Monday, October 25, 2010

my best friend is dating a d-bag


My best friend in the entire world (former roommate, partner in crime, lady of honor at our wedding) is dating a total d-bag. Now normally, I'd just sit back and support her throughout the relationship and then secretly hope that they break up, but the problem is that I think she might be making some really awful life decisions based on him that she'll regret later and I don't want her to resent me one day for not speaking up. At the same time, I know that there's no coming between a girl wearing rose-colored glasses and the object of her affection.

So, do I say something and risk alienating her or do I let her do her own thing and pretend to be excited when she tells me they're getting a cat* and support her if and when he breaks her heart?

*Disclaimer. I love cats. But she hates them and has never referred to them as anything but "the devil". But I guess they are less satanic when you are in looooove? God, do I sound totally bitter? It's just weird when your best friend suddenly becomes the girl you've mocked throughout your friendship. I mean, who do we make fun of now?


You do sound totally bitter. And you're the one who just got married?

Unless the "awful life-decisions" your friend is making are a whole lot more awful than getting a cat with the guy, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT.

(Image via Sara Williams)


  1. When i read "awful life-decisions" i was thinking quitting her job, moving across the country, cutting off her friends and family, pretty much ANYTHING but getting a cat. Christ on a bike.

  2. "or do i let her do her own thing"

    ARE YOU JOKING ? you're not her mother ! she is a grown woman -- unclench and find someone else to micromanage.

  3. I don't know... I'd be seriously worried if my best friend (and life-long cat hater) adopted a cat with her loser boyfriend. I think you owe to your best friend to say what you think. Not in an obnoxious, high and mighty way. But in a "I'll love you no matter what you do but I have to tell you that your boyfriend is an ass" way. Best friends tell each other the truth...even when the truth sucks (just make sure you don't have subconscious ulterior motives)

  4. so is the guy a douchebag because he demeans her? beats her up? calls her names? cheats on her? ignores her needs? has a crush on the girl in the cinnamon toast crunch commercials?makes her watch bob saget stand-up?

    or is he a douchebag because he likes cats?

    or is he a douchebag because she is, god forbid, paying more attention to her boyfriend than she is to you?

  5. mmhm. if we're talking more then cats, MAYBE. but c'mon.

  6. I'm pretty sure the problem isn't the cat. I think the cat is representative of the level of commitment... and has nothing to do with why the guy is a douche.

  7. I have been in similar situations with friends before. I didn't think the person they were with was right for them and I personally could never imagine dating or marrying the person they chose to date/marry.

    But in every single one of those circumstances, I chose not to speak up, and it turns out that the person(s) in question were just having trouble figuring out how they fit in to our already-established-and-very-close-knit group of friends (resulting in them acting like weirdos/d-bags, because they felt like the awkward party crasher).

    I realized that the sooner I welcomed them and made them feel like part of the group, the sooner they'd relax and just be themselves.

    Turns out I was actually part of the problem, and I still feel bad about that to this day. We all get along awesome now, and I am so happy my friends have found people that are right for them and make them happy.

  8. Assuming the issue really isn't the cat, I would consider saying something. And I probably only feel this way because a friend is currently going through a nasty divorce and my husband and I both wish we'd been just a teensy bit vocal about our dislike of his ex-wife and trepidation over their relationship. As in, said anything at all. Just once.

    I would say to speak your piece - once - and then be supportive of her because she's your friend and you love her. And be as nice as possible about it, because you certainly don't want to alienate her.

    Unless it's really just the cat thing. Because if it is, you'll just have to get over it.

  9. "so is the guy a douchebag because he demeans her? beats her up? calls her names? cheats on her? ignores her needs?"

    If this is the case, you have to say something. And things will be horrifically awkward and she might not even speak to you till they call it quits. But you have to say something.

    If you just don't like him, shut your trap. Because if you say something things will STILL be horrifically awkward, and she still might to speak to you till the call it quits... but it won't really be worth it.

    Been there, at least in the first case. It was awful, but what was I gonna do? Second case? Not worth it.

  10. Say something in a very mature and thought-out way ONE TIME - then forever hold your peace. At least until they break-up...

  11. I think we need more detail as to what makes this guy a he just kind of lame and wears Ed Hardy hats? or does he demean her, cheat on her and disregard her opinion in an effort to control and manipulate her? Or is he just now occupying your friends time and you're resentful?

  12. she's way more likely to be pissed off at you for saying something NOW, than for not saying anything at all. that's her bad.

    i'm there right now, and she's gonna MARRY the dude. you've got to live your life and let her make mistakes.

  13. Hey, it's the bitter best friend here. I just realized that I misrepresented the bad life decisions in my question and made myself sound like someone who doesn't like people who get cats with their boyfriends.

    Yes, she is thinking of abandoning a really good law school for CUNY law (which is not bad by any means), moving back to NYC from SF (where she was excited to move to until a few months ago) so that she can move in with him and THEN purchase an animal that she's professed her hatred for her entire life.

    And while he is extremely manipulative, he is otherwise not abusive or hurtful. I understand that she is an adult making her own decisions here, but I'm worried that she's giving up the dreams that she's been pursuing for a while just so that she can move back home and go to a city school (and believe me, it'd be in my best interest if she moved back so that we could hang out and drink wine and be besties in the city together, but I'm trying to be selfless here).

    There. Do I sound slightly less bitter now?

  14. and, i do hope your feathers aren't this ruffled over a cat and that was just a lesser example. cause if so, you're batshit crazy

  15. i think all of that could be said calmly and intelligently and maybe even without mentioning his d-baggery. just focus on the whole "abandoning your dreams" part of it.

    and maybe leave out the cat.

  16. to me the word 'douche bag' implies that he smokes weed in the morning before a full day of gaming on her couch while she's at work. it does not imply that the man's an abusive asshole.

    based on the letter, the guy's just a dope. and the writer's best friend LOVES HIM. i think the writer sounds very judgemental -- who is she to say that her version of love is more mature/fulfilling than her friend's ?

  17. 17, she later responded just above. "manipulative" and "dope" aren't really the same thing.

  18. do you think he might be coming across as manipulative because he really, truly adores her and can't bear the thought of her leaving New York?

    i know, if you really love someone, you're supposed to let their butterfly out of the cage blah, blah, blah...but maybe this guy doesn't have the means or or the support or the emotional stability, etc. to move across the country to be with her? she might actually be relieved that he's asking her to stay.

    dreams shift and change all the time. could it be that she'd like a loving relationship and a law degree at the same time?

    and as for the goddamn cat, maybe it is her symbolic gesture to him that she is willing to make a commitment.

  19. Part of the reason I wrote to ESB is because I actually couldn't decide if I have reasonable concerns or if I AM being jealous and micromanage-y. And I knew you guys would have an answer (whether I want to hear it or not).

    I could give reasons left and right about why this guy is an asshole (upon meeting him, one of our friends told him that she grew up in CT and he rolled his eyes. I didn't think you could judge someone that quickly, and based solely on WHERE THEY WERE BORN).

    But I digress. I think the real question is whether or not to tell her that she's kind of been acting like an ass herself. She's normally one of the most intelligent, friendly and reliable people you'll ever meet, but since they got together she's slacking off in school, bailing on her friends and family, and considering making life-changing decisions based on a three-month-old relationship.

    And at the expense of sounding completely childish, she also bailed on my birthday. Which she helped me plan. And helped pick out an outfit for. Because HE was tired.

    @Meg, can you kidnap her and show her how great SF is, please? She's flying back tonight.

  20. I think I know what you're feeling.

    When our best friends start having serious relationships, it feels like we're being torn apart and someone else is replacing us...and it makes matters worse if we don't necessarily like their new boyfriends. Lifelong friends are the best kind for this very reason, though; you go through all the phases of life together.

    This is obviously a new phase of life for your friend, and in my opinion you should let her live it out.

    I told a friend one time "if you love him, then i'll love him too. but because i'm your friend, i need to ask: does he treat you good? are you truly happy?" When she replied that she was indeed really, really happy with him, I never brought it up again. He has since grown into a super loving husband to her and great friend to just took a while for the d-bag phase to pass. Obvs she saw something there that I didn't at first.

  21. Oh, she's leaving her LAW SCHOOL for another one, previously named? Oh heeeeellllll no. Don't tell her anything about her boyfriend. Just smack her upside the head and say, "We do not leave excellent schools for less excellent schools. Especially right now when 60% of the graduating class at top 5 law schools are unemployed, and 90% of the class at second tier law schools are unemployed. No! No! No! We do not do this! Have your D-bag boyfriend come to visit you, and pull yourself together."

    There. That's better advice. Send her my way. I'll show her what law school unemployment looks like, and scare the living sh*t out of her. Then I'll take her for a drink. Seriously.

  22. Ooohh ... switching schools would make me nervous about her too (not the cat part, which I was ready to blow off).

    Express your concern in terms of her big life decision re: school, rather than the man choice. And maybe feel her out to see if the move back is not entirely motivated by the man? Maybe the first couple of months on the opposite side of the country in a demanding program are sucking and he's a convenient excuse? Maybe she needs a pep talk or a visit?

    Barring abuse and other non-negotiable flaws, bad relationships are not all bad. People learn from the douche bags they date, they mature as people, or at the very least they gain writing material for later on. I would let a lame relationship run its course, in most situations. The law school bit throws a wrench in my usual advice.

  23. my BF was engaged to a total douche, who was abusive to her, and even though she knew I HATED him, still asked me to be her MOH.

    A week later, she gave the ring back. This time, I told that if she chooses to have this douche in her world, that I cannot be part of it. They had a house and cat together, but marriage ... I can't be part of that.

    If she's you BF, then she should already know how you think of the guy.

  24. I have been going through this with a friend for several years now. One who was among the most driven people I know, and who has now abandoned all ambitions to follow him around from contract job to contract job with little care for herself. It's a shitty situation and we've expressed our concerns many times, but it has just shut her down in terms of speaking to us honestly. I think it does depend on the personality of your BFF and how she responds to these sorts of suggestions, but this situation sucks all around and there's kind of no right answer. In my case, this has been going on for years now, and it just means that this friend and I have grown apart, since I feel like I barely recognize her these days/have anything to talk to her about. Shitty.

  25. You're not being unreasonable. Law school can mess with your head, BIG time. And with your values. She probably needs to hear that SHE is being a douche, more than she needs to hear that he is. (And yes, what Meg said, the second time. Tell her, "Unemployment, you SILLY LADY.") Tell her the truth, tell her what you think, in the tough love way, but in the way that will mean that she will actually hear you. (You're her BFF, you'll know what she'll hear and what she won't.) And don't forget to point out that no matter what she decides, you still love her, but you might also think she's being an ass. The two are not mutually exclusive.

  26. Anon: I get you. My sister is dating someone who drives me bat-shit crazy. The worst thing: I can't say "he's abusive" or "an addict" or any Big Thing. It is possible to have a ton of feathers, and he is that ton.

    Dating him has also caused my sis to make some seriously dubious life-decisions. And also some pretty crappy lifestyle ones.

    My sister and I are close. Closer than many siblings I've come across. She knows I don't like him because she knows me so well. We've had a number of conversations where we've skirted around the issue, but haven't shed light on it for fear of Having a Fight (esp about the person she's in love with). But we have this odd truce that I will support her and be nice (very carefully chosen word) to him and welcoming of 'them' because of her and because our relationship is too important.

    And I hope the day will come (bloody sooner rather than later) when we can both marvel at how she put up with him for so long.

  27. are you serious?! man, i do hate cats but let it be, girl!! it's not your life.

    dear esb, i am longing for some good new blog! what's the blog of the weekish pleeeeaase? :)

  28. here's the thing... is he manipulative because you just don't happen to like him? or, is he actually manipulative? even if your friend is making the mistake of a lifetime, that's something she's going to have to figure out on her own. it's her life, not yours.

  29. I think for the most part I have to agree with ESB here... mostly because I've lived this one a few times and learned that you just keep your mouth shut. All you can do is subtley (and I do mean that) ask if she's happy (and do it in the most supportive way). You just have to be there for her and hold the pint of ice cream when it is over. The other thing, when and if it does explode keep the "I always thought he was a d-bag" to yourself. 1) it doesn't help anyone and 2) if they get back together you're the girl who hated him.

  30. Wow. You practically just wrote about one of my dear friends. I mean, everything down to the ex-roomie, in the wedding, getting a cat w/ a d-bag boyfriend (except that she loves cats). Anyway, I kept my mouth shut and she has now broken up with the dumbass. It is her life journey, she needs to experience it for herself and she needs you there to support her no matter what (unless she starts treating you like crappola. Then you have total carte blanche to start a conversation about the state of things.)

  31. Lawyer talking here. No no no no! To be frank, going to CUNY law school is batshit insane. Unless her parents are footing the bill with ease and she plans to go into a field that makes no money. If it was my sister I would throw a huge fit, I'd yell and possibly plaster my body against the door till she got some sense. Some mistakes are made because there was no one around to tell the person what an idiot they were being.

    Be more gentle than that. But seriously, law school is hellishly expensive and law school rankings are absurdly important, the guy will wait if he's worth waiting for.

    Most mistakes you can fix, you can move to whatever city you want, even children though irrevocable are at least a reliable source of amazing as well as difficult things, a three figure debt... nothing good about that and it follows you around and constrains your life like whoa.


  32. There are many, many levels of douchebag, and it doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing, he-beats-her sort of thing for it still to be bad. My sister was involved with her college boyfriend for two years, and his mid-level douchiness ended up isolating her from her friends, who didn't want to hang out with them.

    I'm going to reiterate what Meg and Eliza said and say that leaving top-level schools for a guy is a bonehead move. Long-distance relationships are tough, but so is unemployment.

    As a friend, I think you get to say your piece once - along the lines of, "I'm worried this whirlwind relationship is affecting the decision-making part of your brain, the part that got you into fancy law school in the first place."

    Also, asking her to give you some one-on-one girl time, without your various boyfriends and husbands, might give you some reassurance that your friendship isn't going down the drain now that she's dating. I mean, presumably it survived your wedding...why not this guy?