It's like having an obnoxious in-law, but not.
January 14, 2013 5:47 PM Subscribe
My friend and his wife are visiting later this year. I enjoy my friend's company very much, but being around his wife for more than a day or two drives me nuts. Help me find some way to mitigate this without damaging our friendship in the process.
posted by Broseph to human relations (19 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
M is one of my oldest and closest friends - we've known each other for around 18 years. M married B about 5 years ago and dated her for 4-5 years before that. I have been with my long-term girlfriend (who I live with) for around the same length of time, 9-10 years. M and B moved out of town a few years back and now live about 7 hours away from us. These days, we usually get to see each other about once or twice a year.
M and I get on very well and have never had any serious conflicts. B is essentially a decent person - she's honest and caring and I have never known her to be deliberately nasty or malicious. Unfortunately she also tends to be incredibly obnoxious and overbearing in social settings, and it has been getting worse, not better, as time goes by. I do believe her behavior is more clueless than mean, and I have tried very hard to be mindful of this - but still, it's starting to drive me a little bit more crazy every time B comes to stay. I'm at the point where I've come to dread their next visit, especially as they usually like to stay for 5-7 days at a time - and knowing this makes me sad, because I do care about them both and I really enjoy and value M's company, especially now that we don't see each other as often.
B's conversational habits include constantly interrupting and derailing conversations in order to talk about herself, giving frequent unasked-for opinions and advice, criticizing other people's living space/work habits/general life choices (usually done with an "Aren't-I-cute" smile on her face), and just generally being very demanding of other people's attention - to the point of acting out in minor ways if that's what it takes to get it. As an introvert I find it very draining - and by the time she's been here a few days it's exhausting. The interrupting, overbearing stuff I accept as annoying but ultimately inconsequential - I have called B on it occasionally, and she usually simmers down for a while, although never for very long. However, the stream of advice she has no business giving, the thinly-veiled criticisms and her general superior attitude have reached the point of being straight-up disrespectful and not okay, especially when all this is taking place in my home.
Looking at similar questions on Mefi, one answer that has come up for difficult-but-unavoidable guests has been to place a limit on how long they can stay. While I could do this, an unfortunate consequence is that M would be left wondering why. We have always had a "Me Casa, Su Casa" type of arrangement where each is always welcome in the other's home at any time. I realise that changing this is my prerogative, but then I'm left with the option of either stonewalling M as to why (which sucks, especially since none of this is his fault), or telling him straight (which sucks even more, for obvious reasons). So as far as I can see, that's not really a viable option here.
So, what to do? Broadly speaking it seems to come down to either a) suck it up and do my best to ignore or at least tolerate B's behavior, or b) confront/set boundaries with B from here on out. Neither seems like a particularly easy option. My concern is that if I call B on her antics she will likely be hurt/offended and fallout will follow. To be honest, I'm past the point of caring much about hurting B's feelings, but any drama that ensues is going to wind up dragging M in as well, and I know how easily this sort of thing can sour a friendship. When I discussed the issue with my girlfriend she asked me, "Is it worth potentially hurting one of your oldest friendships over the actions of a stupid little girl?" and on one hand, she does have a point. But then I think about the last time M and B came to visit, and how fucking wearing it was being subjected to her for five days straight, and how it's not like that with any of our other friends. And it sucks, because something that used to be easy - spending time with my friend - is now becoming more and more like hard work because his wife always wants to be there too (which is a whole other thing, but this question is long enough already).
Any insight (especially from those who might have dealt with similar problems) would be appreciated.