Auntie SparkNotes: My BFF and I Hate Each Other's Boyfriends
I have recently found myself in a new and exciting relationship. My first actual relationship. The guy? Well, he's just amazing. Let's call him George. We met on Tinder (what a meet-cute, I know), but it feels like fate when you look at the fact that we are insanely compatible—from our taste in music to our favorite 18th century philosophers. I was pulled to his profile because of his nerdy face and the song he had set as his anthem. He was pulled to mine because I apparently look really artsy and mentioned a band he likes in my bio.
This all happened around the same time that my best friend (let's call her Maureen) found out that "Ringo," the internet friend she had been very, very secretly crushing on, liked her back. Wow, this is great, isn't it? Both my best friend and I are in really nice, healthy relationships which is very odd for us because we've both spent the last four years or so sitting on the sidelines pining for romance.
Well, sadly, the universe couldn't just let a good thing be a good thing: Maureen and I hate each other's boyfriends. And, sure, she hasn't even met George, and I don't even know what Ringo looks like, but we have both found it in our hearts to despise each other's boos. The way that she describes Ringo makes him come off as creepy and weak-willed to me. He oversteps boundaries a lot, and he's friends with a lot of problematic people. And apparently how I describe George makes him seem overly pretentious and just like a stereotypical humorless hipster. Sure, he uses big words that I sometimes have to look up and sometimes he does seem to get overly analytical about things, but it's honestly not as bad as Maureen makes it out to be.
This is where it gets worse. Maureen and I are a very odd combination. She's an edgy memelord that watches Doctor Who over and over, and I'm a sensitive hipster that tries to criticize the writings of dead guys that I secretly know are smarter than I'll ever be. I am very left-winged and a bit of an SJW, while Maureen is apolitical if not a little right-winged. We couldn't be more different except for the fact that at the end of the day we are best friends. No one makes me laugh more than she does. No one makes me smile wider. Whenever something interesting happens, she's the first person I want to tell. But something about this whole boyfriend hate thing makes me think there's something else boiling under the surface.
We once tried to figure out what we didn't like about each other's boyfriends, and we were both unsure. I knew there was something that bugged me about their meme-ridden messages that couldn't quite be counted as flirting, but there was really no other explanation. Mine and George's purple prose describing our favorite album's to each other was off-putting to her. Ringo's lack of a stance on anything that matters to the big picture was really a punch in the gut to me. George's knowledge of and belief in socialism was laughable for her. And that's when I realized something: a lot of the things she dislikes about George are things that also apply to me as a person. And the same could be said about my disinterest in her guy. So, here's my odd, crazy, insane, anxiety-ridden question: Do Maureen and I secretly hate each other? Also, how should I deal with this whole boyfriend hate thing? I can't force her to like him, but I sure would like to. And I've tried to like her boyfriend before. I really have. But I just don't.
Well, I'll give you this, Sparkler: I'm sure you really believe that. In fact, you're so convincing about it that Auntie had to re-read your letter twice before I noticed that there's an absolutely massive, man-sized hole right in the center of your argument—literally! Because dude, you don't hate your friend's boyfriend. You don't even know your friend's boyfriend. And while there are certain circumstances in which it's considered acceptable to express hatred for someone you've never met (see: the comments section under any article about Lena Dunham), this, my young grasshopper, is not one of them. You have no relationship with this guy that would allow you to form an opinion of him, in any direction; the most you can say is that your friend's relationship with him, insofar as you've witnessed it from her end, does not appeal to you personally.
And that's fine! Who cares if you like the dude's memes? And for that matter, who cares what Maureen thinks about how you and George talk to each other? How is that any of her business, and why on earth do you care?
That's a rhetorical question, by the way, because I'll give you a hint: you shouldn't care. You needn't care! The way you and your boyfriend talk to each other needs to be satisfactory to only two people: you, and your boyfriend. The same goes for your friend and her boyfriend. And thank heavens, because being that over-involved in the minutiae of other people's relationships is a ridiculous waste of time that will only make you crazy. I mean, my best friend since forever is married to a guy who posts monster truck memes on Facebook and neither knows (nor cares! GAH!) about the proper usage of "there" versus "they're" versus "their," the latter of which he spells (wait for it) T-H-I-E-R. Do I find this man attractive? Negative. Is this the man I would have picked for her? Nope! But he's the one she wants, and he makes her incredibly happy, which makes my opinion on the matter completely and totally irrelevant—and easily revised. He's the guy she chose, which means that I can choose to like him on principle, for her sake.
And you can make that choice, too, which I hope you will. If you don't like Ringo's prose or politics or problematic friend group, that's fine. You can still accept that your friend does, and be happy for her.
And having done that, you can also accept that these relationships are their own thing, and stop trying to extrapolate your respective tastes in men to mean something sinister about your friendship. As you pointed out yourself, you and Maureen have been friends for ages despite your differences. But that's your relationship with each other; what works there might not work elsewhere, and what you want from a best friend isn't always going to be the same thing you want from a boyfriend—which is not just perfectly fine, but maybe even a little bit obvious. And if you can accept that people contain multitudes, and that different relationships satisfy different needs, then you should also realize: the fact that you each sought out men with whom you have more in common politically doesn't mean you hate each other. It just means you don't want to date each other. And unless that's a tragic surprise to you, there's no reason why you can't keep on with your friendship just as you always have, and for as long as you care to continue it. Enjoy.
Got something to say? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want more info about how this column works? Check out the Auntie SparkNotes FAQ.