Q: If you don't like your loved one's friends, does that mean your relationship is doomed? His friends are selfish, idiotic losers and now, sadly, I'm beginning to think my boyfriend is as well. Your well-considered thoughts, please.
Thanks, and happy holidays.
A: If you're thinking your boyfriend is a selfish idiot and a loser, I'm thinking you should probably rid yourself of him. But if it's a case of your loathing his friends so intensely that your hatred for them is rubbing off on him, you might want to pause for a minute before dumping him. But only for a minute. Whom a person chooses to surround himself with is a fairly good indicator of what you're going to be dealing with.*
I've always been lucky in this way. No matter how crappy-ass the men I've dated have been, oddly they all had lovely friends. In fact, I've often kept a boyfriend's buddies around long after he's been shown the door.
My buddy Maxine (fake name) hasn't been so lucky. Her ex's large gaggle of friends were uniformly vapid, ignorant and homophobic. They would engage in ridiculous group activities such as rollerblading and organized pub crawls. The inevitably blond women with their honeyed highlights tended to speak in widdle-bitty-baby voices, which their cargo-pants-clad men found terribly appealing. Though Clark (again, fake name) tried to convince Maxine time and again that his amigos were, deep down, "awesome" gals and guys, Maxine found that spending time with them only eroded her opinion of a man she had previously quite liked. If, after all, he found these repellent humans so interesting, what did that say about him? Or her, for that matter.
For a while anyway, Maxine tried to be nice. She told him that while she found his friends' company stultifying, she understood that he enjoyed them and urged him to continue hanging out. Her only request was that he leave her out of it. This didn't work out for several reasons, one being that she realized he was a lot more like his buddies than she'd thought. Another was, though they had this semi-agreement, he kept urging her to tag along to their collective pottery spin-offs and whatnot. After all, he had this great girlfriend-how could he not want to show her off? Eventually their relationship fizzled out.
Once you lose respect for the other person, the shot clock has been activated. Tick tock. No relationship is completely equal-inevitably one person's smarter or more attractive than the other. But ideally, the other peep makes up for it by being funnier or more charming or by surrounding themselves with a fabulous social circle. That way, both partners feel like they're getting something out of the relationship.
I remember the exact moments I lost respect for two previous boyfriends. One was (sadly) during sex. After about a billion gift-free years together, BF finally did something nice for me on my birthday. He booked us a room at a swank hotel, purchased a delish room-service dinner and then climbed on top of me for a desultory b-day shag. Perhaps it was because he'd been so stingy for so long, that this one act of kindness illuminated that fact, or then again, maybe I was just over it. But I still recall the nauseous feeling I got as he slid himself in and out of me on that elegant rented bed.
The second instance (different man) was far more clear-cut (and horrifying). I had invited several friends over for a little dinner party; it was just coincidence that they were mostly music journalists. Not only did my "musician" date show up late and wasted, he then proceeded to drunkenly harangue my guests about writing stories featuring his grim, cacophonous excuse for a band. Obviously, I was mortified.
What I'm trying to say is that losing respect for someone-whether it's because they hang out with intellect-challenged frat boys or because you discover a copy of ScatMaster Monthly lurking in a sock drawer-is the kiss of death for any relationship. You're never going to like all of a guy's friends, but you should always like him.
*Please note that there is an exception to this rule. I have no idea why this is, but most men have at least one completely maladjusted scumbag friend, kept around out of a misguided sense of loyalty. Though irritating, this type of friend(s)-there should never be more than one or two-can illustrate that your paramour is at least capable of some sort of long-term relationship, no matter how twisted it might be. Don't be too hard on him for this. But take it from me-hide the drugs when he comes to visit.