Signed, Doubting Annie
Alison’s Take: Annie, really good friends should be as honest as possible with one another. Tact is great, but trust and truth from those who care for you are more important than tact. That being said, sometimes couples connect in ways that seem improbable, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good together. Just because you don’t automatically appear to be right for one another, doesn’t mean the relationship won’t be a good one. Some of my close friends didn’t really like my boyfriend when they first met him. I listened to their objections, and some of them were valid. But in the end, their objections were over things I felt comfortable living with. If I had doubted my own judgment and ditched my boyfriend when I was told by friends to pick someone else, I wouldn’t be married to my husband for 23 years!
If you are truly in love, you will most likely ignore your friend’s opinions anyway. Think back to the times you felt you were in love previously (if this isn’t your first love). Could anyone have convinced you differently? Your friends have seen Jeff only from the surface, and certainly not from your fluffy cloud of love. Give them credit for wanting you to be with someone (they believe) will be better for you than Jeff.
Alison and Tony at Leather and Lace Advice don’t know enough about your boyfriend to judge him, but your friends do know you. Their initial impressions apparently were strong enough to say something negative, before you get involved too deeply in what they apparently see as a problematic relationship.
A good friend knows that s/he shouldn’t say or do anything to hurt you just to be mean, so it’s worth considering what yours are saying. But they don’t know Jeff well enough to make more than a snap judgment about him. They need to spend more time with him, keep an open mind, and give him a chance. If, after a while, your friends still think Jeff is a jerk, and they give you concrete examples, these are things you should consider. But in the end, the decision to stay with Jeff or not, is yours alone.
Someday, you may find yourself in the position your friends are in right now — being less than enthusiastic about someone they like. One way to state your opinion, without being so negative (until you have more facts), is to keep your first reaction noncommittal. But ask thought-provoking questions that will make your friend think about some of the problems or issues you see: e.g. how do you feel about being a step-mom to his three kids — do you want to delay the rest of your education to pay off her student loans– will your radically different views be an issue if you live together — will ditching your urban life and moving to a farm, really make you happy?). If your friend is smart, the danger zones will reveal themselves in your questions. S/he may go home and think a bit more carefully about whether s/he’s really “in love” and if that new love is the right one. In any every case, if things don’t work out, real friends don’t gloat over the “I told you so.” They run over with a pint of ice cream and two spoons–that’s what friends are always for!
Tony’s Take: We have two related dynamics going on with your girlfriends; both should be troubling to you and should make you wary.
The second, more controversial point, is that if a person grows up in absence of a strong moral or religious upbringing they may take political views as a form of religion. Like all religions, anyone who does not spout the party line is a heretic. Your girlfriend was taking your boyfriend’s rational, thoughtful, discussion on a serious topic as an attack on her and her “religion.” She demands that certain ideas be taken on faith, which really demand serious discussion, especially when considering what will happen to society with some of the “cures”.
All in all, I think Annie may have a great guy, but a toxic set of girlfriends. She may be “quiet” but thoughtful, and will consider reason and in her defense I believe that she is very quietly stubborn about things that are important to her, as it should be.
Annie, all that matters in this world is that your boyfriend treats you well and you treat him well. That he inspires your lust for life and your passions as you do for him. If he is not boring, a good companion, caring and supportive, then this is what you aspire to in a boyfriend. You should treasure him.
Alison’s Response to Tony: I agree Tony, that the most important factors in whether or not Annie should keep the relationship going, or end it, are her own feelings, intuition, and judgment. I also agree that a trio of good girlfriends without boyfriends of their own, might show some jealousy by disliking a stranger in their midst, especially if it’s a new boyfriend. But we don’t know from Annie’s letter whether or not her girlfriends have loves of their own or not. And we don’t know that she is “quiet.” The only facts we know, for sure, are that her three best friends immediately didn’t like Jeff. That does ring some warning bells worth listening to. Maybe Jeff really is going to be the love of Annie’s life, and her friends will just have to get used to him. As the old saying goes “love is blind.” Quite possibly, Annie’s vision of Jeff is rose-tinted, and she doesn’t see that he is argumentative and controlling because (as she described him) he is also “funny, sophisticated, and loving.” That is all she sees because that is all she wants to see right now. Time, and clear vision, will reveal the truth. Either way, hopefully her friends will be supportive of her final decision to keep him him, or deem him a “dud,” and dump him.