There’s your best friend. Smart. Funny. Laidback. Almost never smells bad. Then there’s your best friend’s spouse. Ignorant. Juvenile. Fat head lodged firmly up fanny.
We all have someone we cherish-who cherishes someone we hate. The awkward dynamic utterly upends the joy of socializing, leaving us languishing between two crappy choices:
1. See less of your beloved buddy.
2. Submit to social occasions during which you pretend to enjoy yourself but are in fact quietly horrified by the mean, moronic, or nacho cheese-flavored things spewing out of your buddy’s sweetheart’s stupid face.
It’s a fairly common problem, according to my friends, who I hope to god are not referring to me or my husband when they disclose the following stories.
“Usually, if my pal is cool, his or her partner is cool, too,” said an amiga of mine. But : “One of our long-time buddies married an idiot. She’s dumb and opinionated-a really bad combo. Loud, tacky, just plain scary. We never see him anymore.”
Avoidance is one solution. Confrontation is another. A gal I know opted for outright honesty when her free-spirited friend began dating a surly and controlling ass. “I told her she deserves to be happier, but that I love her no matter what,” she said. The disappointing result: “She’s pissed I don’t like her guy. It’s definitely cooled our friendship.”
If the relationship is a marriage, and not just a fling, the truth gets trickier. “In my experience, it’s best not to tell someone they married a loser,” said a guy whose sister-sadly-did just that. “He’s a blowhard know-nothing and a self-centered jerk whose favorite response in an argument is, ‘Duh!’” He tolerates the fellow by finding common ground. “When I have to be with him, I try to keep things focused on sports. It seems safer.”
Divide-and-conquer is another popular tactic. A woman I know had a friend whose husband spit food when he talked, asked way too many personal questions, and had really long fingernails with dirt under them. “He wasn’t a serial killer. He just made me gag,” she said. “I didn’t want to lose this friend, so I always suggested she and I have lunch, just the two of us. But she would always drag him along. Eventually, we drifted apart.”
Plotting twosomes and drafting tepid talking points may actually be the easiest part of the calamitous-couple conundrum. Harder is having to reevaluate your friend based on his or her shockingly bad taste in bedfellows. “My best friend of 14 years was very funny and one of the most intelligent humans I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with,” said a lady I know. “Her boyfriend would greet me with a bear hug and a big juicy kiss, leaving me smelling like his aftershave. I felt like a fire hydrant that had been pissed upon. He was small-minded and mean-spirited in private but a good ol’ boy in public. Yuck.”
She learned to avoid the hugs-but she could never embrace her friend’s choice. “After she married him, my admiration for her began to erode quickly,” she said. “As time goes by, aging, money, family, responsibilities, and shifting priorities change our character for good or ill. Sometimes it brings us together, sometimes it moves us apart.”
It’s okay to not love a chum’s lover, but it’s best to keep this in mind: You’re not the only person equipped with the gag reflex. “I was on the other end of this scenario once,” said my girlfriend. “I had super-close, long-time friends who loathed my first husband. As it turned out, I ended up loathing him, too.”