By CAROLYN HAX (Adapted from a recent online discussion.)
Dear Caroline: My boyfriend and I are going to visit friends who have invited us to join them at their lake house. A few months ago my friends told me that my boyfriend was “hard to love”. I realize that his sense of humor isn’t for everyone, but his straightforward – albeit harsh – frankness is one of the traits I find appealing about him.
I’d love to ease any difficulties with my friends, but I don’t want to tell my boyfriend not to be himself, nor am I eager to tell him he’s not completely loved . Any suggestions on how to approach this?
— Guests rubbing on hosts
Hax: No no no no no.
Never act as a buffer for someone in a relationship. To quote Finn in “Adventure Time,” “This road you’re on? Leads nowhere.”
When you’re with someone, the combination you create must stand or fall on their merits, and that includes with your friends, family, home life, work life, personal habits, hobbies, values , your goals, everything. It won’t always be perfect, obviously, but if you have to put a special effort into organizing scenes and managing personalities and schedules just to keep everything from blowing up, and if you already explain/apologize/justify yourself and your interest for him, then you’re going to wear yourself out — especially over time — and sow resentment on both sides. Special orchestration is a sign that something is not going to work.
If he’s the right guy for you, then he’ll be the shameless right guy with your friends – or he’ll cost you those friends and be worth losing your friends. Or it’s not worth losing friends and you break up. These are your healthy choices.
Take your consequences in advance.
Are you quoting Finn? Oh my glob, that’s awesome.
— Adventure Timer
Hax: This whole episode, “The Suitor,” was like seeing my entire relationship belief system in “Adventure Time” form. I was dazed.
Another possibility: your friends will end up liking your companion. Two of my closest friends married men who irritated me immensely. But they treat my friends wonderfully, are a perfect match for them, and make them extremely happy, so I swallowed it all and spent time with them. And now, while they still annoy me, I see the great qualities that my friends see in them and have come to love them regardless of my original friends. I hope your people can get to this point.
Hax: It’s also important for this other possibility — thanks for suggesting it — that Guest doesn’t try to dab the guy: if he and Guest are a good match, then friends have to see him, and they won’t. only through Guest acting naturally with him.
The guest can also say to friends, “I know you don’t like Boyfriend, but I do, so I hope you give him a chance.”
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