Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Company He Keeps

One does not quite understand why this is a problem. But, I will state the issue as Elizabeth Bernstein defines it in the Wall Street Journal: What do you do when you seriously dislike your boyfriend’s friends?

Bernstein writes:

About a year after she started to date her boyfriend, Shanon Lee spotted a potential deal breaker: his friends. She saw how much his pals, men and women, drank and cursed, texted crude jokes late at night and canceled plans at the last minute. They seemed to call only when they needed something, such as advice or money, she says.

Why, pray tell, does a woman allow herself to spend a year with a man and never meet his friends? Should she not know that she has the right, even the duty to judge her boyfriend by the company he keeps? If his friends reflect badly on him, if they cause her to think less of him, then doubtless other people in other situations, say professional situations, have similar reactions.

If you love the man and hate his friends then you probably do not know the man you are in love with.  This one is not even difficult.

As one might expect, the therapy world has a solution that will solve nothing. Researcher Sarah Gomillion recommends that if you dislike your partner’s friends, you stick your head in the sand. She does not exactly use those words; she recommends that you fiddle with your mind so that you do not notice the problem. You see, it’s all about how you feel. The learned Dr. Gomillion does not seem to understand the social problems posed by hanging out with people who disrespect you:

In light of these findings, Dr. Gomillion says, the best thing you can do if you find yourself disliking your partner’s friends is to try to feel more secure in your relationship. She suggests actively reflecting on your partner’s good qualities as well as how much your partner cares about you. “Be aware that it is important to have good relationships with people who are important to your partner,” she says. “You will feel a greater connection to your partner. And the friends can be supportive.”

As for Ms. Lee, the problem became unbearable when the following incident occurred:

“One friend asked if she could stay with us the week I was due to go into labor,” says Ms. Lee, who lives in the Washington, D.C. area. “It put a strain on our relationship because it was hard for him to say no to his friends.” 

Say what?

So, Ms. Lee had enough. She found her own, therapeutically incorrect solution:

When she gave her boyfriend the ultimatum—ditch the friends or risk losing their relationship—she also suggested they go to counseling together. “It was helpful to have a third party who was able to see that this was going on and that he had a problem with boundaries,” says Ms. Lee.

Mr. Friddle agrees: “It helped me to put those folks in the place they should be in my life,” he says. “They really were fair-weather friends.”

Mr. Friddle says he gradually disengaged from them. He told the woman he’d lent money to that their relationship wasn’t what it used to be and that she only called when she needed something. He then let the relationship fade.

Granted, once you have a child together, extricating yourself from a relationship is more difficult. And one approves of Ms. Lee’s approach.

In the best case the man will learn from his mistakes and befriend a better group of people. Or else, he might collect another group of insensitive lowlifes and losers.

The moral of the story is: don’t wait a year before meeting your lover’s friends. And, if those friends are boors who bully your boyfriend into doing their bidding, you should move on.


priss rules said...

This problem will get worse.

In the past, by a certain age men were expected to grow up and start a family. So, each man was mostly invested in his own wife and kids.

Now, a lot of men remain boys at heart and never settle down.

So, a married guy is likely to have lots of immature buddies who still act like teens.

Also, the internet keeps the guy connected to other guys 24/7.

Sam L. said...

Ms. Lee made the first mistake: not seeing who his friends were before deciding to have sex and then getting pregnant.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

"Dr. Gomillion says, the best thing you can do if you find yourself disliking your partner’s friends is to try to feel more secure in your relationship."

But she's saying she DOESN'T feel secure. Wonder why?


Kaiser Derden (aka TDL) said...

a person can hide their bad traits from the world and partners thru lying and deceptive behavior ... but they can't hide the same bad traits in their friends and associates ... meet their friends and you'll see what they really value ...