Guests rubbing on hosts
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
My boyfriend and I are going to visit some friends who have invited us to join them at their lake house. A few months ago, my friends told me my boyfriend is “tough to like.” I realize his sense of humor isn’t for everyone, but his direct candor — while harsh — is one of the traits I find attractive about him.
I’d like to buffer any difficulties with my friends, but I don’t want to tell my boyfriend not to be himself, nor do I look forward to telling him he isn’t completely liked. Any suggestions on how to approach this?
— Guests Rubbing on Hosts
No no no no no.
Do not, ever, take on the role of buffer for someone in a relationship. To quote Finn in “Adventure Time,” “That road you’re on? Leads to nowhere.”
When you are with someone, the combination you create has to stand or fall on its merits, and that includes with your friends, your family, your home life, your professional life, your personal habits, your hobbies, your values, your goals, all of it. It’s not always going to be perfect, obviously, but if you have to exert a special effort to curate scenes and manage personalities and schedules just to keep the whole thing from blowing up, and if you’re already explaining/excusing/justifying yourself and your interest in him, then you’re going to exhaust yourself — especially over time — and sow resentment on both sides. Special orchestration is a sign that something is Not Going to Work.
If this is the right guy for you, then he will be the right guy in unvarnished form with your friends — or he will cost you these friends and be worth losing your friends for. Or he’s not worth losing friends for and you break up. Those are your healthy choices.
Take your consequences upfront.
Quoting Finn? Oh my glob, that’s awesome.
— Adventure Timer
That whole episode, “The Suitor,” was like seeing my entire relationship belief system in “Adventure Time” form. I was giddy.
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Another possibility: Your friends will grow to like your mate. Two of my closest friends married men who irritated the heck out of me. But they treat my friends wonderfully, are a perfect match for them, and make them wildly happy, so I sucked it up and spent time with them. And now, while they still grate on me, I see the great qualities that my friends see in them and have grown to like them independent of my original friends. Hopefully your people can get to that point.
It’s important to this other possibility, too — thank you for suggesting it — that Guest not try to buffer the guy: If Guest and he are a good match, then the friends need to see that, and they will see that only through Guest acting naturally with him.
Guest can also say to the friends, “I know you don’t like Boyfriend, but I do, so I hope you’ll give him a chance.”
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