Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend’s Misogynist Friends Call Me a ‘Whore'”

The guy I’ve been dating for over a year now is really sweet, there’s no doubt that he loves me, and everything has been good up until I started meeting more and more of his friends. The issue is that in his circle of friends I’m unable to point out any single person who is respectful of women, decent, or even faithful to his woman. Whenever we all hang out, I have to deal with non-stop banter about the sexual escapades of these friends and other inappropriate comments, which initially I let slide for the sake of getting along with the men. I have talked to my boyfriend about this issue, which I regret doing now since, after he tried to speak to them, the situation’s just gotten worse to a point where they now talk shit about me, make inside jokes about me, and (some of the very insensitive ones) even refer to me as a whore behind my back.

My boyfriend is not a jerk when I’m with him, but I can’t help but feel that if he tolerates his friends’ behavior and sees nothing wrong with it, then he could be the same when I’m not around. These are friends he’s grown up with and whom he considers family. I’ve had to ask him to stand his ground and not let his friends disrespect me the way they do. He tried to have another conversation with them, but again the situation only got worse. There are now more inside jokes and trash talking than ever before and I put up with it all for his sake.

It seems to me as though he doesn’t want to risk being looked down upon by, or even excluded from, the group by putting his friends in check. I know he really loves me, but I’m tired of it all. I have developed a strong dislike for his friends and it’s straining my relationship. The fact that I have had to ask him to defend me has put me off further. I really don’t know if I should give up this relationship or hold on to it and even continue to try to fix it. Kindly advise. — Not a Fan of His Friends

When a man keeps company with misogynist pigs, that’s bad enough and says something about his own character and value system. When that same man has to actually be told to defend his girlfriend against the trash-talking and name-calling, one can only presume he either agrees with them, doesn’t really care about his girlfriend (or at least, not as much as he cares about his own reputation among his friends), or is a coward. You sound like a nice, smart, normal person. Do you really want a boyfriend who agrees with misogynists or doesn’t have the guts to stand up to them?

Beyond that, I can’t imagine that these life-long friends he considers family are going to just fade away. They are part of the wallpaper of his life. They’re always going to be around. They’d be like having in-laws you can’t stand — ones your partner wants to hang out with all the time. In my book, that would be a deal-breaker in itself. You’ll have to decide if it’s a deal-breaker for you, too. And I get the feeling you probably already have, but might need a little encouragement to embrace the decision, so here it is: MOA.

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed last week and one of those click-bait articles popped up. You know the ones I’m talking about: one of those “This couple gets 2,340 years in prison, find out why”-type things. I usually scroll past those articles, but something about this one caught my eye and I clicked on it. Come to find out that it’s about a husband and wife involved in a horrific child porn thing, and when I looked at the mug shots, I realized that the husband is my ex-boyfriend! Granted, it was many, many, MANY years ago that we dated — we were just barely 18 (I’m in my 40s now) — but we were together for two years, we lived together for six months, and I broke up with him, after being done with the relationship for several reasons (nothing related to child porn).

I am totally icked out by this! I’m completely disgusted, and here I am, a week later, and I still can’t get over trying to incorporate this knowledge that someone I once thought I loved (and was ready to marry) could commit this heinous crime and is spending the rest of his natural life in federal prison (there’s a crossing-state-line thing involved). How do I move past this? — Sick and Disgusted

 

I can totally understand why you would be completely disgusted and shaken to know that someone you were once close to could commit such a heinous crime. But just because he committed this horrible crime doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have some good inside him — good that you were once attracted to. Maybe, in your youth and naivety, you didn’t recognize his less ideal qualities. Maybe those qualities hadn’t developed yet. Maybe the evil inside him was dormant or so well-hidden that anyone who knew him then would be surprised in the same way you are now to learn about the crimes he committed later in life. Maybe it took later experiences and people he met long after you left the picture to draw out the bad. Maybe he struggled for a very long time with the demons inside. Maybe, for a couple years, your love was a bright spot for him and helped keep the evil dormant a little while longer.

Whatever the case is, you were not wrong for loving him once, and you were not wrong for breaking up with him. People are very complicated — filled with good qualities and bad. And it is easy, in the throes of young love, not to see the full picture of who a person is, especially when he isn’t even done becoming who he is. But now you have some idea what he’s capable of and you’re disgusted — rightfully so. Feel disgust — but feel it for him, and feel sorrow for everyone he hurt, and feel gratitude that he didn’t harm you. He is just a small part of your personal history, and the life he led long after your lives merged as teenagers doesn’t have anything to do with you or the life you live now.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​dearwendy.com.

24 comments… add one
  • juliecatharine

    juliecatharine September 28, 2017, 8:50 am

    LW1, there’s a saying that ‘you are what you hang with’. Your boyfriend hangs with assholes and is such a weakling he won’t shut them down after you (!) point our that it would be the thing to do. Girl, run. This boy has nothing to offer you.

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 September 28, 2017, 10:05 am

      Oh man, imagine if this was advise for LW2! You are what you hang with!

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        RedroverRedrover September 28, 2017, 10:11 am

        Awww. I feel bad for her, that would be horrible to find out. But I think in all fairness, you’d have to actually be *aware* of what they are and condone it for that advice to apply. 🙂

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    dinoceros September 28, 2017, 8:53 am

    LW1: Obviously, we don’t know what goes on in your boyfriend’s head or when you aren’t around. But it’s a very bad sign that that’s his friend group. It’s one thing for a person to have a friend or two who are not great people, but when their entire main group of friends are that terrible, then it does reflect on him. What I think is likely is that they all share similar values, but your boyfriend just happens to be polite and less crude. There are also plenty of people who only share their views (any type of bigotry) with people who agree, and hide it from people who don’t. Regardless, your boyfriend is either just as bad as they are or is too much of a wuss to speak up for himself. Either way, move on.

    LW2: It’s only been a week. It’s fine to be icked out. Unless you have a history of not being able to move past things or you continue to obsess over this for weeks and months to come, then I’m sure it’ll move to the back burner as you continue on with life.

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    Miss MJ September 28, 2017, 8:57 am

    LW1: MOA. Any guy who puts up with his friends calling his GF a “whore” is a loser (and, let’s face it, likely joins the misogyny train when you’re not around, even if he’s nice to your face). You can do better.

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      Bondgirl September 28, 2017, 11:21 am

      Oh I definitely believe he joins that misogyny train when she’s not around. Run girl, run!!!

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      • Cleopatra Jones

        Cleopatra Jones September 28, 2017, 12:13 pm

        Haha, join? I bet dude is the conductor of the misogyny train.

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    Essie September 28, 2017, 9:00 am

    LW1: Nope, sorry, that would be it for me. Yes, not great that he’s hanging out with such gross people, but the fact that they’re treating you with such open contempt and disrespect, in his presence, and he has to be ASKED to shut it down? WTF? It doesn’t bother him that his friends called the woman he loves a whore? Not even a little? He still likes them and wants to hang with them after that?

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    RedroverRedrover September 28, 2017, 9:11 am

    Here’s the thing. I think it’s possible to grow up with a bunch of people, and as you age you realize that their worldview doesn’t match theirs. It could be that there are other factors in his life that made him grow up and not be a misogynist, even if all his friends are. And now he’s tolerating it because they’re his friends and they’re “good guys” and he doesn’t want to lose people who are family to him.

    But here’s the thing. Even if someone isn’t actively sexist (or whatever kind of bigoted) themselves, if they are tolerating it in others, they’re part of the problem. They are contributing to an atmosphere where this is ok. And they are obviously prioritizing other things (their friendships, for example) above women being treated with respect. That’s who he is. That’s as far as he can go to support equality. Not actively participating. Is that enough?

    And that doesn’t even get into having to be told to defend you to his friends. It wouldn’t matter if it was misogynistic remarks or just making fun of your hair, that’s not appropriate. Everyone should know that they don’t let their friends insult their significant other without saying something. That’s fucked up. Definitely MOA.

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    • avatar

      Sue Jones September 28, 2017, 10:49 am

      LW1 A lot of people that I grew up with support Donald Trump. While I will always cherish the fun times we had together, that they would support such an evil human being certainly colors my opinion of them. People grow and change as they get older so I hope that perhaps this is part of his evolution. You of course don’t need to stick around and tolerate it or hang out with his friends at all. And if he won’t find some new friends that have more values in common, then perhaps you need to MOA

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      Vathena September 28, 2017, 12:22 pm

      I would be pretty curious to know how old he is. This seems like something you’d expect from guys just out of high school (and I would guess they’re pretty young because it doesn’t sound like they’re married or have kids, and they all still live close to where they grew up). The older they are, the more horrifying the behavior would be. Like, if they’re all 45 years old. That’s hardened misogyny that will never change. -And just to be clear, it sucks no matter how old they are. Rape culture at its finest!

      Either way, this LW should not stick around to find out whether her bf can evolve and/or develop a moral core. There are lots of men who are decent right out of the gate. Guys like this don’t deserve the love of a good woman.

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  • avatar

    MoominOtter September 28, 2017, 9:18 am

    To a large extent, our friends are our chosen family. If you opt to be part of a family that embraces such a patriarchal, hateful ideology – and I use those words deliberately – that speaks volumes about your character.

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    LisforLeslie September 28, 2017, 9:47 am

    Agree with the rest. Your boyfriend may be really nice, but he’s clearly a follower. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but his priorities are to keep his friends, make no waves and you’re way down on the list of things that are important. If he’s not willing to shut that shit down – move on.

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  • avatar

    Northern Star September 28, 2017, 9:49 am

    Your boyfriend is weak, so you should move on.

    He could conceivably still be friends with childhood buddies, if they actually respected him enough to leave HIM and people that matter to HIM out of the usual stupid, idiotic banter. But they don’t respect him. Which means he’s a follower (or he agrees with them). Do you really want a go-along, get-along man constantly hanging out with cheaters and trash-talkers?

    Move on. For sure.

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  • avatar

    Ale September 28, 2017, 9:50 am

    I would like to know how LW1 found about about being called a whore by her BF’s friends, or that they talk shit about her. She could have known because her BF told her or because she found out another way. Either way, I would have moved on as fast as I could.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 September 28, 2017, 10:07 am

    I can tell you that I have zero friends that call my wife a whore. And if one of them dared too, they obviously wouldn’t be a friend after that, but I also get puncy pretty easy sometimes, so there’s that too.

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      carolann September 28, 2017, 5:54 pm

      I am sorry to break it to LW one, but this guy does not love her. A man who truly loves a woman would NEVER let anyone on the planet speak of her like that PERIOD. There are no ifs ands or buts about it.
      I don’t know how old these guys are, it doesn’t make that much of a difference to me. Not acceptable and not true love either way.
      Thank god this poor excuse for a man is showing his true colors. What if she married him and years later his so called “family” called their daughter that? Or called her that and her daughter heard it? This guy is spineless and it will cause other issues, believe it.
      Just because someone has been friends with someone for a long time does not mean someone needs to stay friends with them forever. People grow up (hopefully) and grow apart. I only have a couple of lifelong friends…there is a reason for that.
      Why are woman so desperate to have a man that they will put up with anything? There are too many out there to put up with this. Don’t be so desperate. Be more choosy. Raise your standards.

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    SherBear September 28, 2017, 10:35 am

    LW #2 – I can empathize with you, someone that I was involved with in college is serving life in prison for murder – and the last time I saw him was a week before he did it. It was rough during trial and sentencing (he was a well known athlete and ‘helpful’ people would send me articles) but got better over time – remember they are an ex for a reason and like Wendy said, some people hide their demons extremely well! I would recommend telling a trusted friend, it can help getting it off your chest.

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      carolann September 28, 2017, 6:03 pm

      When I was in my early 20s a close friend if mine brutally murdered his girlfriend. She and I shared the same first name and because he had lived with me previously (platonically, although people probably thought it wasn’t) I used to drive his car and we were often seen together, they thought it was me. For a while after that when someone saw me that hadn’t seen me in a while they were like “omg!!!! I thought you were dead!!!! “This happened to me like 50 times. It was so eerie because it COULD have been me.
      He also “accidentally” shot a mutual friend in the head years earlier. (he lived, although he still has part of the bullet in his head. ) He had another friend request pictures of me to keep in prison.
      Yes, I literally dodged a bullet.

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  • avatar

    Brise September 28, 2017, 12:32 pm

    LW1: it is strange that your BF is so different from his friends. Normally people get friends with similar people. So either you don’t know him well enough, his values and opinions, or he is growing away of them by dating you but can’t make a decision where he stands. Anyway, calling you a whore shows not only that they are grossly sexist, primary people, but also that they despise and dominate your BF. They don’t respect his choices and try to intimidate both of you. Now, you can simply refuse to hang out with this bunch of “friends”, this is what I would do, but in the long run, if there is such a values and education clash, it will be very difficult to maintain a relationship. Why dating a man against his pool? Is there not a single friend who is OK?

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom September 28, 2017, 12:52 pm

    LW1 Your boyfriend has no standing within his friend group. They don’t care whether he is part of their group or not. They value their banter much more highly than your boyfriend. I expect to see this kind of thing in a small town where there is very little choice in friends or in someone who was bullied and who hung out with the group that would tolerate him.

    When the guys are being misogynistic does your boyfriend laugh as hard as the rest of them? What does he say about them when it’s just the two of you? Is he disgusted by them? Does he admire them? Does he really like spending time with them or is he just stuck? Also, how old is he? If he is twenty and never known other friends it is different than if he is 35 and has never bothered to have other friends.

    Depending on the answers I’d either move on if he joins in with the group and their banter. If he doesn’t laugh like the rest of them and he is privately disgusted I’d suggest to him that he start making new friends. If these are his childhood friends he may not know how to make other friends. Maybe the two of you could do things through meetup that would help him start meeting other people.

    He may feel disloyal to the guys by finding new friends but these friends don’t value him and don’t respect him and don’t care whether he is their friend. He needs to understand that.

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  • avatar

    ele4phant September 28, 2017, 1:04 pm

    LW1 – my college boyfriend’s best friend really did not like me. And made that no secret – he was pretty nasty to me. My boyfriend was very sweet and kind to me, but he never really told his friend to back off.

    And when push ultimately came to shove, guess who won out? That’s right, I got dumped, and I think they’re still the best of friends a decade later.

    Even if you’re boyfriend isn’t himself sexist, every time he doesn’t put his foot down, he’s choosing them over you. He’s choosing to keep those relationships smooth over keeping his relationship with you smooth.

    Don’t be surprised if you were to give him an ultimatum, he would choose them. Don’t be surprised if *they* give him an ultimatum, and he chooses them. Don’t be surprised that if you don’t leave him, someday sooner or later, you’re gonna get dumped.

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      ele4phant September 28, 2017, 1:07 pm

      And, the fact that he’s trying to take a stand, but not breaking off with these friends when they refuse to tone it down is still him picking them over you.

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    Ashley September 28, 2017, 7:46 pm

    I agree with someone above that your bf is weak. Right now it’s his friends, but god forbid anything truly bad happens to you, he won’t have your back. You need someone you can depend on, he’s not it

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