HIS BITTER HALF
When I moved in with my fiancé, his roommate treated me horribly. If she wasn't ignoring me or making snide remarks, she was leaving me to pick up after her and never even thanking me. She finally moved out, then trashed me to everyone we know. My fiancé did stop talking to her, but when she came crawling back, suggesting we all "bury the hatchet," he e-mailed "Whatever…" and now she thinks everything is hunky-dory with all of us! I despise her, and I'm no longer willing to play nice to avoid conflict. My fiancé is one of those "can't everybody just get along?" types. This attracted me initially, but now it's driving me nuts. Is it unreasonable to expect my future life partner to show a little more loyalty?
-No More Mrs. Nice Guy
What's he supposed to do, paint her picture on a dartboard and hang it at the foot of your bed so you two can make hate together after you make love? Or, do you need him to toilet paper her trees, shaving cream her apartment windows with "I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!" (or, rather, "WE HATE YOU! WE HATE YOU!"), and maybe take a nine-iron to her car?
Perhaps love, not Courtney Love, is the answer. Accentuating the positive certainly is a more realistic option, considering your fiancé shows all the rage for revenge of the average New Age chakra doctor. (What would you call this, Zen bloodlust?) Expecting him to vault out of bed tomorrow as your personal social mercenary is like expecting a career rent-a-soldier to throw down his assault rifle and plant hundreds of pink mums, spelling out "Dior, Not War!"
Loath as he is to bury the hatchet in the middle of her forehead, he isn't proposing group hugs, either. Chances are, he just finds it more socially graceful and less emotionally exhausting to remain, not friends, but "frenemies," a term Jessica Mitford wrote about in 1977, describing people you're sometimes forced to spend time with, but heartily dislike. Yet, there you are, turning what should be an exercise in ignoring somebody you occasionally see at parties into the "If You Loved Me…" Challenge.
You're right to expect your man to be there for you when you're down - not down by three points in the Mean Olympics, but down because you broke your leg on some remote mountain trail. Will he carry you 20 miles through the wilderness to the emergency room … or turn to the salivating mountain lions and say "Bon appetit, boys!" then bound off? Judge him on the stuff that counts, not on his reluctance to go all Tony Soprano on some snippy ex-roommate who left dog hair on your ego.
What's next? If some lady looks at you cross-eyed in the supermarket, do you expect him to smash a half grapefruit in her face? If so, you should find yourself a more enthusiastic Rambo. Of course, this may prove a challenge, since most guys dread getting dragged into chick fights - except those that involve strippers resolving their differences by mud wrestling.
The real problem is your tendency to scream "ouch" six months after somebody steps on your toe. Since festering resentment isn't exactly a prescription for "happily ever after," you might hold back on bringing trench warfare to suburbia and practice calmly defending yourself when somebody talks trash to you, or about you, or leaves it lying around. If only you'd shut this girl down in the moment, you might be blithely giving her the cold shoulder right now - not wondering where you and your fiancé can register for "his and hers" shoulder-fired rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
My boyfriend and I live in a small, one-bedroom condo. When his brother "needed to get away" from his pregnant wife and child, he invited himself to stay with us. When we explained that he'd have to sleep at a nearby hotel because we're renovating and have zero room for guests, he guilt-tripped my boyfriend, then said he wasn't coming at all. Now, my boyfriend thinks we should have relented. I don't. Am I the villain here?
-Holding My Ground
There's nothing like the opportunity to save hundreds of dollars on a hotel to inspire a man to fly the flag of brotherly love. If he were some destitute, wandering shepherd whose only alternative was making a pillow out of the curb, surely you'd find it in your heart to let him crash on the rug. Reassure your boyfriend that you'd love to spend time with his relatives, just not if it means sleeping in your car. Your boyfriend might be easily manipulated into feeling like his brother's keeper, but there are two of you drawing the boundaries here, and one of you isn't willing to become his brother's innkeeper.