Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I have concerns about my girlfriend’s friends. First off, my girlfriend is very normal in the best way, very down to earth. One of the things I love best about her is there’s no drama. From the get-go, we’ve had a really easy, honest and fun relationship. I can totally see spending my life with her.
But her friends are another story. I’ve never clicked with them, and I’ve never really understood why she hangs out with these women except for the sole fact that they’ve known each other since grade school. They have very little in common. These women are less concerned about their careers, or serious relationships. They party and gossip more. They are all about the drama. Someone is always having a meltdown or mad at someone else, and because my girlfriend is kind and levelheaded, she’s often the peacemaker, in the middle of things.
Frankly I think if we lived in a bigger city, or not the city where she grew up, she would have grown beyond these friendships. But because they’ve all coexisted since childhood and are now in their early 30s, it’s like proximity hasn’t allowed her to move on. I know she cares deeply for them — almost like family, sisters or cousins. But I also truly believe she’d be happier with some more mature friends in her life. What can I say or do?
The great thing about childhood friends is they just know us in a way so few others do. They’ve been there all along the way for major milestones, successes, traumas, and more. You’re on to something in that this adjacency to experiences and life events breeds a kind of indomitable loyalty and closeness, and it can be very hard to see and admit when these friendships become at the worst toxic, and at best, simply no longer compatible with our lives.
You didn’t say how your girlfriend feels about these women she’s known for — as you put it — decades. Is she as frustrated with these friendships are you are? Or is she quite comfortable and even fulfilled in this yearslong role as the group’s rational arbiter, who swoops in to save the day when drama rains down? It could be she relishes in this role and that her interpersonal dynamics with her friends feel refreshingly normal, despite appearing tiring and dysfunctional to you.
Of course, she may share some or more of your sentiments. She could be looking for an out, or less severe, an opportunity to take more space from these ladies. As her boyfriend, you can definitely support that by introducing her to your friendship circles, or finding activities for the two of you to do together. But you shouldn’t do anything until you talk to her and find out how she feels. Otherwise you risk overstepping and alienating both her friends and your girlfriend.
What can you say? Nothing more. What can you do? Stay the hell out of it.
Seriously, how is any of this impacting you other than your overreactions, which cause your annoyance? It’s clearly not impacting your girlfriend. She’s not running home crying to you after hanging with her girlfriends. I’m guessing she does give you some downloads on the drama, but that’s a role a partner plays sometimes: to just shut up and listen. But what do you do? Get frustrated with having to listen to it, and then not listening at all. Judging her for not having “more mature” friends. Expecting that she could be a better person if she just surrounded herself with better people. Like who, you?
You aren’t protecting her from anything, despite being self-assured that you know what’s best for her. She’s not running with cartel members. These are her sisters, blood-related or not, and they’ve been around a lot longer than you have and will still be around if you two get married or if you two break up. And maybe, just maybe, your girlfriend actually enjoys some sprinkles of drama and fun to complement her normally down-to-earth (boring!) love life with her rigid boyfriend. Maybe she relishes playing the big sister or mom role, keeping the gang together, having an important voice that isn’t appreciated, respected or understood in her romantic relationship.
You aren’t being invited to Girls Night Out, so who cares? And if you can’t stand 20 minutes of your girlfriend telling you how her night went or how the people who are important in her life are doing, maybe you aren’t as down- to-earth as you think you are.
Ultimately, if you make a deal of this, which is nothing, you will lose. She’ll be upset and disappointed, at minimum. When her friends find out how you feel about them, they’ll never forgive you. Worth it? Let your girlfriend be with her girlfriends, be a good boyfriend and listen to her, and in the free time when she’s out having fun, maybe get a few friends of your own to have fun with. You have plenty of time on your hands and definitely need to loosen up.
[My boyfriend can’t stop arguing about politics with my friends on social media. How can I get him to knock it off?]
[I just got dumped by my much younger girlfriend, and it still stings]