Best friend's girlfriend hates me
October 18, 2009 10:59 PM   Subscribe

My best friend's new girlfriend hates me for no reason.

I'm a woman with a male best friend "Mike". We were college friends, and then worked at the same company for ten years. We confide in each other, and have supported each other through ups and downs. There's no romantic history. He's like a brother to me.

Mike started dating a new woman six months ago. They have a very passionate relationship.

Everything was fine until Mike, his girlfriend, a few mutual friends, and I went on a week-long trip together. By the second day, Mike's girlfriend became very rude to me. Throughout the rest of the trip, she spoke and acted rudely to me. Later I found out that she spent a long time every day badmouthing me to Mike in private, arguing and crying for hours. At one point, she had a realization that she was being unfair to me by projecting bad traits onto me. Unfortunately, this didn't change her behavior, and she continued to blow up unpredictably over imagined insults.

Mike apologized to me afterwards for her behavior. As we talked, he seemed sensitive about discussions of his relationship. He became agitated when he spoke about potentially breaking up with her. I thought he needed external encouragement, but that just made him defensive. Since then, Mike and I talk less than we used to. He avoids any mention of his girlfriend, and we instead talk about work and hobbies.

I'm wondering if this is a sustainable status quo. Mike and I both value our friendship. Should I tell him that I am happy to listen to him talk about his girlfriend? Should I back off and "wait out" the duration of their relationship? Should I try to reach out and invite both of them to events?
posted by cheesecake to Human Relations (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There is a very good reason for her to hate you: You are better friends with Mike than she is. You said their relationship is "passionate". I'm going to guess that it's a little thin on the mutual respect / awesome friendship side of things. She wants what you have, in addition to what she already has.

Back off and wait it out. If your friendship is that good, it will survive this girlfriend.
posted by Happydaz at 11:14 PM on October 18, 2009 [23 favorites]

Mike apologized to me afterwards for her behavior.

Ideally, she would have done so, but it's nice that he was attentive to your feelings.

As we talked, he seemed sensitive about discussions of his relationship. He became agitated when he spoke about potentially breaking up with her.

Can you clarify? I know that you two confide in each other, but how did this become a detailed talk about their relationship that reached this emotional point? Was it all him, or did you help guide the discussion?

This girl sounds pretty emotional and insecure. She treated you badly and she didn't do much for Mike, either. But maybe there are other stressors in her life right now (not an excuse, but a scenario to consider). Maybe she has the potential to become a nicer, more stable person. But even if she has always had these flaws and isn't changing any time soon, Mike has found something in her that he likes. Maybe he's deluded, or maybe her other qualities make up for it. Maybe he feels agitated about breaking up with her because she behaved so badly, and he feels guilty about it, but underneath, he's still not ready to give her up.

I thought he needed external encouragement, but that just made him defensive.

He needed external encouragement to break up with her? If you did that, I think that was a mistake and I'm not at all surprised that he got defensive. Before this weekend, you might have been the kind of good, neutral friend who could advise him, but now that you have been a target of this girl's temper, you're tainted. No matter how fair you want to be, you could look self-serving.

Yes, stop talking about her with Mike. They may get along very well together away from you, or they may have other issues, but if you value his friendship, you want to give him some breathing space here to figure out what to do. If this incident becomes one of the reasons he decided to break up with her, he may feel so conflicted about it that he may begin to resent you if he thinks you encouraged him.

Press reset. Socialize with Mike as usual. Let others invite you to places where the girlfriend will be, but don't make her feel guilty or pressured by inviting the both of them to socialize with you alone. See how things go the next time you meet the girlfriend. If she continues treating you badly, then Mike has some serious decisions to make.
posted by rosebuddy at 11:31 PM on October 18, 2009 [5 favorites]

Is she on Metafilter?
posted by benzenedream at 12:03 AM on October 19, 2009 [10 favorites]

I have had this on two occasions.

In both cases it was due to insecurity. In the first case, the person involved was hugely insecure and manipulative. I suspect she would have been a dick anyway as she subsequently went on to treat my friend appallingly, after 3 years of being together. The fits of tantrums and crying and so forth coincided almost completely with when she felt other people were the centre of his attention.

In the second case it still insecurity, but largely due to the emotional baggage. Unlike the first case, where I absolutely knew he was being played, this wasn't about me, or anything else. She married him, and is still catty about her own friends and various others (no doubt including me) in private.

In both cases I bit my tongue. I learnt even as a teenager that other people's relationships are mysterious and none of my business. If asked, I'll give a qualified view. Otherwise you're putting your friends in an impossible situation of having to choose between two people they like, their historical friendship and their present romance. I believe in most cases that if you trust your friend, you'll also trust them to work these things out.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:37 AM on October 19, 2009

Mike will figure things out about his relationship on his own. If they are doomed to break up, you don't want to be a cog in that wheel. Just wait it out.

Otherwise, friendships do grow apart. I'm sorry if you lose him.
posted by jabberjaw at 12:49 AM on October 19, 2009

I have a dear male friend who I've known since '92 or so. We've stayed over for weekends when we lived a few hours apart and even slept in the same bed, but have never even kissed. I brought up the subject of dating once years ago, it was put down politely, and we've still stayed good friends. Our relationship is definitely more like siblings than anything, and I wouldn't want to lose it. He's my brother, and I'm an only child. He's the best uncle to my kids. He's my oldest friend who knows more about me than almost anyone.

He married a wonderful lady almost a decade ago. I'd met her on a few occasions when we were all just pals, well before they got romantically involved. She has always been polite and nice, but didn't seem too fond of us hanging out until I got married last year. Then, it was all ok. Especially after we'd all gone out as couples a few times.

The funny thing is that I always thought she was bright and interesting and someone I'd like to hang out with even if he wasn't around. She makes my friend very happy, and I'm happy for the both of them. We just don't have very many opportunities. I also think that, once she met my husband, we all got comfortable with the difference between really good friends and potential/actual spouses. My husband puts up with the daily BS that my friend probably wouldn't be able to manage and vice versa. She sees what I need in a spouse and doesn't worry that I'm trying to take hers. I watched the same realization with my husband.

My friend and I gave them time to do that and no reason to feel threatened, out of love and respect. We still spent time together, but it was announced and limited to short times. My kids were here when my friend came over.

Everyone relaxed. In other words, I think we all grew up.

Don't badmouth the girlfriend. No good will come from that. Blow off her insecurity.
If you are really good friends, this will pan out.
posted by lilywing13 at 2:21 AM on October 19, 2009

Mike apologized to me afterwards for her behavior. As we talked, he seemed sensitive about discussions of his relationship. He became agitated when he spoke about potentially breaking up with her. I thought he needed external encouragement, but that just made him defensive. Since then, Mike and I talk less than we used to. He avoids any mention of his girlfriend, and we instead talk about work and hobbies.

Did you encourage Mike to dump the gf? Don't do this. First, it never works. I don't know of anyone ever who has ended a relationship because a friend said it should end. Second, this makes her right: you're a threat to the relationship. You're using your intimacy with Mike in a way that threatens her. Third, it puts Mike in between the two of you. Don't contribute to his feelings of divided loyalty. As a friend, make it clear to him that your friendship with him does not depend on his relationship with her (on your end).

Finally, you say: My best friend's new girlfriend hates me for no reason.

Here is the reason: I'm a woman with a male best friend "Mike".

This: There's no romantic history. He's like a brother to me. accurately describes how many now-couples once saw each other.
posted by prefpara at 2:35 AM on October 19, 2009 [7 favorites]

Since then, Mike and I talk less than we used to. He avoids any mention of his girlfriend, and we instead talk about work and hobbies. I'm wondering if this is a sustainable status quo.

He's trying to maintain his relationship with you and does not want any "external encouragement" on breaking up with his girlfriend. If you insist on discussing her, you may find he's talking with you even less. You don't want to make him feel like he has to choose between the two of you, and you shouldn't assume that he'll choose you over her.

Best friends do not need to be advisors on every single topic. Keep talking about work and hobbies and whatever else you have in common. I think it's fine to ask how she's doing, but if he gives you a short answer and then changes the subject, let him. Whether you reach out to them as a couple when inviting others to events depends on your ability to remain neutral around her. You can't control her behavior. You can only control your own.

Should I back off and "wait out" the duration of their relationship?

I would be really careful about assuming that she'll be gone any time soon. You sound impatient for him to be over her and back to acting like your best friend. That mindset is only going to create stress between you and Mike.

You're at least ten years post-college. What makes you think that she's not "the one" for him?
posted by contrariwise at 3:23 AM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

This: There's no romantic history. He's like a brother to me accurately describes how many now-couples once saw each other.
Well, this is just silly. The belief that all roads lead to coupledom when a hetero male/female relationship is involved has more to do with the relative ease of thinking in cliches than it does with what happens out there in the real world.

Sometimes a BFF is just a BFF.
posted by stuck on an island at 3:37 AM on October 19, 2009 [7 favorites]

I'm a dude, and my best friend stopped talking to me over his psycho g/f (after four or five instances of terrible behavior, my wife and I declined to be around her). "Bros before hos" (you're a bro, so to speak) doesn't really happen in practice.
posted by notsnot at 4:00 AM on October 19, 2009

I'm also a dude, and my three (!) closest friends are all female. No sexy sex.

And yes, sometimes their boyfriends/husbands (or my own SOs) have been difficult/annoying for awhile, so I think it's common/normal.

But it always passes. After enough time goes by that the insecure party realizes there's no "threat" present, things normalize.
posted by rokusan at 4:07 AM on October 19, 2009

She doesn't hate you for no reason, she just hates you for not a particularly good reason.

I think some olive branches may be in order here if you want to repair your relationship with Mike. tell him you didn't realise how important she was to you, that of course you want him to be happy, and that you can understand how Miss Girlfriend could have a hard time adjusting to your friendship.

Then grit your teeth and play nice until they split or get married. You really have no other choice.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:59 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm a woman with a male best friend "Mike".

Stop right there. It's jealousy. Some people simply can't believe that people of the opposite sexes can be best friends.

It's silly, she's a head case, be a best friend to Mike, but write her off.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:48 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

A LOT of women cannot tolerate their husbands or boyfriends having female friends. Sad, but reality.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:57 AM on October 19, 2009

He became agitated when he spoke about potentially breaking up with her. ... Should I back off and "wait out" the duration of their relationship?

Shocking. I think you probably aren't helping your situation by suggesting he dumps his girlfriend for you. Also, it's silly to assume they are going to break up. And I bet your friend can pick up on this sentiment when you hang out. Can you understand why he might be avoiding you, besides the fact his girlfriend doesn't like you?

And my guess is that his girlfriend doesn't like you because you're a women and his best friend.
posted by chunking express at 9:02 AM on October 19, 2009

The girlfriend is probably a lost case, at least in the short term. On the other hand, I think you can help your relationship with Mike. You need to assert to him that you will support him in his decision, no matter what your feelings about his girlfriend are. Give him some reason to believe you won't constantly nag him about dumping his girlfriend should he ever bring up the subject.

Sit Mike down with a beer and go... you know I don't like your girlfriend. I know that you know that I don't like your girlfriend. But relationships work in strange ways, and you're clearly in a better position to decide whether you should stay or not. I've said my piece once and I won't mention it again.
posted by gmarceau at 9:31 AM on October 19, 2009

I just wanted to echo what others have said which is there most definitely is a reason, even if it's silly or unsubstantiated. You and Mike are very close, and that makes her feel threatened/insecure/jealous/what have you. It sucks, but until their relationship stabilizes, she is probably going to feel that way and may act out because of it.

You really don't know where this relationship is going, and in your zeal to be supportive, you ended up sounding like you thought his relationship was a failure. I would say to him something like, "hey Mike, I've been giving it some thought, and I wanted to apologize if I overstepped when you were venting about girlfriend. I was trying to be supportive, but ended up sounding critical. I hope you know that I just want you to be happy, and if girlfriend makes you happy, then she's alright in my book."

If he brings her up to you in the future, just listen and don't offer your opinion. If he presses you for advice, tread carefully with a lot of qualifiers like "ifs" and "maybes." You never know what relationships are going to stick, and if he remembers you as speaking negatively about her when he has decided she's the girl for him, it will create distance between the two of you. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 10:19 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Never, ever, ever encourage a friend to break up with their significant other unless that SO is abusive. And even then, expect your friend to lash out at you for being honest.

There's something about hearing "external encouragement" to break up with the person they're fucking that rubs people the wrong way. Even if your buddy is dating the biggest loser in the world, keep mum and stay out of it. You can't compete with hormones and it only makes you look petty and meddling to try.
posted by balls at 11:43 AM on October 19, 2009

Thanks everyone for the helpful comments.

To clarify about the "external encouragement", Mike brought up the idea of breaking up on his own. He said he should probably do it but dreaded it, and that he should go talk to people who will support him to break up with her. I said, "Encouraging breakups just seems to cause distress", and he said that he actually finds it helpful and appreciates the honesty. I mulled this over for a day, and then I took a gamble and told him, "I'll be honest. If I were in your shoes, I'd break up with her." This caused a defensive reaction, so I won't be taking that gamble again.

Your answers have been helpful. I think I will stick to the status quo, except that I'll let him know that I've said my piece once and won't say it again, and that since she makes him happy, I'm glad for it and will be supportive. When all this stuff happened and he apologized for her behavior, he also said that he'd keep her away from me (to prevent future rudeness from her) and that he'd stop talking about her to me. I'll let him know that he's free to do that for his own sake, but he doesn't need to do that out of concern for me.
posted by cheesecake at 12:18 PM on October 19, 2009

(...) and he said that he actually finds it helpful and appreciates the honesty.

The man lacks integrity and a spine - that's a spooky iceberg-like problem for both of you, girls. Sorry.
posted by Jurate at 2:02 AM on October 22, 2009

I'm probably projecting, but I was sort of in the position as The Girlfriend here, right down to the trip with all of us ending in my frustration (to my credit though I didn't act out, just vented later to close friends of mine and eventually worked up the courage to discuss the issue calmly with my guy). My guy had been friends with a girl here long before I moved to this city; she is coupled with my guy's best male friend and bandmate. He went through a LONG period single where he was spending pretty much every free moment with them, and often just with her (seriously, every night he'd go over to their place after work and stay until 3 a.m. when he'd come back to his apartment and pass out, rinse, repeat...he'd tag along with them to do their GROCERY SHOPPING). She'd take him to the mall to go lipgloss shopping for christ's sake. Anyway, they also just have a lot in common (a similar sense of humor, interest in pop culture minutiae and obscure junk food and video games and terrible blockbusters) and just that, you know, perfect "friendship chemistry" that is so hard to pin down but we all are lucky enough to recognize finding once in a while.

None of this bothered me at all when we first got together, but she acted weird--pulling classic girltricks of subtly egging him on to find faults with me, or make him feel wistful he was "tied down" and that dating me would change him, and when we first became a couple she just completey stopped talking to him for almost a year, wouldn't return his calls, etc. and then had the gall to act upset when he was like "screw it" once she finally came around and was over whatever had been bugging her. Once they repaired their friendship we would hang out with them double dating and this dynamic was quickly established where my guy and her would be laughing and in their own world of conversation while her guy and I felt like we were standing on the sidelines killing time (ironically, we ended up bonding some over this mutual sense of being left out). I thought I was just being oversensitive for the longest time but THEN a few people saw this dynamic in public at parties and made a point to SAY something to me afterward about how it made them uncomfortable. Yeesh.

And the thing was, not for one freaking second did I ever think anything illicit could or would ever happen. Absolutely not, despite some weird flirty emails she sent him right before we got together (given this woman's personality and the way she complained at the time about her boyfriend I think she was just looking for attention to boost her self-esteem, not actually looking for anything to play out). I can't explain it, but that has never, ever been a concern of mine. It was something different that bothered me--Happydaz is spot on--when my guy and I first got together it was chemistry-fueled, lusty, etc. and even now as close as we are one thing about us is we are not "twinned" the way I have been with some exes before. We're more complementary than similar (which I now like and appreciate, don't get me wrong). But it bothered me, the tone with this friend, where she was sort of dismissive of me and I got the sense she was like "sigh, [guy] has an empty but pretty face on his arm but I'm the one who really understands him." She has implied as much right to his face; I know about it because he's told me a few times, and the delicate dance she plays between me and him socially conforms to it (she is very backhanded; around when we got married last fall she played lots of mindfuckery with me seeming like she was trying to "help" and give advice to me in a friendly way, and even tried counseling me about if I might be having doubts only for me to find out later from my guy and other sources that helpfulness was not exactly her real intent, ugh). That was offensive to me. And it boiled over on our trip, because it felt like she was slapping it in my face non-stop and there was no escape for a week, ugh. I just wanted to throw up. Did you give them any space to enjoy the trip one-on-one for moments? Did you talk non-stop to him in a way that subtly or not-so-subtly excluded her (based on interests or shared knowledge or whatever)? Did she have someone she could bond with besides him if you were non-stop fused to him?

You may be nothing like this friend I'm talking about. But the seed of why girlfriend doesn't like you makes a ton of sense to me regardless. If you're subtly pitting "who are you closer to, me or you" you are creating a problem. I don't care if it's in the guise of trying to be a good friend nor if you're playing the "but I've known him longer and better" thing, I just think the "maybe this relationship isn't good for you" "just between friends" talk is inappropriate in situations like this, or at the least, totally a reasonable thing for her to dislike you for.
posted by ifjuly at 1:13 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

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