×TEMPLATE_NO_THEME_FILES :On last night’s season premiere of “My Boys”—which I watched after back-to-back amazeballs episodes of “True Blood” and “Mad Men”—there was this interesting subplot about how much friends’ opinions matter when it comes to relationships. The character of Kenny is dating this chick Stephanie, and Kenny’s friend Mike is really disbelieving that their relationship is genuine and for real. The whole thing got me thinking a bit about whether or not it actually matters what your friends and family think about your significant other. Should Kenny and Stephanie be bothering to try and “prove” anything to Mike? For this edition of “He Said/She Said,” I’ve brought in my brother-from-another-mother, John DeVore, to share his male perspective on the matter. Check out his thoughts and mine, after the jump.
If I found proof that my best friend’s new girlfriend was an organ-harvesting alien lizard woman, I’d feel compelled to tell him. But I’d need proof, like a freezer full of human heads. Absent such dramatic information, when it comes to my friends and the women they date, I mind my own business. And I like that favor to be returned.
I care about the happiness of my friends and family. I suppose I also care about the happiness of my coworkers, but only because “happiness” usually means “Bluetooth Phil doesn’t whine to me about his cold empty life in the office kitchen while I nuke a bowl of pasta.” But I know better to stick my nose in lives without being invited first. In my experience, people who express unwarranted opinions on other people’s lives are bored with their own. And if you really care about whom your sibling or best pal is hooking up with, ask this question to yourself, “Am I just projecting my own desires and personal frustrations onto the canvas of my dear ol’ chum’s life?” Wait! I’ll answer for you! Yes. Then there’s this other little point: it just doesn’t matter what I think about other people’s relationships. OMG, get over yourself.
Likewise, I could care less what my friends and family think about whom I date. Why would they care? They don’t have to date whoever it is I’m dating. If you care about me, then keep your mouth shout and play nice with my girlfriend. That’s what friends and family do. They support the folly of those in their lives. Friends watch each other’s backs, and watch out for hand grenades. Nothing more. I had a friend once who dated a terrible hurricane of a human being. She was a blond hummingbird on permanent Spring Break. I couldn’t stand to be around her. One night, I almost mentioned to my friend that when his girlfriend corners me and chirps to me about her day, it’s like time and space warp. I age six months in the span of six minutes. But before I could relieve myself of my own prejudices, he turns to me and, randomly, asks me if I’ve ever dated someone who wakes up earlier than me just so that they can cut up bananas for my cereal. I haven’t, I said. He shook his head, mystified at that little act of love. Isn’t she the greatest? He blushed. Yeah pal, she’s the greatest.
Life is too short, and bowls of happiness too rare to care about what anyone thinks. Alien space lizards aside, no one should concern themselves with whomever someone else is dating . Don’t be a meddlesome, clucking busybody. If you want to ignore the failures in your life by concentrating on and criticizing the lives of others, watch reality television. That’s what it’s there for. Otherwise, perform a top kill maneuver on your word gusher and cap it. —John
True story: after my ex-fiance and I broke up and it was seriously official official, as in there was no hope he was going to come crawling back, and even if he did that I would take him, some of my closest friends came clean. “I never liked him”; “I have to tell you Amelia, I thought he was a douche”; “You have always been out of his league.” Wait, really? It’s not that they had fooled me into thinking they thought he was the best guy on the planet and I was so lucky to have found him, but they’d never really indicated anything but acceptance of the person I came thisclose to marrying. And for that I am quite grateful. I would have found it extremely difficult and painful knowing that my friends didn’t like or approve of or thought I could do better than the person I loved very much. Because what they thought would have mattered, at least somewhat.
I agree with John when he says, “If you care about me, then keep your mouth shout and play nice,” but what he doesn’t address is how it would feel to him if those friends and family members didn’t play nice—if they straight-up told him that they didn’t like who he was dating. As much as I think it shouldn’t matter what other people think of your relationship—and that those people should keep their mouths shut—sometimes we can’t help wanting the approval of others. On one hand, there are friends and family in my life whose opinions I value and trust implicitly. At the same time, only the two people involved in a relationship really know what’s going on between them, who that person is as a partner. I stand by the fact that for all the douchiness some of my friends saw in my ex, there was a huge part of him that they never saw that was hilarious and wonderful.
When friends and family members express that they don’t like your significant other, perhaps it’s your reaction to that information that’s the real tell. Had my friends and family members pointed out what they saw as not worthy about my ex before we broke up, it might have made me see things in him I was refusing to see before. Or maybe I would have said, “I know those things about him and they don’t matter to me. Who he is as a whole is what I love, flaws and all.” The biggest risk is that it would have hurt my relationship with my friends and that would have been a shame. I guess I won’t really know and, save I ever date a mass murderer or Spencer Pratt, I hope they’ll continue to keep their opinions to themselves—at least until the relationship is in its grave. —Amelia