Romantic comedies have ruined us. They have told us that, in everything from When Harry Met Sally (one of the few actually good movies that will turn up on this list) to Some Kind of Wonderful, Made of Honor, Definitely Maybe, He’s Just Not That Into You (ironic!), No Strings Attached, Friends with Benefits, 13 going on 30, A Lot like Love, My Best Friend’s Wedding and Valentines Day, that the “best friend”, the ever-present, ever-supportive constant in a person’s life will ultimately win in the end. Even books jumped in on the “friends fall in love” action (Jane Austen’s Emma! Or even Harry Potter!).
Romantic comedies are not real life.
In real life, my male friends fall in to two categories: gay and (with remarkably few exceptions) in relationships with women who hate me. This recurring trend was made evident yet again on Saturday night when I had some drinks with a friend of mine, triggering a massive overreaction by his girlfriend who proceeded to call him and tell him off like a crazy person. Let’s briefly ignore the fact that I would go there and deal with the fact that SHE HAS NEVER EVEN MET ME, and he had to go and pacify her on the phone for ten minutes. I sat, with a lovely glass of red wine in my hand, and listened as my friend explained to me that “my girlfriend has a real problem with you.” Wait, what? With me? WHY? I haven’t even done anything! I wouldn’t do anything, not only because I trust that he is a lovely guy who wouldn’t cheat on his girlfriend, but because I’m not about to try and force his hand either. If she’s going to hate me indiscriminately anyway though, I feel as though I should actually deserve it.
I’ve decided that she is projecting – she can’t be trusted to be friends with men (she has cheated on him before, he’s a bit long-suffering really!) so she assumes that he can’t be trusted with women either. The problem that she is failing to foresee is that, just like teenagers lying-by-omission to their parents, people stop wanting to tell you things if you are always going to get angry with them for it. Somehow, I think she’ll have an even bigger problem with him hanging out with me when she doesn’t know about it. (Kinda like how she should probably be worried that he uses the fact that she is currently out of town as an opportunity to hang out with me without actually having to stand face-to-face with the music afterwards.)
If this happened once or twice in my life, I’d consider it normal. Maybe even four or five times. This happens, on average, TWICE PER YEAR. That’s right, pretty much every male friend that I have has a girlfriend who hates me. Remarkably few of them have met me and apparently all of them are shockingly insecure, but they also share the characteristic of not wanting their boyfriends to see me. Ever. Even though I have never given them a reason to feel this way. In Romantic Comedy Land, my friends (but only the ones that I quite like, like the story at hand) would realize that they had crazy girlfriends and ditch them – usually in favor of the awesome friend [i.e. me].
But this is not Romantic Comedy Land, this is real life. Real life where I lose friends because crazy girls give them ultimatums about being friends with me or keeping their sex lives. Real life where I listen to stories about how crazy all manner of girlfriends [who hate me] are. Real life where I put up with being the cause of fights and, sometimes, the winner of them, breaking up relationships purely by virtue of the fact that I exist – a woman who is friends with men. Is this really so hard for girlfriends to understand?
To any guys with girlfriends that hate their female friends: consider whether she has a reason to. It would seem that you talk about your friend often (especially true if the girlfriend hates her and they haven’t ever met), are you giving her reason to be suspicious? Does the friend have feelings for you, or do you have feelings for her? If the answer to all of these is no, consider ways to fix the problem (without losing friend or girlfriend). I’m not sure of the best way to do this – all of the ways that I have tried in the past have failed. (You would imagine the “My friend is really cool, I promise you’d like her if you met her. You should meet her!” track would be quite a good solution, I usually find that it makes the situation worse.)
To any girlfriends who hate their man’s female friends: consider whether you’re being unreasonable, and try to stop it if you are. In most cases where you get angry with him for spending time with her, it’s not going to discourage him from seeing her, it’s just going to stop him from telling you about it. Don’t add her on Facebook – there is no way for that to end well, and she is faced with a completely impossible decision (I speak from experience): accept the girl you’ve never met so that she can stalk you (which is all she wanted to do) and decide whether you are a threat or aren’t good enough to be a worry; or reject her and make her worried that you’re hiding something [with her man]. This won’t make her sympathetic when your man talks about you to his friend (which, trust me, he does) and she won’t talk him down when he’s annoyed (which, trust me, she also does). This is not to say that your concern is never legitimate: I have had feelings for a number of my male friends over the years. If you’re scared that she has feelings for him – she might. She’s also probably smart enough – and your boyfriend is almost certainly trustworthy enough – not to go there. My personal rule is that I won’t initiate anything and I won’t attempt to force their hand, but if they come on to me, I won’t stop them. Take from that what you will.
In Romantic Comedies, girls like me succeed.
Real life? Not so much.