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