why can't we be friends?
August 8, 2011 8:11 PM   Subscribe

How can I dialogue with my boyfriend about some of his friends so that I'm a) not creating unnecessary discord and b) able to stay true to myself and my own needs.

Since entering into a relationship with my boyfriend, I've had some unpleasant encounters with a few of his friends and it's all frustrating me to no end. Below are some stupid in-a-nutshell descriptions of each individual. I need help with dialoguing with my boyfriend about each person so that this doesn't end up as a "These Birds of a Feather doesn't play nicely with others" kind of deal.
  • Friend A is an older female who is upset that my boyfriend is no longer at her disposal to act as a surrogate girlfriend/boyfriend for her when she has relationship troubles with her own boyfriend. I really want to get to know her, but she has been cold and unfriendly whenever we see each other (which is rare to begin with), and does this thing where she's both hyper supportive of my boyfriend dating me, but also hyper critical. She thinks I'm fake -- boyfriend disagrees wholeheartedly because she has no evidence to support such a conclusion. My boyfriend considers Friend A and her boyfriend to be his best friends and doesn't understand why she and I can't get along.
  • Friend B is a female peer who has known my boyfriend for a few years. I enjoy her company, but I am not crazy about how unkind she is to some of the people around her. She recently spoke way out of line during a trip to a theme park and blamed me unilaterally for the bad night she was having, even though I was there as her guest and I had been treating her like a queen the entire evening. I was offended. Rather than engage her in a tete-a-tete, I opted not to interact with her for the rest of the night so I could maintain the peace, but wrote her the next morning, acknowledged the tension, and genuinely told her that I appreciated her presence and was happy to have been able to hang out with her. She responded by lashing out at me again and gave me an ultimatum about being an arrogant bitch and that unless I told her I was sorry for ruining her night, she would come between me and my boyfriend. I demurred and did so at the expense of my own needs, even though other friends who had been with us that night agreed that I hadn't done anything to provoke her. Now she is refusing to come to my BF's birthday.
  • Friend C is a male peer who happens to be inordinately racist and homophobic. My boyfriend only sees him occasionally, but we saw Friend C last night and I was very, very upset to spend time with him once I realized how much of a bigot he was. Boyfriend is not a bigot, but didn't know what to say when I called him out for having a friend like C to begin with. I told him that I'd hang out with C but that if he made homophobic remarks, I'd call C on them. Boyfriend understood but seemed sad about me not gelling with yet another friend.
Now, I have absolutely no control over any of these people. I'm aware of that. However, the tension that the two women feel towards me frustrates my boyfriend and he has made some indirect remarks about how he wonders if it's actually me and not them. He is sad that we all can't get along. Obviously this is really upsetting and I don't feel like I should have to modify myself when these individuals' behaviors go unchecked.

How can I address these things with my boyfriend without it turning into some ridiculous mess? I genuinely believe it's naive to assume every one of your friends will get along with your partner, and given that I did nothing at all to A and B, and that C is a douche, I don't think it's fair that I have to suppress my personality to get these people to like me. However, I'm here for the long term, and I do want to get along with his friends, and I don't want him to choose. Is equilibrium possible?

Additionally: I recognize this is a little whiny, and a little stupid. I just can't conceptualize how to stand up for my needs in this scenario AND be a pleasant companion, too. I'm also completely open to the possibility that it IS me, but input from objective friends who've witnessed A, B, and C's behavior says otherwise. I don't know anymore.
posted by These Birds of a Feather to Human Relations (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: TLDR version: My boyfriend is friends with some people who don't like me, and I feel like he's asking me to get along with them anyway at the expense of my own needs and beliefs. I don't think this is fair, and I want to be able to dialogue with him about this so that my needs can be met, too. Help me hack this one, MeFites.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:20 PM on August 8, 2011

1 - You don't have to be your boyfriend's friends friend. It is perfectly acceptable to have your own life, he his and the both of you a life together.

2 - Seriously evaluate if you want to be in a relationship that is surrounded with people who seem so bent to destroy it. And with someone who is kosher with hanging with folks who are openly homophobic.

This is not a DTMFA advise, just seriously consider if the relationship is worth it. Presumably any LTR with the fellow is just going to be one long battle with his friends, or avoiding them and they trash talking you. You, especially as an outsider, are not going to be able to change these dynamics which sound pretty inbred and isolationist
posted by edgeways at 8:21 PM on August 8, 2011 [5 favorites]

Your objective friends are not objective friends. They are your friends. So don't think otherwise. Just to start with that.

First and foremost, Friend C is a dick. Your boyfriend is an idiot for keeping him in his life, and he knows it on some level.

Second of all, you frame Friend A as a threat. You seriously have an issue with her and her friendship with your boyfriend. Whether she inordinately takes his time or not, she's his friend. Surrogate boyfriends are just friends, and you're clearly jealous. I would have an issue with you too.

Thirdly, Friend B is clearly unstable and a massive threat to your relationship. Toxic to the core, she is going to destroy you if you don't get away from her.

It sounds to me, and I hate to say it, but your boyfriend is too nice to get rid of dead weight in his life. On the condition that people don't change, I'd say you need to have a serious talk with him without pulling any ultimatums.

Friend A has a great potential to be your greatest ally and this is the only relationship I see as salvageable. The rest, well, that's up to you.

I'll leave you with this: life is not fair. You will have to do a lot of shit in a relationship to make it work, and a lot of that stuff might be things you don't like. If he's The One, then this is shit worth putting up with. If he isn't, then, well, you know what you need to do.
posted by satyricaldude at 8:22 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Desperately trying not to threadsit, but this needs to be clarified.

To be fair, Friend A has openly admitted she is upset that my boyfriend is now in a relationship. I am not embellishing here; she has said this to my face, and to my boyfriend, and to her own boyfriend, who was very, very angry when he discovered that she was taking this out on me. I am totally willing to go out of my way to turn this gal into an ally, but her behavior towards me is immature and that makes me a little wary.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:26 PM on August 8, 2011

How old are all of you? This all seems rather dramatic, and maybe par for the course for early 20's. If you're older than that, I have different advice, but I'll save it for now . . .
posted by GastrocNemesis at 8:31 PM on August 8, 2011 [5 favorites]

Then I really hate to say it, but in light of that fact, DTMFA. You've incurred far too much drama in this relationship and your boyfriend's frankly too nice and too impressionable (from the way you've painted him) to get rid of his shit and not take his friends' side of stupid, stupid, and easily changed issues.
posted by satyricaldude at 8:33 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: How about something like this?

"I want to get along with your friends. I try to get along with your friends. I know that it makes you sad that your friends and I didn't instantly click. That said, this is a two-way street. I've done my best to get along with them. I need for you to accept that I've done my best and they've chosen not to return my offer of friendship.

I would never tell you who you can or can't be friends with, but I need to maintain my own sanity as well as my own dignity. When your friends treat me rudely or unkindly, or behave in ways I find unacceptable, I need for you to support me in standing up for myself--not in starting fights or drama, just in disengaging. I need for you to stop expecting me to just swallow my hurt feelings or discomfort. I need for you to care about how I'm being treated.

I will continue to do my best. I will continue to be kind. But I need for you to stop putting the burden on me: when your friends are ready to be my friends, I'll be here."
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:45 PM on August 8, 2011 [13 favorites]

Best answer: It's hard to be 'nice' and try (in a semi-obvious way) not to offend people and yet not be accused of being 'fake' or 'arrogant' by people with a grudge or some kind of issue with that personality-type and/or inter-personal strategy. This is a common problem for women especially-- a rock and a hard place, because of course if you are blunt/direct, you'll just be a 'bitch' to many people instead. But... that said, don't try so hard to be nice at the expense of authenticity (ie, if you have a problem, you have a problem: that is what you have, even if it means conflict with not-so-awful other people). I mean, I'm saying this and basically I suck at enacting this myself, but this is what the others are playing with when they accuse you of things. I know-- because I know how this type of behavior generally works in people-- that you are actually sincere in your attempts to make people relax, or feel better, or whatever. But realize that you can't always achieve this, and it is sometimes counterproductive to try and get people on your side. Weird, I know, but it's true.

So basically, the prejudiced guy C is just, y'know, The Prejudiced Guy. Disengage. Do not hang out with him, cut him off, leave the house if he comes, etc. You simply do not need that in your life; the only thing I'd recommend is to allow your bf this friendship without secretly judging him. Obviously he can filter out friend C's issues, and that's not a strike against him: some people are better at cherry-picking people's traits, are more tolerant of assholishness, whatever. It's fine, don't think about it too hard. Think of the prejudice as a disability (for these purposes) that your bf is working around but you choose not to. As for shrill woman B, well, you can see her on very specific scripted occasions (like eating out for 2-3 hours in a restaurant), but be very by-the-book polite, and-- again-- do not engage her personally. Instead, be as impersonal and rational and "oh really? that's interesting" as possible. Build a smooth wall. Smile, nod, and leave as early as possible. Try not to talk about her with the boyfriend, either, too much. You are henceforth 100% neutral. At all costs, I repeat, do not engage personally. Girl is toxic (drama-addicted and/or crazy in the colloquial sense); abort! Abort!

With friend A, it's the most difficult case. Eh. You do seem jealous-- so do your best to let that go and just trust your bf. As for the rest... her being critical-- eh, who cares. If your bf doesn't agree, that's all that matters. My mom used to be hyper-critical of my bf (I'm close to my mom), and while I didn't enjoy hearing this, I didn't argue with her and just sort of filtered it. When you're invested, you get too critical of the people your loved ones allow into their life. Sometimes it takes years for this to even out. Again, solution is to just not engage on their own terms. About your bf "not understanding" why you don't get along, that's the bigger problem. If he can't imagine why he may gel with people who're good to him but not all his friends will be on the same frequency, that's a problem he has (ie, doesn't understand people very well, has unrealistic expectations, etc). Just how important is "getting along" to him, and what kind of level of amity is he looking for? If he's only lookin for politeness, he should announce to both you & friend A that he has expectations X, Y and Z of your behavior whenever you're together, and then you declare truce and keep those in mind to the degree you can. You also declare your needs and/or qualifications P, Q and R, and then compromise is reached. Say you get together to play Apples to Apples. So you play. One of your qualifications could be you require some neutral place, a neutral activity, some off-limit topics/subjects, a time-limit on wanting to spend with the friends, whatever. If you're going to be playing at diplomacy, play it for real: that is, set up rules, expectations, unwritten 'treaties' even. Treat the interactions with clear goals of what can and cannot be done or tolerated, and then follow these guidelines without investing personal feelings.

In the end, someone who thinks on the level of 'getting along' is only thinking of surface interactions anyway, and surfaces are easy enough to engineer. Leave the real feelings out, and you'll all feel better.
posted by reenka at 8:52 PM on August 8, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I think that it may make sense for you to try and nurture Friend A a bit. She is being vocal about her insecurities, try to make her not feel insecure - let her come over and sit with your boyfriend for a couple hours talking about her problems. Let her feel that their friendship can continue, somewhat, as it did before, along with including her (as an individual, not just as a couple) with social activities (or 'hang out' activities) with you and your boyfriend.

Friend B sounds like she's being nuts. Let her be nuts. If you are truly in the right and she is in the wrong, the situation will naturally correct itself. You just need to not fan the flames and wait it out.

Friend C is someone you can probably safely ignore. When you're out in a group and he's there, be polite but just don't engage him. If your boyfriend invites him over to hang out, tell your boyfriend you'll hang for a bit to be polite but that you're going to the mall (or whatever).

Also: i looked at your mefi profile and virtually the only personal info you have is "I am the very lucky girlfriend of a very wonderful guy." I'm wondering if you want to do a check on yourself to see if you think your life is overly wrapped up in your relationship. Remember that you and your boyfriend are two separate people. You probably have to be civil to his friends, but they can stay his friends. Develop social time away from him (with your own friends), and you'll probably find the reduced time you spend with them to be more manageable.
posted by Kololo at 8:52 PM on August 8, 2011 [5 favorites]

I think the fact that you're demuring and pretending to be cool when you're not with these friends is a problem too. I think you're making some of the drama. Your boyfriend's friends are not the best, no, because they are so into this drama. But, you're adding to it.

You even say that you see Friend A rarely -- then don't make more drama when you see her. Don't engage her, at all. That will stop the drama for you and your boyfriend. If she says you're cold, that's fine because that means you're not engaging her, that's all.

And with Friend B, you say you demured at the expense of your own needs -- well, don't be so melodramatic. If you really want to keep the peace, just disengage, for real. Don't add to the drama. If she's having a bad time, let her. Don't engage that, but don't treat her like a queen either. Sounds passive/aggressive to me.

If you like the drama too much, then, well, this will go on because you want it to. If you really want to stop the drama, then it starts with you. These women and guy can be as crazy as they want, but you can just sit back and not engage and it won't affect you.
posted by minx at 8:58 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Hmmm. Something I recommend you seriously consider is: is it actually you and not them? It seems a bit unusual that you have three dramas going on with three people at the same time. All of the scenarios as you present them seem pretty reasonable. But is this a repeat of a pattern that has played out for you before? Have there been other relationships that you've had where people seem to react negatively to you for no good reason that you can see?
posted by bq at 9:07 PM on August 8, 2011 [7 favorites]

You say: "I don't think it's fair that I have to suppress my personality to get these people to like me. However, I'm here for the long term, and I do want to get along with his friends, and I don't want him to choose. Is equilibrium possible?"

I think the only way to do this is to speak your mind without judging the other person's actions. For example, if Friend C says something homophobic and racist, you can (politely) call him out on it: "What makes you feel that way? I don't agree: I've seen x, y, and z and they say the opposite." But don't make the assumption that Friend C is a bad person in all areas of his life, and definitely don't make the assumption that your boyfriend is some kind of closeted bigot for hanging out with this person. Friend C may have some very strong attributes that make your boyfriend value his friendship. If you don't want him to choose between you and his friends, definitely do not "call him out for having a friend like C to begin with"

Basically, be friendly, open, and transparent at all times with all of these people, even if they are not friendly, open, or transparent with you. The crazy ones will make themselves known over time (as Friend B is appearing to do) and they won't last long. And if anyone had any legitimate initial reservations about you, they will be won over by your constancy and friendliness.
posted by be11e at 9:31 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

If bq above has it wrong, then I vote this is entirely on your bf's plate.

I want to know why your boyfriend values folks who like to push him (and the you) around. That's weird, and it doesn't sound like a dynamic you should submit to.

And already you were submissive when you "demurred." No. In fact you cowed and licked her boot. I bet your bf does this regularly and these types are not happy you might give him more of a backbone.


On your end, start recognizing situations where you can communicate and those in which communicating will get you no where but trouble.

posted by jbenben at 9:32 PM on August 8, 2011

What kind of 'indirect remarks' has he made? I would directly question him next time he makes indirect remarks. Can he provide any evidence of how he feels like your behavior was inappropriate or could have been better?

I like Meg_Murry's advice above, and if he doesn't take you at your word that you've tried your best to be friendly with them, then I would question what it means that my significant other doesn't trust what I'm telling them and is more willing to put the blame on me than admit that there's probably two sides to the story.

ALSO: after reading this previous post of yours, if this is the same boyfriend, he sounds kind of flaky. But it also sounds like you have some issues with his family/relatives too, which makes me wonder if you have narrow parameters for who you get along with, and expect others to follow your parameters. With Friend C, for example, I might have told my partner that I wasn't willing to hang out with that person, but I would never demand or imply that they shouldn't be friends with that person.

How was the issue with his parents resolved? Is there a pattern of him taking his friends/family's side over you? This could mean that he's flaky and not willing to stand up for you - but it could also mean that you need to examine how/where your own behavior might contribute to people not getting along with you.
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:46 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You are who you are, and he is who he is. As for the friends, you should be able to say how you feel, and he should be able to respond in a supportive way, and take action if needed to address the real issues, your real feelings about them, or both. Anything less means you're not in a committed relationship.

So, take a deep breath, and be an adult. Sit him down, and tell him that you're feeling [whatever you're feeling] about him having two friends, both women, who have gone out of their way to make it clear they don't like you and they don't want you in a relationship with him. Tell him that he can have any friends he wants to have, but he either has to stand up for the relationship that the two of you are in, or he should plan to say goodbye to it.

At the end of the day, you're supposed to be on the same side, watching each other's backs, and it sounds like he's not holding up his end of the bargain. Now, it may be something about you they don't like, but odds are it has nothing to do with you-as-a-person and everything to do with you-as-a-threatening-presence, and that's his issue to deal with. Your issue, by comparison, is simple: do you want to be with a guy who lets his friends treat you like crap and doesn't stand up for you?

Hell, even if it somehow turns out to be your fault, don't you want to be with a guy who stands up for you even if you're wrong, or at least is capable of sitting down with you and openly discussing what's going on? I should think so. Why settle for less?
posted by davejay at 10:00 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

as for the racist, homophobic guy: dealing with him does not need to have drama, a simple "he's racist and homophobic, and I have no tolerance for that kind of behavior, so don't plan on having him around when I'm around -- and if that's a dealbreaker for you, then we're done here" should suffice. I mean, do you REALLY want a guy who APPROVES of that, even passively?
posted by davejay at 10:02 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: That's a really good question, NakedMoleRats. I dropped the issue re: his parents because I realized that I was in the wrong there -- I was upset that my boyfriend was so disgruntled after a trip, and I was overly anxious about his parents' demands of us going overboard. They haven't at all, and in fact, his mother in particular has been very supportive and kind to me. That was me being a nervous nelly.

However, given the communication style of his parents (which is super quarrelsome), I have come to realize that my boyfriend just wants harmony, all the time, period. I think that he just views conflict as upsetting, whereas I am from a family that is slightly more productive when it comes to disagreements, so to me, talking stuff like this out and calling out people when they're doing stupid stuff = normal. I am used to being called out. There's the mismatch, and that's why I asked this question.

And yes, I totally recognize that me demurring when I did just made things worse. That scenario was really upsetting -- I demurred only because I wanted everything to go away. I have made every effort to be cordial to this girl, but I think eventually she's just going to shoot herself in the foot because punishing my boyfriend for something she thinks is my fault isn't all that sane or practical. No, this is not a trend. All previous conflicts with other people were due to me being socially inept. I am not so awkward anymore, and I have had so few interactions with Friends A and B that the tension between us is really unexpected.

Thanks for all the advice so far. I think the best course of action is just to forget about all of this and stop feeding it by giving it all mental purchase in my brain. None of it's worth it and by wondering if I'm the kid that doesn't play nicely with others, I probably stand to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy with all the anxiety I'm affording the concept.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:09 PM on August 8, 2011

Best answer: Okay, I remember a previous question of your where you similarly wanted to manage your boyfriend's parents with some proactive discussions. And another question too - this is the LDR boyfriend? I know it's not always right to delve into the past here, and I don't mean to answer the other questions in this space, but there was something you said in the first: "I plan to marry this guy". Not "We're planning to get married." It was bq's answer that reminded me. And put it together with Kololo's mention of your status. So you're in your twenties, and in grad school, and you have a lot of other issues - so yes, this does seem par for the course, for anyone This is all the messy relationship stuff that happens at these ages and stages that helps you learn how to be an adult in a relationship, for anyone. But your particular course...

All of this seems very one-sided, and messy. I don't even know how you know this stuff about who thinks and feels and does what in regard to you and your relationship, unless you've spent a good deal of time talking with and about other people about other people. Stop doing that.

How can I address these things with my boyfriend without it turning into some ridiculous mess?

You realize you don't have to? All you have to do is be polite and friendly when around his friends, and it doesn't have to turn into this drama. Just as you're prone to using turns of phrase like "How can I dialogue with my boyfriend" instead of "How can I talk to my boyfriend", you can dial this all right back down and keep it simpler, both with them and him. Be11e's advice here is excellent.

"I don't think it's fair that I have to suppress my personality to get these people to like me. However, I'm here for the long term, and I do want to get along with his friends, and I don't want him to choose. Is equilibrium possible?"

Life's not fair. It's part of being a student of life, learning how to find your place in a group. You'll be seeing the kids you'll teach learn it in elementary school, but it doesn't stop there. It's not the These Birds of a Feather Show any more than it's anyone's. You keep asserting you're there for the long term - is he? Your needs in this scenario do not supersede his or his friends', but aside from mentioning that he wants harmony and wonders about you're possibly being the root of this, is it possible that he doesn't just view conflict as upsetting - but unnecessary? His parents and his friends were there before you, and they'll likely be there after you. I remind myself that my husband has underwear that's older than our thirteen year relationship! He's not going to throw over his high school friend who always calls during dinner and just says "Can I talk to (mrgood)?" without so much as a "Hi" for me. Your previous conflicts don't seem to come from ineptness, but an agenda. Are you and he on the same page?

I just can't conceptualize how to stand up for my needs in this scenario AND be a pleasant companion, too.

Equilibrium is the condition of a system in which competing influences are balanced. It doesn't mean everyone gets what they want, it means everyone gets some of what they need (That's the elementary school definition of "fair" in my daughter's school, and it works pretty well.). Being a pleasant companion has nothing to do with how others treat you - it has to do with how you decide to behave. Don't let how others are affect your being the person you want to be. So, right back to Be11e's advice.

On preview, because I was already this far, and because I thought about it earlier and came back to post - and seeing your answer, yes - stop feeding it.

But also, you do seem to be very anxious in this relationship, for reasons you've noted yourself. Is it balanced between you two, let alone managing the friendships around it? Because trying to figure out how he's feeling based on how he's reacting to how his friends treat you isn't the same as hearing a response from him to a direct question about where he thinks you two stand with each other. *squints at that last line and winces * I mean, if he'd swept you up in a reassuring hug and said in a Mighty Mouse "Here I Come to Save the Day" voice: "I love you and in my opinion, you're faultless here! I'll talk to them to let them know that this is no way to treat the woman of my dreams and my future wife!" it would be different. But it remains - perhaps you're challenging his other relationships in an attempt to determine if your own is secure? Or, you know - I'm just all hopped up on a midnight ice cream and Hoarders re-run binge, and in my insomnia, I read too much into your questions and answers and did see a trend? Either way, good luck. Sincerely.
posted by peagood at 10:57 PM on August 8, 2011 [4 favorites]

Some people you like some people you don't. You are not your boyfriend, if he chooses to have certain friends then that *should* be OK by you yeah? In 2011 that's OK?


Friend A Get over it (and if unable to - note advice for B & C below)

Friend B and C avoid
posted by the noob at 11:38 PM on August 8, 2011

I think your follow up is right on the money. It sucks to feel unjustly blamed for something, but over time things will get better or the truth will come out.

As much as possible, if you can think of these people not as "my boyfriend's friends" but as "these people I have to hang around whom I don't like" or "these people I avoid," I wonder if that would help. More succinctly, it's not necessarily your job to create good relations with his friends. He can feel sad. And he could initiate a conversation about that. He could even think that maybe you are contributing, and he could explain what he has noticed or make requests of you. You don't necessarily need to somehow head off this eventuality. You don't necessarily need to initiate a conversation saying "I know you're sad, but I want you to have my back." You could. But also, it doesn't have to be all your responsibility.

It sounds like what most concerns you are his judgments, so you could address that directly, maybe like, "the other day you said you thought maybe I'm contributing. Is there anything in particular? Because I want to do all I can to get along, so if you see something I'm missing, I'd listen." You could also stop the action at his next comment and say, "it sounds like you just implied I created this situation. Should we have a discussion about this?" You could request no more sideswipes: "I am happy to listen to feedback, but I'd prefer to sit down and really have a discussion rather than hear indirect comments. It's important to me to do my best here, and I feel defensive and unjustly accused when I hear things like that." In this case, you're coming to him not saying "support me!" or "I was in the right!" but more "hey if you have something to say, I'm all ears, but it would be easier on me if you would fully explain it, not just occasionally imply it."

But beyond the question of how you and your BF communicate, this may be unsolvable at the moment. These may be immutable facts: A misses your boyfriend being single and needs time to adjust (and may periodically act out in the meantime); B provokes drama; C is a bigot; you need to protect yourself from too much exposure to this; AND your boyfriend is sad that his friends don't get along. It's possible that taking it easy and not pressuring anyone to be okay with anything before they are will give them the space they need to adjust.

All this comes with huge caveats, as I don't know what your day in day out interactions with these people are like.
posted by salvia at 11:44 PM on August 8, 2011

I think I talked all around my point but didn't quite say it, which is, you can just act towards these people the way you'd act toward anyone you needed to repeatedly deal with. Then let yourself relax and see if you can do less managing of the dynamic: don't worry about what they think about you or what he thinks about what they think about you. Just be your best authentic self and disengage as necessary.
posted by salvia at 11:56 PM on August 8, 2011

Would you say your boyfriend is typically a go with the flow kinda guy? I just say this as I was in exactly the same situation as friend C with my wife. Basically she served as a wake up call to me to drop this guy from my life, after he made racist remarks towards her. She was quite cool about it, just said to me "you can hang out with him if you want, but I don't want to be invited".

I knew what he was like, but I'd kinda known him for so long that it never really clicked on that level. Her view made me stop, think, evaluate why I was keeping this person in my life and then act on it, and I think my social life is the better for it.

So thats good.

How is he with your friends?
posted by Admira at 1:04 AM on August 9, 2011

I'm wondering if your boyfriend has complained to friends A and B about your relationship. Or gone to them for advise, like you're doing here, but old school.

They might mistakenly have their hackles up on his behalf.
posted by vitabellosi at 2:05 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I suspect you are wound socially tighter than your boyfriend and his friends. I also suspect that when something pushes your boundaries of social appropriateness, you broadcast your displeasure in a way that is obvious to others, regardless of what comes out of your mouth.

I would also gently point out that your post about the parents was a month ago, and that this - "All previous conflicts with other people were due to me being socially inept. I am not so awkward anymore..." - doesn't really add up. "Anymore" level change doesn't typically happen in 30 days. Usually it's a process of some significant duration and effort.

I would encourage you to look back at these interactions and reconsider what, if any, part your own actions played in the outcomes.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:14 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Friend A: It's not at all uncommon for people to feel some resentment toward a new boyfriend or girlfriend of a close friend – this really does happen all the time. The wise thing to do is wait it out and see if A warms up once she gets to know you. Your boyfriend considers her one of his best friends; this would give me a lot of motivation to exercise patience, and wait for her to come round. Don't court her, but don't antagonize her; be friendly and try not to be too reactive if she seems to be sizing you up. Slow and steady here.

Friend B: No comment because I can't even make heads or tails of what happened.

Friend C: Personally, I'd draw the line at being polite in the face of racist and homophobic remarks. I'd ask my boyfriend to spare me as much of C's company as possible, but I wouldn't insist he stop seeing him, and I wouldn't refuse to go to a party if C was there. On the other hand, I wouldn't be inviting him over for supper or double dating with him. Avoid, avoid; don't talk about him, and don't complain if your boyfriend still wants to spend time with him on his own.

Altogether, I get the impression you need to calm down a bit. You seem as though you want to spring into action and be terribly decisive and absolute and Put Your Foot Down about people in your social perimeter. Spend more time observing and less time reacting.
posted by taz at 3:00 AM on August 9, 2011 [6 favorites]

This reminds me a lot of my ex-boyfriend. I'd be friendly and polite to his friends and they would ignore me or be sarcastic. He would defend them. Relationship did not last.
posted by Melsky at 5:37 AM on August 9, 2011

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