When You H-A-T-E His Friends
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).
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.
Published August 7, 2009.
Last updated August 7, 2009.