I’ve been seeing a man I really like for about 4 months now, and we’ve been talking about taking the next step. We’re compatible with almost everything: desire to start a family, sense of humor, similar age and income, beliefs and values, and we even work in the same industry. He’s short and stocky (which I prefer), and can be argumentative. He’s also confident, smart, funny, and has an open, generous heart. The dates, sex, conversations, and all of that are GREAT! He’s met a few of my friends already, and it was good.
I’m falling in love with him, and I was so excited for the rest of my friends to meet him! It did not go well.
I know he was nervous and trying to make a good impression. There were 6 other people besides us, and it was probably a lot of pressure. But he argued with the host (a really good friend of mine and acquaintance of his,) insisted on helping my friend with cooking when she didn’t want help, and interrupted other people frequently. It seemed like he was trying to show off or brag a lot, too.
Afterwards while walking me home, he said he regretted the argument and could tell they didn’t like him very much. And he also mentioned that he disapproves of my friends’ lifestyle choices.
These people are my friends. They’re nurturing, creative, brilliant, and kind, and I love them. I don’t think it’s my responsibility to call him out in front of people, and it’s not my responsibility to apologize for him either. So, I didn’t. But I wanted them to like each other so much.
Does it have to be one or the other? Is it all lost? Can I patch this up? I don’t know what to do.
I’ve tackled this before from a woman who doesn’t like her boyfriend’s friends, but this is a new wrinkle on compatibility.
I’m wracking my brain and trying to think — out of all the women I’ve dated, has there ever been an instance where I didn’t like her friends? No. There’s not. That can be for many reasons: I’m an extrovert who chooses extroverted girlfriends, I’m comfortable in my own skin, I never really worry about impressing other people. Hell, if anything, I go in the opposite direction — if you don’t like me, you can go fuck yourself — which, strangely, produces really great results. People like confidence.
But it seems that your boyfriend’s confidence is not that deep. Doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy; most people are insecure about making a good impression and meeting friends and family. But moments like this ARE revealing — not just in how he handled himself in the moment, but how he followed up afterwards.
The kind of man you want to be with is the one who takes responsibility for his poor performance, rather than placing blame on others. I do this on a weekly basis — apologizing to my wife immediately, every time I say something insensitive or selfish. It’s literally the ONLY way to be a good partner. Otherwise you’re left with the worst-case scenario that all our readers know too well:
The guy who acts like an asshole who pretends he’s not acting like an asshole.
The woman who acts crazy who pretends that her behavior isn’t crazy.
The kind of man you want to be with is the one who takes responsibility for his poor performance, rather than placing blame on others.
Both are intolerable from the perspective of a partner. Thus, your issue isn’t with a nervous boyfriend who wanted to be liked by others and tried too hard; it’s with a man who put his foot deep down his throat and kept on talking.
You don’t need to call him out publicly in front of your friends. You don’t need to apologize to them on his behalf either. What you do need to do is have an honest, empathetic discussion with him that sounds something like this:
I love that you’re smart, funny, confident and opinionated. It’s what I fell in love with and what makes you such a great boyfriend.
That awkward incident with my friends? I’m only bringing it up again because I’m still thinking about it and want to get on the same page. I know how much you care about me. I know how it feels to want to make a great first impression. I know it didn’t go as planned. That’s fine. Shit happens. However, I’m still left with a bad feeling, which I know isn’t your intention. I feel bad that you felt bad. I feel bad that it was weird for my friends. I feel bad that you judged them and that they may have judged you. I feel bad that I don’t know when to bring you around them again.
A good boyfriend will appreciate how you delivered that message and say yes. A bad boyfriend will get defensive, shut down, and fight back.
What would make me really happy is if we were able to start over and you were able to diffuse any attention by taking responsibility for being overly aggressive the first time around. It’ll be quick, painless, and will make you more authentic, vulnerable and likeable to my friends so they can start to see the real you that I see every day. Is that something you can do for me? I’d hate to have to keep you separate from the rest of my life because you’re so special to me.
A good boyfriend will appreciate how you delivered that message and say yes. A bad boyfriend will get defensive, shut down, and fight back. Please come back and let us know what kind of guy you’ve actually got on your hands. Good luck.