Man vs. Friend: A Matchup for the Ages

A wonderful gentleman named Dave commented on my blog last week, looking for some answers. For the record, I don’t know Dave—I say he’s wonderful solely because he’s a male and he commented. There have been only a few such men, so I appreciate it. (Thanks to you too, Zach.) His question:

“For a few years, I dated a girl with four sisters, and I constantly felt that I was being interviewed by a sorority, or listening in on an all-female pajama party. Those sisters were in each others’ minds so much that it was as if there was no room for anyone else. … So here’s my question for all you female BFF-wannabes: Do you ever find that the guy in your life is feeling cast aside by the BFFs? Is that just a sign of the male’s natural immaturity and insecurity — or do you think your actions perhaps contribute to the problem? What about when the two [parties] — your guy and your BFFs — actually don’t like each other at all? How do you solve it?”

For some reason this question brings to mind My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I’m picturing Dave surrounded by hair-teased, smirking women shooting you’re-not-good-enough rays out their eyes. At which point he starts taking shots of ouzo.

I don’t have sisters, but I do have best friends who, when we all get together, have been known to act something like a mini-sorority or teenagers at a slumber party. And when there’s a lone man present in the pool of estrogen, I find myself wondering if he’s secretly plotting ways to throw himself off a cliff. But feeling cast aside? I’ve always figured men expect this behavior from women, that it comes with the territory. Especially from sisters. When it comes to one of their own, they’re like lions protecting their young.

Dave, if you felt shut out, you’re probably not the first guy who has. I bet the girl is well aware—and none too happy—about her sisters’ effect on the men in her life.

Are you immature and insecure? Not necessarily. Sisters and BFFs play a pretty vital role in a woman’s life, so if you feel like you’re being judged, you probably are. But if your girlfriend is bringing you in front of the tribunal, it’s probably because she thinks you can hack it. If you think you notice the scrutiny, know that she sees it times a thousand. And she’s the one who’ll hear about it later.

As for the BFFs and the man not liking each other? Eek. Nightmare. And the answer is I don’t know. Since Matt and I met in college and were in the same group of friends I haven’t encountered this problem. (Or, I have really really good friends who never let on they hated my boyfriend and vice versa.) I’d say, for both BFF and man, if you don’t like the opposing party but care about the mutual one, suck it up. Slap on your best fake smile and pretend.

What do you people think? Give Dave a little help, please.


Filed under The Gender Gap

11 responses to “Man vs. Friend: A Matchup for the Ages

  1. I haven’t ever personally experienced the man versus the girlfriends issue … generally, everyone in my life gets along. But, I have experienced it before. And it was tough. Really tough.

    A girlfriend whom I adored was dating (and eventually married) this total dud. Every time he opened his mouth, I only had nasty things in response to what he said (and I’m not generally such a negative person). For a time, I did suck it up, like you suggested.

    But, sometimes, sucking it up isn’t enough. For me, sucking it up meant I was no longer being true to myself. I wasn’t standing up for things I believed in, all in the name of a friendship. And that wasn’t fair, either. So, I might amend your “suck it up” statement. In my case, I walked away, because I wasn’t able to be myself any longer and I never would ask my girlfriend to choose between her man and me.

  2. Sarah

    I realized when my BFs started getting married how much easier it was to feel genuinely excited if I had a relationship with the boy. And I found myself writing a lot of congratulations cards that reminded the mister that in marrying my BF, he was, in a way, also marrying me. And I certainly hold those husbands in highest regard who recognize the degree to which I figure into their lives with no questions asked. And I sincerely hope that my BFs feel that my husband does a good job of this. So Dave, it is just part of the package. You are being judged and evaluated. Smile and play along. If you don’t, I think your relationship will suffer. There is room for you, a lot of room, but it isn’t at the expense of time with sisters and BFs. It is like a ven diagram, some space will overlap but some will always remain separate and you will have to rub up against it.

  3. Ana

    Thankfully I haven’t experienced any friend vs man conflict. What I find odd in this conversation is that everyone is going along with the fact that only men get judged & scrutinized by their prospective partner’s family & BFs. Certainly it happens to women, too, it DEFINITELY happened to me! I was relatively new in town, my now-husband had lived there all his life–he had lots of very old & very protective friends (many female) and a whole boatload of cousins and relatives that were checking me out… Apparently I passed the test, because many of his friends are now my friends, and his family, well, are my “family” too!
    So, Dave, its just a part of life. You are trying to merge into someone else’s life, and the others that are being moved out of the way a little are going to make sure you’re worth it!

    • So true. I can remember my fear the first time I met Matt’s BFFs. It took a bit for me to get comfortable, for sure. There’s no escaping the approval process, I guess…

  4. Naz

    I think there is potentially a major problem when your significant other’s friends don’t like you. My ex’s best friend clearly did not like me, she would often talk about inappropriate things to make me uncomfortable (like about their hook ups in college, etc.) and she even tried to convince my ex boyfriend to join a dating service while we were dating! I didn’t say anything about it, tried to ignore it, gave them their friend time, etc. But ultimately his best friend’s dislike of me took a major toll, like breakup toll. Looking back I think I should have said something like hey why doesn’t your best friend like me and are you going to let her get away with her inappropriate behavior. I would have probably also said something to her.
    I would suggest asking yourself some questions before you say something to your girlfriend. Does the bf really really not like you? Is the bf doing anything else besides perhaps giving you the cold shoulder? Is the bf interfering in your relationship? Is it possible that the bf feels that her friendship with your girlfriend is threatened now that she is dating you or that she isn’t getting to see her friend as often as before, etc? If it is a case of the bf feeling like her friendship is changing, then really it has nothing to do with you personally, and you should say something to your girlfriend like “hey I have noticed that your bf is uncomfortable when I am around, I think you should talk to her and reassure her that your friendship is secure, etc.” And then make sure to give them their alone gf time. The bf will come round. But if your girlfriend’s bf is doing something to actually interfere in your relationship, I think you need to say something to both of them and be vocal.

  5. Nicole Larsen

    This one’s awesome. First, because of a man’s awareness and actually honestly wanting to know our perspective on it. And two, because it’s a great topic for discussion, and probably some friendly bantering. 🙂
    I agree with exactly how you responded. But I will add that men really do need to see that BFF’s and sisters are necessary in a woman’s life, not only for her sanity but also for HIS. If women has friends to vent, ask advice, shop with, he will be asked to fill in those roles less. 🙂

  6. Christina

    I have known of some women who have dropped their friends over their disapproval of a guy… but sisters are in a different category as they are much more permanent fixtures in a woman’s life.

    In the case of sisters, the old saying… “blood is always thicker than water” holds true, especially if the family is close knit.

    Sadly, I think this fact is something that many people forget when they marry someone.

    When you marry or seriously date a person, you also in a way, marry or seriously date their family members… so if many of the family members don’t approve of the addition or proposed addition to the family, it can often add a lot of stress to the relationship.

  7. Wow – a male commenter! Props to him! Is he single? Does he like books? Ha. Totally kidding… err, maybe not…

    Anywho, back to the question at hand – I think that a lone man in a group of girls can feel a bit cast aside. It’s not intentional, but women tend to love to talk about events of the past and get all caught up in stories, which can result in a person feeling left out…

    I know we are all really critical of each other’s significant others when they are dating. We want what is best for our friends. But I think we are always looking for the best and of course aren’t expecting perfection. We just want someone who makes our friend happy. Luckily, most of my friends have married amazing men. One friend married a guy I am not crazy about. I voiced my concerns when they were dating – but once they were engaged, I put those thoughts aside and am now supportive of the relationship. It’s tough and I just hope she is happy but ostracizing the guy or making him feel unwelcome is not going to help things at all.

    Very thought provoking question – as usual!

  8. Dave asks such great and revealing questions here. I don’t pretend to have answers. Though I do have sisters! Four! Don’t you love having the male voice on your blog? I cherish the guys who read and comment on ILI!

  9. Bob

    As a slightly different twist, when I met the woman who became my wife, I had a number of fairly close female friends (who were in their own relationships with guys, only one of them was a close friend of mine). None of my female friends got along with my wife, and none of the friendships survived. Of course jealousy loomed large, and perhaps it was too much to expect us to remain friends. I still feel sad about it though, even though many years have passed. As you’ve pointed out, it can be hard to find new friends who didn’t go to school with you, and for guys who aren’t into sports I think it’s particular hard to find new guy friends.

  10. ilana

    My problem is a bit different. Although my finance gets along just fine with my bfs (well most) his friends do not. This makes it very difficult to merge the 2 groups and results in us having many holiday parties at our house to be able to both see our friend groups. Any advice?

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