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I Need Help with Asshole Friends (The Novel)

I am on the horns of a dilemma, and when you read this, you will wonder why I am still friends with these people. I kind of am too. But this is one of those "I feel X, my partner feels Y" situations. And I need help. Here goes.


My partner and I are friends with another couple. For a few years, we were more like "people we see occasionally when out with other people" friends, then as of last year, we started to meet up on occasion. We then ramped it up seriously by going camping — always a crapshoot, but turns out they were actually pretty great, extremely easygoing, funny stories, good cooks, didn't mind at all that we hiked all day while they just wanted to relax and watch the water we were camped near, etc.

(The reason it was a pleasant surprise when we had a good time was, we first would see them out in groups, the man was always warm and nice but the woman in the couple gave off a defensive vibe. Now we know them at least well enough now to know that she has some issues about the fact that she is very tall and not a small person — based on things she says — so I thought, well, maybe her off-putting attitude when you first meet her is just a protective shell.)


So now let's fast-forward. We ended up moving away for awhile. We moved back a year ago. And over the past year seeing them again, well, we started to notice they can kind of be jerks.

The man can be incredibly warm and sweet and nice, but then there's this other side where he is incredibly condescending and know-it-all and says things that are the kinds of things that I feel like most people have manners NOT to say, a couple examples:

  • A jewelry-designer friend pulling out a new, large ring, and his first response being, "Wow, now that looks like something that would get caught on something!"
  • Telling a mutual friend still reeling from a breakup how another woman went out of her way to tell "anyone who would listen" how she knew the breakup was going to happen, and the woman who had gone through the breakup sat there looking utterly stricken and upset and he WOULD NOT STOP talking about it
  • Saying something mean to a friend about a phobia that she has been working on, saying to her face, "Well, I'M not afraid of X" like she was really stupid.

And now, the woman in the couple: She is very funny, and kind of brilliant work-wise, and in fact I am INVOLVED IN A WORK PROJECT with her that would be nearly impossible to extricate myself from very quickly, but kind of wish I could because then you get this side of her:

  • She insults people like he does, being very condescending about their choices. For instance, scoffing (repeatedly, on different occasions) at someone who has a gluten allergy — a real thing, we're talking full-on, debilitating pain if they eat it — and mainly being very much like, "Oh, right, sure, you have a gluten allergy!" and rolling her eyes and being really dismissive.
  • She is super, duper negative about people who are athletic or thin. Disclosure: I myself am overweight, though I have been exercising again lately (I go up and down). But when I see a group of cyclists come in a coffee shop, I don't sit there and go on and on about how they'll probably order only black coffee and an apple. (Seriously, this happened today and it went on WAY longer than was comfortable.)
  • And tonight, the death blow: at a table with a group, she began to needle a man she'd never met before about why wasn't he drinking, all the people she knows from his town are big drinkers, is he sure he doesn't want a drink? Really, he's not drinking? And on and on. Well. He wasn't drinking because he is nine months sober! No, of course she couldn't have known that. But what kind of rude asshole who's older than 20 years puts the peer pressure whammy on someone who isn't having a drink — someone she's never met before, no less?

I have had it with them and aside from the work project (which is something that isn't simple to get out of, but can be wrapped up fairly quickly), I've been politely declining more and more of their invitations and starting to just do the fade. We got the group together tonight, and it was my partner who wanted to invite them — I don't like being the person who invites "the asshole" who I always hear back about later.

My partner, however, feels like he LIKES them, and wonders if maybe if he sat down with the man and the couple and had a heart-to-heart, that maybe he could "fix it." I am pretty skeptical, because they seem to feed off each other, and this behavior seems so deeply ingrained I'm honestly not even sure how awful they realize they are coming across or if they even could or would want to change it.


I am bummed because for awhile it seemed like they would be cool to hang out with, and it's hard to make friends sometimes when you're an adult. Has anyone been in a situation like this? Did you just stop being friends, or did you try to work it out? They really do have some positive qualities, but it puts me on edge wondering if it will be a good night, or an insulting one.

(I also just plain needed to vent on this so if nothing else, thank you for that.)

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