly ever since. Except that she is still around, and clearly wants him back. They see each other a lot, since they have the same friends and started out as close friends. And while I don’t want to be the girlfriend who tells him to stop hanging out with his crew, it is driving me insane. I have a paranoid feeling that she is just waiting to make a move. I’ve told him that it makes me uncomfortable that he hangs out with her a lot, and he has significantly cut it down, but it’s impossible to ask him not to see her. How can I stop myself from becoming a psycho girlfriend? — Jealous

This isn’t really about your relationship with your boyfriend, or even his friendship with the other woman — it’s about your confidence level. This other woman represents that painful beginning you had with your boyfriend when he wasn’t sure he was ready for a relationship. But he’s with you now and you say you’re very serious and things are going perfectly, so the only threat this other woman poses is a break in your confidence. For your own sanity, you need her to see how strong you and your boyfriend are together. It’s like marking your territory and showing her you aren’t afraid of her (even if you are, you need to fake it til you feel it). So the next time your boyfriend hangs out with his “crew,” tag along and show a unified front. Go a step further and make an effort to befriend the other woman. Ask her about her life, her job, whether she’s dating anyone. When you make it clear that you aren’t just some flavor-of-the-month, but someone who’s truly invested in a relationship with her boyfriend and in getting to know the other players in his world, you’ll feel more confident about the way others see you. And keep in mind that your boyfriend broke up with this woman for you. You were clearly the better match. If she had any power over him at all, she would have used it by now.

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