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When You H-A-T-E His Friends

Aug07

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Dear Amy:
You seem to know everything, or at least remain level headed when you admit you don’t know something but can offer some ideas on how to handle something. I know you don’t generally answer relationship questions, but OMG I’m out of ideas and, as I’m often armed in some way, I need someone who can stay level headed to say ‘Easy girl, don’t go to prison. Try this instead.”
What it comes down to is I HATE, LOATHE, REVILE, SCORN, fill in your choice term here, one of my boyfriend’s friends. Not only do I dislike her behaviours towards my boyfriend, but I also dislike her behaviour in general. As someone with a degree in psych and friends with numerous people in the field (although I’m not in it any more) I’m offended by her general “I’ve read The Secret” two whole times so now I’m a counselor, started a website and offer services to people who might be, you know, in need of actual mental help from a trained professional”. I know there are people who will do things in this life that I don’t agree with, and I can grit my teeth and live with that.
My biggest problem is that I’m approaching the end of my rope in regards to how she behaves towards my boyfriend of multiple years that I love, honor, respect and live with. She is, by far, the neediest person I’ve ever met in my life. She’s full of the whole “My daddy left my family when I was a widdle girl so I don’t trust lots of men, but I trust you so please be my substitute boyfriend/daddy” horse pucky (I may be slightly biased, but that’s how it looks to me.)
We started out badly. When in the early ‘meet my friends’ part of the relationship the 3 of us met up for coffee. She was late. When she got there she said “oh, you brought your pretty girl”, as if she didn’t know I was coming, and proceeded to turn her chair away from me, towards him and sit so close to him I thought she had her hand on his thigh at one point until I looked closer. Then she ignored me while directing all of her conversation to him alone for the whole hour. About a week after she called him and said she wanted to meet for coffee to talk about relationship stuff concerning her married boyfriend and since she didn’t know me very well she didn’t want me there. I’m fine with not being comfortable to talk about your emotions around me after meeting me once. I’m not fine with treating me like a piece of furniture/pet/something that doesn’t exist and/or understand English).
As you can probably guess, there have been some heated discussions about her behaviour. I don’t think I’m crazy for saying that calling to invite the two of us to dinner and then calling every 2.5 hours until he calls her back is unacceptable behaviour (and not a one time phenomenon). He said he agreed, that she is needy and needs to have boundaries reinforced and that he would talk to her. He did and things got better. Then she got a new, unmarried boyfriend and things were great. We just about never heard from her until she wanted to introduce the new boyfriend to her friends (an event the new boyfriend called off and then broke up with her a few weeks later). Now she’s working her way back to the giant pain in the rear stage.
The most recent caper is telling him how she needed him to please, please, puh-leez pick her up from the airport (she went to a wedding) at 10:30pm on a Monday night, the Monday after he just got back from a business trip on Sunday night. Did I mention she’s not working right now? She quit her job (a sales/marketing position) in this economy in January because she ‘didn’t like it”. So you can see why she had to get home late on a Monday night when it would be incredibly inconvenient for anyone who, you know, has a job or any other real life responsibilities.
Unfortunately, my boyfriend is a nice, loyal guy who will do a lot for his friends. He will consider them friends forever no matter what happens. Most of his friends don’t abuse this, but she sure does. I know he’s not into her in an inappropriate way, because he’s been free and clear single two times during the course of their friendship and there’s been NOTHING between them. Physically she’s completely not his type. I’m getting to the point where my stiletto will be coming into contact with her backside very soon. I know this isn’t a situation I can resolve. He’s the one who has to put boundaries in place and keep them.
My question is, how do I keep from going all Jerry Springer Show on her arse while I see the backslide happening but before he tells her to back the hell off (again)?
Any ideas, other than the ultimatum of you stop talking to her or I’m moving out and leaving this relationship? I don’t want to do that, but I don’t think I can go thru life/marriage with this as a constant irritant.
PS. He and his ex-wife had the same issue with this psycho woman (he and crazy used to work together) during their marriage, so it’s not entirely in my head. I like or downright love all of his other friends and his family, I just HATE, HATE, HATE her.
Please use some sort of generic name to sign this off with, as I have no clue what she considers psychological training and she may consider the advice smackdown her version of graduate study. Not that you aren’t great, but I think you’d agree that you’re probably not an acceptable replacement for a PhD or an LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Counselor).
Signed,
The Annoyed Girlfriend

Whoa. WHOA. Okay. Let’s…all sit down. And drink something decaffeinated and eat some croissants. What, you prefer scones? Well. Fine. Whatever.
What we’ve got here is your classic “I HATE HIS FRIENDS” scenario that has reached fever pitch proportions — for you, anyway. But like you said, these are not situations that YOU can resolve by doing the magic formula of XYZ. You can do as much you can to limit your personal interaction with her…but risk resenting her even more (if that’s possible) since her presence will always mean less time you get with your boyfriend. You can give him an ultimatum of you or her — and risk completely alienating him and coming across as a controlling brat. You can read “The Secret” and spend your days writing wishes on Post-It Notes about cross-country job opportunities for her — and okay, you get the idea.
Here’s my general observation about these “I HATE HIS FRIENDS” dilemmas: the friends are friends for a reason, and often the offended party tends to sort of gloss over the fact that the friendship may have something to do with less-desirable traits in her partner, and thus blames the friends for these traits, or simply transfers them over wholesale. “My boyfriend doesn’t WANT to get dragged to strip clubs and late-night bars — it’s his immature friends! He doesn’t WANT to let his old roommate sleep on our couch — it’s the loser’s fault for refusing to get a job!”
Maybe your boyfriend HAS outgrown the weekly tradition of having a poop-bag fight in the dog park, but the fact remains that at one time in his life, he LIKED hurling tied-up bags of dog poop at these people, and just because you’re with him doesn’t mean he’s magically all grown-up now and ready to change all the rules and traditions of his younger relationships. For a lot of us, it’s easier to blame the friends for being a bad influence than accept that maybe the person we’re with still has some growing up to do, or can’t stand up to people, or actually has stuff in common with these loathsome jerks.
It might be helpful to transfer some of your criticism of her to the OTHER PERSON involved. The person who you love and admire and respect and had only good things to say in your question — you’re not being disloyal by admitting that he’s not perfect, and you’ll likely be able to forgive/excuse/understand more from him, rather than making someone who you just fundamentally dislike into the Sole Bad Guy. (Or Girl.)
I can’t believe I’m resorting to cliche here, but no one can take advantage of you without your consent. This girl has no boundaries, no clear grasp on where she stands and where she intrudes on her friends’ romantic relationships, she may very well be barging in the front door uninvited and unwanted — but your boyfriend maaaay be playing the part of a welcome mat a little too well and too often. If picking her up at the airport was so inconvenient, he should have said so. He should have refused, told her to take a cab, told her to make other arrangements. Either it really WASN’T that big of a deal to him (and if so, you need to let go of some of your anger on his behalf because it’s not worth it)…or he really, REALLY has a problem saying no to people and not allowing himself to be taken advantage of.
Which…it sounds like maybe that’s it? You mention his loyalty and willingness to do anything for his friends — admirable qualities, yes, but they do (and WILL ALWAYS) allow people like this girl into his life. And now, YOUR life. You mentioned that “most people don’t abuse him.” Well, I’d say you’re lucky that so far, only one person has, and that it hasn’t yet involved bail money. Unless your boyfriend finds a balance between loyalty and spinelessness, there will always be a “friend” like this.
You also mentioned that he’s spoken to her about boundaries before and things did get better temporarily. Which I think is a GREAT SIGN. But I also think it’s time for him to talk to her again. And again, if need be. And he may always need the prompting, the reminder, the someone-pointing-out-that-what-she’s-doing-is-not-cool. At some point, she may get frustrated with his attempts to keep her at arm’s length, with trying to change the comfy errand-boy daddy-type nature of their friendship. She may lose interest and pull away permanently — or she may push back harder than ever, determined not to let YOU (and oh, she’ll know you’re the reason, they always know) take her friend and go-to airport ride away.
I’d be prepared for that second scenario, if I were you. She’s probably going to think that since she was there first, your boyfriend is *her* friend first. The key to not letting yourself go completely crazy and club her to death with a scone, I THINK, is to really remember that your boyfriend is equally responsible for letting this relationship get to this point. You’re going to have infinitely more patience for him than her, so focus on how you can help him stand up to her, impose boundaries that you and he agreed upon (screening those pointless, repetitive phone calls, not automatically accepting tasks, pleas for help, social invitations). It sounds like he knows it’s a pattern, but doesn’t really know what to do about it in any permanent sort of way.
I’m not saying I think your boyfriend IS spineless and helpless by the way — sometimes this stuff can be limited to just one single messed-up relationship. Either way, this isn’t some fatal character flaw. He’s a nice guy! He’s good to his friends! Perhaps she appeals to some Knight In Shining Armor complex somewhere, perhaps he just. needs. to. say. no. to. people.
Of course, it should go without saying that “helping him” should not ever involved things like nagging and harping and ultimatums. The old “it’s her or me” thing should only be used in the most dire of situations, I think, like if she was throwing herself at him romantically, or bringing drugs into your house in front of your future children. Likewise, the nagging, harping, constantly badmouthing his friend may end up cementing THEIR bond — he might nod and agree with you, because he always wants to agree with you, but then simply hide how often he answers the phone or texts her because it’s not worth getting a hassle from both of you about it. Accept the possibility that she will always be there, because she might. Then figure out the limits and boundaries that simply MUST be imposed and respected so you’re not firing off furious letters to advice columnists in 25 years about the same situation.


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About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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12 Responses to “When You H-A-T-E His Friends”

  1. Melanie Aug 07 at 1:29 pm Reply Reply

    My fiance and I have a rule that I put in place one jealous evening, but works both ways. If one of us has plans with someone of the opposite sex, the other is always welcome to come along, it doesn’t matter the situation. This doesn’t mean we never do anything alone with someone of the opposite sex; it just gives a peice of mind that if you are uncomfortable with the situation you can tag along.
    My thoughts with the “I need to talk privately about this relationship problem I’m having” are that he’s going to tell me your business anyway so you may as well have me there for another opinion. At some point he has to put your feelings above hers and if you want him home with you after a long business trip he needs to tell that b*tch to take a cab (sorry… I shouldn’t call people I don’t know bad names, but I can’t have respect for someone whos dated more than one married man).

  2. Kimmers Aug 07 at 2:07 pm Reply Reply

    I just want to say the part about inviting him out but telling him not to bring you? WOULD SO NOT FLY WITH ME. My boyfriend had one of those girl friends when we first started dating. She “only likes a few certain people” and she had ZERO interest in my becoming one of them. They would go to dinner (alone) or their group of friends would all go out together, and I wouldn’t be invited. (And for the record, from day 1 ALL of his other friends welcomed me with open arms and he brought me everywhere with them.) And I tried SO DAMN HARD to get on her good side, and she was so cold to me. I would literally pass her in the hallway and smile and say hi, and she would coolly look away and say nothing. I would complain to him and he would say that’s just her way, she’s a bitch. (Um. Then WHY are you friends with her?!)
    I finally confronted my boyfriend about it when he asked me to move in with him. I told him I didn’t think we were ready for that yet if he didn’t even want to integrate me in with one of his best friends. I knew she didn’t like me, but I figured my lack of invites was him not bothering to include me. Turns out he’d been BEGGING her to let me come out with the group and she’d always refused! And where I thought he could care less, he was actually feeling terrible about the situation and had talked to her several times about giving me a chance. Come on, in a GROUP OUTING I’m not allowed to come?? This wasn’t me trying to horn in on their bonding time this was like having a restraining order! The worst was one day when he and I were at a fair, and he and that group had plans to see fireworks AT THAT SAME FAIR later that day, and because I wasn’t allowed to go, he had to drive me home and go back to meet them. I finally lost it at that point. I told him her behavior was disrespectful toward me and his acceptance of it was just as disrespectful, and if things didn’t change I was out the door. So he told her that if she couldn’t accept me and treat me with respect they couldn’t be friends anymore. They are not friends anymore.
    All of that is to say, sometimes? I think it’s ok to make them choose. We’re not 16 anymore and these girls need to grow up, deal with their issues and learn some boundaries. And the men in our lives need to think about how their actions affect us.
    I feel for you because in your situation I would totally freak. I hope it works out for you!

  3. Jen Aug 07 at 2:20 pm Reply Reply

    Yeah- Amy’s advice is spot on, especially that the boyfriend must play into it somehow, He likes being needed or whatever- But I think this sitch is a lot more than a friend with bad boundaries. No, there are no romantic feelings on his part, but the “friend” obviously wants to get with him. She does. And she is trying to insinuate herself into his life and into getting what she wants.
    And here’s the thing- if he’s going to fall for it, if it’s going to happen- it’s going to happen (and if you’ve been dating years, it’s probably not) and it doesn’t matter how short or long a leash the boyfriend is on. So the only thing you can change is how you react to her and the stunts she pulls. She needs a ride from the airport? YOu say to boyfriend (in a lighthearted tone), “OMG She wants to get in your pants so bad- it’s funny how she thinks she’s subtle! Whatever, drive her if you must, come over when you get back.”
    Instead of being angry with her, pity her. The less resistance she gets, the less she will be interested. She likes to make the drama for you guys. Don’t give her drama and she will look for it somewhere else. When you do see/talk to her, kill her with kindness, “Hi bitch! How are you? I haven’t seen you in ages!” etc.
    The more confident you are in your relationship, the more boyfriend will see what a manipulative person she is, and the less she will be able to manipulate him. And if that doesn’t work and he does the unthinkable and hooks up with her? You didn’t want him anyway.

  4. charlotte Aug 07 at 3:46 pm Reply Reply

    OK, so I never post on things like this..but..this struck a chord with me for several reasons so I gotta say my piece!!
    I too have a psych degree and so therefore get mighty annoyed with people deciding they know as much as I do because they’ve picked some pop book up. Whatever, hon, these plebs exist, deal with them…
    The boyfriend thing? oh my goodness, blame him, not her. She is clearly insecure, irritating and downright rude – but as your partner, he had the duty to stick up for you. He is supposed to be your protector and advocator. If he isn’t, he doesn’t care enough. He should be as bothered – if not MORE bothered – than you are by her treatment of you.
    Kick him into touch, sweetie, or walk out the door. YOU. ARE. SUPPOSED. TO. BE. HIS. NUMBER ONE.
    its very simple. If you’re his priority, he will deal with this. For you and your relationship. If something is bothering you, he should be on it asap!!

  5. cagey Aug 07 at 6:24 pm Reply Reply

    What Jen said – pour on the PITY. The girl in question is so frockin’ pathetic, it should not be that hard to do. Look to be the bigger person while making it obvious to the girl that you PITY her and her position is not something you wish to attain.
    Also, the boyfriend has a hand in this. Sadly so, but he does. And he should not be relieved of his responsibility in all of this.

  6. Anonymous Aug 07 at 7:25 pm Reply Reply

    Remind him that if Miss X cares about him then she will respect him and support his relationships. If she won’t do that then she’s just using him.

  7. miriam Aug 07 at 11:34 pm Reply Reply

    Geez– reminds me of my mother in law…
    You lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Focus on how she affects you and your feelings. “I wish she’d trust you to call her back about dinner, instead of calling every 2 hours”, “I worry about you driving so late right after you’ve been traveling”. Then drop it. There’s nothing wrong about letting him know she drives you crazy, but you don’t have to rub his face in it. If he desires the pleasure of her company, put up with it for his sake but be honest with him and yourself how much you’re willing to put up with.
    Oh, and find someone to vent to. At some point he will figure out that she is a black hole of need and not worth the occasional ego boost he gets when he helps her out– or she’ll move on to easier prey (heck, she probably enjoys pissing you off– don’t let her see you sweat)

  8. Lyndsy Aug 08 at 1:44 am Reply Reply

    My first comment is to tell The Annoyed Girlfriend to calm down. As noted above, your reaction is likely to cement their bond. The girl already thinks you’re a problem, and if you act like a freak around your boyfriend, he’s going to wonder about you, not about her.
    Everyone is right that your boyfriend bears much of the responsibility for this. He keeps responding to her calls, texting her, etc. If he didn’t want to, he wouldn’t. When guys don’t want to do something, they don’t. Look at the dirty socks you find everywhere. He probably likes being needed, likes feeling that he’s doing something to help her, probably because he doesn’t see that he’s only perpetuating the cycle. Maybe he needs to feel needed, and maybe you don’t give him that.
    The real problem here seems to be that Annoyed Girlfriend sees that “crazy” possesses some quality Annoyed Girl doesn’t, and that that makes her feel insecure. To HATE, HATE, HATE the girl so much, it goes beyond just being annoyed by her. There’s a fear there that whatever “crazy” has is very important to boyfriend, but that Annoyed Girlfriend doesn’t have it and that it could cause problems for the relationship.
    Try to get to the real root of the problem, realizing you may need to look at yourself for that one.

  9. monkey Aug 09 at 12:50 pm Reply Reply

    Yeah, this happened to me, down to the ignoring me at dinner. I was irritated with him (and her) throughout and I eventually broke up with him. The desire to control, manage and discuss her life on his (and some of his pathetic friend’s) parts was insane, not to mention the boundary-crossing patheticness of hers. Things finally came to a head when she moved up to where he lived and expressly told him that she wanted him to exclude me from the social group they were creating there.
    And I took a long hard look at myself and decided that I wasn’t going to date someone whose idea of behaviour towards a partner was markedly different than mine. Because I don’t treat people that way, so why would I put up with it?
    Also, I do think it has a lot to do with this whole knight-in-shining-armour-she-needs-me stuff. The big difference between me and her? She had dropped out of her philosophy ph.d after 8 years and begged her former Harvard classmates to find her a job in finance (my ex is a very very succesful investment banker). I…have been a successful attorney for the last 4 years and am going on to earn my MBA. My ex even used to say that he feels like I don’t need him the way she needs him (for money, to handle her life every time she messes up and decides she wants to do something different). Well, that’s nice and all, but I don’t see myself regressing to making no money, mooching off of my friends and being incompetent to hold on to a man.

  10. Mandy Aug 10 at 12:43 am Reply Reply

    I have a trust issue with my guy. its reguarding his friends. i like them as people but when he is around them he treats me like crap… for example if we get into an arguement he will get completely wasted with his friends. its almost like he is trying to punish me for fighting with him. is this kind of stuff he will grow out of or do you think i should just end it because of his friends. I don’t want to control who he hangs out with but at the same way i don’t like to be treated badly.. but every time i try to talk about it he doesn’t believe he acts differently. He said i am the same guy i was when u met me …

  11. Alyssa Aug 10 at 6:57 pm Reply Reply

    Am late to this post, but had such a similar situation I can’t resist.
    DH and I had a clinger-on friend of his when we first got married. She had been very open about being in love with him ever since high school, but always dropped that talk when he was with someone else. While DH had never returned her feelings, he claimed she had always been a loyal friend (yes, because she is hoping you will fall in love with her, duh). Despite the fact that he kept her around, he never really put forth any effort in their relationship and she was always frustrated that their relationship seemed to mean more to her than to him. He told me many times that she meant a lot to him, so I know that is not the case, he is just… well, an inconsiderate jerk at times and she had made it so easy for him over the years he never had to put forth any effort because no matter how crappily he treated her, she always came back for more.
    Anyway, this girl was pretty sneaky when it came to me, though. She played those nasty high school girl games. When DH and I started dating, she went out of her way to befriend me. She treated me like a good friend and I came to think of her as one, thus she often got inside info on our relationship– issues we were having, how things were progressing, etc. I even asked her for advice a few times because she had known him for so long. Only after about a year did I find out about the feelings she had for him from stumbling across an old email.
    So after that I got a little suspicious, but I knew bringing up my concerns to him would only make me seem like a jealous, controlling girlfriend. The email had also been very old so I didn’t know that there was any issue any more, I just was a little bit more cautious with her. Until DH and I got engaged. While I was at home in another state planning the wedding, he went to visit her and some other friends in the area and she TRIED TO CONVINCE HIM TO CALL OFF THE WEDDING! When I confronted her about this she had a million selfless reasons for doing what she did but it was pretty clear that she still had feelings for him and felt like marriage would be the end of the hope she had been holding on to for the two of them.
    There was a lot more drama involved, she refused to come to the wedding but kept trying to justify herself to me so I would keep the connection between us (because DH is so very bad at keeping in touch, she knew friendship with me would be the only way to keep up with his life, but still wanted to hold out hope that she could somehow de-rail our plans). So, I basically cut her off. I told DH it was none of my business if he still wanted to be friends with her, but I didn’t have to be just because he was– he saw her motives the way she wanted him to; selfless and well-meaning. He ignored her points, obviously, but he is really bad at seeing the sneaky ways girls can be catty.
    But after we got married, because she and I weren’t in touch any more everything kind of fizzled just the way she had known they would. She would send DH deep, needy emails about the most intimate details in her life, begging for confirmation from him that she meant as much to him as he did to her, etc. And eventually, on his own, he told her she couldn’t be his priority, he had a wife and job and school and would love to stay friends but couldn’t be her go-to guy any more. We’ve only had one awkward brush since then, but I sent her a polite but firm email requesting she not get involved in our personal business and I haven’t heard anything from her since then. I know she and DH talk on the phone every few months, and that is fine with me. But she gets no more attention from him than any other old friend. The most frustrating thing is that DH has never seen her true colors, but as long as the end result is the same I don’t really care. I know he has never seen her as anything more than a friend and she lives on the other side of the country, so… no harm no foul.
    Sometimes you have to get in and play dirty with girls like that, though. In my situation my part in the game was as simple as knowing NOT to complain to DH because he would have seen my concern as petty jealousy without seeing her real motives. Even though I vented my head off to my girl friends, DH never knew HOW annoying I found her. And she never did, either. I never gave her the time of day after I saw what was going on and eventually DH didn’t, either. Sounds like this girl you are dealing with would love to get under your skin and come between you and your boyfriend. Just don’t let her get to you or draw your bf’s attention to it (as long as you trust him to treat her as no more than a friend) and when he gets sick of it, he will deal with it. Don’t let her interrupt your lives, either, but as long as she isn’t hurting your relationship you don’t need to worry about her.

  12. Erin Aug 10 at 7:00 pm Reply Reply

    She so wants him. It’s obvious. Everything she does is to get his attention off of you and on to her. Your problem isn’t that she has all of these crazy qualities, it’s that she has some seriously crazy ideas about stealing your man. She is “that girl.” The one who is “just friends” with other people’s boyfriends and husbands. Seriously. That girl. http://www.littlekitegirl.com/2008/11/13/those-girls/

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