How do I stop judging them?
September 6, 2011 7:03 AM Subscribe
When my friends allow men to treat them poorly, I begin to lose respect for them. On an intellectual level, I know that it’s heartless and unkind of me to look down on my friends who are struggling, it’s victim-blaming, and I HATE that I feel this way. How can I stop it?
I have a couple of close friends who repeatedly fall for men who treat them like crap. One of them puts men up on pedestals (including her current beau who is a sexist creep and a chronically unemployed mooch, and who threatens to dump her on a regular basis) and jumps from one bad relationship to another because she’s terrified of being alone. The other has never had a boyfriend, and looks for men in all the wrong places because she’s too shy to talk to a guy unless she’s had a few drinks, and ends up getting her heart broken when she develops feelings for men who were just looking for a quick lay or a booty call. She is so afraid of rejection that she can’t even put her wants and needs into words (if she never asks for anything from him, she doesn’t have to risk being turned down).
I’m definitely not an uber-confident man eater type of woman myself, but I expect men to treat me with respect, and those who haven’t did not get a second chance with me. I simply don’t understand why it’s so difficult for my friends to see the opposite sex as ordinary people. Why can’t they see their worth beyond what some loser thinks of them? Why can’t they see that men are not all the same, that there are identifiable differences between good men and assholish men? Why can't they understand that men aren’t some inscrutable “other” whose words and actions are "signs" to be deciphered, and that decent guys won't keep you guessing? Why can’t they understand that being a “cool, low-maintenance type of girl” doesn’t entail being a doormat? Why can’t they see that they’re wasting precious time and tears on men who don’t give a shit about them? They could do sooo much better!
It’s starting to drive me crazy, listening to their man woes over and over again. I’ve tried reminding my beautiful, smart, funny friends that they’re amazing women, worthy of respect and appreciation. I’ve tried validating my friends’ hurt feelings, that it’s not unreasonable to expect the guy you’re dating to return your calls, that it’s okay to talk about your feelings with the guy who’s been sleeping with you for several months, that it’s not fair for a guy to take out his issues on you, no you’re not crazy. I know from painful experience that telling a friend something she really doesn’t want to hear is usually counterproductive, so I often find myself biting my tongue when in my head I’m screaming, “How fucking blind are you?!”
I know that my friends are trying their best. They can’t help the way they feel. I know that what comes easily to me may be difficult for others. I know it’s not their fault that someone has chosen to abuse their trust and vulnerability. But every time my friends confide their miseries to me, every time it’s the same old song, I respect them a little less. I judge them. I start thinking of them as gullible, deluded... even pathetic. It’s horrible of me, I know. This tendency of mine is really disturbing to me. I wish I could feel empathy and compassion for them, but I don’t, and I don’t know how to. I’m afraid if I don’t figure this out, it’s going to start poisoning my friendships with these women. How do I get from where I am now to becoming the friend I should be? How do I stop losing respect and affection for my friends precisely when they need my support the most?