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.