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Dating in New York City – Holding Hans with Brian Hansbury: Seeking Approval

Posted Tuesday, November 11th, 2008 at 9:00 am by Brian in Social Bees. More in 11101

Q:  I just started dating someone and it’s become pretty clear my friends don’t like her.  I initially was really excited to be with her, but the negative comments are starting to get in my head.  What do I do? –Signed, Confused in Queens

A:  It’s important that our friends like our significant others for several reasons.  Human beings are social animals.  We share information and, in general, seek approval.  No one likes to feel like they are doing the wrong thing, i.e. driving the wrong car, wearing the wrong shoes or entering the wrong woman.  You hipsters out there can deny this all you want, but you know you experience a special kind of flutter in your heart every time a comrade-in-rags compliments your taste in lens-less eyeglass frames.  Basically, unless you’re Goth or clinically depressed (or both) you care, at least to some degree, what people think of your choices.

And no human decision causes more “What do people think?” anxiety than the person you choose to sleep with, buy meals for and possibly, accidentally impregnate.  Unlike John McCain we vet our bedfellows to no end using several stock scenarios.  There’s the “dinner with the parents” vet, the “hanging with the guys” vet, the “weeklong vacation” vet, and, of course, the initial “does this chick look like a man in the morning?” vet.  We gauge our friend’s approval with phrases like, “She’s hot, right?” or “But, you think she’s cool, though?”  And the general rule is the shorter the reply, the less hearty the endorsement.  “Sure, she’s hot,” should be interpreted as, “What the fuck?  Are you out of your mind?  Just look at those poor excuses for teeth.  And don’t get me started on her laugh.”  I guess, Confused, you can be thankful that your friends have at least taken some of the guesswork out of the vetting process.

The world would be a better place if friends and girlfriends got along, but it’s actually a pretty rare occurrence.  I’m going to invoke the Sitcom Doctrine on this one.  Sitcoms reflect the most general aspects of a society.  They create relatable laughs by drawing from the most pervasive of our commonalities.  Maybe the most age old sitcom premise involves the “Obligation To The Wife vs. Fun Time With The Guys” scenario.  Writers know that most of us deal with a partner who hates our friends or vice-versa.  It’s as if we require two kinds of fulfillment, that from friends and that from lovers and never the twain shall meet (This doctrine was extended metaphorically on the Cosby Show to include Cliff’s love of submarine sandwiches and Claire’s constant refusal to allow him to eat them).  Friends and girlfriends haven’t been getting along since the dawn of television.

So, things in your world seem pretty normal.  I will give you one piece of advice, however.  Since your friends seem to have engaged in criticisms early and often (and unprovoked), you might want to take a step back and re-evaluate this girl.  After all, these guys must have some opinions you agree with; otherwise you wouldn’t be friends, right?  I’ve found that when it comes to significant others, even if friends don’t really like a girl but realize she’s a good fit for you, they’ll keep their opinions to themselves.  Maybe their adamancy is genuine cause for concern.  Since she clearly doesn’t look like a man in the morning (or maybe she does and you’re just into that), I’d try some more stock vets and see how you feel about her.  A good one is the “sitting through your favorite guy movie” vet.  Let’s hope she likes Point Break.  Good luck and Godspeed.

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