How to Handle Your Boyfriend’s Entourage
By Keith Ablow, MD
“I can’t stand my boyfriends buddies. Sometimes they can be sophomoric and obnoxious. They say crude things about other women all the time—even in front of me! Of course, if I say anything to my guy, he stands up for them. That only makes me madder. It also makes me wonder what they say to him about me, when I’m not around. I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet. But what can I say to him, that will make him realize that he could do better (without them, as opposed to without me)”?
—Jamie K., Sacramento, CA
I think you begin your assessment of the situation with the wrong perspective, Jamie. You say that, when your boyfriend’s buddies say crude things about women in front of you, that “of course . . . my guy stands up for them.” Apparently, you think it is a predictable or understandable or mainstream reaction on his part.
I disagree. I think that your boyfriend is being emotionally abusive by sanctioning his friends to expose you to sexually crude remarks. It isn’t just sophomoric or obnoxious; it’s insensitive and shows you no respect. A man who loved you wouldn’t allow you to be mistreated by his friends while he stands idly by, let alone standing up for them. That gives you no hope he’ll protect you in the future, either.
I wonder whether your boyfriend’s behavior mirrors any situation you were exposed to in the past. Were you not sufficiently protected as a younger person? Were you in any way made to feel embarrassed about your femininity in your home of origin? Were you bullied at home or at school? In other words: Are you allowing yourself to be abused by your boyfriend and his friends because it “replays” something you’ve lived through before, when you didn’t have the power to stop it?
Sometimes men are transparent. They let women know who they are in terms of underlying character right up front. Your boyfriend has little empathy for you, may have a mean streak toward all women and is highly unlikely to ever deliver the kind of sensitivity and love you deserve and ought to insist on.
Make a final diagnosis right now. Tell him that the comments stop, or the relationship ends. If he chooses his buddies, again, be glad he gave you a clear window on his soul before you wasted even more time with him.
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