Carolyn Hax is away. The following originally appeared on Sept. 21, 2005.
Dear Carolyn: My girlfriend of two years and my roommate, an old buddy from high school, don’t get along. He probably falls within the fat part of the bell curve for single-guy behavior – which means he cusses, gambles and, occasionally, brings girls back to the house. She is a sweet small-town girl, and doesn’t make an effort to disguise her disgust for his lifestyle; he doesn’t really tone down his “guy’s guy” persona when she’s around.
I keep them separated, but she isn’t satisfied, having repeatedly told me he is a bad person and she doesn’t want me to be friends with him at all. But he’s an old friend and a decent guy.
She and I are dating seriously, so my relationship with him is pretty limited already. But now, since I have refused to make some sort of official declaration that he’s no longer my friend, she is ramping up her demands on my time, because she sees any time away from her as potential time I could be spending with him.
I don’t know what to do. I am really troubled by her willingness to make demands like this in the first place. And I’m pretty unimpressed with my friend’s behavior toward this woman for whom I clearly care so deeply.
In my big town, making demands on your time for the purpose of keeping you away from someone else isn’t “sweet,” it’s “manipulative,” “controlling,” “self-aggrandizing” and “obnoxious.”
But it’s your town that counts. You’re an adult, you can decide for yourself who’s right, and if one of these people matters to you more, and whether to choose one over the other, or neither, or both and let them just deal with it – depending on your preferences, values and gut.
Just as you can choose your own friends.
And your friends can cuss and gamble.
And she can deplore those friends, and also choose another boyfriend whose taste in friends she doesn’t deplore.
What I don’t think you can do is to equate your girlfriend’s stubbornness with your friend’s. He insists on doing things his crude way, she insists on your doing things her way. An apple and an orange, and the orange doesn’t smell so good.
Dear Carolyn: I’ve been attracted for a long time now to a certain person, who has not been attracted to me. Lately, I’ve been changing my look – contacts instead of glasses, newer girlier haircut, girlier clothes, etc. – and now this person has become interested in me. Part of me is happy, but part of me feels like he’s shallow. What do you think?
I think if you made these changes just to attract someone’s attention, then you should be careful who you call shallow.
But if you made these changes because you felt good making them, because you feel there is joy in the physical, no different from finding joy in a sunset or painting or costume or other, more intellectually correct venue, then maybe it’s time to broaden your view of any joy this guy finds in the view.
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