On suffering a bit of a princess

Dear Coquette,

My college friends have stayed close over 10 years and we’re a solid bunch. We look out for each other. We call each other out on our bullshit. Your blog has seriously influenced half the time we’ve known each other. We’re all 32 or 33.

One of our number (we’ll call him Jim) is planning to move in with a newish girlfriend. She’s 25 but acts much, much younger. When I first met her my gut said “not today, Satan” but I persevered in being warm, welcoming and inclusive.

But now the red flags are popping up and I don’t know how to respond to her behavior or be a good friend to Jim.

After introducing herself to people as ‘a bit of a princess’ she has:

– Screamed at us. And him. A lot.
– Faked seizures and other conditions when she isn’t the centre of attention.
– Quit her job. (He’s footing the bill.)
– Cried during games. (Cards Against Humanity was messy)
– Shown an apparent lack of friends.
– Read his Facebook messages.
– Announced that they’re getting a dog. (Better than a baby, I guess)

We’re planning a big getaway as a group and she is bound to come and make a scene.

Have you ever had someone like this in your midst and is there a way we can support him without excusing her rude behavior? I’m worried if I stick my neck out I will be painted as a harpie.

Thank you in advance.


Ah, yes. Jim and Princess are very familiar to me.

I’ve had many sets of friends over the years, and inevitably there is always that one guy dating that one girl who everyone tolerates through gritted teeth. Usually she’s just an idiot or a bore, but every so often, she’s a walking red flag collection with a saucy mélange of Cluster B personality disorders. Those you should never take lightly.

In order to be a good friend to Jim, you first have to recognize that he’s blinded by the sheer intensity of the relationship. His senses are overwhelmed by chaos, fear, and the best sex he’s ever had in his life. He will likely mistake this condition for love, and it’s your duty as a friend not to reinforce that belief.

This may sound cruel, but the best way you can support Jim is to add to his suffering. Princess is his responsibility. Hold him accountable for her actions. Do not accept his apologies. Punish him for her behavior.

I know you’re worried that if you stick your neck out you’ll be painted as a harpie, but trust me, Princess is counting on you to keep your mouth shut. Fuck that. If she’s truly as awful as you make her out to be, then everyone else is sick of her shit too.

Broach the topic with your friends. Form alliances. Keep Jim’s best interests at heart, but also set some boundaries. Agree that when Princess makes a scene, he will be ordered to remove her. If she acts inappropriately, they will both be called out. Let it be clear that she is no longer welcome to ruin everyone else’s good time.

You can soften the blow by letting Jim know ahead of time that you’re done putting up with her flavor of crazy. It helps to have a group consensus, and it’s most effective if performed in the style of a classic intervention. (You know, sit him down and give him the whole “we’re here because we love you, but this behavior is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated” speech.)

These may seem like drastic measures, but I assure you, nothing else will work. The only other solution is to hold your breath and stay miserable until the relationship implodes upon its own chaos.

Bear in mind that it’s possible to lose Jim during this process. I’ve had to let go a few of my close friends because of their poor choice of partners, but I don’t think that will happen to you. As you say, you’re a solid bunch. You look out for each other. You call each other out on your bullshit. If that’s the case, Jim will eventually come around.

In the meantime, no one else should suffer Princess but him.


22 thoughts on “On suffering a bit of a princess

  1. Betsy says:

    “His senses are overwhelmed by chaos, fear, and the best sex he’s ever had in his life.”

    I wonder what the sex is like? I’ve known the type and I’ve seen dudes being drawn to it, so I am rather curious as I don’t date straight girls and all.

    • The Coquette says:

      This type is universal. Don’t act like you’ve never met a lesbian with histrionic/borderline personality disorder.

      • WhoAmI says:

        I was gonna say something of the like of “Not today histrionic Satan, not today”, glad to see Coquette outspeed me on that one.

      • Big Swede says:

        I split a house with a lesbian couple (one of whom broke up with her previous girlfriend to move in) and the drama was breath-taking. Cars getting keyed, windows broken, false reports to the police about abuse, cars screeching off in the middle of the night, etc. I asked my (gay) sister it that was typical and she said, “yeah, dykes are fucking nuts, man, but the sex is pretty hot”.

    • J Lynn says:

      There’s definitely genders-reversed versions of this phenomenon, although at least I’ve never had a bad boyfriend calling himself “a bit of a prince”! lol. The manifestation is different but that jist is similar — an unreasonable, emotionally volatile person/relationship that doesn’t mesh well with friends or normalcy in general.

      But why is it that some dysfunctional relationships seem to generate such good sex?

      • The Coquette says:

        You’re implying causation where there’s merely correlation. It’s not that dysfunctional relationships generate good sex. It’s that the two are often found together. (This may be due in part to people with Cluster B personality disorders being less inhibited and/or more deviant by their very nature. Perhaps the correlation is also helped along by the tendency for people not to put up with the chaos without the good sex.)

        • J Lynn says:

          Good points, Coke, thanks! Yeah, if you fight a lot without compensatory good sex, that drops out of the data set! Luckily I don’t think I’ve been with anyone who would meet the clinical standard for personality disorder, just some hot-tempered, insecure neurotics.

          Made me think of something else, too: Maybe in these connections there’s an insecure attachment push-pull thing, so you’re always [almost] breaking up, which leads to [almost] make-up sex, which of course can be great, this fevered frenzy to re-establish connection. It’s so exhausting but also can be addictive.

          For the record, I’m not in that type of relationship now, right now I’m with a very steady, stable person. But once in a while I get nostalgic for the passion I felt in relationships that were thrilling but overall less healthy.

        • Gaybeard says:

          Have you ever been that person for someone else Coke?

          You’re not that brand of crazy but I doubt anyone you’ve been with would ever classify you as easygoing. I doubt you fit that category for people any more but maybe more during your early days when you were driven by more manic energy.

      • Bri says:

        I’ve dated the male version. Hooked up with him after breaking up with my ex. Started calling me and texting me as soon as we parted, asking for a relationship. Things he did:

        -call me dozens of times a day to ask my whereabouts
        -constantly checking my phone and deleting my contacts and messages
        -guilt me into seeing him even when I have to study or work
        -yell and cry when he can’t have his way
        -“accidentally” kill his dog (saying it jumped off a building)
        -make drama while in my group of friends (they hated him)
        -forbid me from hanging out with my friends (I did secretly)
        -broke up with him, he threatened to kill himself, so I got back
        -was homophobic, racist, sexist and generally ignorant, and much more

        In hindsight I was 16, didn’t love him, didn’t even like him, just dated him to get over my ex.

  2. Kc says:

    Coke is 100% right on this one. The options are basically confront or stop inviting them. Hoping Jim comes to his breaking point sooner than later!

  3. E says:

    I will admit that in Princess’s cases it is very possible/likely she has borderline personality disorder, but she could also just be a morally bankrupt and selfish brat who’se a sore loser. It’s not the first reference you’ve made to BPD and I guess I just feel like you sometimes propogate the Fatal Attraction/Single White Female stereotype of what BPD when in reality it’s a very serious mental illness. Some of the people I’ve met who would fall under the diagnostic criteria are kind and reasonable people who just have trouble regulating their emotions in a healthy manner.

    • Becky says:

      So like, here’s the thing though: just because people with cluster b disorders aren’t always the screeching harpy throwing plates type doesn’t mean that pretty much every person who IS the screeching harpy throwing plates type isn’t also a cluster b PD. In analogy form: Coke is saying, “yeah, I have seen this square many times” and you’re saying, “I’m worried you’re making all rectangles out to be squares. There are rectangles that aren’t squares too and if you call this square a rectangle then people won’t be able to tell the difference between the two.”

      • E says:

        Well I mean Coke said in the comments that people with Cluster Bs are “less inhibited/more deviant by their nature” which I don’t believe is inherent to the diagnostic criteria. As per the plate-throwing behaviour you describe, this isn’t particularly inherent to BPD either – anger issues are a symptom but it can manifest in many, many forms and the vast majority of the people I’ve met would be more inclined to turn violent behaviour onto themselves (sef harm, general self destructive behaviour, suicidal ideation) than to act violently towards others or to have a tantrum. There’s this pervasive idea that people with BPD are all emotionally volatile, immature and clingy and will always be that way when in reality this is about as accurate a portrayal as the crazy drooling maniac rocking back and forth in a straight jacket is an accurate portrayal of a person with schizophrenia. I do agree with your point to a degree, however that I’d argue that most people actually can’t distinguish between squares and rectangles as you put it.

        • Becky says:

          FWIW I fall under the “extremely high functioning BPD” designation. After the time I’ve spent in therapy and DBT and around other Cluster B people (see previous comments about my parents) I’m pretty confident that the majority of people with those personality disorders are fucking insufferable. But then again, everyone hates looking into a mirror, so maybe they don’t irritate other people as much as the irritate me.

    • WhoAmI says:

      Well yeah, that’s the thing with BPD : it encompasses a VERY wide range of percieved behaviors (thanks to the huge rates for comorbid disorders, amongst other things).
      I’m pretty sure Coquette wasn’t implying that BPD always led to that kind of behavior. Instead she made an educated guess : the “princess” does sound like she might be full on histrionic with a sprinkle of borderline. It is one of the possible interpretations, and a very likely one IMO.

      But Coquette has evoked Cluster B disorders in several answers now, maybe she could find a neat answer about the subject and develop from there for those of her readers who need a memo.

  4. PolicyChick says:

    “Keep Jim’s best interests at heart, but also set some boundaries. Agree that when Princess makes a scene, he will be ordered to remove her. If she acts inappropriately, they will both be called out. Let it be clear that she is no longer welcome to ruin everyone else’s good time.”

    A group I ran around with a few years ago had this very problem and employed the same solution. Only difference was, Jim was a Jane, and Princess was her 8 year old daughter. God that kid was a terror.

  5. Big Swede says:

    We’ve got one in our crew who, unfortunately, is actually very sweet but unbelievably annoying. She’s quite a bit younger than our friend, her boyfriend, and she will overwhelm any gathering with her obnoxiously loud personality. We’re mostly low-key people who have backyard BBQs where we drink too much and smoke weed. Everyone wants to be welcoming and tolerant but after an hour of her loud “and I was, like, no way!” not-so-funny stories followed by her own barking laughter, it’s hard to go on. The effect is that they “accidentally” don’t get invited to things, which sucks because he’s a prince. As we were driving home after enduring the last go ’round my very nice girlfriend said, “Her pussy has got to be magic, she must be tight as a drum down there or she has got to give earth-shattering blow jobs”. I wish she would bust out some racist or homophobic opinions so we would have a basis upon which to justify boxing her out.

  6. Nat says:

    If princess shouted at me then I’d tell Jim that aint nobody got time for being shouted at and that I don’t like being around princess (perhaps this is the punishing Jim step), obviously as calmly and kindly as I could.

    In the two cases I am thinking of, friends all agreed that the princesses were the worst and at this point, the Jims I have known, have just stopped inviting their princesses (except for rare occasions).

    You will still have to listen patiently to Jim as princess tortures him until their relationship ends, but that’s what friends are for.

  7. First Timer says:

    I have to admit, I’m a bit confused by this letter. LW complains of “Princesses” “rude” behavior, and the specific complaints about “Princess” are:

    – Screamed at us. And him. A lot.
    – Faked seizures and other conditions when she isn’t the centre of attention.
    – Quit her job. (He’s footing the bill.)
    – Cried during games. (Cards Against Humanity was messy)
    – Shown an apparent lack of friends.
    – Read his Facebook messages.
    – Announced that they’re getting a dog. (Better than a baby, I guess)

    *OK, screaming is NOT OK. I agree with that. Screaming is rude. Always.
    *Faking a medical issue, also NOT OK. I agree. I do wonder how you know for sure that it’s fake, but if you’re sure it’s fake, then yeah, not OK. Totes rude.
    *Quit her job – this is not “rude” behavior, and it’s not really your business, anyway. If they discussed it and agreed upon it (perhaps Jim really wants a housewife?) then it’s fine for them, and not in any way rude, nor does it affect LW.
    *Cried during Cards Against Humanity – Maybe Princess was triggered and had some PTSD? That game can be pretty rough. And crying (not faking, but actually expressing genuine distress) is not really rude. I won’t even play that game, at all.
    *Shown an apparent lack of friends – She may not have friends BECAUSE she’s rude, but not having friends is not, itself, rudeness. Why is this on the list of bad behavior?
    *Reads his Facebook messages – That’s bad if he has not given her permission to do it. Yeah, not OK. Unless he did give permission, and then it’s just out-of-the-ordinary. But then again, some couples merge their accounts, and one of them becomes the de facto “social secretary,” and that might be what’s going on here. Like I said, it’s all about the permission, really. And how is it affecting LW?
    *Announced that they are getting a dog. I’m stumped. How can this possibly be rude? Is your friend group anti-canine, or something? All I can think of is that this was a prelude to a screaming match, where she hit him out of the blue with “We’re getting a dog,” and he said, “What? We never discussed this. Let’s discuss this,” and she replied, “NO! WE ARE GETTING A DOOOOOGGG!” Yeah, that would be rude. But otherwise… I just don’t get it.

    So, while I agree that Princess is definitely out of line for screaming (No excuse for that), and for faking medical issues (if it’s really fake – it’s common enough that I want to give the benefit of the doubt without the LW saying something about how LW KNEW it was fake), the rest of these complaints don’t actually qualify as rudeness, at least not rudeness against the friends.

    You can tell Jim that her screaming is NOT acceptable. Full stop. This. Must. End. Therapy and/or anger management training, please.
    You can tell Jim that if she’s faking seizures, it’s not only disruptive, but also highly offensive to anyone who has a seizure disorder, or knows/loves someone with a seizure disorder (he may tell you that she actually has a seizure disorder).
    You can tell Jim that Princess probably should not participate in future gaming sessions, when the game is Cards Against Humanity, and to schedule their attendance at game night accordingly.

    That’s pretty much it, because the rest is not really any of your business, and it’s not rude to you.

    That said – if she just doesn’t click with the group (even if she’s not doing anything specifically wrong, sometimes personalities simply clash), then you can address that. It is OK not to care for someone, simply because your personalities clash. It’s OK to admit that “I just don’t click with your girlfriend.” And it’s OK to say “Princess and I just seem to rub each other the wrong way, but I’d still love to maintain my friendship with YOU. How can we work that out?”

    • Jenny says:

      Sure that makes sense if you want to cherry pick red flags. But it’s not about one incident. CQ came through with flying colours on getting *exactly* what is at play here without the gory details.

      Also, the game wasn’t Cards of Humanity. That was kindly changed in case either party reads this.

      I appreciate your faith in people but just trust me on this one. Your blind speculation and gas lighting is neither accurate or welcome.

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