Dear Captain Awkward,
There’s been something that’s been really bothering me for the last year and a half or so, and I really think you might be able to help. Two years ago I met a cool girl, let’s call her Marla, and we became good friends.
So, I’m a 24 year-old gal in college and I work really hard to finance myself. I come from a rough home life, so my friends are my support network, and we all look out for each other. I’m outgoing, independent, and most of the time I feel like I strike a good balance between school/work/play. I feel great about my life.
Marla and I met during a lab project. She hated this college/this town/her classes/everyone who attends our school right off the bat. It took a while for me to spot certain things:
1) Marla always remarks that she’s better off not knowing many people (because all people are terrible and boil bunnies? WHO KNOWS!).
2) Marla repeatedly calls my friends ‘crazy’ and is very vocal about it in front of others. She doesn’t approve of how certain friends explore their sexuality outside the boundaries of a traditional hetero-monogamous relationship (having safe, respectful, honest sex with other cool single people they meet but might not see a future with). Sometimes even when I say something like, “Oh, my friend’s boyfriend is taking her for granted a little bit and I wish she would stand up for herself more”, Marla will turn it into “YOU have weird friends, YOU attract crazy people”. She acknowledges that she is very judgmental, and doesn’t intend to do anything about it.
3) She met this guy and fell in love and moved in with him after two months (his parents pay rent and bills for their off-campus apartment). They have been together less than three years, but have declared each other partners in life at such a young age. I can understand the effect of rose-colored glasses when people fall in love, but their co-dependency runs so deep that if he were not in her life anymore, she would have nothing. They’ve discussed at length their wedding, kids, home decor, etc. She will brag about how his parents have written her into their will (????????).
4) I am her only friend. She will sometimes hang out with the girlfriends of her boyfriend’s dudefriends, but it’s always in a party/group others have organized.
5) Marla stays in all the time, whereas her boyfriend needs to have constant company/go out all the time or else he gets really bad anxiety. He will often badger her to call me and have a girls’ night.
6) Marla is not involved in anything that is ‘just for her’ – no gym membership/school involvement/hobbies/volunteer gig. She has also become estranged from her family.
7) Marla’s boyfriend will move for work soon, and Marla will follow him. They might end up in the middle of nowhere and I am worried about how this relationship (any relationship!) can function with this level of co-dependency COMBINED with social isolation once they move.
8) I mostly like Marla’s boyfriend. He is smart and interesting, but sometimes he’s such a snob about his tastes and his family’s lifestyle that I’m really put off. He will make a crack (in front of others) about how I hail from a rough part of town (referencing how I should have seen stabbings/shootings/robberies, etc). I grew up really poor and I get so self-conscious when he and his friends (all self-identifying as “upper-class”) joke about it like I’m supposed to just join in. I’ll just sit there feeling like trash, thinking about how I had to scrimp and save and work extra shifts to buy my Mom a decent winter coat because hers has been falling apart for four out of the eight years she’s owned it, and how she cried because she was so humiliated her daughter had to buy it for her because she can’t even make ends meet. Marla’s from a working-class family, but he’s never made a joke about her being poor/from a rough part of town or anything like that.
Captain Awkward, please tell me the truth, am I just being a big jealous jerk? I’ve never had this intense of a relationship, so I’m not familiar with this level of commitment between two people. Do some people really only need each other and no other support network? Am I being too sensitive/reading too much into the ‘crazy friends’/’rough part of town’ comments, too? I care about Marla, but I feel so put down and often come away feeling terrible about myself. I feel bad even seeing these words about my friends on the screen. Please tell me what you think.
Thanks a million,
Dear Moping Mary,
Here is the truth of what I think.
I think you should stop hanging out with people who belittle you and everyone around you, put no effort into the relationship, and make you feel shitty.
By which I mean Marla.
Start there with a slow fade, and then let the whole two birds/one stone thing really work for you when her shitty boyfriend also leaves your life.
A little off-topic? I think you’ll really like this gorgeous personal essay about class by Sady Doyle. The part where the hipsters talk about “trash” is especially relevant.