It’s time for advice, romance novel stye, with your host: me.
Dear Smart Bitch Sarah:
I saw last week you answered a question from a guy, so I thought maybe you could help me out. One of my best pals is a guy I’ve known since grade school. He’s dating this girl now, and he’s a completely different person. He used to be funny and goof off with us when we went out together, and now he’s all quiet and constantly answering his cell phone when she calls to check up on him. He never talks anymore, or makes jokes or relaxes anymore. We don’t go out that much, maybe once or twice a month, but when we do, the rest of us are fed up with him by the end of the evening because he’s no fun anymore.
How do I get my friend back?
Missing my Buddy but Not in a Gay Way
First, let me make some broad assumptions: when you guys go out, you’re not going to expensive strip clubs or chasing hookers or finding new ways to commit misdemeanors involving nudity and alcohol consumption. If you guys are real party animals, I have to say, some of my empathy will be with the girlfriend on this one. Second, are you sure there’s not something going on in his life that has him upset? Maybe his mom is ill or his job is in danger – could that be it?
Barring that, if you’re just pals who go out for a beer or a game, and suddenly your buddy is a different person and it’s all due to the girlfriend, as you say, I can understand why that would make you mad and potentially resentful of his girlfriend.
Presumably he hasn’t griped to you about what you perceive as a tightening leash on his freedom, and you aren’t trying to figure out a way to break them up with his active participation. It sounds like he’s happy with her, but you don’t like the person he is with his girlfriend.
Unfortunately, part of having adult relationships is growing up and being more than the person you’ve always been. It may be that he doesn’t want to be away from his girlfriend that much, which is especially a possibility if the relationship is new. It may be that he’s not having much fun in sports bars anymore – or it may be that something’s really wrong that has nothing to do with his girlfriend, and he’s stressed out and worried.
You can try talking to him, and telling him you noticed that he’s quiet and seems unhappy, and see if that gives him a window to clue you in on whatever might be happening in his world. Or, you could try asking him what he’d like to do one night, and doing something different that he picks. And you might even want to take one for the team and, if you’re dating someone, invite his girlfriend and yours to go out together. It might be the girlfriend isn’t as bad as you think.
Sorry to say it, but I don’t think you can get your friend back. It’s all up to him. If you try to intervene, he’ll get pissed off and she’ll be really apeshit and you’ll lose your friend. If you try to talk to him, he won’t get what you’re saying because he’s with this girl for a reason, and that reason is presumably she makes him happy. Or the sex is off the chart, in which case, he’s definitely not going to listen.
Never has the “let’s break up the happy couple!” strategy worked in a novel that I can remember. The overbearing Tycoon who tries to break his sister’s engagement to the worthless playboy might save his sister from a miserable marriage, but he’s still an overbearing assmunch whose sister will likely knee him in the balls next time he interferes in her life. Acting on the presumptuousness of assuming you know best for your friend can only bite you in the ass.
But if you do nothing, or you act like a friend, you retain the status quo and you keep your friend… as he is now. Maybe he’s annoying and maybe you might want to drop his cellphone in a bar toilet next time you’re out together, but if he’s your friend, you’ll want what makes him happy.
If you’ve got a question that you’d like to see me tackle with Teh Powah of Romance Novels, email me (sarah @ smartbitchestrashybooks.com). I won’t reveal who you are.