Dear Captain Awkward,
It is a year since I totally lost it while visiting with my (long distance) boyfriend’s close high school friends who he lives near and I need help making amends. We were visiting to play DnD, along with another friend of theirs who was also visiting for a one-off game play like me. I had met them once before (they supposedly liked me), but this time it was just weird from the get go. They didn’t acknowledge me at all, I said hello like three times and I just got ignored/talked over/a stare from the silent girlfriend of the host. I had never played before and when I asked questions the host just brushed me off, so dropped out and sat with them while my boyfriend dungeon-mastered. They were loud and seemed nasty to my boyfriend while they played (8hrs), I just lost it having a migraine from them. They were giving my bf shit about something and I just got into it about how rude and loud they were, then had a screaming match with my boyfriend about being trapped somewhere with no sidewalks with such rude people (I live in a city/no car/couldn’t excuse myself), and to get me on a train home that night.
I am so ashamed of making a scene, out of respect for my boyfriend, but he built up how important the game he wrote was, even though after-the-fact he didn’t understand why I didn’t tell him I wasn’t enjoying it (I did, but obviously no one listens until your scream) so we could all stop and do something else. The host had family staying, so I really had nowhere to excuse myself. I want my boyfriend to be able to mix us all again, if I’m welcome back.
Supposedly the host was drunk and isn’t good at reading people, and eventually apologized to him. I had apologized to my boyfriend, but haven’t seen/spoken to his friends since (we are long distance and it’s unresolved). I was still hurt about it when my boyfriend brought it up the next time we saw each other after. I wanted to get along with them for him, but was also concerned they were so hostile leading up to my losing my shit and that it can’t ALL depend on me because I’m only 1/3 of the issue (1/3 his friends and 1/3 his own lack of communication). He says it’s just how they are: they are good people but play rowdy and in general they dig at each other a bit but it’s all in good spirit. This is probably true, but I don’t think that’s what happened between them and myself. It can’t be any easier for them to get to know me than it is for me to get to know them, but I can’t imagine having done anything to upset them before that point and I feel like whatever flaw prompted them to treat me so unkindly is something they thought of me before we even arrived. The topic hasn’t come up in a year between my boyfriend and myself, how do I go about resolving this?
Thanks for your time,
Dear Downhearted Daisy,
Watching a bunch of drunk near-strangers who aren’t nice to you play a complicated roleplaying game you don’t play or understand, when they are not patient with your questions (because they mostly just want to play with each other), for EIGHT HOURS IN A ROW, in a place you can’t easily leave (even to go in another room and lie down), and where the person who brought you to this crappy party is too distracted to even hear you when you tell him you’re not okay unless you yell, sounds like one of my many definitions of hell.
And then you had a migraine on top of that. You had a migraine. In hell.
If you yell at your boyfriend often when you fight, or if lots of your fights with him could be described as “a screaming match,” this is simple. Don’t even worry about these friends! Stop reading this, break up with your boyfriend, find a therapist and some tools to work on anger management and healthier communication skills, and also look for relationship partners who neither scream at you nor ignore you until you scream at them. You can date people who are way less work than this.
If this is one awful day when you kind of lost your shit because: migraine hell party, and you’ve apologized to your boyfriend, then it’s time to forgive yourself.
How do you make amends to the friends now? You address it head on the next time you see them. “Hi, the last time we all hung out was a shitshow, and I’m very embarrassed and sorry about the way I yelled and the things I said. Can we start again, please?” Then you try to be friendly and polite and start over with each person you meet the way you hope they’ll start over with you.
And then, because the second step of an apology is “don’t do the troubling thing again if you can possibly help it,” you try to keep your cool, and if things start to suck and you feel like screaming, excuse yourself before it gets to that point, even if it’s just to the bathroom to regroup for a second.
What would really help, though, is to never, ever, ever put yourself in that situation again. Or let anyone put you in that situation again.
A couple of ways to do that, off the top of my head:
“Boyfriend, I’m obviously nervous about it after last time, but I’ll try to hang out with your friends again if you want me to. Let’s have one drink and see how it goes, and then if you want to play D&D all day again go and have fun! I’ll make a plan to do my own thing.”
No marathon hangouts. Definitely no marathon hangouts where the expectation is that you will be a polite, quiet spectator. And no marathon hangouts without a plan for what do do in case of emergencies, like, if a migraine comes down and you need to say “I’m feeling unwell. Is there any place quiet I can lie down, or anyone who can give me a quick ride back to where we’re staying and then you can all just enjoy the game as long as you want to?,” then you and your boyfriend have an agreement that he will stop what he’s doing, at least temporarily, and make sure you are okay. It’s great to go do fun stuff with friends! It’s also important to be able to leave or stop or change course if it stops being fun for any reason.
Given what happened, if your boyfriend wants to cross the social streams again, it’s honestly up to him to be a much better host this time. Why he thought you’d want to watch him play D&D with these people all day is a mystery to me (or, since he was the DM that day, why he didn’t work harder to set up and incorporate you into the game better), but much like the dudes I’ve smashed faces with who thought “come watch my band practice” counted as “a romantic date where we spent quality time together,” some mysteries are destined to remain unsolved.
You say you did speak up about how you were feeling during that day, but he didn’t listen to you until you screamed at him. Screaming at a partner is not optimal, but how does he go eight whole hours without checking to make sure you’re having a good time, or listening to you when you say you aren’t, or even noticing that you have a migraine? An afterward, why couldn’t he say “I’m so sorry I dragged you to that, I should have been up front that we were going to be playing a complicated, involved thing and that I wouldn’t have time to bring you up to speed. Next time something like that comes up, I’ll just go by myself!”
Now that you’ve been through this once, you have more information about what you need in order to have fun and be comfortable in a group setting with your boyfriend. It’s not an unreasonable list: 1) People who will greet you pleasantly and interact with you as if they are at least sort of glad that you’re there. 2) An activity where you can fully participate, or some alternative activity or space you can go if they really want to do their thing without you. 3) An exit strategy if you want to or need to leave. 4) A way to check in with each other during the thing. It’s okay to ask for and plan for those things going in, and if any of those things are not in place, it’s okay to say “You go and have fun, I’d rather entertain myself.” Couples don’t have to do everything together, and there are way less intense ways to get to know his friends if that’s a thing you still want to do.
My big question is: This all happened a year ago. You’ve apologized for your part in it. Why is it still bothering you so much? What is the thing that is unresolved?
You said it was a screaming match, with both you and your boyfriend yelling. Has he apologized for yelling at you? For not listening to you earlier? Has he done anything to smooth this over with the friends, like, apologizing on your behalf and his own behalf, asking them to give it a second chance?
You’re still dating the dude a year later, so, the fight wasn’t enough for either of you to just want to end the relationship. Does he keep bringing it up or blaming you for it? Is something about that day still part of your dynamic as a couple?
For example, when you do visit your boyfriend or he visits you, are you good at checking in with each other to make sure both people are having fun? Are you able to speak up when something isn’t going well and advocate for yourself during smaller conflicts?
I ask this because there’s a common thing in long distance relationships where nobody wants to ruin the rare beautiful weekend when you actually get to see each other by arguing (or spending part of it apart, which I suspect may have been a factor here), so people tamp down their feelings and conflicts over small things because, Togetherness! Yay!
And then the problem festers. And then another weekend you “don’t want to ruin” comes and goes, and you don’t talk about it and it festers more. Because you miss this person all the time! How can they be pissing you off so much now that you finally get to see them?
And then a few romantic weekends later, half a year has gone by, and it’s Sunday night and someone’s getting on a plane early tomorrow and the restaurant you wanted to try is closed for a private event and the subway is taking forever to come and the air conditioning is busted and you miss this person every waking moment but you’re also kind of ready for them to just go already so you can have your space to yourself and BOOM! CRACK! Suddenly the last three days of “Fine, whatever you want to do, Babe!” has morphed into a boiling argument that encompasses all the little arguments that didn’t happen along the way because nobody wanted to “ruin the moment” by expressing a need.
Does any of that sound familiar, and like it was happening then, or if it’s happening now?
Are there imminent plans to see these friends again? Are you afraid they will be mean again or bring it up with you or freeze you out again? What’s your boyfriend’s plan for having your back if that happens?
What’s the worst thing that would happen if you decided to not put much work into relationships with people that you never see and don’t like?
In your head: “Babe, I don’t really like these rude friends of yours, and they clearly don’t like me, so I have a budget of four hours once a year where I smile and say polite things and try give a shit for your sake. Please decide when you want those four hours to be and I’ll be there. Also, let’s budget for a taxi or ride-share so I can bail when I need to and you can stay and have fun”
Out loud: “Aw, you know your friends and I don’t really gel. That’s okay! You go have fun, I’ll see you when you get back.”
Even really good people don’t like each other sometimes. This was a roomful of rude people doing a thing that you didn’t enjoy, where nobody really made an effort to include you and some of them outright blanked you, that you couldn’t leave, and (I know I keep belaboring this) it lasted for EIGHT HOURS.
What if you never had to go back to a room like that ever again if you didn’t feel like it? What if you were wrong for yelling, but they also suck, and your dread about all of this is really a “My boyfriend’s friends kinda suck and he kinda sucks when he’s around them, does that mean he’s a sucky boyfriend?” question? (If so, you’re at the right blog, aka The Life-Changing Magic of Dumping People Who Don’t Make You Feel Good).
Whatever’s going on here, I hope you get to the bottom of what’s making you hang onto this so hard.
339 thoughts on “#1117: The Day The D&D Devolved”
LW, I think you’re right that it’s not all on you. These groups having a certain style they play, and not necessarily wanting to answer questions, doesn’t have to preclude them being more accommodating (especially your bf as he was running the game). But questions from you aside.. not even acknowledging your hellos? Wow. I think they had some inappropriate pre-resentment or something going on.
I agree that feeling ok to not put yourself in that situation again as far as you can control it would be good. And I agree with this a lot too:
“For example, when you do visit your boyfriend or he visits you, are you good at checking in with each other to make sure both people are having fun? Are you able to speak up when something isn’t going well and advocate for yourself during smaller conflicts?”
The detail about the friend who was also visiting and there to play a one-shot game makes me think that this event had been organized around this friend. My guess is that s/he is part of the high school friend group and used to play with them regularly, but moved away. I would also guess that LW’s boyfriend realized too late that this was happening during a weekend when LW had already booked tickets to come and visit and so tried to make it work by having LW participate.
In fact, is the LW even sure that they knew s/he would be there? Because the frosty reception described in the letter could well have been them choking back the words, “What are you doing here? This is High School Friend Group only! We didn’t invite you!”
Obviously, it would have been better if they had been able to roll with it and make LW feel welcome, and obviously if they were going to be hostile to someone, they should have directed it at LW’s boyfriend (and maybe they were and that’s what LW picked up on that started the fight between LW and the group). I’m not offering this explanation to excuse anyone’s bad behavior, but to point out that the role of LW’s boyfriend in creating this awful situation may well be being underestimated here. It also might provide some comfort to the LW that there are reasonable explanations of their behavior that do not involve the whole friend group secretly hating her even before she arrived. In fact, if my guess is anywhere near the truth, at some point during the past year, they’ve all probably realized that the person who is really to blame for what happened is LW’s boyfriend and if they’ve forgiven him, then LW is probably also forgiven by extension (and by dint of their realizing that it wasn’t really LW’s fault to begin with).
^Also, apologies if I misgendered the LW. I read the letter (and the sign-off) and clearly made inferences about LW’s gender. I tried keep my language gender-neutral, but some references slipped through anyway.
Even so, it shocks me that they couldn’t even include her in the most basic way. Beyond the basic standard of people *at least saying hello* and being cordial, you don’t have to roll up a whole new character to include someone in a game. Something a DM should damn well be able to plan out knowing that *his girlfriend* was that person.
And then if they wanted to keep their game just to themselves, it was really rude to expect her to just sit there. A basic “hey this is probably a bit hard to follow, but we could hook you up with the TV and the Netflix password if you like?” would have been a minimum. Not sulking about an intruder in the dungeon until she has a migraine and pretty much has to lose it to be heard.
I think the cap’s scripts are really good, but if you’re right and there’s some extra pre-LW weirdness going on with this group, it may be easier just for the LW to forgive herself and chalk it up to antisocial people gonna antisocial.
Nobody made the least bit of effort to make LW feel welcome or comfortable. This group was incredibly rude and inconsiderate, and LW’s boyfriend was a total asshat for not checking in with her, and ignoring her when she told him she wasn’t having a good time. Yes, LW may be embarrassed about losing her shit, but in my opinion it was justified. It doesn’t say anywhere that BF apologized or even acknowledged how poorly she was treated. I am firmly on Team Dump His Inconsiderate Ass
“they’ve all probably realized that the person who is really to blame for what happened is LW’s boyfriend and if they’ve forgiven him, then LW is probably also forgiven by extension (and by dint of their realizing that it wasn’t really LW’s fault to begin with).”
I may be misreading (not much sleep last night) but it sounds like LW got into a screaming match with her bf right then and there – since the friends don’t know her very well, it may have unfortunately embedded an image of “crazy screaming GF” even if the situation was unreasonable leading up to it.
I agree that they probably were annoyed with him for bringing her. This reminds me a lot of a situation in collage when my boyfriend followed me along to an all-girl friend event and the other girls were really hostel to me and him until he left. I just didn’t have the social maturity or tools to know what to do about it at the time. Admittedly, that one was mostly on my clingy boyfriend for insisting he come along and this situation seems to be much more on the OP’s boyfriend for bringing her there, but the backlash behavior from the friend group seems the same. They still responded really badly to a situation they didn’t like, but I think this is where the behavior was coming from.
This was my read too, not that it’s super relevant to OP’s current residual feelings, but if OP is looking for a reason for their behavior, this is likely it.
>In fact, is the LW even sure that they knew s/he would be there?
This is super important, and a detail that slips even people who are generally socially conscientious but can wreak a lot of havoc. I recently had a VERY awkward and uncomfortable encounter where my partner brought me to a family event, and had not told his family that he was seeing someone (my partner and their family are not close, and a few months before we met, they had ended a very long-term relationship and not really told said family about it). My partner had asked if it was okay to bring “someone,” but did not specify that the someone was me, and as a result, everyone was expecting the ex, and reacted accordingly when a total stranger showed up, including blurting out comments about how they were surprised not to see the ex.
(bonus: the ex, unbeknownst to most of the family, is very physically, sexually, and financially abusive, in addition to being a raging violent alcoholic. I am a moderately emotionally fragile DV survivor, so being mistaken for that ex, or hearing awkward comments about how people were assuming that I would be that ex, were some real meltdown material for me later.)
Needless to say, this led to a Strong Talk after the fact about how it’s generally a good idea to be very specific about who you’re bringing with you to an event if that person wouldn’t have been invited independently.
Ooh, this one hits close to home. It’s easy, as someone’s new partner, to get painted with whatever brushes the family had on hand for the previous partner. When I first met my husband’s sister (whom I now love dearly), she greeted me with “Oh hi, are you the new Emily?” (his previous long-term partner’s name) She also introduced me to other members of the family as, “This is X, she’s the new Emily,” which I found incredibly hurtful. Now I know that she was just surprised in the moment and spoke out of awkwardness from being left alone with her brother’s new girlfriend for hours on our first meeting.
But yeah, family can have very calcified notions about how to treat the position of “The Child’s Significant Other”, and those notions may not bear ANY relation to the person currently trying to occupy that position – in the same way that they think of my husband as still a child in many ways, because that’s the position he holds relative to them. To them, I was not a PERSON for a good long time – I was “Son’s Girlfriend,” a position that has had other occupants, and sometimes at first I felt like an office temp getting side-eyed for the mistakes the previous temp made. This went on for years, in little ways. What was important during that time was that my partner made me feel valued and seen, regardless of his family’s behavior. I would say that if someone’s not considering how their family might treat an unexpected guest, and whether that treatment is appropriate to this individual guest, that’s on them – as the Captain often says, “Sounds like you don’t have an in-laws problem, you have a SPOUSE problem” – being the bridge between people they care about is a job only they can do, and doing it well can be very important in situations like you describe.
LW: captain said in first paragraph what my brain was screaming. You were treated shabbily by the group, and more importantly, by your bf. why? Would you want to integrate into a group who treats people this way? I can understand the feeling of rejection and wanting to do something to end that feeling, but I think rearranging your thinking around that is a healthier plan. These people didn’t bring you true. But human decency means they could have made an effort. Your bf thinks it’s fine to drag you to stuff and then let you sit like a patient dog, waiting for a pat on the head he’s never going to give you. I’d have been pretty angry too. Think long about bf and if ignoring your comfort is a pattern. You deserve someone who will not do this. A good benchmark in any scenario is ‘would I treat someone this way?’. Listen to your gut bc it is spot on here!
I totally agree with you J. This boyfriend sounds incredibly selfish and his friends sound like complete jerks. In the past, I only lasted about half an hour watching my then boyfriend play video games before I insisted he take me home, and even then, was amazed he thought it was acceptable to have me just sitting there, watching this crap as a spectator. There is no way in hell I would put up with even close to 8 hours, or a bf who expected that of me. Also, wouldn’t you think that the bf would just want to spend the weekend with his gf seeing as how their visits are relatively rare. All in all, this bf Sou da like a complete dud.
Oh my goodness this sounds exhausting. For everyone. From every perspective. LW, are you SURE this long distance boyfriend is worth it? Like…really REALLY sure? Because I’ll tell you: boys are EVERYWHERE. ALL OVER. Seriously, just hold your hand out palm up at waist level in a mall and wait 10 minutes and your hand will no longer be empty.
(PRO TIP-same goes for girls. Though hand positioning is different)
The point is, there is no reason to live with Boy/Girlfriend Drama. Or unhappiness. Or weirdness. Because they are not a scarce resource.
A) are malls still a thing. Have my efforts to single handily destroy malls with my excessive usage of amazon prime not been working?
B) some ladies and gents (the LW didn’t specify their gender, I have a hunch but I don’t want to make an assumption) have a hard time getting a partner. Actually such a hard time that they settle for the first thing that comes their way because they are scared it’s their only one chance in the whole world. This can be especially painful for ladies who have been told their whole life that getting guys to like you is easy. Because when your experiences doesn’t match up it makes you feel like you are a failure at being a women and nobody wants to be with you, and aint nobody got time for that negativity.
C) I am on team dump-him because someone who refuses to stand up for you isn’t someone who is worth my time and attention. Obviously things could have gone down better and the LW could have expressed her unhappiness better and probably around the 3 hour mark. But the bottom line, even after the dust has settled it seems like the BF is still not seeing the legitimate concerns that were bothering the LW.
A.) with the exception of Christmas Season, I believe Amazon Prime has intensified the mall experience. Since anyone who ONLY wants to buy stuff does so in their jammies at 2am online like a regular person, people who still go to the mall have at least one secondary goal worth putting shoes on. Similar to how you boil broth down to a double consommé to intensify flavors.
B.) I’ll spare you my rant (it’s a good one!) but I think the type of person you are referring to does not have an attracting-mate problem NEARLY as much as they have a fear problem. Timidness is bred into girls by our culture, nobody gets enough exposure to good interpersonal skills, the media encourages unrealistic standards for us all….I could go on. But. I’ve said many times to many people: what would you do if you weren’t scared? Go do that. Which brings me to
C.) If she wasn’t scared of rocking boats, she could’ve been outta there by hour 3. If he wasn’t scared of his friends’ opinions, he would’ve been a better boyfriend and stood up for her. If she wasn’t scared of not having him, she could’ve had a conversation with him about this A YEAR AGO. Ugh. None of this sounds worth it to me. #teamdumphim4lyfe
Er… yeah, I’m not scared of making the first move, I think I’m pretty cute, and I have a lot of excellent friends.
Nevertheless, it’s been a real challenge finding partners *I’m* interested in, much less reciprocal interest.
YMMV, but I’m definitely not going to agree with the idea that it’s super-easy to attract a new and worthwhile partner just like snapping your fingers.
Agreed. The difficulty in finding partners is not that there’s a shortage of people who want to stick it in me. It’s that there’s a shortage of such people who are also worth my time and energy.
I certainly agree that finding a new and worthwhile partner can be difficult. But finding time with oneself which is more enjoyable than time with a tiresome bf is a goal that the vast majority of us can achieve, all for the low low price of nothing.
New and worthwhile life-partner? Maybe you are right. BOY though? Everywhere. And the story told here by the LW makes me think she hasn’t attracted a worthwhile partner yet. Just a boy. And there is nothing wrong with dating boys! It can be super fun! But if it is not fun….and he is not showing promise to get from one category to the other…why put up with this? You can get treated like THIS by someone who lives close enough to cuddle with every weekend if you want to.
I’m definitely not going to agree with the idea that it’s super-easy to attract a new and worthwhile partner just like snapping your fingers.
But then why stick with an OLD and NOT worthwhile partner?
You have to create a vacuum first, or it may not even be possible to find a new and worthwhile partner.
mall consommé: this disgusts and delights me.
It comes in a Campbell soup can (because there is no generic version) costs $60 and smells like a combination of Abercrombie & Fitch perfume, underbathed 15yo boys, cigarettes, and cheap pizza cheese.
When you puncture the lid to pour it, it won’t pour. Too gelatinous. So you use a can opener and it glops into the bowl with a sound reminiscent of overpriced hand lotion being squirted onto the skin of someone who is always surprised it is their turn to order coffee. Is that a carousel you hear in the distance? You fill the empty can with tap water and try to dilute it to proper strength. But the green lumpy mixture doesn’t want to blend. It’s almost like….it thinks it’s too good for tap water.
You briefly consider giving up on your recipe, but decide to soldier on. The world needs to taste your version of Conspicuous Consumption Capitalism.
Also gotta disagree, there really can be an attracting-a-mate problem. Hetero men strongly tend to “marry down” on height, age, and education level, and “marry up” on social skills. I’m a 5’9″ mid-50’s aspie university professor. The pool of men who are single and would consider my demographic is reeeeeally small. That’s before we even get to what *I* want in a partner.
“Hetero men strongly tend to “marry down” on height, age, and education level, and “marry up” on social skills. ”
So so true!
I’m a female, 5’10” MBA with some social skill limitations – not quite aspie but ‘humor impaired’ is an accurate description. Never had a problem dating, including at least 4 men I considered long term, out of about 16 men whom I dated for more than a month, with another 3 or 4 who’d be good for someone who wasn’t a bulldozer like me. 2 were no go because they didn’t want kids, 1, we were just too young, 1 has been working out pretty well. We met when I was in my late 20s. He married “up” on age, economics, education and ‘down’ on height (at 6’4″, pretty likely) and social skills. The other 3… 2 would have been “up” on age, economics, education and even or down on social skills. All were ‘down’ on height – 6’2″ to 6’4″. Too Young is on his first marriage, No Kids 1 is on his second marriage (but I could tell the first was a mistake, this one looks better) and No Kids 2 is still single, 45ish, would like to meet a nice partner, as long as they’re also no kids, and is great friends with my partner and I.
My sister and her current partner has the same up/down mix as my partner and me, though her partner is working to catch up on education.
The pool is small, but they’re out there. I had the best luck in non-traditional spaces, like gay bars, or through the traditional and true ‘meeting through friends.’ Some of those were duds (*I* think musicals are realistic, dude) but some others were great.
I asked out every person I ever dated, so I lean pretty heavily on the ‘reach out and there will be people worth checking out’ side.
“C.) If she wasn’t scared of rocking boats, she could’ve been outta there by hour 3”
Well THAT’S victim-blamey and gross.
It would be if she were a victim. She isn’t. She had a bad time at a party. Let’s not trivialize the term.
B is my life.
In what way?
“…whole life that getting guys to like you is easy…”
And that getting a guy, any guy is *the most important thing EVER !!!*
And that you have to, like, CATCH one. With your vagina-net. And tame him. With your good cooking and manners. And keep him roped up good so no other sneaky vagina-havers can steal him away like a cattle rustler. Like he is too stupid to be an independent person with a sense of loyalty or ethics. And she is too conniving to be truly committed to him.
*eyes soapbox longingly*
Also, men are simultaneously mindless animals who ravenously need sex, *and* picky, fussy aesthetes whom you must work hard to impress. Somehow.
I absolutely agree that sometimes finding the right candidate, or being the right candidate for each other is challenging. I’m still going to firstly wholeheartedly point to dopameanie’s suggestion to look around (and that there’s lots of places to look) because it becomes even more important when you are trying to find a) something rare and b) have eight hours worth of proof that you haven’t already got it.
Secondly, looking around isn’t desperate. You have to be ok with passing on perfectly fine, but not great, people. You have to realise that sweet, sweet solitude and freedom from dude-hobbies-you-dont-share-but-must-cheerlead is its own reward. If you fully get this, you may give up on looking altogether because it’s no biggie. Besides, since boys ARE everywhere, chances are that you don’t even have to look, since rare flotsam floating past will be obvious. If it doesn’t at least you won’t have to go to hostile DnD gatherings and that’s ok.
You can date people who are way less work than this.
All of the Captain’s advice is gold, but this particular bit is bejeweled. This needs to be printed on business cards that are handed out to every single person who is in a shitty relationship.
Yeah. This guy isn’t even around much, and when you do get to see him, he treats you to 8 hours (8 hours? HOURS?!!! If you’ve seen Brooklyn Nine Nine and the Scene of Captain Holt screaming “Bone??!!” – well that’s what I’m feeling here – but with “hours”) of him playing DnD with his mean friends? WTF? Why are you bending over backwards for this? Leave him and enjoy some peace and quiet, and then maybe a boyfriend who’s actually around.
Boys ARE everywhere! I love this..
But where the heck are the MEN?
Boys are awarded the title by the nature of their gender. MEN, however, are awarded the title by the nature of their actions.
Of course, I’m typing this as my husband giggles like a 10 year old. He is using his Bug-a-Salt shotgun to shoot the flies that are attracted to my evening snack. This is a glaring reminder that men are not men INSTEAD of boys, but are men IN ADDITION to being boys.
I feel your pain here. Well, I feel your boyfriend’s likely pain and my husband would probably feel yours.
Context: When husband and I first started dating, I was about to turn 25, and he was 20. Due to grade-skipping and early admissions, my undergrad circle of friends (at least the ones relevant to THIS story) were between two and six years older than I am, with one outlier who was closer to ten years older, and some of them had significant others who were older still.
The core circle of friends and their assorted significant others decided to rent a cabin for a long weekend, not quite a year after Mr. Cheshire and I met. He had briefly met some of these people at smaller gathering/reunions and at the funeral of one friend’s parent but hadn’t spent a lot of time with any of them. In addition to this, with one possible exception, everyone else was MUCH more financially stable than we were at the time, and people were wanting to do things that we couldn’t afford and talk a lot about doing things we couldn’t afford. So there were the inside jokes I was part of but he wasn’t and then the talking about flying places for vacation and seeing Broadway shows and other activities that were way outside our budget at that point in our lives, so I felt left out and he felt even more left out and I felt like I was being pulled in different directions and judged for dating “beneath” me.
And as a final awkward sidenote? Mr. Cheshire and Darth Ex (who was near-universally despised by this circle, and not without reason) have the same first name and I think some people forgot that this was a different Guy Cheshire Is Dating and not Darth Ex.
No actual screaming matches happened, but a lot of sullen withdrawing and quiet, tear-laden arguing took place between us, and my friends were not very nice to Mr. Cheshire either to his face or behind his back, including one friend taking it upon herself to say something like “we all talked and your boyfriend needs to learn better manners if he ever does anything with us again.”
It SUCKED. It also happened 15 years ago, Mr. Cheshire and I got married and stayed married, he also got a college degree of his own (which he didn’t have at that time), and we’re still friends with most of these friends (and the ones we’re not, that happened much later and for reasons that had little to nothing to do with this incident).
Something it took us both a while to learn, Mr. Cheshire and I, is that it is okay to have people we are different levels of close to, and “I’ll politely tolerate that friend of yours I just don’t click with for short periods and then equally politely go do SOMETHING ELSE” is an acceptable way to deal with it. You are not cheating on your partner by having friends (and if your partner thinks you are? BREAK UP as soon as you safely can because that’s the biggest brightest red flag I can think of, yikes).
I also have pretty strict boundaries about friends I’m willing to spend 8 hours with / a weekend trapped with. This is master-level friending, I don’t do that on a whim – there are lots of really great people that I genuinely like, that I would not be able to go on vacation with. I would always choose to opt out and I would definitely not bring a new person in without a clear and easy escape hatch.
Seconding the boundaries! I really don’t do the “rent a cabin” or any other remote-type vacation or retreat unless I have my car and the option to leave any time I want to. This was solidified not by a personal vacation, but a brief and terribad work retreat. I won’t go anyplace without knowing that I can leave if I’m uncomfortable.
I’m with the Captain here. This outing sounds like a hellscape. I am married and adore my wife, and I still don’t have EIGHT HOURS of spoons to hang out with her friends. Even the ones I like.
I typically have about 2 hours in me of friendly hang-out time. So I show up late and leave early. And make those 2 hours count. If I am my wife’s ride (which happens often), she gets a 15 minute warning and then we leave together. Or she finds her own way home.
I will state for the record that it took us YEARS of tears, crappy friend events, and WHY DON’T YOU LIKE MY FRIENDS??? to come to this arrangement.
I like her friends. I like that she likes them. I like it best when they hang out together and I take myself somewhere else. However, sometimes you have to show up and be friendly. Even when they talk endlessly about college times (that I wasn’t there for), or grad school times (that I really don’t care to hear about for the 10000x time), or political times (I’m not into echo chambers).
I second the Captain’s advice. Figure out how often and for how long you can stand to be in a room with these people and hold up your end of the deal. Always have an exit plan. And remember – the first rule of introducing a significant other to an important hobby is to take care of their needs first and do it in small doses. Your boyfriend screwed up big-time.
You know, thinking about it?
There is NOTHING, not one thing, that I want do, see, or hear about for eight solid hours without a break. Not sex, not eating chocolate, not watching [favorite TV show]. not spending money, nothing. Not alone, not in a group, not in a box, not with a fox.
It’s not wrong or an aberration to not want to watch a group of strangers play a game for EIGHT FUCKING HOURS.
Sleep. That’s it. Eight hours of uninterrupted sleep sounds magical.
Oh, you mean an actual activity? Nope! Not a thing.
Definitely not for the sake of sparing anybody’s feelings. Damn sure not for the sake of rude and inconsiderate people.
And all that, with a migraine?! Sign me up for never. The only thing I need 8 hours of when I have a migraine is silence.
I would be plotting the demise of everyone in this situation less than an hour in. Much longer than it takes to say goodbyes, and I’d be showing my whole entire ass and then some. And not feel one bit guilty for it. Spontaneous combustion would not be out of the question. Lessons would be learned about the limits of the tolerance and kindness. It is OK to stand up for your own needs!
LW must have the genuine patience of a SAINT.
I would play D&D for 8 straight hours and I can think of a number of other activities I’d happily do for that long (reading, Minecraft, watching a favourite show) and this still sounds like hell!!
Absolutely. I’d see it as correlate to thinking you were going for a relaxed hill walk (40 minutes? Oh ok, I can do an hour an a half at a stretch) and it turned out to be hiking, mountain, short/no breaks.
This genuinely seems the physical equivalent. Roleplay games are intellectually and socially tiring.
Mmm, sweet blissful sleep! I’m with you there! And reading – while eight hours is a stretch, if there’s a book I’ve been anticipating (hello, Harry Potter from Order of the Phoenix on!) I’m gonna sit there and devour it. Otherwise, no, there is nothing that I want to do for eight solid hours unless I’m being well-paid for it. As for socializing – I’m an introvert and hanging out playing games or socializing for EIGHT HOURS sounds like a yet undiscovered circle of hell. Nopity nope nope.
There are definitely things I’d do 8 hours. I’ve watched LoTR for 12 hours (the extended editions of all three movies). There are (a select few) friends I’d hang out with for 8 hours. I’ve probably watched YouTube Let’s Plays or read fanfiction for 8 hours at some point.
Watching people play a game I don’t understand? Hell no, I’d be out of there ASAP.
Super impressed the LW held out that long.
Speaking as a former player of tabletop RPGs, a really good session with an advanced group with serious skills takes that long at least to really get the most out of it and to be the most fun.
I find it incomprehensible to ask someone to watch that though — I can’t imagine anything more dull.
When I first joined my group I was the newbie plunged into an advanced group full of players with serious skills and a complex rule set. They provided a character for me based around some questions they had asked me to try to get a feel for what I might like (I had no idea what the hell they were talking about), and for my first few sessions (all about 8 hours — we were a very pot-luck-bringing crowd) I generally had 3-8 eagerly helpful people standing around my chair at any point delighted for the chance to answer questions or offer suggestions or explanations or fill in background on what was happening.
That’s how you welcome a newb in such away that they’ll want to play with your group for the next 15-20 years.
I’ve also played a lot, in college and in the days before wrangling adults became just about impossible. I’ve never been able to handle sessions longer than about 3 hours. It means it takes a long time to get through an adventure, but people’s availability has typically been in the evening, and I stop having fun when it’s past my bedtime.
THIS. Hell, I don’t even want to WORK for eight hours but unfortunately it’s not always possible to get out of that one.
I get why D&D would possibly go that long–it’s a long and involved game!–but christ, does that ever sound exhausting, for the folks playing OR the folks watching! I read that part of the OP and thought that they were more patient than I would have been–I don’t think I would have lasted half that time.
thepiratefranki, very well said! My husband has very similar boundaries as you do – and it works perfectly for us.
I simply had to comment on what I can do for 8 hours or over (bathroom breaks excluded): sleeping, writing, reading, playing certain video games and tabletop role playing games with friends and co-op board games – but most people I know do not like to concentrate in one thing as long periods of time as I do – and taking a break and doing something else does a world of good (except when I am writing in a flow mode).
There’s a reason that D&D is such a catalyst for Geek Social Fallacies of various kinds. It’s a long-term, collaborative, intimate endeavor that goes on for a long time at each session and relies heavily on the active participation of everyone there. When it’s good, you hardly notice all the little bumps along the way. When it’s bad, it’s like an office job in which you also have to try to convince yourself that you’re there to have fun. It is the absolute worst kind of social environment into which to bring a SO unless you’re really sure that they already like D&D, they already like the people there, and they’ll be able to participate in whatever length of story is going on. (and even then, your girlfriend can still dump you to date the DM in the middle of a game that’s been going for two years, leaving you forced to choose between finishing a story and getting the heck out, which is not a fun situation to find yourself in.)
One positive suggestion for the LW, though, if they want to hang out with their boyfriend’s boorish friends again and the boorish friends want to roll some dice, is to suggest the group play board games of the non-D&D variety. Most people who like D&D also like playing other games, and most have a nice big collection they’re dying to try out. A couple hours of board games that don’t involve the kind of emotional investment that D&D does can help you get to know these people in a situation that isn’t going to be as fraught. Moreover, the breaks between games offer easy ‘outs’ for when you need them. And even then, bring an escape plan.
A+ username for this, A+ “and even then, your girlfriend can still dump you to date the DM in the middle of a game that’s been going for two years, leaving you forced to choose between finishing a story and getting the heck out, which is not a fun situation to find yourself in,” A+ suggestions.
You’ve put together something that I’ve missed for… ever, basically… and suddenly my own game is making more sense. D&D exacerbates already present GSFs, which tend to be… let’s go with “enriched” in the D&D-playing population to begin with! I’m about to start up a game with a new crowd and now I feel extra prepared because of your insight!
I’m glad it helped! Unfortunately, I had to learn it by watching a group of people who used to really like each other slowly dissolve because they couldn’t vocalize that they weren’t having fun at D&D anymore. I wish your new group a better fate!
And don’t forget the “misplaced loyalty to the refuge of my youth” aspect. I’ve seen many people refuse to let go of a lot of things that meant the world to them when they were fifteen and felt lost and confused and that this thing was the light in the cottage where they belonged, but it’s done all it can for them, and they feel like they’re betraying it somehow by admitting they want to move on.
And then you’re confronted with the question, “Move on to what!?”
Oh man, does that ring true. (It wasn’t D&D for me, but amateur theater) but about two years ago I had the stark realization that I wasn’t being rewarded nearly enough for the energy and money I was putting into my hobby and I needed to not do it anymore.
It was super freeing.
This is how Harry Potter is for me (meant the world at fifteen, but has done all it could for me by now) and I feel such guilt around friends whose passion for it has not dimmed. That’s fine if it still means a lot to them, but I can’t see it in that way anymore and I can’t connect with them over it anymore Your insight that it feels like I’m betraying it (the fandom, my fifteen year old self, my friends who still love it? all those?) definitely resonates.
Oh yes, not d&d for me, but when I was 20 and mostly miserable with other parts of my life I used to go to techno parties. And they were all kinds of awesome and I thought I would forever want to go. And it took some time to realise that it’s not a sign of something terrible to be all “it’s friday night and yeah there is this party which I would probably like but I just got home and I’m kind of tired and also I’ve got this sofa and a laptop with internet access and no-one to bother me and I would need to put clothes on and nahhh, skip”.
omg I feel this comment so hard. There are times where eight hours of D&D feel like nothing, and I want to keep going to see what happens next. Then there are times where after one hour I am mostly playing “order the dice by which spins easiest as a top, d12 -> d4.” I would literally never play without one core person who I knew had my back in case people started acting like assholes even a at a subtle level far, FAR lower than LW experienced.
One day one of the players tried to push the DM out of a fifth floor window. 🤫
Hundreds of pages of characters’ (PC and NPC) info, dozens of books…all wrnt out of that window. Some may have been on fire at the time. Expensive props and costumes for LARP met a similar fate.
He really had it coming.
Ooh and let’s not forget the awful trope that is GIRL IN THE DUNGEON OMG SHE MUST BE MY SOOOOOUUUUULMATE!!! Fortunately I have only been in nice, well-rounded, gender-balanced groups (perhaps there’s a median age at which the groups get better?), but a friend of mine has had some pretty gross experiences with classic toxic nerdboy behaviour in other groups (mostly of the ‘but surely you’re here to make my boner happy’ variety…)
My good D&D groups have always had gender parity. It’s not necessarily causal, but there’s definitely a correlation.
My boyfriend GMs a lot and has remarked on how much more smoothly the game runs when there’s at least gender parity among the players. Even in our little SJW geek circle, male-dominated games involve more bullshit, according to him.
>>When it’s bad, it’s like an office job in which you also have to try to convince yourself that you’re there to have fun. >>
Seconded on the excellently matched username. And THANK YOU for expressing something I haven’t been able to clearly express about one game I’m in.
It’s a job. That’s exactly it. Surrounded by people I don’t want to let down, because nobody likes a killjoy. And in this case, it was (as some have theorized about this situation) tailored to a couple of specific players with a few others like me roped in to fill seats / round out the party. Over the last year or so, I have gone beyond apathy to whatever you’d call the opposite of being invested. I resist giving a fig about this thing.
Don’t do this to your players, GMs. In fact, I know including people in one’s hobby is generally good, but please realize the downsides – like this situation and mine. Please and thank you.
This comment isn’t just gold, it’s mithral-plated adamantine. I wish I’d thought of board games as a low stress alternative around the time I discovered that however much I liked my RPG-loving friends, their coping strategy of blowing off steam from jobs they hated by griefing their friends and my earnest solve all the puzzles outlook didn’t make for a happy game for any of us.
YES on doing other types of tabletop games – I don’t have the time/energy to invest into a D&D campaign/story, but I’m always up for some board games, from the quick 10 minute to the longer ~2 hour varieties.
I was in a similar situation once. The person I was dating at the time was a semi-garbage person and all of their friends were complete garbage people. Then-partner dragged me out to a rundown house in the country with no cell signal to play poker in the context of a D&D game (so everyone was in character) and the host was such a massive asshole I was ready to leave after one round. But of course we rode together so I couldn’t leave until the game was over. I learned one very important thing that night: if you don’t like someone’s friends, you don’t like the someone. We broke up soon thereafter (I was “too ambitious” for wanting to get a PhD at some point in the vague indefinite future) and thankfully I never saw Then-partner or their garbage friends ever again.
“If you don’t like someone’s friends, you don’t like the someone”. I am SO GLAD you said this. A lot of times I see the phrases like “No one has to like my friends.” And this is true. And no one can tell you who you can and cannot be friends with either. But I think people forget their are hierarchy of friendships as well. And in my experience it has been that if you are in a “I hang out with this person by myself with no other buffer” or “I vacation with these people” or “I can play long complicated games with these people happily and voluntarily” type of friendship and those people happen to be absolutely awful people, then you are likely not the person for me. Who we choose in those top two tiers of our “inner circle” say a lot about what we like about ourselves, what we value, what we are willing to tolerate and most importantly: What we relate to!. Therefore, if your friends who are that close are going to behave that effing rudely to me, a significant other, and you are still OK with maintaining that relationship with them? Than it is not going to work out for me. I don’t want to be around people who like people who are awful, because *shocker* I eventually find out that person is pretty awful too in the Same Exact Ways. Like yeah, be friends with these people, but know that I am here trying you out as well. If I don’t like the close friends, then I am not likely to stick around.
Exactly. Every time I’ve ever dated a guy whose friends I didn’t like much, I eventually didn’t like the guy either. I have subsequently decided that if I ever again meet a guy’s friends and dislike them or vice versa, it’s probably time to take a long, hard look at the relationship and decide if it’s worth pursuing further.
My brain is exploding rn.
My ex hated the vast majority of my friends and loved his best friend more than me (WAY more). I didn’t trust his best friend who had violent abusive tendencies.
Fuck. How did that get past me for so long?!
Thank you. Yes. A thousand times yes.
To quote David Morrison, “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.” Yes, I certainly DO judge people based on who they voluntarily hang out with.
YES. With a good helping of “But they’re not assholes TO ME” as a red flag for compassion fail.
This is such an interesting insight! I’m now thinking about my friends and acquaintances and which ones would be good indicators of whether or not someone would like me. And yeah, if someone doesn’t like any of the top three, they probably won’t like me either.
“If you don’t like someone’s friends, you don’t like the someone.”
I completely agree. There’s a huge difference between just not clicking with them and actively disliking them.
If they’re just not your cup of tea, that’s fine. Your SO can just be with them solo, and it won’t be too bad to spend a little time with them every now and again. But if you actively dislike them, there’s a reason for that. Either they’re rude or they have different values or different standards of treating people. It’s an indication that you and your SO aren’t really on the same page about some big stuff, like what makes a relationship good and what makes a person a good person.
“If they’re just not your cup of tea, that’s fine…But if you actively dislike them, there’s a reason for that.”
I think that’s an important distinction, so thank you for making it. Although even then, my husband has a couple of friends I don’t get along with because we’re a little too much alike in terms of how we react when we’re stressed and/or defensive, and a couple of unfortunate incidents early on in our acquaintance before I figured out what was going on have made it so that we’re already on high alert and have to really work at not triggering those reactions in each other. If OP still encounters friction with some of the friends even after the “can we start over, please?” speech, and things are otherwise good with Boyfriend, it’s worth considering that possibility.
I feel like this has a lot of truth. oh boy am I worried. I let him know that I want to resolve this whole thing, and I feel like I will have to suck it up and bite the bullet if I want to make amends. I’m frustrated knowing that had this whole thing gone down in the beginning of our relationship, I would be outta there/it/ALL OF IT. I have a lot of respect for the fact that I think he thinks I was 100% wrong, that his friends were just being themselves, and that he has little to no responsibility in the matter YET HE STILL wanted to work through this and here we are a year later (although we never went beyond apologizing to each other to actually apologize between the friends and me).
They say to judge someone by their friends, not who they love–and I am honestly so frustrated by both being desperate to be the girl who fits right into their group and also being able to advocate for myself about what happened. I wish so badly that I could just like his friends and that my relationship with them could come naturally. Yet somehow I get the feeling that even if making amends goes well, the whole thing having me their with all of them will be natural for him while I do the labor to make it all work (he plays DnD with them every other weekend or so to this day, so it’s not like he’s still reeling from this event with his relationship with them). I know I’m not obligated to, but it just sucks so hard to love someone and not feel like the natural, perfect, “fits in with the friends” girl. Like, there is a sort of feminine-virtues thing tied up in this too–I mean, relationships should meld comfortably for all genders, as far as how people fit into your life, but the more comments I read here and the more introspection I do, I feel like so much of the (often hypocritical) emotional labor is assigned to me: I have to be both enjoying his DnD story but should have found a way to make it all end earlier in a more appropriate way; I have to bare the weight of the apology because I got angry about it, but they are getting off freezing me out the whole day on these “boys will be boys”-type logic excuses; I have to bring this unresolved thing up if it’s gonna get dealt with, but I’m also now potentially responsible for stirring the pot and making things tense by bringing it up again; the first time I met them I was torn between needing to show that I am a virtuous, kind person who can accept his ex gf (who they are all friends with still) and don’t want to be Yoko breaking up the band, while not being responsible for going back on wanting to meet her when they say “let’s go to her house!” All of these things are obviously related to choices and priorities that I make and I take responsibility for that–it just sucks to feel like I have to uphold these choices and priorities as they are in order to keep a relationship with someone who is otherwise pretty great and who (as naive as I must sound) I want to spend my future with. This is the only thing that has truly rocked our boat but it’s scary to stand at a fork in the road that is “bite your tongue” and “advocate for yourself” and feel like no matter which you choose you will lose everything.
As far as the feeling that if this had happened at the beginning of the relationship, you would have noped on out, it might be worth exploring what makes it different now that you’re at not-the-beginning. Your feelings and needs certainly aren’t less important because you’ve been in a relationship for a while, and if you’ve been together for a while, that also ought to mean he cares more about treating you well and has a better idea of how to do so than when you first met. If that’s not the case, it might be something to think about.
It might also be worth thinking about what the sunk costs and ongoing benefits of your relationship are. The sunk costs are whatever you’ve put into the relationship that you can’t get back no matter what, and are hoping for something to make those costs worthwhile. The thing to remember is that those costs are gone regardless, so it might be worth cutting your losses if this isn’t a good relationship. The ongoing benefits are things that actually come from the relationship that you would lose if you ended it, things like companionship and support, and the question there is whether the good outweighs the bad. Obviously I can’t answer that for you; I just wanted to offer a couple framings in case they’re helpful.
Ugh, I hear you on the pressure to fit in and be the chill girl. I’m just really angry on your behalf because the gap between minimum standards of decency and how you were actually treated is so big. Like, is your boyfriend at all worried about whether his friends are making a positive impression on you? Do the friends care? And no, not all guys are like that sheesh. (I don’t think you have to bring it up unless you want to; you can probably make sure it doesn’t happen again just on your end. You don’t have to hang out with your boyfriend’s friends, at least not much.) (ps have there been other conflicts in your relationship and how has that gone? when you bring a problem up do things tend to get better or not?)
The Life-Changing Magic of Dumping People Who Don’t Make You Feel Good = true and amazing
Thoughtful, wonderful advice as usual from The Captain. Good luck, letter writer, whether it’s with navigating this situation or a breakup.
Yeah, Captain, if you ever decide to change your tag line I think you’ve got the new one right there.
Captain, I’m confused by the “In your head” and “Out loud:” paragraphs – are you encouraging or discouraging her from saying the “In your head” stuff? I can’t tell whether you mean “If you’re thinking A, you can say it nicely as B” or “If you’re thinking A but saying B, then you should be more straightforward.”
The good Captian may well jump in and answer you definitively herself but I thought it was the first one. If you’re thinking A, you can say it nicely as B”
My first thought on reading this is that LW’s boyfriend has another girlfriend, a local one. And has been downplaying his relationship with LW to friends. Maybe that’s not fair, but I’m having a hard time understanding why a group of his friends would treat the two of you so badly if there isn’t another girlfriend, one that they know and like just because she isn’t from out of town.
Bit of a stretch, I think.
They’re assholes and resent the LW for being a horrible non-gaming evil person who is Not One Of Us and is taking their GM buddy’s attention.
Yeah that’s my guess too. It’s ok hopefully soon they’ll resent the LW because they dumped the bf over DND.
Ding Ding. High odds on the friends perceiving LW as the Yoko to their DnD Beatles.
The Other Woman’s initials are D and D.
My wild speculation is that around their high school buddies, some might revert to high school attitudes / dynamics. Kind of like the way they say siblings revert to childhood attitudes / dynamics. I don’t know whether that actually happens with friend groups, though.
Oh it totally happens. I met a boyfriend’s college friends once, and suddenly I had a whole new boyfriend who was totally That Guy Who Must Be Center of Attention Even If It Ruins Everyone Else’s Fun.
Under normal circumstances boyfriend was charmingly nerdy about things he was passionate about, but, like, also interested in other people. Sometime in grad school he learned listening skills, I assume.
And I had to laugh at myself, too, because way too many exes have been That Guy, and I thought I’d managed to do better for once, with a recovering That Guy!
That seems like a jump. There are lots of reasons his friends might have treated LW badly–maybe they resented Boyfriend bringing along a stranger to a long-awaited friend-game-session, maybe they got absorbed in the game and didn’t stop to consider how their behavior was coming off, maybe they’d heard Boyfriend complain about her or something and had pre-judged her as a bad person, maybe they just have no social skills whatsoever. None of these make it ok that they were so awful, of course, but they seem more likely than ‘Boyfriend secretly has an entirely separate girlfriend without LW being aware of it’.
I don’t think there’s anything at all to suggest that. This is all consistent with them just being kind of shitty people who didn’t care to put any effort into dealing with the fact that there was a stranger in their hobby space.
Oh My Invisible Pink Unicorn! What a horrible event.
Really, you don’t have to hang out with nasty people who don’t notice when you’re migrainous. Argh.
Follow the Captain’s advice and make sure you see them for shorter periods, and can easily exit.
I generally don’t notice when people have migraines unless they tell me, especially if they’re somebody who I just met and therefore have no baseline for their typical behavior.
I assume that all adults are continuously monitoring the state of their own health; that they will vocalize a problem or request an accommodation when needed; and that they are not relying on near-strangers to observe their symptoms, diagnose the problem, and act preemptively to mitigate it.
The people at this event seem to be a bunch of asses, but I don’t fault them for failing to Shelock Holmes all the clues to deduce that the LW had a migraine.
I presumed that Daisy’s BF was not attending, and that she’d mentioned her migraine.
But migraines can leave a person pretty much speechless. Mine don’t usually – but they have.
My read on the letter is that Daisy’s BF was definitely on-site, as he was playing the game with his friends.
The letter says that Daisy had a migraine, but not that Daisy mentioned it to the other people present.
I agree that if Daisy made people aware of the problem and then they just blew it off that’s a crappy thing to do. That’s different than just “not noticing” it, though.
I’m an extrovert who likes RPGs, and that STILL sounds like hell, especially with a migraine.
Having an escape plan is crucial — and, yeah, if you want your SO to enjoy your hobbies and/or your friends, this is the exact opposite of the right way to introduce them.
(Also, as a 19-year veteran of various long-distance relationships, the Captain nailed it on the “I don’t want to spoil our precious time together by having needs” dynamic, and why it’s more likely to create blowouts when somebody gets exhausted/hangry/migraine-ridden.)
And I will add this: If you marry/do a long term relationship with someone whose job has them absent more than they are present, this also happens.
And it can fester for YEARS. It doesn’t matter if his pants don’t make it into the hamper, if he leaves beard hair all over the sink, the toilet seat’s up. and he can’t remember to take a plate back to the kitchen, or where we keep the bread….cause he’s only home for 24 hours, and the kids want daddy, and I want husband time, and fuck it I’ll clean it up Sunday after he leaves.
So then he’s never seen me cleaning and doesn’t realize how much work he’s making, because I do it all when he’s gone. And more toxically, he’s used to getting all my attention when he’s there.
Needless to say when he came off the road, yea, there were explosions.
I’m concerned that your boyfriend seems to have brought it up afterwards specifically and only to air his concerns about *your* behaviour. Then when you put your points, his only response was to defend his friends. Like you say, there were many other factors here, not least of which was his own failure to check in with you and listen to you about what kind of a time you were having. Nor has he acknowledged the part his friends played with their hostility. If not acknowledging your concerns or welfare in this way is a pattern, I would be very wary.
HOLYYY SH*T. I don’t even have enough spoons for eight hours non-stop with my OWN friends, let alone with rude strangers where I can’t even leave the room to get a few minutes alone.
I agree with the Captain, I think your boyfriend needs to do some serious amends work if he wants you to hang out with those people again. And I think you 100% don’t have to see them ever again if you don’t want to.
Could this maybe be about feeling upset that someone is out there thinking badly of you? As a fellow people pleaser I totally get that. It’s not a nice feeling, even when it’s people you don’t really like yourself, and it can be hard to move past.
I hope that people’s reactions here in the comments will help you feel better about how you acted in such an extremely difficult situation, and to feel empowered about deciding when or if you want to see these people again. ❤
I wonder … Did the D&D friends know you were coming? Like, had the boyfriend told them in advance “hey, my SO will be there, and they haven’t played before but are interested in joining in” or were they expecting an intense marathon D&D session? I mean they were still rude even if not, especially to not even acknowledge you, but I’ve been in both positions and when I’m the friend where someone shows up with unannounced new SO it’s like “aw man I was expecting to have time with old friends and an activity we all know really well, now I gotta Meet New Person and spend awhile explaining things” and it’s a compleeeetely selfish reaction but if I’m unprepared it’ll still sorta be there Though I’d try to hide it. This isn’t really defending the friends so much as, it’s probably not personal to you and your BF REALLY should have let them know you’d be there. Cause if my friend tells me ahead of time “and I’m bringing my new partner, so excited for you all to meet, partner doesn’t know the game though” then I’ll be going in excited to meet new partner with a different expectation.
I think your boyfriend definitely had more responsibility here and should absolutely have been apologizing to you. Cause that’s… yeah, wow. I am imagining myself in that position with an activity I don’t know, like or care about of the same complexity of D&D and just…nope.
Yeah I’ve been in similar situations, where a friend unexpectedly brings her husband to friend group events. I do try to be polite and include him, but I feel privately annoyed since it changes the dynamic completely and creates extra work for us since we have almost nothing in common with him, and he makes little effort to carry the conversation.
It would be slightly less annoying if she said from the start he was coming so I knew what to expect or could opt out, rather than making it sound like a just-friends event and then surprising us with him. It changes the event from what I thought was going to be a chill hang with people I know well, into work.
I don’t want to be an exclusionary jerk, but honestly I don’t think we’re ever going to be actual friends with him since we have so little in common, and it’s kinda weird that he’s the only partner there when nobody else brings theirs.
having an invite list is not being an “exclusionary jerk” 🙂 it would be completely reasonable for you to tell her (and/or everyone) not to bring extra people without permission.
Oh yeah I’ve had a conversation with her about this in the context of me organising or inviting, and she’s cool with it and has respected that. The remaining problem is when she’s organising stuff. She’ll group message me and another friend like “hey ladies, want to get a drink tonight?” and I’m like yay a girls drinks night, cool. Then when we arrive, surprise he’s suddenly there and it’s super awkward because we can’t just chat freely about whatever we normally would if it was just friends.
But there’s really no kind or tactful way to ask her to tell us in advance that he’ll be coming to something she organises, like “hey can you tell me if you’re bringing the husband because then I’ll opt out, thanks byeeeee!”
At the time of her inviting you, you could ask “is this a ladies-only night? Because I am so up for a catch-up lady to lady!” And then it’s on her to say “Ah, no, Richard’s coming too.” To which you can then reply “I’ll spare him the girly talk then! I’ll catch you at the next girl night out! Have a great time!”
Something to consider!
Reply to Jyoti (ran out of comment nesting):
Thanks, yes I’ve considered that but I’m not sure how much she’d go along with the it’s a girly girly thing, since we’re not super girly. And I feel like that would make it top obvious that I’m trying to avoid him, which might hurt hers and his feelings.
I even tried the introvert excuse of “oh I only have social spoons to hang out with one person today”, but that backfired because she thought I wasn’t feeling well and said to rest and she’d reschedule. XD
My sister is prone to this.
She’ll go “Let’s do a thing!” and when I show up, there’s also at least one extra person. I really prefer to be told in advance how many people to expect to have to be Peopling around, so it grates. At least part of it is that my sister hates to leave others out, so she’ll extend invitations to extra people like they were candy.
Yeah, as much as “spend eight hours with a bunch of people you don’t know doing something you’re not familiar with or interested in” sounds like outright hell, “spend eight hours doing something you love with friends PLUS one person you don’t know at all and is going to totally change the group dynamic” is… also not something I’d necessarily sign up for. I’d be pretty cheesed at the boyfriend, if he was my friend in that situation. Unfortunately, a group as likely to be rife with GSFs as a high school D&D group has a good chance of holding the boyfriend’s partner responsible for the awkwardness instead of placing the blame where it probably belongs.
And as a long-time DM, I can say D&D tends not to be a particularly newbie-friendly game. It’s common for character creation to be the sort of thing that takes a few hours, even for experienced players. it’s pretty much never the sort of game I’d spring on someone. Usual procedure in my groups when bringing a new player in was to have someone experienced sit with them and walk them through building a character and the basic mechanics BEFORE having them come to a session. It’s not like a board game where you can usually pick up the basic rules fairly quickly.
Yes! It totally changes the dynamic of the event, and I don’t get how some people I know don’t understand this when they randomly spring their partner on an otherwise friend group event.
This is a good point. I’ve had various people spring “can I bring a plus-one?” on me last second, and it grumped me out because being around strangers is something I like to be mentally prepared for in the same way that I like to, for example, go out in public with clean hair. If a guest turned up to my house with someone I didn’t know or wasn’t expecting, I would not be at my best (and it likely wouldn’t improve my mood if there was a screaming match too). But, of course, I would still do my best to be polite and welcoming and make sure they were okay, especially if they also appeared to not be having a great time.
Agreed. It definitely sounds like these people did NOT want her there, for whatever reason. Because they were nice to her previously, I suspect it was because they wanted only the core group there to play the game.
But if this is how they act when they don’t get their way, they’re not good people to invest time and energy into becoming friends with. Unless they’re all 13, people should be able to deal with minor disappointments without being blatantly hostile to someone who has done nothing wrong.
I agree that the BF had a responsibility here. He should have checked with his friends to see if it was okay. And he should have checked in with her during the game, especially when everything started to go south.
> I mean they were still rude even if not, especially to not even acknowledge you
This. I was getting to be friends with a person, and when I came to his house, his wife (who I had known first thru community stuff) never said hi. If I spoke to her directly, she’d reply, but to never say hello to someone who has just crossed your threshhold? And we were all in our 30’s or 40’s at the time, too.
I expressed to my friend that I didn’t think his wife liked me, and he checked with her, and she denied it utterly, which he believed and repeated back to me. I thought, Huh, okay, and then kept my eyes open. After awhile, I reiterated to my friend that his wife didn’t like me, and if she was denying that, she was lying to someone, even if it was herself. And I told him that she could say what she liked, but the message I was taking was one of dislike, and I was going to believe it, and I stopped visiting at his house.
(Fast forward 10-ish years. They’re divorced, and he’s still my friend, and he comes to visit me and my wife every Sunday for dinner and games.)
I DM myself, and I wouldn’t agree to spend eight hours at someone else’s game!
Introducing a non-playing SO to a gaming group can be tricky. It can work well if the SO is genuinely interested in learning to play, and is coached/helped by their partner as they join the campaign, *and* the group is okay with adding a new, novice member. Personally, I’d also run the new person through a short (~ 1 hr) starter session on their own so I can walk them through the basic mechanics, and would help them work up an easily playable character. I also wouldn’t accept a novice player into a higher level campaign, because that’s just going to be a mess.
I’m kind of curious if your boyfriend asked his friends if you could join the game, or if he just brought you along? If they weren’t warned, I wouldn’t fault them for not being interested in trying to teach you the game while playing, and concentrating on the game rather than hosting you. (Although not greeting you when you arrived was rude, even if they were surprised by an uninvited guest showing up).
So in the future – if your boyfriend has a game, let him go and DM on his own, and do something fun yourself. If you want to get to know his friends, meet them in a non game, for a couple of hours, not all day!
Yeah, I was also utterly baffled by the boyfriend here; if the group had all been playing together for a long time, and are used to 8-hour sessions, then even if they’re usually patient with newcomers it was a bad idea to try to make this the LW’s first game.
Yea – I thought that too. This is not the time or place to teach someone to play D&D. He should have sat you down prior to this and gone over all the things you needed to know. And maybe played a much smaller game with less people. Throwing you into the deep end with a lot of old friends who have played together was not the way to go at all. This stuff is complicated and not easy to pick up on the fly.
I wonder if the boyfriend being dungeon master for the night was a big deal for him, as was brining his girlfriend to mix with his friends for the first time? Like it was kind of “his night” and he assumed without thinking about it that the LW would just be there to support him and watch him do his thing? Sort of like when you go see your significant other perform in a show or compete at a sport (or whatever it is they do) and you meet a significant group of people who are also there for your SO. I met my hubs’ parents for the first time at a play he was in, and he met my folks for the first time at a concert I was singing in. Except the length of time and other factors turned this situation into a locked room scenario, plus this boyfriend sounds oblivious at best and like a total choad at worst. Maybe he had a movie playing in his head where it all went great and they mixed effortlessly and broke into a flawless dance number without ever rehearsing, and that is a factor in why he is being so lame about this. And the friends had a movie playing in their heads about great friend time? Although honestly I don’t get the blanking. I have had interactions with a very clique-ish grad school cohort, where I was blanked at a party because I was the only one there not in the clique, and all you can do is decide that they are just very limited people and their inability to be a basic amount of polite to people outside their clique will not serve them well in life. Which is probably why they are in academe because they are profoundly unemployable in any other context. But I digress. LW, your nopetopus awaits whenever you decide you are done putting up with this.
Thinking of a participatory activity like DnD as something that is about HIM and that LW should be a spectator to his enjoyment is icky in and of itself.
“Come watch me have fun but you don’t get to play” is not the same as “I’d love for you to attend my concert/tournament final/achievement ceremony”.
“your nopetupus awaits” is such a useful phrase!
That…could be. Some people seem to have a remarkably high tolerance for watching other people play games, and if the boyfriend is one of those people I could maybe see him assuming it might interest LW? Wow what a bad assumption though. Could also just be “I want to play DnD with my friends and I want to spend time with my girlfriend, hey why don’t I do both at once!” without even momentarily thinking about whether it would interest her. I had an ex who seemed to enjoy being around me even when i was bored out of my skull because I was just tagging along with what he was doing and not actually doing anything myself, and he seemed genuinely confused that I wasn’t enjoying myself too. (Although I bet if I were doing stuff and he was just sitting on his hands he wouldn’t be happy with the situation either.)
I feel like I finally have something to add!
Don’t feel bad if you didn’t enjoy the game of D&D but I recommend you try and play with different people. The group I first played with was a horrible fit and I tried twice to play but not only did they play for more than 8 hours (This was with my brother and all of his friends).
While I too am on team dump him, what you might want to do if your boyfriend does want to include you in the hobby is consider some of the side hobbies that are a part of D&D, maybe you guys paint miniature characters together, maybe you help him make miniature set pieces, hell maybe you help him plan out or spitball ideas as the DM. I still help my brother and some of his friends paint their custom characters, and for at least two characters I helped my brother fill in their personality and background details.
Or maybe the Letter Writer could just keep doing the hobbies they already have, or things that interest them! “Love a man, love his hobbies” doesn’t have to be a thing.
Especially since nothing about the story suggests “And that’s the day I fell in love with D&D and decided to start painting miniatures for fun.” :-p
Learn HIS hobbies is something only said to women. I’ve never heard a man told to learn to like his gf or wife’s hobbies.
I’ve heard “learn to like football, Gladys” but never “learn to like flowe arranging, Earl.”
Hell, back when their were malls, men made jokes about having to go do this “female” activity. Because even participating in shopping and provisioning the house was not something men should have to do….
Why should she bend to fit into his world instead of him learning to not be a jerk who can see she’s in pain from a migraine?
Something of her letter makes me thing he wanted her there as an accessory to show off to his friends and not as a human being whose needs and wants he had to consider and adapt to.
Sorry captain if this ends up a duplicate, but WP is being odd today for me. Please delete if so.
I have never heard this advice given to a man in a cishet Relationship. Only to women dating men or married to men.
We say “Learn to like football, Ethel, because it’s important to your man. “We do not say “learn to like flower arranging, Earl, because it’s important to your woman. “
The only time men are given this advice Is in the context of couples seeking to connect to one another. Then the advice is given to both people in the couple to find things to do together. It’s never for the man to fit in to the woman’s life.
We expect women to fit into men’s lives and sometimesbe accessories to them. Sometimes literall accessories.
Something in her scenario, and I’m assuming it’s a woman, strikes me that she was an accessory rather than a person As far as the boyfriend was concerned.
(Apologies if I misgendered).
I have seen geek guys bring their girlfriends along to events like this so early because they wanted the other guys to see they had one who would sit around and be the “good girlfriend. “ the girlfriend enjoyment did not matter. She was expected to be bored. Who cared?
Does he treat her that way anytime they’re around other people?or was it just this time?
Part of being an adult in an adult relationship is that you don’t prioritize your friends at the partner’s expense and humiliation of your partner. Or your partner’s physical pain.
Even if she wasn’t his GF, You should never be so far up your own backside in any group event that you cease to care that one member of the group or a bystander is bored, or worse, in pain. Particularly when tha is preventable.
The group failed at basic human empathy. And she is the one being punished for it.
THIS THIS THIS. Women being expected to be decorative spectators, and/or to work (“Could you get us some more popcorn since you don’t care about the game anyway”) while the men have fun is a gross dynamic.
SNL made a great spoof of this dynamic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4kpVO56OBU
(It’s the Totinos one with Kristen Stewart)
“The uploader has not made this video available in your country.” 😦
regions are so damn stupid.
…thanks for saying which one it was, I googled and found a working video 🙂 https://vimeo.com/215729109
that was hilarious.
I knew a guy who complained that he “could not” meet women. I said, “Take a dance class – there’s usually more women than men in straight classes, and it requires people to interact with each other.” I got a sigh and an eyeroll, because he wasn’t *interested* in broadening his horizons or learning anything new, he just wanted to get a girlfriend who fit into his life as it already was.
I will also mention that we were in a female-dominated field at university at the time, so quite possibly the dance class wouldn’t have helped anyway, but it was this stubborn belief that women had to meet him where he was or it wasn’t worth his time that shocked me.
I mean, there’s nothing particularly wrong with wanting a partner who more-or-less fits into your life as it is (more-or-less because any new person with their own set of needs and desires is going to mean some amount of change). Everyone I’ve dated has been met that way. But it also depends on how much you particularly want a partner. If there are no candidates in your current spheres, pretty much the only way to find them is to expand your spheres one way or another.
I wonder if that has anything to do with the Hollywood trope that guys who pursue their own lifetime ambition will somehow save the world and magnetically pull in a trophy girlfriend whose only ambition is to figure out who the highest status male is?
As the Captain says, maybe not useful to the LW, but I appreciate your comment personally. I’ve painted minis where it was treated as an art project rather than any sort of gaming related thing but never thought to frame it in a side-hobby way. I am going to be using this concept to brainstorm ways I might be able to join in some hobbies of my husband’s that I am interested in but haven’t yet appealed to me to try. Thank you!
*interested when he tells me
Ugh, no. People are allowed to just not like gaming. Why aren’t people ever allowed to just not like gaming? It’s okay to not like gaming.
Ahhhhhh, the intersection of “The scarcity of your presence makes me want to stay velcro-ed to you until one of us leaves,” coupled with “I’m F&$%ing bored out of my skull…..when is this going to end!!??” This brings me back to my long distance [LD] relationship during college.
Some things I can add to the Captain’s advice:
1) Visits are going to be a lot more easy if you guys make a schedule together in advance, and set down some ground rules. This forces each of you to think about what you are willing to postpone or endure for the other person, AND THEN COMMUNICATE IT TO THEM.
2) During your rare time together, don’t be afraid to say no to something your bf wants to do while you are in town. You guys can usually work out a compromise, like seeing someone for only 1-2 hours instead of EIGHT.
For example, when my boyfriend would visit for the weekend during college, he would have to balance seeing me and his childhood friends. Usually, he would watch sports with his friends Friday night. At first, I would tag along, feel neglected b/c of all the sports talk, and this would lead to conflict between us. Best thing I ever did was let them have their guy time and meet up with bf later.
The clearest thing I remember from that time was my apprehension of expressing displeasure the LD relationship, because it was so ‘fragile.’ If there was one thing I could go back and tell my younger self, it would be to not be so scared of testing the relationship, of asking for what I need, or of leaving if I don’t get it. I say this not because that LD college relationship failed, but because I ended up marrying that guy. At this point, I know pushing back would not have ’broken’ the relationship, and that I would not want to be in a relationship that was snapped by such weak pressure.
They didn’t acknowledge me at all, I said hello like three times and I just got ignored/talked over/a stare from the silent girlfriend of the host. I had never played before and when I asked questions the host just brushed me off, so dropped out and sat with them while my boyfriend dungeon-mastered. They were loud and seemed nasty to my boyfriend while they played (8hrs), I just lost it having a migraine from them. They were giving my bf shit about something and I just got into it about how rude and loud they were, then had a screaming match with my boyfriend about being trapped somewhere with no sidewalks with such rude people (I live in a city/no car/couldn’t excuse myself), and to get me on a train home that night.
Wait, LW, after all that you apologized to your boyfriend? For what, putting up with being treated terribly and being crushingly bored for 8 straight hours before you got mad? Personally I think you deserve a medal for lasting that long.
LW, if I brought my SO to a group thing and my friends treated them this badly, I would have been dying of shame. He should be the one falling over himself apologizing, not you. He should have been the one telling his friends off for being dicks, not expecting you to patch things up.
I mean… it was an 8 hour game. 8 hours! Did they not stop for food? Drinks? A fucking pee break? Was there literally no moment during which he could have checked in with his SO? It doesn’t sound like the LW was putting on a happy performance until things blew up, it sounds like they tried to signal to their boyfriend that they were not having fun and the boyfriend was either a) too oblivious to pick up on them, or b) did not care enough to do anything about it. Either way – not a good look, dude!
LW, you cannot control how other people act, but if you are in an unfamiliar situation, where people are treating you badly, and your boyfriend is not having your back, it’s understandable that you would feel upset and neglected. You may not have wanted to scream at your boyfriend, but you’re not the one who ignored you for 8 fucking hours, and you’re not the one being rude either. Your outburst isn’t some caprice – it’s a consequence of bad behaviour, and your boyfriend is being prissy about it. It’s not spelling out good things about him.
You are not obligated to sit quietly (with a migraine!) and watch your bf play d&d with his (rude) friends while they all talk to each other and not to you. I don’t know why they were so rude, though I sincerely doubt anyone was secretly disliking you. While yelling is not the optimal response, it sounds like you tried to speak to bf before you got really upset. In that situation, I think getting angry and upset is understandable. You are concerned about making amends, but has anyone tried to make amends with you? Bf doesn’t sound like he is very kind or thoughtful to you. As the Captain has said, long distance relationships can make the people in them more willing to ignore behaviors that would be unacceptable someone living nearby. Is that what is happening here?
I once had my own experience with this sort of thing. I had a bf, back in my early 20s. Long distance relationship. Looking back, I had a lot of feelings like, “I should be paying more attention to what bf is talking (lecturing) about,” or, “I should be more interested in bf’s hobbies.” I spent my weekends at his place, watching him work on cars. I even helped with the cars, and washed and waxed the cars before car shows. I spent lots of time at these car shows, waiting in the car for bf to get back from looking at other cars with his friends (and the bikini contest). And I don’t care about cars. At all. I detest and loathe car shows with a great firey passion. We never did anything I wanted to do. We spent time at his house, with his friends, doing his activities. If I was anything less than enthusiastic about being bf’s support staff/cheerleader, bf’s friends and family would help him to reinforce strongly the idea that I should know my place. I actually felt guilty because I secretly hated the expectation that I should be the “cool girlfriend” who always looks cute, helps with the cars, cheers on my bf, and silently gazes at bf admiringly while he hangs out with his friends.
Bf and I moved in together, and it was hell. He was building a car engine in our tiny living room, and complaining that I wasn’t keeping the carpet clean and free of grease stains. He made dinner on his night to cook, and ate it all before I got home. Over and over. He complained that my bookshelf took up too much wall space that should be reserved for car posters. He repeatedly ran short of money at rent time due to important car part purchases. He invited his bros to our place almost every night. He was really happy, and we got engaged. I was miserable, but frantically trying to please bf and his friends and family because I thought it was my job.
I lasted 4 years with this bf, crying quietly in the bathroom and suffering through weekly migraines. Then one day I looked over at him sitting on our grease stained couch and realized that I hated being his idea of the cool, supportive girlfriend. I just *knew* that I had to get out, so I packed up and left that same day.
Best decision ever.
LW, please do not put too much pressure on yourself to make everything better for everyone involved in the d&d debacle. You don’t have to silently admire your bf’s d&d skills while ignoring your migraine. Not your job. You don’t have to appease bf’s rude friends. Also not your job. Breaking up sucks, but so does being treated like you do not matter. LW, you *do* matter. Maybe making everything better, so that everyone will get along, is not the best thing that could come from this. You can apologize if you wish, but you can also take a long, critical look at your relationship with bf and his friends. Decide for yourself whether you really like bf’s idea of the sort of person you should be. What do you want for yourself? What will make you happy?
LW, I wish you all the best and happiest things in life, and no more migraines! Jedi hugs!
Jesus that sounds horrible. I’m glad you left.
Me too! 😉
LW, I get the embarrassment of the blow out in front of people who are essentially strangers. If I understand your letter correctly, you wanted to be Fun Visiting Girlfriend Who Shares his passion for D&D and it turned into hell.
You’re human. You walked into a weird situation where his friends were rude to you. It’s okay. Don’t waste any more time thinking about making amends to them when they have reason to make amends to you. Good luck to you.
I am not an angry person; I absolutely hate losing my temper and will try almost anything before letting myself get to that point. “Sit in a room with people who are pointedly ignoring and excluding me, with no option to leave or do something else” would still be a surefire way to push me to that point–and that’s without the migrane. I think most people would feel the same! It’s time to forgive yourself for reacting to an awful situation in a less-than-ideal but very human way.
Exactly. LW, why do you want to “make amends” with those people who were rude to you and freezing you out? You don’t even know or like them, they don’t appear to like you, why even try to see them again? Sounds like hell for everyone involved.
And your BF’s behaviour has certainly been less than stellar here, especially if he keeps bringing it up and blaming you for it. I’m on team DTMFA.
I somehow missed the fact that you and your bf are long-distance on the first read, but realizing it now, it just begs the question for me – why did your boyfriend plan an 8-hour DnD game with his friends, that you had to attend for all 8 hours, while you were visiting? You say 1/3 of the issue was his lack of communication, but this doesn’t sound like a communication issue – it sounds like a not-paying-attention-to-my-visiting-girlfriend’s-needs issue! And it’s not like you didn’t say anything – you had to scream just to get him to notice!
I also think it is 100% vital for your boyfriend to have stood up for you, at least after the fact. He should have spoken to his friends and told them that was an unacceptable way to treat someone he cares about, and being oblivious or bad with social cues or whatever is not an excuse.
LW, you do not deserve to be treated this way. Yelling at everyone was obviously not okay, but your “making a scene” was not the worst thing anyone did to anyone else that night. Please take the Captain’s advice!
This this this OMG who does this?! And I say that as a kinda nerdy person who really enjoys 12+hours of rpg, and whose partner becomes oblivious to almost everything while they’re mastering. The thing is – we both KNOW how our party environment works and how we work, and would NEVER invite an absolute beginner into a well-established group WITHOUT 1. Having a lot of talks with the new person about how the game works, so they’re not completely cut out and can also decide if they’re interested 2. Knowing the whole party will be pleasant and helpful (with usually the Master having the duty to answer ALL additional questions of the new person) and usually 3. Arranging for a much shorter session for the new person. We can play for the whole day! And then again some tomorrow! But still arrange for you to come around 9pm and enjoy 3hours of game tops. In fact, I would massively side eye any Master who does not arrange any of this – AND in this case the Master is your boyfriend!! So yeah, unless he has said some version of “I’m so so sorry I couldn’t realise that it is perfectly possible and legitimate not to be as in love of my hobby as I am”… I’d seriously consider dumping him.
My thoughts exactly! “I can’t play this weekend, my long distance girlfriend is coming this weekend — we can all meet up for drinks afterwards, I’ll DM next week” is what most considerate boyfriends would say in that situation.
Yes, exactly! Why plan the 8 hour d&d marathon with long distance visiting girlfriend in tow? Then, bf and friends acting like LW is breakin’ up the band just because LW is not up for sitting quietly in the corner for 8 hours (with a migraine!) while bf shows off his awesome d&d skills. While you are visiting bf for a short time from out of town.
LW, you may have yelled. I am sure you feel embarrassed. But you are doing all the emotional work to smooth over a situation that you are not really responsible for. If bf and the rude friends want to make amends, that is great, but it doesn’t look like they do. After all, a year has passed, and it sounds like they don’t care about making amends for their crap behavior.
*They* did something wrong, which you *reacted* to. After 8 hours of being ignored and even ostracized. With a migraine! You are not the one who should be feeling all the emotional burden for this. Bf and friends were the jerks, not you.
If bf is trying to make you feel like you are the jerk in this situation, bf is wrong wrong wrong! And possibly gaslighting as well. Not sure, but feeling this bad about your reaction to their awfulness a year ago just makes my spine get that creepy feeling.
Gaslighting is like emotional Kryptonite. It breaks down all your common sense and self worth until you spend a year worrying that you did something wrong when you yelled at bf and friends at the end of 8 hours of enforced boredom, ostracization and migraine.
LW, they were jerks. You were exhausted and sad and your head had tiny chainsaws trying to cut their way out of the side of your skull. A good bf would have apologized, then taken you back to his place for a rest in a quiet, dark room with an icepack. A really good bf would have either postponed the d&d or given you a way out.
A decent friend-of-bf would have behaved a lot differently too! If I were there, even if I hadn’t liked you (and what’s not to like? you are awesome!) I would have offered tea or cool cloths or ibuprofen or a ride to the ER or at least basic politeness! Your yelling at the end of such an 8 hour ordeal is totally understandable. LW, I am sorry you were surrounded by jerks. I am sorry you had a migraine and had no help or support from anyone. Jedi hugs! Seriously! I am using the force to send you all those cups of tea and cool cloths for your head and Jedi hugs and such to save for your next migraine (hopefully there isn’t one, but if you get them like I do you know there might be another). Take care of you. Let them worry about them.
De-lurking to say: LW, I have been in your position. I am not proud of this, but early in my relationship with my husband I had a couple of screaming, flailing meltdowns after following him into overwhelming social situations that I felt I couldn’t escape. I remember one instance, at a large and crowded party at a friend’s house, where I spent most of a day sitting quietly in the corner while everyone else played a multi-hour cooperative strategy game that involved lots of loud arguing about the rules. It was a hot day, and everyone else had taken their shirts off; one of the dudes, whom I’d only just met, started yelling at me to take my shirt off too and join the party. I had no way to leave, since my husband was gaming and he was my ride. About six hours in, when it became clear that no concrete plan had been made for dinner, I had a full-on hanger meltdown and had to be bundled home in tears. It was…not my finest moment.
The Captain’s advice is really spot-on. My husband and I have ended up implementing a lot of these suggestions, and they’re pretty crucial to keeping our social life running smoothly. The big one is not putting myself in situations like that anymore. We are choosy about which invitations we accept together, and I sit out a lot of events that I suspect will be overwhelming. (For example, I no longer go to parties at this particular friend’s house, since her entertaining style is one of my personal levels of hell: people packed to the rafters, debating rationalist theory and playing cooperative strategy games, with the meal plan usually involving a collaboratively negotiated pizza order). We check in with each other at predetermined intervals during any party or social event. We always have an escape plan so that I can leave if I get overwhelmed. These things work. They are not too much to ask. They have probably saved both my friendships and my marriage in the long run.
Holy crap. Strangers trying to hassle you into undressing in a social setting you can’t escape with no food. Sounds horrifying.
Why is it always the response to being treated poorly that is the problem?
Because if you are not forthcoming with your needs and boundaries, you lose the right to complain that people aren’t respecting them.
Now, once you have SAID “I have a migraine, I need to go home” or “I don’t want to be spoken to like that” or “I need to eat now” and those things are ignored? That’s bad behavior. Rude. But if you expect people to ~intuit~ your unhappiness and throw an actual toddler-fit when they don’t? Then YOU are the problem. And also rude.
I’ve seen more the latter than the former in my life. More so with younger people who are still figuring out that ‘hangry’ is a real thing, or that it’s not rude to advocate for yourself.
In a lot of cases I would agree, but there’s a basic baseline of treating people decently that human beings absolutely should be able to expect without having to spell it outout, and that includes things like pretending someone doesn’t exist when they speak directly to you, and ignoring someone for eight hours, among other things.
I mean, yes, it’s probably a mistake to try _so hard_ to put up with unreasonable things that you get to the point of blowing up, if only for the sake of your own well being, but you do not have to earn ordinary decent treatment by being ‘clear enough’.
I was actually speaking more to Zoya’s experience than the LWs, but to bring it back around I’d say that you SHOULD not have to earn it, but frequently can. Not always! But ive personally witnessed parties salvaged by someone feeling slighted getting really direct about their issue in a calm, no nonsense way. In front of everyone. Interrupting the proceedings to do it. In this case: (LW places hand over dice that need rolled) “I noticed you haven’t spoken to me when I’m speaking to you. Why is that? It seems rude. Is there something you need me to know?” (Does not look away)
This would have forced either the end of the party (victory) an explanation of the REAL reason for bad behavior (victory) an apology (victory) or getting kicked out of the house (pyrrhic victory). Bonus points if she ends up single (double victory!)
Moral- badly behaved people: they can’t eat you, so don’t be scared of them.
The trying to cope until I explode, I have been there. I’m still working on figuring out what my needs are so that I have more than three minutes between “Huh, I’m not okay” and “BOOM!”
I so love all your posts, Dopameanie! But I don’t think this group wants to hear your message.
Nope, that is rapist logic. “She didn’t TELL me she didn’t want to be raped.”
Basic things like, “Any sensory extreme is going to be actively painful to at least some people, so assuming any new person will be cool with it without asking is not okay,” and “People need basic things like food and water and clean toilets at reasonable intervals,” and so on don’t need to be said. Nor does, “Don’t pressure this person I don’t know to take their shirt off.” There are a great many boundaries you never have to express and you still get to have them, still get to expect and demand they be respected, and still get to complain and tear up the turf if they are not.
I’m actually quite in favor of 6-hour shirtless games of Risk or whathaveyou with all thoughts of food forgotten and lots of rather loud carrying on about strategy when it’s with the right circle of people I know well, though the thought of it in general sounds horrifying. The difference is not some big mystery that needs to be explained to people — they can rise to a minimum level of basic adult civility and deal with the fact that they already know this.
Disagree! Rapists use that line as an excuse to worm out of responsibility for something they did on purpose to a victim. That is different from someone stewing silently for *HOURS* about how awful everyone is being, like a crockpot of resentment while the rest of the room is having a great time. Willful blindness on the host’s part is not the same as not sticking up for yourself on the guest’s part. Example: I went to a friends moms house who happened to be from Mexico. They served the HOTTEST SPICIEST chiles I’ve ever tasted. This was not them using rapist logic, or being rude. They just didn’t know I needed certain consideration. It was on me to advocate for what I needed. Which right at that moment was a fire extinguisher to the face. I made sure every time I went back for dinner to request a less spicy version of supper.
Out of nesting for dopameanie: have you ever had “say nothing for hours followed by instant explosion” issues yourself? Because as someone who has, it’s much easier to get to calm assertiveness by having a few blowups and realizing the world didn’t end than it is to get there via the mindtrip of “oh if I didn’t say something in exactly the right way then I have no right to complain later.” Like, the outcome you want and the means you propose for getting there do not match.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that people will, after six hours together, have at least come up with a plan for when and how to get food, whether or not anyone has spoken up to say they need to eat NOW NOW NOW.
Dopeameanie, you could also take full-fat yoghurt or sour cream or cream with you. Chill dissolves in fat so this will make it less spicy for you without bothering your hosts – that’s why Indian food is so often served with lassi.
Yes, that was exactly the communication breakdown in this instance. I felt like I couldn’t interrupt my still-relatively-new boyfriend’s happy fun game time, and I was perfectly used to dismissing my own feelings of hunger or loneliness or boredom or pain. (I’m female, in case that wasn’t obvious.) I was also very used to being the non-gamer in a room full of gamers, and I hadn’t yet figured out I had more social options than just “sit on the sidelines.” So I just sat and suffered quietly until I was miserable and close to tears, and then when my husband finally came over to be like, “So, we’re still playing and dinner might happen eventually,” I just dissolved.
Like I said, we both took that experience as a wake-up call and have made sure it never happens again. I have also gotten much better at articulating my needs in the moment, which–as it turns out–is a skill that requires practice.
Eh, some needs (like food at regular intervals, or not wanting to be topless around people you don’t know well, or wanting a romantic partner who’s also your only means of transportation to check to see if you’re having a good time at an hours-long social event) are actually pretty predictable and don’t require special mindreading powers. Going from 0 to 60 in terms of confrontation level isn’t ideal but…”lose the right to complain” and “you are the problem”? Seriously?
“…people packed to the rafters, debating rationalist theory and playing cooperative strategy games, with the meal plan usually involving a collaboratively negotiated pizza order…”
Hangry Hangry Hipsters, ugh.
I just snorted with laughter 🙂
I’m going to remember that the next time my game group gets snarky because we’ve put the food order off too long.
Can I marry that comment?
Oh well done
I agree it was actually a pretty fine moment for you! Your husband, who sat there with his bros while you got harassed and ignored for six hours? Not so fucking much.
In fairness, the friends in this instance were nothing but kind and welcoming to me (that one guy notwithstanding). They just didn’t know how to handle someone coming to their party and not playing the game on offer. I have since learned that this particular crowd’s taste in games is like nails on a chalkboard to me, and I’m better off interacting with them in non-gaming contexts.
And yeah, my husband and I had some Discussions after this happened.
I would definitely be perplexed if I was having people over to play Happy Fun Brain Surgery and someone brought a guest who didn’t want to play. But my response would be more “Would you like to watch Netflix or help yourself to my bookshelves?” and less “Take off your shirt!”
It’s been very freeing to admit to myself that I like maybe 10 board games that weren’t made by Parker Brothers or Milton Bradley, and if we’re not playing one of those, I can just hang out with people another time or do something else in the other room. I don’t really want to learn any new games unless they take less than 5 minutes to explain and less than 30-40 minutes to play, and I definitely don’t want games with homework. There are a few people I like enough and trust enough that if they say “You will probably like this one” they are probably right, and everyone else can keep their hexagonal tiles and complicated agricultural trade deals.
And I’m here to say: You too can skip things that don’t sound appealing!
YES. I am not a game person but some of my best friends are. They know that if I’m coming over, I’m only interested in games that can be played while distracted or games that involve chatting and telling stories. I do not get invited to Super Serious Game Night, but when they just want people over to chat with and play Ticket To Ride, I’m on the invite list. It’s perfect.
@Sarah and The Cap
The same thing has been very freeing for me as well. “Want to spend all day Saturday playing games that take over an hour to set up/figure out the rules and then 5 hours to play? And idk maybe food will figure itself out at some point?” has always been a Hard No from me, but actually being confident in giving that hard no is semi-recent and amazing.
Nope! You guys have fun. I will be doing anything else and we’ll all be happier for it. See you for bi-weekly movie night!
Yep – I AM a games person, but I loathe situations where there is ZERO chance of me winning, and/or a non-zero chance that I will get ganged up on (that being part of the game) before I’m comfortable that I know the rules. And games that go for hours and hours are ugh. But I know that, and the people I am comfortable being in a games situation with are also comfortable with me grabbing a book or surfing on my phone while talking to them rather than playing.
Why do I suspect “bring girlfriend” WAS the dinner plan?
Ugh, what asses.
Their dinner plan was “We’ll get around to ordering pizza…eventually.” Which, I have learned, is not a sufficient Plan A for me.
Me neither! I get hangry and I need to know when I can expect food. If I have information, I can bring snacks or make my own plans around getting fed, but getting fed needs to happen with intentionality.
Same! I’m trying to get better at asking things like “just for informational purposes, and not at all because I expect you to provide me with food or anything–is there a dinner plan?”
YES! So much this!
Not all that much of a mystery why some guys think “come to my band practice” or “watch me run a D&D game for eight hours” is a romantic date; to them, the girlfriend’s role is to simply be happy to be in his presence, like a faithful dog, and sit around beaming supportiveness energy until he’s done with the Important Things.
LW, please stop blaming yourself for any of this. Your boyfriend was a selfish ass and his friends were horrible.
Ehhh, I think the reason for that misconception can be a little less insidious. Society teaches boys that they must woo women by impressing them. So a guy showing off his awesome DMing skills is like a peacock performing its dance for the female, which of course the female finds pleasurable. There’s a kernel of truth in there (in that people are often attracted to passion and fun and competence), but these guys just somehow stop short of considering LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE that goes into romantic attraction and connection.
He isn’t showing off his awesome GM skills to his girlfriend if she isn’t participating or kibitzing. I genuinely don’t understand trying to excuse the guy’s behavior as well-meant wooing.
Actually, losing your shit sounds like the best self-care you could have done at the time. Well done, LW!
Am I kidding? Only slightly. Yes, the shit-losing could have been done in a slightly more optimal manner, but SOMETHING needed to be done, and you did it. The rest is details.
Also, I am on Team Dump Him.
I am also on Team Losing Your Shit Sounds Entirely Reasonable At Said Juncture, and bow to LW’s superior self-restraint and truly laudable effort at refraining from shit-losing heretofore.
LW, don’t beat yourself up for being the one person in the room who remembered that your feelings and needs do matter. Returning Rude To Sender was entirely justified IMHO.
Yes. I hate yelling/being yelled at and generally think that screaming should be avoided at all costs. But there are situations where it’s so bad that you just have to yell to get your needs met. Sometimes someone is so unfair or treats you so badly that screaming is actually the good solution – and this situation from the letter is absolutely it!
LW, the bf’s friends were awful but the real problem is the boyfriend. The fact that he expected you to sit there for so long and did not somehow noticed that you informed him (!), in words, you were feeling badly, is a big red flag.
I think you should give yourself a pass. This was a very hard situation and it seems to me like it warranted screaming.
The fact that after the event the bf never acknowledged how badly he behaved (and seems to harp on you about it!) is, sadly, another big red flag.
Some people only start caring and treating you well when you scream at them. I think it’s best not to date those people.
TL;DR: In general screaming bad but it does have its uses sometimes, like in this situation. Also, on team dump him.
I hate yelling/being yelled at and generally think that screaming should be avoided at all costs. But there are situations where it’s so bad that you just have to yell to get your needs met.
Think of it as pragmatic pacifism, interpersonal edition. Pragmatic pacifists argue that in an ideal world, there would be no armed conflict between nations, and that even in our imperfect world, the moral cost of war is so high that it’s rarely ever justified and must always be considered a last resort. However, we acknowledge that there are some situations that can only be resolved through strategic military intervention.
That’s what screaming is. It’s never a *good* thing, and definitely shouldn’t be the first tool you reach for when there’s a problem. But when you’ve hit the equivalent of “a foreign power is invading our territory and torturing and slaughtering people along the way”, bust that out. You’re not yelling for the sake of yelling; you’re stopping things from getting worse.
or as Terry Pratchett wrote:
“War, Nobby. Huh! What is it good for?” he said.
“Dunno, Sarge. Freeing slaves, maybe?”
“Defending yourself against a totalitarian aggressor?”
“All right, I’ll grant you that, but—”
“Saving civilization from a horde of—”
“It doesn’t do any good in the long run is what I’m saying, Nobby, if you’d listen for five seconds together,” said Fred Colon sharply.
“Yeah, but in the long run, what does, Sarge?”
Humans punish the person who justifiably loses their shit and not the person who caused it.
You can abuse another with no consequences, but protest being abused and you get treated like a pariah.
Her animals, indeed.
I am right there with you. I have a very long fuse, but there is yelling at the end of it. A lot of yelling. I’m not going to come down on the LW for losing her temper after EIGHT HOURS of her needs being completely and rudely ignored.
I don’t think losing your shit in a loving relationship is ok. After hours of thoughtlessness in which your bleatings have been handwaved away? Go right ahead.
I have done this (rightfully) but because my boyfriend still didn’t care about my feelings or perspective (like, if he TELLS you they like you, you have no need of your own observations!) he was thoroughly unremorseful and I had to be the apologetic one who fit in with his hobbies, crowd, neglect. I felt my lack of power, failed to realise the significance of this, and buckled. When I look back, I’m not embarrassed about calling out intolerable behaviour, I’m embarrassed about submitting to it and apologising for having standards.
“much like the dudes I’ve smashed faces with who thought “come watch my band practice” counted as “a romantic date where we spent quality time together,” some mysteries are destined to remain unsolved.”
Just to let you know, this gave me a chuckle. When Mr Iris and I were first dating many, many years ago he suggested this. Which I then explained was like me inviting him to play trivia with my friends, but not actually playing, just sitting at the next table and watching ME play. Obviously he got it since we’re still together but it became an in joke and we shout “WATCH ME DO MY HOBBY!” whenever we see behaviour that reminds us of it.
It happens so often. So. Often. Who are these people? How is it still a thing? How? How?
This is so cute, I love it
Thanks! It’s provided us with a lot of funny moments, which is always a bonus in a long relationship, if nothing else 🙂
I feel like this is a common thing in, like, high school/whenever someone first dates someone else–lots of people need a moment of enlightenment to realize that just because something is fun to do, doesn’t mean it’s fun to watch, and lots of people need a little bit of experience to realize that you can have a solid dating relationship without being 100% into all of each other’s hobbies. But in full-grown adults who have literally any dating experience, it’s not such a cute look!
Yeah, sorry I was unclear – I meant I love the in-joke between Iris and Mr Iris, absolutely not that people still don’t get that they can have different interests than their partners and that hobby-watching tends to be much overrated
Oh, no, you weren’t unclear at all! My comment was in response to Iris’ original comment, not your reply. 🙂
Every so often I’ll have someone say, “Can I come watch rehearsal?” and I’m always a little surprised. I guess if you’d never been to one before and had some curiosity about how theatre gets made, it could be interesting, but beyond that – you want me, three actors, a stage manager and a playwright to utterly ignore you while we go over and over the same section of text? WHY?
I actually find it interesting to see the various permutations it takes to get an art to its final form. I listen to comedy podcasts, and one thing that’s neat to me is hearing the same bit slowly progressing from ok to great, and the path it takes to get there.
…okay honestly if I can bring a notebook/laptop and work while watching that actually sounds great XD
I might go to (hypothetical) partner’s band practice if it’s a jamming session and I get to play too. Otherwise no. (I might go to watch their gig or invite a partner to watch my band’s gig, but even then there’s no way that would be a date night.)
What everyone said. I’ll just add that I’m really tired of people using “not being good with people/being socially awkward” as an excuse for appalling behaviour (99% from white dudes, btw). I’m a super-introvert but I manage not to be an arsehole to people.
One suggestion if you and BF decide to soldier on and you find yourself invited to another social event of indeterminate length with people you barely/don’t know: agree beforehand on an emergency safeword that means “I AM HITTING THE BIG RED BUTTON AND NEED TO GET OUT RIGHT FUCKING NOW.” Knowing that if you say, “BF, it’s time for my circus peanuts,” he’s committing to hit pause on the game and get you sorted right away could well be the thing that forestalls another blowup — and if you make this agreement and BF delays or minimizes or outright ignores you when you pull the ripcord, that’s when you know it’s time to bail out for good.
I’ve been in the BF role in this drama and I’m not excusing him (or myself); when you’re hanging out with old friends, it’s very easy to lose track of time. Obviously, he should be checking in frequently with his special guest to make sure you’re having a good time, and maybe this is a way for you to take some control of this situation. “I’m tired and my head is throbbing, but if you can find me a quiet room to lie down in, I’m not quite at Code Circus Peanuts yet” versus “Yeah, I’ve reached maximum Circus Peanuts for this go-around. Get me a Lyft and then go back to your game and it’s all good.”
As someone who has often been the new person in a long-established group of friends: long-established groups of friends are often absolutely terrible at including new people. Like, really really bad and they don’t even realise they are doing it. Even if they are nice people individually, even if they have nothing against you. I’ve also been part of a group when a new person arrives, and wondered why I am the only one making an effort to welcome them; looking at my friends thinking, “why are you being so rude? I know you’re not like this!” It feels really weird to be the only one who notices it, but it is definitely A Thing.
There’s something about being part of an old friend group that sometimes leads people to forget all the social niceties that usually come with meeting a new person. Maybe it feels weird to make that effort for just one person, so they ignore you and just talk to the people they know. Maybe they are used to interactions in this particular group being very easy and familiar, so when a new person asks a small-talk question like, “so how do you know the host?” they look at the new person like they are a weird alien, because That’s Not How We Interact In This Group. Maybe it’s been so long since they made a new friend that they’ve completely forgotten how to get to know someone. Maybe they haven’t been the new person themselves in so long that they’ve lost all empathy for that situation.
Anyway tl;dr is LW, it’s quite possible that your BF’s friends don’t dislike you and you haven’t done anything wrong (I certainly would have had a meltdown in your shoes). It usually takes time and effort to get comfortable in a new group, and the effort has to come from both sides. It’s up to you whether you want to put the time in for this particular group, but please don’t put all the blame on yourself.
I absolutely love D&D but I would NOT drag a newbie to an 8-hour long session and expect them to happily play! What if they don’t like it? What if they’re bored after the first hour and their mood is dragging everyone else down?
D&D is super fun to play when you’re involved in it and swept up in your imaginary world! It’s not fun at all to watch because it’s just people shouting things and rolling dice.
One of the problems here seems to be that your BF didn’t have a back-up plan for if you didn’t want to play. Expecting you to sit in a room full of near strangers while he had fun is ridiculous and shows that he really, really did not think about YOUR needs here as much as he thought about his friends’ needs.
I’m not yelling DUMP HIM because it’s been a year, you seem to be happy with him and it’s he doesn’t seem like a jerk to me. To me, he’s coming off more like “I like my friends better than my genderfriend” which is fine! I mean, I like my friends better than anyone I’ve dated – which is probably part of why I’m single, really. XD
The problem is, it might not be fine to YOU. He was in a situation where he had to choose between paying attention to your comfort and paying attention to his friends’ fun, and he went with the latter. If you’re okay with that, that’s fine. If you aren’t okay with that, tell him that OR, like Cap suggested, don’t put yourself into situations where he has to choose or can only pay attention to one group. Ideally, he’d be able to pay attention to both you and his friend group, but DMing can be very attention-demanding so I can see why he couldn’t pull himself away long enough to remember that ‘oh hey, Daisy exists even though Daisy’s not playing with us’.
If this is a theme, maybe consider what it means if he treats them better than you/so clearly likes them better than you. Movies and TV tend to push the idea of romantic relationships being more important than all other forms of relationships, so ask yourself if that’s the sort of relationship you actually need, or if you’re chill with being less important to him because it frees *you* up to not make him the center of your life either.
The extremely important advice of others ranging from “don’t hang out with these people again” to “dump him” may make this irrelevant, but if LW chooses to hang out with any of their bf’s friends again, maybe make it a one-on-one hangout (just the three or four of them) and not a massive group hangout. That group has a hell of a dynamic going on, and separating a few from the high school herd might force everyone to create a more adult and sociable dynamic.
Also, it sucks that LW’s bf gave “explanations” of the friend group’s behavior that was in the same aww-shuck vein as “boys will be boys” (whatever the genders of the friends). What does being “rowdy” and “digging at each other” have to do with not saying hello and staring stonily at LW in silence? Did LW’s bf put the same effort into understanding LW’s feelings and defending LW against the group as he did defending the group to LW and trying to make LW understand the group? Did he put as much effort into understanding why LW was upset as he did explaining that the campaign he wrote was important? If I felt like my bf had chosen the friend group over me, and/or had put me in a position where I had to defend my completely reasonable feelings in The Court of BF’s Opionion and was overruled, that sounds like something I’d be pissed about months later. Especially if exactly what had upset me had been difficult to put my finger on at the time, went unresolved, and only really resolved itself in my mind over several months to a year. That’s totally a thing that happens, and being angry a year out isn’t necessarily unreasonable grudge-holding territory. Sometimes it’s just our brain taking an extra long time to piece the problem together and name it.
I don’t have much sympathy for the friends, given that they’d met the LW before and supposedly liked them and that this game was intended as a one-shot. In my D&D experience, having a one-shot means that there’s not disruption to the built-up, ongoing story. It’s much more similar to a long board game (depending of course, on your groups balance of grid-based combat vs. narrative roleplaying). If the friends aren’t thrilled about a surprise additional person, that’s understandable, but the most likely way for everyone to have a good time in this situation is for them to at least make an attempt to be welcoming and polite.
And I have zero sympathy for the boyfriend. If he’s DMing a one-shot for this circumstance, he absolutely should have set it up so that LW could easily slip into a character and/or should have given them something of a run-through before the game. And definitely should have done all the logistics with the rest of the group so that the LW being there wasn’t a surprise.
The person I’m dating is less social than I am, has less energy generally, and needs way more sleep. We have a rule that we never go anywhere or do anything without an exit plan for them.
When they’re done with a thing they can leave/quit/etc and I’m welcome to stay and do as long as I want. It works beautifully. They know they’re never stuck in a situation they don’t want to be in, and I never have to end my fun early because they’re burnt out.
Exit plans may include:
-Go to the back room and read or go to sleep
-Take an Uber home
-Get a hotel room for the night if out late or planning to stay with others
-Drive home and leave me behind to find my own way back later
Even when we take airplane-based vacations to far away places there is an explicit agreement that if they want to be at home instead I’ll buy them a return ticked that very day and continue on with my trip solo. We’ve never had to invoke this one, but just knowing that it’s an option seems to be a big help.
Just because we’re going out and arrive at an event together doesn’t mean we need to be on the same schedule indefinitely.
You’re awesome. I’m starting to realize my boyfriend is like this too, like genuinely okay with me pooping out before he does and wanting to go to bed when he’s still having fun. For a while, I was convinced that if I wanted to leave early or go to bed when he’s still up hanging with friends, he’d feel like I was bailing on him, or think it was a problem that I wasn’t as engaged in the event as he was.
Yes, it is crucial they understand their lower energy partner. Introverts get overwhelmed at a certain point, and absolutely need the downtime.
My family understands this about me and my Mom .They are great at partying, and can do so for hours. When my Mom or I go off alone during these events, they know to just leave us alone to regroup, and when we’re ready, we’ll rejoin. We also have exit strategies, where we hook up with the other introverts in the family, to get early rides home, if necessary.
Your family sounds great. I wish I could make that understanding clear to some of my relatives – “I don’t hate you, I’m just tired” doesn’t always make sense to them.
That is so considerate and loving! For myself, I value knowing that there is an escape route if I want to bail on an event for whatever reason. Often, just *knowing I have the escape* (a Lyft/Uber, my own car, just being able to go into another room and read) gives me more capacity to enjoy the event.
That’s almost word-for-word what my partner says about our dynamic. They find that with an exit plan established ahead of time they don’t use up energy fretting about being stuck; as a result they often have the energy to happily stay engaged/awake the whole time anyway.
Oh my days, LW. This give me *such* flash backs. Not the exact same situation, but close enough. Hours upon hours of being stuck at the house of my exhusbands newest bestie, watching them play ps1 (it was a while ago) and having to make small talk with the wife.
Life is too short for that shit.
Back to you! This was a year ago. Why are you still worried about it? Has something been *said* or are there brain weasels involved?
Caps advice is spot on, though.
My husband and I have a term for that: Spousing!
It is understood as a FAVOR one does for one’s spouse because sometimes you just need to talk to your brother but your sister in law is THE. WORST. and she needs to monopolize the conversation somewhere ELSE for a little while so you can do the family thing for a bit. Or he would like to reconnect with his college buddies over a drink or 20 leaving me with a pile o’ spouses that I don’t particularly care for but need to entertain.
Spousing is repaid with foot rubs, chocolate, and declarations of undying gratitude in my home.
LW’s boyfriend reminds me of all the dudes who play video games when their girlfriends come over to hang out, and just have the girlfriend watch. Yes, there are women who love watching, and there are couples who take turns, but lots of women (like myself) kinda hate just being expected to sit there while the boyfriend enjoys his game, even if they too generally enjoy gaming, because when you go to visit your significant other, you want to do something together, something you both enjoy, and you want to feel like a priority rather than someone who’s just there.
Oh, yess.. this always fascinated me!
It’s like those kind of men thing that the gf is literally a prop or an NPC! She can just sit there for x hours and just… be present. Idling mode. Background decoration.
It’s mind-boggling and it’s hard for me to understand how this type of mentality does not trickle through to other parts of the relationship. And I say this as a person who actually likes to watch other people play – to a point, that is (8h would be 7 hours to long).
Also see, watching on television whatever he likes, for hours. Whether that’s sports, bro movies, pop culture video channel with people hurting themselves, or whatever. Have never understood this phenomenon.
This is exactly the same thing for the non-video game (and/or pre-video game generation) crowd.
Wow – flashback to collage. This is it exactly. I used to watch my collage boyfriend watch his roommate play video games. I actually would have loved to play myself, but it never got offered, and I used to be so shy. God I was so non-confrontational and wanted so badly to be a cool girl back then it hurts to think about it. I’m sure I looked annoyed and bored as hell though, which the guys happily ignored.
Yeah this was ringing my “Don’t date dudes who expect you to watch them play video games” bells. It’s a firm rule I’ve had since high school. And it absolutely falls into “this is a thing that makes me feel like a prop rather than a person” category.
Yep. They are equating you with the video game – both entertainment, one on pause while he focuses on the other. Not cool.
I wish I could empower more women, especially, young women, to speak up when this is happening, because while some dudes who do this are all-around crappy boyfriends, I’d like to think that some would put down the video games when asked.
My non-crappy AMAB partner who video games a lot and I had some rough spots starting out, but we’ve found a workable model for us. (They also have a very particular “must finish the task” mindset, which applies to things like putting up curtain rods and doing chores, not just games.) We try to go over the week’s schedule in advance (and did this even before we lived together) and have some calendar sharing. This normalizes talking about what we’re planning to do, and reduces the amount of “oh, you were planning on doing a Pokemon raid, which I do not play, with that friend of yours who I do not get along with? On the day when I was hoping for a morning together in bed and a leisurely brunch?” and hopefully turns it into a “Great, so that’s the day where I sleep in and then listen to that music which you aren’t fond of while reading a book that I was planning to read without video game noises in the background.”
When I’m asking them to put down the video game, I generally do “Hey, can you reach a [pause/stop] point sometime in the next [5 or longer] minutes? I would like to [thing] with you.” That means that I am not the one who is obligated to do the work of figuring out what a good stopping point would be, but I am not demanding that they abandon whatever it was they were playing if they were almost to the point of defeating something particularly tricky. In return, they warn me if they’re going to be playing something which needs more than about an hour of solid play, or anything that involves cooperative play with other people (such that it had to be scheduled around everyone’s schedules).
This was after two dreadful relationships in my youth, where one of them did expect me to be decoration (and deliberately ignored me when I tried to get their attention, and _told other guys_ that he’d done that, _in front of me_), and the other one would go into a trance for hours on end and was pretty terrible at time management and also gaslighty. I should not have unplugged his machine while he was playing, but there are a number of other things that he should not have done either.
I actually don’t always mind watching video games but if I do, there’s rules.
1. It’s gotta be something I’m not good at playing myself. Otherwise I’d rather play, obviously. But I’m awful at certain types of games that I still think are interesting.
2. It’s gotta be a game I’m interested in, obviously. That usually means something with a story, not like… I dunno, golf.
3. Unless I REALLY like you, you gotta make it interesting, or why wouldn’t I just watch a let’s play?
I’m a board-gamer who recently started dating a board-gamer/RPG-gamer.
Were this relationship not a factor, I would happily go through life only peripherally aware of RPGs. I like playing games and I like making up stories, but my brain needs to be in very different modes when I do those two things. The games I’ve tried that have storycrafting aspects I’ve thus far not enjoyed much at all.
If – and it’s still emphatically an *if* – I attempt to get into this so we can do it together at least occasionally, I’m going to be very very careful about how and when I make said attempt. There’ve been several occasions already when I’ve turned down invitations to gatherings that sound exactly like what you describe, LW – daylong escape-proof Super Intense Campaigns with people who all know each other and the landscape. Nope nope nope.
And for what it’s worth, BF is on my wavelength about this – I love that we can say to each other without causing offense ‘I’m pretty sure you’ll have more fun doing X if I’m not there’ and even ‘I’m pretty sure *I’ll* have more fun doing X if *you’re* not there’.
However, I think honestly the entire D&D issue is a bit of a red herring. Your attempts at saying hello were answered by you either being ignored or stared at. I don’t care if the hosts weren’t expecting you, were cheesed off by your presence interfering with their plans, WHATEVER – not affording a guest even the basest of courtesy that’s returning a goddamn ‘Hi’ is monumentally fucked up.
Was your boyfriend present when this happened? If y’all were just getting there, that nixes any possible ‘Oh, he was too preoccupied in DM-mode’ excuses – his friends snubbing you that clearly to your face was his problem to address. Similar issues have been brought up on this blog before regarding nasty family members, and the consensus is generally clear that not advocating for your SO in a situation like that is a giant red flag.
Lots of good comments here, and I would second most of them.
One thing nobody has mentioned is “a stare from the silent girlfriend of the host.”
That one struck a nerve for me — and OMG it’s been actually 54 years since that experience.
Nothing the matter with a group of guys being friends. Not a lot the matter with a party of guy-old-friends and their more recent girlfriends. But if the girls can’t talk … for me that’s a red flag about the BF and the whole group. I wish somebody had warned me back in 1964.
Right. So many red flags, it’s like Mao’s birthday!
I noticed that, too. Sounds like she was jealous.
Now this is a universal red flag I can get behind. Or run screaming from.
Women. If the women can’t talk.
I want to stress the point that this is a *long-distance* relationship and the boyfriend wants to spend EIGHT hours immersed in an activity that the LW doesn’t understand and is an activity that doens’t make for much getting-to-know-you interaction. LW, how often is this kind of thing the plan when you get to see your long-distance boyfriend? It doens’t seem very romantic to me that when you actually get to see each other live and in person your only role is to sit and be window dressing. If this kind of thing happens more often than not, rethink this relationship. I mean you’re spending time and money and energy to travel from your home to…what?…sit and be miserable? To not actually have the company of your boyfriend? To hang with people that treat you poorly? I agree with Captain….there will be other relationships that don’t require this much work.
Oh my gosh, this reminds me so much of a terrible vacation I took with my ex-bf’s friends.
I did not realize this at the time, but I found out later that my bf was CONSTANTLY using me as an excuse to not hang out with his buddies, when actually he just was more interested in having sex with me than hanging out with them (our relationship was very much built around the physical stuff). “Oh I would play video games with you but my girlfriend won’t let me go out…” (complete bullshit btw, I’ve never been like that).
So, we show up to this weekend cabin trip and everyone is just cold to me and I do not understand why. Everyone is also messing with me and teasing me in a “fun” way that didn’t feel very fun to me. Conversations would stop when I would walk into a room. Things I said would be completely ignored. It was awful!
Eventually I snapped and yelled at them over something trivial. Of course that just validated to them that I was a big jerk and, since I did not realize that they had resented me from the start, I thought it was all my fault and I was the unreasonable one. My boyfriend was happy to let me think that rather than admit he had been telling lies that made me look like a controlling jerk.
Gosh… I wish so badly I could go back to that young Liz and tell her that she should have trusted her instincts that something was off, and that people who really love you will want you to be comfortable and happy.
It’s clear that these folks did not like the OP from the start, for whatever reason. Her BF should have been looking out for her, should have wanted her to be comfortable and happy, should have included her, should have stuck up for her against that rudeness. Of course yelling is not ideal but I really think the other folks owe the LW a BIG apology – starting with the boyfriend. These are not the actions of someone who has your back.
It’s awful that you were treated that way and put in that situation. I’m so mad at your ex for not owning his own preferences!
OMG. What is with people using their own or their friends’ significant others as reasons not to hang out? Whatever happened to “I don’t want to”? I have a friend who doesn’t stay out as late as he used to because his wife got mad that he wasn’t home to help with their kids. Of course she got demonized for taking him away from the friend group and she hated him having fun rather than, say, she wanted her own children’s father to be part of their lives and not do all the work herself.
I get that this question is rhetorical, but the answer is: The patriarchy provides “Blame the woman!” as a convenient excuse for men to do what they want without having to admit that they’d rather do something else than their what their buddies want, or that they want to spend time with their kids, or what have you.
“Yeah bro I’d love to do manly thing with you but the wife is making me do this other thing” <- He gets to do the other thing if he wants but doesn't lose dude cred; harming her reputation and playing into sterotypes about nagging shrews is a feature, not a bug.
I give my SO carte blanche to use me as an excuse any time they want to get out of something. Friends, work, family, whatever.
I’m happy to be seen as a stick in the mud by people I meet twice a year if it means SO gets to make an easy exit from some event they don’t want to be a part of while staying in everybody’s good graces.
Ditto – my husband’s terrible at telling people “no,” so I’m happy to play bad cop in absentia if I can’t do it for him in person. But of course, we talk about it and are on the same page. If he were doing it behind my back, I’d be less than pleased.
Jeez, that sucked. Talk about poisoning the well. Years and years ago, a man in my friends circle was always badmouthing his (female) SO to us – Sally was clingy, Sally was a killjoy, Sally was always complaining, etc. etc. – and when we finally met Sally she was perfectly nice and not the ogre her SO presented her as! And her BF was *honestly bewildered* that we were off on the wrong foot with her – he loved her, he just liked to vent and complain and throw her under the bus! WTF. He was not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.
These days, I take it as a negative character indicator if someone constantly throws their SO under a bus and complains about them. A little venting to long-term friends is fine (“why does Fergus always leave bathing the cats to me!”) but be mindful of the impression you are giving friends who don’t know your SO like you do.
Absolutely. You also gotta wonder what they’re willing to say about you when you’re not around, if they’d say all that about their significant other.
Also, there are people who seem to not actually like their SO. Complaining about them sometimes is one thing; using terms like “bitch” and “motherfucker” in apparent sincerity is entirely another.
He was actually confused by you guys getting the wrong impression??? The obliviousness of some people is ridiculous, I swear.
I’m piling on with all the “Been there, and don’t worry about it so much” comments. I was at a party with my ex once when he and some of the other guests started playing a game. I approached my ex to ask him something, and he ignored me repeatedly as I tried to get his attention. I got mad and stormed out. One of his friends left the table and followed me and tried to talk to me, but my ex soon followed and talked to me, “explaining” that he was trying to focus on the rules of the game that were being explained to him at the time, and that was why he wasn’t paying attention to me. It was not optimal for me to storm off, no, but it was even less optimal for him to ignore me, only pay attention when I blew up and left, and then excuse his behavior while expecting me to apologize. It’s really telling that *one of his friends* tried to take care of me first.
I would ask you, LW, if your boyfriend has a pattern of this behavior. Captain Awkward’s response asked a lot of questions I wish someone had asked me when I was with my ex. Pay attention to that nagging voice in your head. Is it truly your own behavior that’s bothering you, or is it really his and his friends’? You mentioned he brought up the fight again; in what context? A passing mention or how to prevent it in the future, or was he dragging up an old argument because he’s festering on it? If it’s the latter, you need to get out now. You could try couples counseling, but I would recommend ending the relationship, seeing a therapist on your own to work on anger management and/or communication issues, and then trying again with a different, better person. How much do you really want a partner who needs to be told that it’s not okay to ignore his partner for eight hours during an event she’s not even enjoying? No one should drag his partner to such a thing in the first place. I’m definitely seconding the Captain’s “No marathon hangouts where the expectation is that you will be a polite, quiet spectator. And no marathon hangouts without a plan for what do do in case of emergencies,” even if the emergency is only “This sucks, and I’m leaving.” Totally counts. Life is short.
I also think it’s troubling that he seems to be trying to make his hobbies yours without respecting your desires/interests. My ex tried to get me interested in video games even though I repeatedly told him it wasn’t my thing and have other hobbies I prefer, and he interpreted my lack of interest in his hobby as a rejection of him. Your boyfriend may have that same thought pattern of “She has to like everything I like or else.” You can be happy without having everything in common.
Aside from not checking in on you at all, it also pissed me off that he didn’t have your back when his friends were rude to you right off the bat. He had all kinds of excuses for them–drunk, “not good at reading people,” “play rowdy,” “dig at each other a bit but it’s all in good spirit,” but he screamed at you. You can argue with your partner, but you want to know they always have your back. Most relationship issues boil down to that. My ex’s brother was a jerk to me, and my ex made it my fault and told me to “Just try harder!” No. I don’t have to keep trying when the other person makes no effort to even be civil. I can opt out and not talk to jerks anymore, and so can you.
One more thing. Can I just mention that the phrase “It’s just how they are” pisses me the FUCK off? I know “It’s just how they are” is thrown around a lot as shorthand for “They’re not going to change, so you have to find some way to deal with it,” but frequently it’s a lame excuse to not acknowledge and deal with somebody’s crappy behavior. How they SHOULD be is at least civil, which his friends were not, and either he deals with it by having your back and not dragging you to these ordeals anymore, or you deal with it by ending it.
There are so many aspects of this letter that really get under my skin, in general.
“…in general they dig at each other a bit but it’s all in good spirit.”
I hate, HATE this dynamic in groups. A little bit of teasing is fine. But if saying mean stuff is the only way you can communicate with people, there’s something seriously wrong. I know some friend groups where you’re harassed mercilessly at the beginning and you have to be cool with it to prove you can hang, and then they’ll accept you. It’s like emotional hazing. I find it utterly baffling that anyone would even want to be around a group who felt entitled to haze you so that you’ll ‘earn’ their friendship. It’s just a really unhealthy dynamic, where friendship is defined as a willingness to put up with emotional abuse. With friends like these, how could you even tell if you had an enemy among them?
The second thing that gets to me is that this group seems to be making absolutely no effort for her. They can’t even NOT be rude. The boyfriend has gotten TWO apologies out of this and it seems like the LW has gotten zero. I think it’s likely that even in the best case scenario where she is accepted into the group, she is going to be doing all of the emotional heavy lifting and getting nothing in return. If these people won’t even meet her half way with an apology for their own part, I feel like she shouldn’t make any more of an effort. If the drunk host knows that he was being inappropriate enough to apologize to her boyfriend, why not apologize to the LW, as well?
The bottom line here is that these people sound really immature and crappy and I doubt that, even if the LW was able to make up with them, she like being friends with them. They sound exhausting.
Yeah, this whole line stood out to me as well: “He says it’s just how they are: they are good people but play rowdy and in general they dig at each other a bit but it’s all in good spirit.”
I’ve heard a similar line from cis dude A in my life (that dudes give other dudes shit as a primary form of social interaction or possibly to display affection) coupled with a claim that that’s just how dudes act, as part of an explanation for cis dude B’s behaviour that was making me deeply uncomfortable. It struck me as a bullshit excuse for dude B being an insensitive git at the time, and now I’m thinking about it again. There may be an element of it that’s I just don’t understand teasing and often struggle with tone and sarcasm (also I’m a trans dude and therefore if that is in fact at all a dude socialisation thing I didn’t get it growing up; A knows I’m trans and may have thought he was being helpful by providing this explanation?), but the fact that I’m seeing it here as well as an explanation and that a few different people have commented on it makes me wonder if there’s something else afoot.
The older I get, the more I’m losing patience with the “Sure they treat other people badly/have a temper/etc. but THEY’RE REALLY A GOOD PERSON WITH A HUGE HEART!” I don’t care if your heart is as soft as a marshmallow and as big as all outdoors, you still have to ACT like a decent person.
A lot of this is perpetuated in the name of faaaamily. We mess with little kids’ minds when we tell them that Dad/Grandma/Creepy Uncle is A Good Person Who Loves Them Very Much – so you just have to suck it up when they get yelly, drunk, or abusive.
I totally agree with your second and third paragraphs, but I’d like to push back on the first.
I think you are confusing Not Your Cup of Tea with Everyone Else is Doing It Wrong.
I’m a member of a group that has been through a LOT of really mentally/emotionally hard stuff together. The group dynamic is…not for the weak. I love these people and would die for them, but we say just the most HEINOUS things to one another, and it is understood as love. Gallows humor goes over well too, the darker the better.
As I said to my beloved husband: I don’t need you to get it, I just need you to accept it. People are different. Group culture can be really really specific. Love can be expressed in ways the outside world won’t recognize.
Which is why WE DONT TREAT SPOUSES THAT WAY. Just each other. Because we opted into the culture. Spouses didn’t! Boyfriend is a jerk. But don’t disparage a group culture as ‘wrong’ just because it isn’t your jam.
You do you and I fully agree on gallows humour (I practice it liberally myself), but when you say you guys say “the most heinous things to one another”, do you mean you insult each other? You use slurs? You humiliate each other? It’s quite possible the dynamics in your particular group is healthy and everyone is on the same page, but I’ve been around groups of people who had this kind of dynamics (which was described by most members as “all in good fun”) and when I dug deeper, it appeared that some people were actually made uncomfortable and didn’t dare speak up.
Of course, I’m not saying that’s the case in your group, I don’t know you or your friends, but I think it’s useful to bear that in mind. Peer pressure is very powerful and sometimes people don’t speak up because they don’t want to be seen as “weak” or a “killjoy”.
I don’t want to give examples on this board, due to the more…delicate…sensibilities of the readers, but I’d generalize as saying if you can make the whole table wince-laugh it is worth points. There is no one specific victim, it is very equal opportunity. Everyone leaves having both dunked and being dunked on. If anyone at this point has a problem with the dynamics then I’d say it is on them to advocate for themselves, not simmer resentfully through something they don’t enjoy.
I’m sure it is possible to do this dynamic ALL WRONG but I think the likelihood is the exact same as a non-confrontational dynamic that devolves into passive aggression and veiled sniping. A crappy scene filled with crappy people is a crappy scene no matter how it’s supposed to act.
My point is that looking at something you’ve decided is NOT FOR YOU and deciding that this means it is obviously NOT FOR ANYONE is being used *right now* as justification for heinous civil rights restrictions. It’s a natural human tendency that we need to recognize in ourselves before we finger-wag others. Or we risk being big ol’ hypocrites.
If you think your culture is better than mine because it is YOURS…well…historically nothing good comes next.
Do you mean this as a tip for a way to connect with a group: to be raunchy without directing it at individuals? Like as a way of building charisma with them? Or do you mean that you disagree with groups having to be accommodating, or perhaps that it’s wrong for people to JUDGE a group for having a dynamic that is f’d up from our outsider view? I’m a little unclear on your first paragraph.
I have to admit I think I walked into this situation expecting them to have a quick, witty, “you just got BURNED” That 70s Show dynamic, but I was taken aback by how they completely ignored me and brushed me off and that they weren’t willing to be flexible about lowering there voices when I told them it was really causing me pain that they were all yelling for 8 hours in a basement. In a way I can understand why judging groups without being part of their context is imperfect, so I definitely didn’t expect it to be a neutral space and was ready for things that I considered to be quirks, but I didn’t expect to be treated so coldly.
The more I read the comment section, the more I know that regardless of their own context and path as a group up to that moment, they were so comfortable with each other that they forgot that, just because they don’t react to each other’s rudeness doesn’t mean that their actions don’t have effects. Just because they don’t react to each other doesn’t mean that their behaviors carry no repercussions, it only means they don’t carry repercussions in their little bubble. They don’t face repercussions for their actions within this group, but that doesn’t justify being unaware of how it effects ANYONE ELSE–they are ADULTS and I am figuring out myself now that they should have at least known this much. I think this may be a common situation, but “normalcy” is not equal to “ethical”. I don’t think they need to change a dynamic that works for THEM, like if you meant that we shouldn’t judge what works for them, but with the guidance of this post and comments I now know they are responsible for recognizing that it was not appropriate to be so inflexible with their dynamic while they were hosting me. In the same vein, just like “IT WORKS FOR US” doesn’t mean “IT WORKS FOR EVERYBODY”, it was their job to know the difference, just as you expect everyone here to differentiate between “NOT FOR YOU” and “NOT FOR EVERYONE”.
SO, at this point I have also developed some other theories from the comments as well, in the case that they ARE mature-ish adults but something was indeed putting them off about me, making them feel like it was ok to put off thinking about “all of us” in place of “my long time friend group”:
1. I had met my bf’s high school gf who they are all still friends with, and it was fine. I wanted them to know I was accepting them as a group. Between that visit and D&D, I had read a memoir my bf wrote that made me really not like how she treated him and I didn’t want to see her again. He insisted that he was cool with her but I felt I had a reasonable response to the information he shared with me through his memoir. Perhaps she was supposed to be there that day and he told his friends NO for my sake, so they put me in shit barn as Yoko.
2. They didn’t know I was coming and didn’t adjust well
3. They liked me but didn’t want to include me in their game (ok come on they should have been able to handle this one better but hey)
I’m sorry I was not clear enough! I don’t think I wanna give you advice on how to connect with groups, one because you said you are about to read a couple books that will do a MUCH better job than I can, and two because I think it depends so much on context that I don’t think I can give you anything useful.
I 100% agree that established groups need to be accommodating to new people and should not freeze new people out or haze them.
I also think insular groups need to remember that people have to “opt-in” to be treated as a group member. No matter what group dynamic it is! So the fact that they were unable to dial it back for your benefit as someone who did not opt in means they: 1 are immature 2 are inconsiderate jerks 3 do not like you for whatever reason 4 were TRYING to run you off on purpose 5 expected you to be more demanding when you needed something (aka didn’t notice your problem) Feel free to check more than on box. Or! Alternatively, spend zero additional thoughts on them and use your time and energy thinking about ways to be and behave in groups you actually like.
My first paragraph was me thinking of why this particular group I’m in (who admittedly are a strong cup of tea, both individually and as a unit) is not by default “a really unhealthy dynamic” as guesty said, or a secretly miserable experience as scarlet suggested. I’m trying to show that there is evidence of a wildly different culture that is still a good culture ~for the few who opt in~ even if most people would hate it. My bigger point is that people are predisposed to ethnocentrism and we ALL should get the log out of our own eyes before condemning others for the specks in theirs. (I have a real low tolerance for hypocrisy.)
From the OP:
They were loud and seemed nasty to my boyfriend while they played (8hrs), I just lost it having a migraine from them. They were giving my bf shit about something and I just got into it about how rude and loud they were,
I think a lot of the comments have breezed right by this. I note that our OP didn’t lose it until she started to see that this rudeness was ALSO extending to her boyfriend.
(And that’s why the “they like to rag on each other”–he was explaining away the shitty way they were treating HIM, who was doing the work of DM)
I totally agree with the basic criticism of the boyfriend that people have expressed–that he shouldn’t have been oblivious to her enjoyment, that he was a selfish bozo to plan a big D&D game for the weekend she would be in town, etc.
But I also suspect that part of what the blow-up is that our OP saw how shittily they were treating HIM, which proved that they were lousy people.
And the fact that he let them treat him that way, and he let them treat HER that way, may have really damaged her respect for him.
Which is a good reason to call it quits; it’s so important to be able to admire one’s mate (even if you have a realistic picture of their flaws).
Maybe that’s why it’s still bothering LW a year later; the offense against bf has been addressed but not the offense against her. For example the host apologized to bf, bf explained to LW the “reasons” for the behavior, she stood up for bf in the moment (by yelling, not ideal but something). But maybe the full crappiness of bringing her there (thoroughly dissected in this comment section) hasn’t been addressed or even understood, and it’s still a problem.
But yeah, seeing my spouse buy into a group that treats him that way, and where he lets them treat me that way too, would really spook me. Probably because cruelty is my dealbreaker for every category of human interaction, and seeing someone in thrall to a cruel system (family, friends, coworkers, whomever) is like… whoa. I mean it’s their own business/preference but it’s also part of who they are if they buy into it.
Here is a thought experiment that might help:
“If you had not yelled and lost your temper what do you think would have happened?”
Hours more of the same? Passing out from boredom and migraine?
I can’t think of any better outcome you were likely to get to without the yelling. So while I don’t normally advocate yelling I think maybe you had to here.
This is a great point.
Yes. It’s not like you hadn’t tried other options first.
LW, I have been in your shoes, except I was in high school and didn’t quite have the background in awkwardness navigation that I have now.
The bright side is, if you’re fairly young, this could all boil down to a maturity problem. Trying to mesh things that don’t mesh, like the visiting girlfriend AND the DnD AND the other friend AND AND AND, rarely ends well, but people generally learn to triage their fun better.
Your BF put all his priority points into his DnD game and not into your rare long distance visit. That hurts by itself.
And then he and his friends – not just his friends, him too – treated you like shit.
It is OK to make this a NEVER AGAIN hill to die on. You deserve better.
It is not OK to pretend that you apologizing for your reaction to shitty treatment is the same as solving the problem of the shitty treatment. Do not let this shit be made your fault.
The “silent girlfriend of the host” detail really stood out to me.
This is not a group of people who welcomes new members. This is a group of people who treats its existing members’ S.O.s as accessories who are seen and not heard, and she has just already internalized that.
I’d GTFO of the boyfriend because this sounds really gendered and misogynistic from your probable pronouns and the one girlfriend we know about, and dudes who are fine with that dynamic are usually… Fine with treating women that way and it’s gross!
But either way, the Silent Girlfriend has given you all the information you need about how these people are going to expect you to act. Avoid going back if you don’t want to be silent accessory girl.
I didn’t think the “silent girlfriend” thing was a “She’s not allowed to talk because she’s an accessory” thing; I thought it was a “She’s rude and ignoring me, too” thing. I thought she was jealous. Perhaps all of the above.
Delurking to gingerly comment: I give the LW credit for wanting to make this right, but I’m not personally sure it’s not pretty okay just where it is right now. If I had sat through such refried hell as the scenario described, I would be skipping through a field of flowers at the thought that I never have to see such terrible people again. And sometimes — rarely, but sometimes — losing your sh!t is can be very effective in making people understand that what they are doing to you is Not Okay and they Better Not Do It Again. So if the worst case scenario is that LW and BF come to realize that LW does not like BF’s high school friends and is not going to be hanging out with them, and BF also realizes he needs to pay better attention to LW in the “come watch my band practice” occasions — then I think that’s a screaming fit that was well worth having. If it left either or both BF and BF’s friends thinking the LW is not to be ignored or dismissed, so be it.
When my bf takes me to a D&D game (especially one that he masters!) he always makes sure that a) I’m informed which kind of game this is, b) I am included, as in, I have a character already built and he has answered my questions, c) htakes a path I can follow as a beginner and d) he doesn’t bring me around jerky friends.
That’s how you involve your partner into your time-consuming activities.
I also assume that he asks you beforehand if you’d like to be a part of that game. And is, like, cool if you say you’d rather sit that one out and enjoy a day in the park/ a book/ a black mass during that time. I might be projecting, but that’s not the vibe I get from LW’s boyfriend.
Same!! And I would like to add that this really basic stuff to expect from people in this hobby.
Wow. He set a whole D&D thing and didn’t even bother to find a way to include you and teach you how to play PRIOR to the incident?
That is a level of incompetence I have ever seen.
Like how hard would it be to take a break from the huge story to just make a quick scrnario that includes the 2 of you where he can play with you AND teach you the rules of the game. Maybe even experiment with different classes to see which you like best?
I find that ganing can be the most adorable and simplest way to date because you can play games that involve 2 people, or play as a team (or part of a team) in a gane of mumtiple players. You can even rib each other and flirt by competing against each other.
“Winner gets to top.” And stuff like that.
Instead, it sounds like he planted a guys night and added you in at the last second. You get to sit there and look pretty—maybe get them the occasional beer or potato chip refill, ehile he gets to play his epic DND story with his guys.
This wasn’t a date, this was a joke and I think this could have been the straw that broke my back too—ESPECIALLY if I caught a migraine/headache/sickness and my supposed boyfriend could be bothered to check on me or find me a place to quietly rest it off.
You apologized for screaming, but he and his group don’t get off scott free for treating you like a sexy lamp.
I’m envisioning the leg lamp from A Christmas Story hopping around serving chips.
“This is a level of incompetence that I have never seen.”
SAME. I’ve never seen a GMs SO treated this poorly in the GMs OWN GAME.
Sadly I have encountered similar behavior from immature or poorly adjusted gamers that was comparably unacceptable and unnecessary. On those occasions Things Were Done even if those Things include “Mimi and spouse quit the game with great swiftness and prejudice.”
Honestly, I’m incredibly glad you screamed at them. Sometimes people don’t deserve a good time. Expecting you to sit silently and enjoy watching them play a game is one of those times. Not responding when you say “hello” or “I’m having a migraine” or “I don’t like this,” is also one of those times. They felt no compunction about making you miserable for eight hours, so why should you feel bad about making them miserable? Of course, you should talk before yelling, but if they literally don’t respond at all when you talk, go ahead and yell! Good on you.
I feel for you LW.
Based on the length of the game session I would guess that you all are in college. Our college games and gaming groups were very long and often dysfunctional and rife with GSF. I have screamed at people on occasion and also been trapped at interminable games that I couldn’t escape from where people ignored my stated needs and no one noticed my weeping exhaustion. Those people either grew the F up or they were jerks I don’t play with anymore. Our games are a lot more fun now.
Social problems in DnD are not always caused by the GM but they can always be solved by the GM. The GM is the moderator and the ambassador for the hobby.
So your BF really failed you here. As the GM, it’s his responsibility to manage the table and plan the game (and IMO paint the hobby in a good light to new players). He had advance notice that you were coming and the ability (unlike a regular player) to engineer an experience that would be good for both you and his buddies.
He did not take the time to build you a character and incorporate you into the game. He ALSO did not give you an NPC to play so you could participate in the game without having to learn all the rules. And he ALSO also didn’t come up with alternative entertainment for you for 8 HOURS(?!). It doesn’t sound like he even bothered to introduce you to his friends or call them out for being jerks (which is also his responsibility as GM).
I can’t speak to his quality as a BF, but he sounds like a crappy or at best inexperienced GM. I would recommend not playing with him anymore. Put your foot down if necessary. Life is too short to play shit games.
There were clearly a lot of factors involved in the last visit going so poorly – both on your side and on the side of your boyfriend and his friends. And I think the Captain has already covered those really well.
But I want to highlight one thing that has me really curious, as someone who plays DnD themselves and has been enthusiastically helping our GM bring new players into the game.
Your boyfriend took you to a DnD game. An 8 hour marathon DnD game (gods, our games run to about 3-4 hours each session and we’re knackered by the end of it!). An 8 hour marathon DnD game where you did not know the other players yet. Your boyfriend, GM of the game, took you to an 8 hour marathon DnD game with players you did not know.
And it sounds like you asked questions about rules during the game, and were brushed off by the host. Not the GM, who is your boyfriend, but who presumably didn’t then provide those answers for you.
The big glaring questions for me all revolve around why your boyfriend didn’t help prepare you for the game beforehand and also why, as GM, he didn’t take point in helping you through unfamiliar rules in-game? He’s dragging you into this situation that’s about as high-pressured as you can possibly make a meeting-the-partner’s-friends event, and it sounds like he did nothing to help you actually prepare for it beforehand, or cope with it during.
I ask because, if that sounds like a pattern with you guys, it’s definitely something to consider.
LDH used to park me at his parents’ dining room table to entertain them while he went off and did stuff. For hours. It was excruciating, and it was never nearly as long as the 8 hours you went through, LW. I feel for you, and I think screaming was perfectly reasonable. I think there just isn’t enough apology BF can make to you.
Oh goodness… Flashbacks! Former bf used to get calls from his mom every evening. Hours of talking and ranting, lots of crying. Every evening.
When bf and I moved in together, it suddenly became my job to answer the phone. He expected me to listen to his mom for hours, so he would be free to tinker with the car engine on our living room carpet while drinking beer with his bros. NOPE!
LW, you are awesome. The yelling sounds uncharacteristic, and was probably due to the *8 hours!* of hell you suffered through with all your polite words ignored. In this case, yelling was a pretty good way for you to take care of yourself (as clearly no one else would. major side-eye to BF). Keep taking care of yourself, LW. You are awesome.
I just went to my first weekly board game night. No D&D but everyone played (+ two DMs). I changed my outfit twice and reviewed my science fiction book collection to prep. I had to be sponsored in. Given the incredible denigration nerds/geeks/games players have faced forever, I truly get the reticence. They were all very nice (I really appreciated it) but they kept an eye on me. I decided not to use my self-deprecating joke about speaking Elvish while learning the bat’leth (how cool would that be though?). This is just to say that it’s a tough crowd and an insular culture. This is not just a party, it’s a meeting of an oppressed group, in some ways political. It’s a safe place. (I think–I don’t want to speak for anyone!!).
With that said, the folks you ran into are dicks. Anyone who pointedly doesn’t respond to your greeting is hilarious. That degree of unnecessary antisocial behaviour is just so NOT about you and is so ridiculous in an adult that you can very reasonably find humour in it. Someone who practices more subtle manipulation can trip me up. But that is just–it’s funny and bewildering and absolutely on them. Give a mysterious smile, giggle or just burst out laughing. Laughing when people are being assholes is always a good idea and disarms an aggressor.
Don’t beat yourself up. At board game night a couple, both regulars, got in a angry, obvious, whisper fight. I think it’s a common thing in games. And maybe don’t hang out with them because why? Good luck. Remember you are awesome and owe them nothing.
I’m going to push back on the idea that nerds are an oppressed group in two thousand eighteen and liking nerd shit is in itself political, esp. given some of the downright evil misogynist attitudes and harassment coming out of “nerd culture” these days (Chris Hardwick, The Last Jedi haters harassing female actors off social media, GoomerGart, etc.)
I don’t want to derail my own post on my own website, but, nope. “Liking nerdy pop culture (THAT IS INCREDIBLY WIDESPREAD AND POPULAR AND MAKES SHITLOADS OF MONEY)” is not an inherently political act or a mark of oppression. Even if people were mean in middle school because of it. Nope.
A white girl who used to get beat up for writing notes in Elvish runes on her notebooks
Thank you for your response and I’m so sorry you were beat up Captain. LW, please disregard that part of my comment and I apologise if it was upsetting or triggering to anyone.
It wasn’t triggering for me, I wasn’t “oppressed” by middle school bullies beyond the usual middle school bullshit, just, the idea of nerds as an oppressed minority and consuming nerdy popular culture as political act is actually dangerous in the world (i.e. GoomerGort) Thanks!
Yeah no. Nerds aren’t annoppressed minority group and they never were. I will die on this hill. Allow me to list why nerd has become “chic” in this day and age…
1) Marvel and Star Wars has dominated the cinema
2) DC has gotten some good TV shows
3) A lot of people play video games
4) A lot of nostalgia revolves around nerd-related things, causing merd atuff to be popular
6) The internet
7) An EXTREMELY successful marketing campaign where now EVERY store has something nerd related.
They aren’t now, but they were 50ish years ago. Even 30ish years ago, verbal and physical harassment based on ‘you read too much’ happened. But since the rise of Bill Gates, it’s largely gone.
That still doesn’t make nerds an oppressed group. The difference between bullying because of interests and gender, race, religion, sexuality, etc. -based harrassment is so big as to be an entirely different beast.
Let’s NOT pretend it is.
I don’t know, I feel my nerdiness is based on things I do, like and buy, not who I AM in the sense that my sexual orientation or gender identity are things I AM.
It isn’t cool in my book to be mean regardless, but I draw a distinction between action/behavior-based affiliations and inherent-quality affiliations. OTOH I may be missing a use case that makes this problematic. I’ll have to think about that.
I was never sure whether the 1980s school bullying I got was based on the fact that I read a lot, or the fact that if I manage to pass as neurotypical it’s either with a lot of work or by accident. Could have been both. (I’m still not sure of all the categories of not-neurotypical I fall into; could just be ADD, could be other things too.)
The rise in diagnosis/identification of autism spectrum neurotype has been really enlightening to me. People who would have been right beside me getting bullied for “weird” interests, and intensity of focus on something that “normal people” didn’t find interesting, are mentioning that they’re on the autism spectrum, or AD(H)D, or both. “I love baseball” was a “normal” interest, even when it involved a whole bunch of binders of baseball cards and looking down on people who didn’t find it interesting. “I have pet chickens and they’re cool” was … not.
That didn’t used to be true — you’re completely wrong about the “never”.
The amount of utterly ridiculous persecution I faced for taking up with an RPG group 25-30 years ago was insane. I’m still astonished at all the crazy accusations and harassment from back then about how this must say some deeply terrible thing about me, given that the reality was I was joining the only social thing going on Saturday nights that did not involve underage drinking. Somehow watching underage kids give themselves alcohol poisoning was acceptable, but RPGs were proof you were evil.
That being said, I have zero patience with those who pretend they are now heroically defying their entire culture when they do things that are now culturally dominant.
That’s part of the problem though — somehow we’ve had several generations now where being young and male means you have to see yourself as a heroic underdog valiantly fighting the good fight, and yet they pretty much all feel fine demanding to be seen that way without actually fighting any good fight or doing anything remotely heroic. We’re generations deep in a style of toxic masculinity where they get to make up a fake oppressor force to which they are the scrappy underdog, and then insist this is reality and they are heroes.
Guys with even a trace of that HATE women who are engineers with the fire of a thousand suns. Not only do we do the heroic-geeky thing that they want to believe is reserved to a few heroically cool and gifted dudes, we actually ARE the scrappy underdogs fighting the good fight, which pretty much none of the guys are. (One of my favorite things about my engineering doctorate has nothing to do with engineering or academics — it’s seeing how these guys react to my qualifications. They literally do things like turn pale, look queasy, stammer, and scurry off with their legs clenched like they think their bits will fall off. It gives me a warm, happy feeling.)
the geek have inherited the earth – and are merrily continuing its destruction. wheeee
Thanks for saying this. I started playing in the mid-late 1990s, when the worst of it was over, and my then-boss (who loved me and was one of my greatest mentors) STILL ended up angrily advocating for D&D players as decent human beings with a quirky hobby, not literal Satanic torturers of animals and potential sadistic murders. To a bunch of high school teachers and college professors.
For tabletop RPGers in particular, this WAS an actual, genuine, legit serious problem.
I’m sorry you got bullied over your interests but can you please point out to me which laws said you arent allowed to get married because of playing DND, or how dnd players are systematically denied housing and work, or can you site any instances in whcih DND players were mas incarcerated, enslaved, ethnically cleansed, lynched and disslocated from their Homeland
FOR REAL. Social weirdness and even childhood bullying do not stack against this stuff. Nerds are not an oppressed minority or protected class. The people who claim they are are the ones who are like, harassing actors off social media (and worse).
Having problems and being discriminated against because of something you can’t help are two different things.
Oppressed!!! From what the societal expectations to “regularly shower” and “learning how to socialize”? These are like the extreme stereotypes of what nerds are. Also remind me which laws are there on the books that says “its legal to turn away doing business with someone who likes star trek” or “people who read the Silmarillion are not allowed to get married” or remind me when were nerds kept as slaves because they played video games, or were lynched because they like a multi billion dollar franchise, or were gathered into concentration camps and experienced ethnic cleansing in 2018 (which are things that are still happening today)?
Get over yourself and maybe look up how you can help people are being oppressed, not a mythical boogyman.
Even to this day —or anywhere between the 80’s-00’s—Geeks and nerds didn’t have to face modern social racism like lack of opportunity, financial struggle, and criminalization just because they happen to dig Star Wars.
Even Stranger Things did it right, the main 4 (and Elle) were bullied not JUST cause of their “nerdness”: One was black, one had a physical deformity, one was a girl, and one was deemed “gay” (whether he is or not is not stated). The bullies targetted them for THOSE qualities while the nerdiness was just icing on the bully cake.
Please stop throwing “oppressed” when it comes to nerd. They NEVER, EVER WERE. Oppression is a far different and more sinister, systematic form of abuse than bullying.
I’m not going to defend “geeks are oppressed” because I don’t think that’s true.
And, also, what is with the showering comment, like, what constructive purpose could that possibly serve?
And, also, there is a history of people who genuinely are oppressed being told their oppression isn’t real by other oppressed people (eg trans women wanting to be a part of feminist spaces) (eg bisexuals wanting to actually be part of queer spaces) (asexuals ditto) so I think tests for what is and what is not oppression have to be brought out with a great deal of caution and thought. Oppression looks different in different contexts, and it doesn’t have to be actual ethnic cleansing to be real oppression. I’m a woman. None of that stuff Ruler of cats mentioned with the possible exception of marriage has ever applied to me, as a woman.
And to the Captain’s comment above… actual oppressed/marginalized people oppress other oppressed/marginalized people all. the. time. and it’s not necessary to demonstrate or assert that someone is not oppressed to point out that they’re engaging in oppressive behavior. If for some reason we decided geeks really are an oppressed group (which again, I’m not actually arguing) we would still be able to call out geek culture for being misogynist etc. It’s not actually a hill anyone needs to die on.
(to clarify, Checkers’ comment really bugged me too and I would have been all over it if that hadn’t already been covered. This is just… a sort of mild adjustment on the push-back, not me siding with Checkers.)
Oh, yep, I’ve done this. Early in my relationship with my now-husband, one of his college friends was back in town and all the guys from that friend group were going out one night. He wanted me to come along and meet them – great! Except it was like a Wednesday night or something where I had class early the next morning and he didn’t (we were in grad school), so I was the only one not drinking, and we kept going to these shitty dive bars they used to love in college, and it was like 10 guys reminiscing about inside jokes. After a couple of hours I tried to quietly tell my boyfriend that I wasn’t having a great time – maybe our next stop could be somewhere quieter? Or at least somewhere with a nonalcoholic drink besides water? And he was like “yeah babe idk” and went back to ignoring me. Shortly after that I got up to leave, and he asked me where I was going, and I loudly told him that I was in a bad mood, having a shitty time, and being ignored, so I was leaving. I was MAD and it was awkward, but he apologized to me the next day.
I’ve hung out with that group many times since then in a more fun environment, and it turns out they’re great and nobody hates me! I think this is the kind of thing that people understand and will forgive, but your boyfriend has to have your back.
Good Lord. Every single thing about this letter had me going NOPE. LW, I’m going straight to ‘dump him’ because EVERYTHING you wrote says to me you have a ‘boyfriend’ who doesn’t notice your needs, doesn’t think about your needs, thinks you’re ‘crazy’ for screaming at him after he dragged you along to an EIGHT HOUR D & D game where the host was an asshole, you were treated like furniture, and when you stood up for your god-given humane RIGHT to eat, sleep, drink, and wanted to go home due to a legitimate medical issue he treated you like shit!! ????
Holy SHIT, run the hell away from this person and his garbage friends!!!
There is NOTHING TO APOLOGIZE FOR. Why on earth would he bring you to this game and not create space for you!? If he was already deep in a campaign then why did he bring you just to sit you in the corner like a stuffed animal!?!? And then get angry when you expressed basic human needs!?!? HOLY SHIT. NO. NO TO GARBAGE PEOPLE. NO TO MEN WHO DO SHIT LIKE THIS. NO TO ALL OF THE ABOVE.
New theory on the “silent girlfriend.”
Was she possibly cheesed that her BF was hosting a drunk, rowdy, marathon d&d game the same weekend they had family over? Or exhaused and overtaxed from having to play hostess to all these people with minimal help from her SO?
That sounds very plausible.
Plausible, but still crappy to ignore Downhearted Daisy’s hello.
My long-distance ex once surprised me by telling me we were going to dinner – and then 17 of his friends were there to finally meet me. They were warm and welcoming and excited and it was only 2 hours and I am an extrovert on a level rarely seen on Earth and I *still* was exhausted. He gave absolutely no thought to whether or not this was something I wanted and he never really checked in with me to make sure I was okay. If I were in your shoes, LW…well, look. Sometimes the best way to survive long distance is finding ways to act like a normal couple, and that means letting yourselves have the fights you need to have. It’s worth having an argument and seeing how things get resolved. It’s okay to have disagreements, even loud, frustrated ones. You need to see how y’all handle those. (Plus, make-up sex/cuddles/whatever you want to do to get your couple-y glow on afterwards is ALSO something you miss out on in long distance relationships!)
“Sometimes the best way to survive long distance is finding ways to act like a normal couple, and that means letting yourselves have the fights you need to have.”
Yes, yes, a million times yes. One of the hardest things about long distance for me (and there were a lot of hard things) was feeling caught between wanting to make the most of the time we had together, and needing to talk about the stuff that might not result in a happy weekend but would probably go over a lot more poorly without the ability to read body language. I usually wound up erring on the side of the former, and I don’t think that was for the best.
YES. It was so hard to figure out what to bring up and when – we were international long distance, so visits were very rare and precious, but all I wanted was to act like a “normal” couple whereas he wanted all our time to be special and so no difficult conversations should be had. It was…not great. It also meant we never learned how to really communicate because we were constantly in this push/pull of “I should say something/I shouldn’t wreck the visit”, so when we finally did live closer to one another, we hadn’t figured out what tone of voice meant “No, really, I can’t”.
This maaaaay have led to me having an absolute meltdown in Asda when he tried to make me pick out spices after I lost the “I know myself, I’ve moved a lot, it’s too soon for me to be out in the world and trying to brain AND the terrible people at the airport made me leave my cats in another country and you’ve already yelled at me for being bad with directions” vs. “But I only have a rental car for another day so we need to do everything we possibly can with it” argument. (6 years later and that is apparently still a little raw.)
Yes, a million times yes!
Have the argument, even if you are tempted to keep all of your rare time together conflict-free. Do not spend years of your life playing nice and not getting what you need from a relationship. Better to find out whether things will really work out without one person pretending to be happy with unacceptable crap all the time. Even if it hurts to have the argument. Even if it sucks ever so much.
True story: long ago I had an apartment I paid the full rent on, in which my boyfriend lived with me. He invited his friend group over every week to play GURPS (because everyone else lived with parents or in dorms) and the GM would kill my character off in the first five minutes every time. On purpose. And then they would all expect me to make snacks.
So I told him they couldn’t play at my home anymore.
I should’ve broken up with him then, but it took him kicking our dog to get me off my ass.
Yeah, if the GM is gonna be a butthole in MY house, then he is gonna find himself OUT of my house eith no invite back.
My partner is on a few forums for tabletop games, and sometimes recounts the flamewars that ensue from, for example, minor rule tweaks to new editions. One case that came up was where something had been changed and one user was arguing it was terrible because, although it opened up a lot of narrative possibilities, it could be exploited in various gamebreaking ways that would let the players be assholes, and he, as a GM, didn’t want to put up with that. My partner responded by asking why he played with people he didn’t trust not to be assholes. The idea that RPGs can be a collaboration between GM and player seemed utterly foreign to this user.
Long time reader, first comment here. Wow, that sounds horrible!
Similar-ish situation with my first D&D game with my future spouses’ gaming buds, but so different.
-I actually had been wanting to try the game for a while
-Spouse and some of our other friends sat down with me and helped me roll up a character
-The Game Master found a way to “write” my character into the story
-other players were patient with my questions and had basic manners
-and future spouse gave my character a very powerful enchanted weapon
And we always have plenty of food because everyone brings some.
If you still want to play I hope it all goes well, but it’s really okay if you don’t.
Re enchanted weapons: I got to play a dwarf with this chain that you could use to trip people (uh, bad guys? orcs? something) and it gave lightning damage and if the bad guy tried to get up I got an attack of opportunity so I could trip him again and it was soooo much fun. It was still the only time I played because reasons, but it was still a good experience.
There’s a *right* way to do this kind of thing.
Oh, dear LW, what a horrible experience! As a tabletop role playing gamer for three decades let me say: the dynamic in this group truly and thoroughly suck. What a case of being a bad host, non-inclusive gamemastering and also shitty behaviour from the part of the other players. Not cool.
IMHO, role playing games should be a group effort and making the game understandable and accessible should be on everyone. I have seen some pretty weird role playing game groups (and quit participating in the short) but never anything this bad. Tabletop rpgs are socially somewhat demanding because of their nature: ideally everyone should support each other for maximum enjoyment. Whenever someone who had nevery played role playing games have found their way in a group run by me – or where I have played, for that matter, we have always made sure that they feel included. Often one of the other players have volunteered to be responsible for helping with the rules – or we have played a rules light game.
To me this group just does not sound worth it. I am so sorry to hear that your first experience of tabletop role playing games was such a bad one. For me it is a very dear hobby which has offered so many powerful and enlightening experiences that I cannot even count them. I hope you get a chance – if you want one – to try it again in another, beginner friendly group and setting.
This is not how it should be. Even for a hard core enthusiast like myself watching other people play is so very, very boring – not to mention for a person to whom the game is utterly strange. I second The Captain: please, do not participate in such a situation again! For me it would have been hell, too.
Take care of yourself, whether or not you ever try rpgs ever again.
Downhearted Daisy Here– I apologize in advance if I’m not supposed to comment please delete if that is the case– I just wanted to say SO MUCH thanks to the Captain and all of you who have commented because it is an immense wealth of knowledge and perspective I really would never have been able to bring together on my own, so much love from the bottom of my heart. Captain, you are a saint for helping people with advice I have been an avid reader but this was my first submission and it’s giving me so much more perspective on my confusing situation.
To answer some of the questions in the comments:
-I think it was the groups 3rd or 4th D&D meet up and we are recent college grads
-We planned my coming for the day, it was a way for my bf to share his writing with me (we used to go to poetry slams before we graduated but since then we hadn’t really been able to share our creative pursuits and playing the game he wrote was supposed to fill that gap (he would tell me about the stories he was writing for them when we would talk) and I wanted to play, but I can see in retrospect that having me jump in was probably not a good idea)
-We built my character the day before, I was playing a Ranger. I had wanted to be a Bard bc I am a musician but the host is a Bard and my bf thought he would feel indignant about it if someone else is a Bard, and that the groups needs diversity to work well. The Silent girlfriend is supposedly always silent, but does play D&D with them.
-We haven’t brought the issue up in a year, but the next time I saw him after that night I think he was trying to extend an apology from his friend and I’m afraid I didn’t take it the right way… I am still unsettled about this because I can’t tell if I scared him into not pursuing a solution by being frank about being upset, or if he heard that I was interested in fixing things but it just never happened because of what Captain wrote about our time being precious and us not wanting to use it to resolve the issue, or that his friends have already written me off 100%.
-I have DID have one other incident meeting one of the friends before I had met the rest of them way WAY back, bc I found out off the cuff that this dude friend and my bf had kissed while we were dating as a gag to annoy an obnoxious bridal party at some bar–I would have thought it was hilarious if I was there but it just sort of caught me off guard, it’s hard to explain why I’m not homophobic and the situation sounds really funny but in the moment I felt really sidelined. I sort of killed the night by getting sort of shut down and terse. So my bf felt like D&D wasn’t the first time I made things awkward. That friend was there that night and actually stuck up for me and I like him. He is just more mature than the others. One thing I’ve been wondering about it the time I met them all for 1st time they wanted me to meet his old gf who they are all still friends with, and I tried to be really enthusiastic, like she ended up not wanting to come and I was all “awww but I really want to meet her” because I trying to show that I am comfortable with them and don’t want to be the Yoko and that I want her to feel comfortable among her own group and that I’m not jealous, but it ended up being real awkward bc we ended up visiting her at her own house with her family…. I put my foot down about that after never again. Maybe the friends got a bad vibe out of that, even though I was trying so hard to navigate it all.
**********-It’s on my mind now because I know those friends are engaged and he will be part of the groomsmen, and not that I don’t care/don’t want to go (I don’t think I’m invited and I can’t bare to bring it up but I really don’t know or know when the wedding is) but I sort of wish the wedding could happen and then we could resolve this after like I JUST DON’T WANT TO DEAL WITH IT *sweating profusely* but I’m also worried that maybe I seem like a seriously inconvenient person to date. Obviously if he feels that way, there are bigger problems. I have no reason to think this from him, just the situation has the capacity to go there and it SCARES the shit out of me! I want to resolve it before it gets to that but I also don’t want to create something that wouldn’t happen if I left it alone–I don’t want to create my own problem. He also has a new job and is busier and tireder and I just can’t help but feel like there is more distance between us and I don’t want to overreact and not respect how much he cares but it’s hard to not KNOW if someone is losing interest or I’m totally paranoid because I’m not there. I do appreciate having time to myself in long distance though.***********
-We are both young, and I know that he is navigating these things for the first time just like I am and I usually feel like he hears me, but I just don’t know where I stand because he is basically a middle-man between the friends and me.
-Since then my bf came to visit and we played a game just me by myself and he DM’d and I really enjoyed it, with him being able to guide me through game-play questions (D&D fans I see you and I am a convert! *queue confetti*)
Again, sorry if I’m breaking the rules by commenting please please please delete if that is the case!!!
Much love and thanks for your time,
“So my bf felt like D&D wasn’t the first time I made things awkward.”
But you didn’t make anything awkward at D&D. He did — he was absolutely horrible to you. And now he’s blaming you for his having chosen to treat you badly over and over and over again for 8 hours.
His friends are not the problem here — he is. If he insisted on treating you with basic adult civility and insisted that people in any social situation he brought you into do the same, then there would be no problem. But he doesn’t think you are worth just ordinary, basic, adult civility.
That’s why so many are saying to dump him.
Thisthisthis! You had an entirely predictable and relatable reaction to being ostracized and ignored while trapped with a bunch of people you don’t know. As the person who brought you along, it was firmly his job to make sure you were included and having fun, and to adjust–including possibly leaving early!–if you weren’t. That’s how bringing someone new to a group gathering *works*. Your reaction just took the awkward, painful situation and made it everyone’s problem instead of just yours–which is a reasonable reaction, it’s not reasonable to expect you to sit there bearing all the terribleness alone just so everyone else doesn’t have to.
This this this so much this
First of all, it’s great to hear from you! And we’re always happy to hear from LWs if they want to.
Second: you sound massively insecure, and part of me worries if BF caused it or at least aggravated it. As in, why shouldn’t there be two bards? Why would host even care that there is another bard? Two bard can sing duetts and trade stories and whatever. And if that guy is that easily unhappy, why did BF not just phone him with “just wanted to tell you, Daisy will play a bard”? Why does BF preemptively need to stop you from randomly offending allegedly easily offended guy? “Dude, get over it. She’s here for one evening” would also have been an option.
Why is it important if they view you as difficult? You view them as not nice to you. Why do they pressure you into
visiting ex? Best case, iit’s a case of clueless people with a lot of geek social fallacies.
TL; DR: I’m a bit worried because you sound that insecure, and maybe counselling would be a good option to explore it? On the other hand, do you feel being with BF makes you more or less insecure? And does he also try to placate his friends all the time or does this somehow always involve you making “compromises” but he not?
In a long running campaign you wouldn’t want 2 bards. But I agree for a single session “guest star” it’s nbd to double up. Especially if they’re playing 5e. There’s a lot of customization there.
Hi, DD. After reading your comment, I don’t think any of those people are bad, but that group dynamics sounds a bit exhausting. It’s always hard for an outsider to fit into an established group. It would make sense if you all lived in the same area, but here, you only have the opportunity to visit each other from time to time (don’t know how often you guys see each other, sorry if you mentioned it and I missed it). Why do you have to spend so much time and energy doing group stuff? It’s really nice that he wants you to meet his friends, but wouldn’t it be easier for everyone involved to just have a meal with you two and one or two other friends? It’s a lot easier to get to know each other that way than trying to fit in a group of people that have a history together… (Also, you’ll certainly find out that you get along better with some of them, you don’t need to be super-chummy with EVERYONE, that’s Geek Fallacy 101).
Aww, I’m sorry you’re feeling so worried and ungrounded about this situation! A few thoughts:
1. I’m confused about who is getting married, but you’re not going to that wedding, thank your lucky stars! No spending a ton of $$, no enduring the shit-show of discomfort that would be a bunch of rude shit-talking friends *at a wedding* combined with you “Yoko-ing” a very private old-friends moment, no awkward social endurance marathon of wedding activities. Not to mention that staying chill and refraining from insinuating yourself into this situation is a good look for you anyway. You’re not on the hook for this wedding so don’t sweat it.
2. This friend group sure has a knack for creating intense and fraught situations! Gaming marathon in which bf presents his achievements to gf (and she must be duly impressed while learning something new for 8 hours with hostile strangers!). Likely unwelcome group visit to the family home of ex-girlfriend so new girlfriend can meet her with boyfriend surrounded by hostile friend group. I mean hell, attending that wedding would really have been the icing on the cake. If you end up hanging out with these folks again, think about what *you* would want to do. When are you at your best? How much socializing can you deal with at once? How many people at once? And then extend an invite to make that situation happen next time you visit, rather than another super-intenso group marathon. You don’t have to play by this friend group’s rules or habits. Or maybe when you’re not visiting, there’s some group online activity you enjoy (gaming maybe?) that you could invite *one or few* of them to along with bf (the “mature one” seems like a good candidate). And maybe a friend of your own could join too.
Frankly, I’d be side-eyeing these situations they created, particularly the ex-girlfriend one, but that is unknowable territory and not your problem to solve. But yeah, you are totally reasonable to side-eye if you want. “I tried so so hard but it must not have been hard enough!” is not the ONLY way to see these situations. There is also, “wow, that was unnecessarily difficult.” And “I don’t appreciate having been put in an intense situation where trying my hardest wasn’t good enough.” And “well, I did the best I could. Case closed.”
3. You can’t control what others think of you. Sometimes rumors and impressions are runaway trains that you can’t stop. It sucks. But you can choose to accept and acknowledge your own feelings. That is the major work of your early twenties, actually: getting to know and accept yourself, what you like, need, loathe and will not tolerate, no matter who you’re with. Then as you age you go about building a world where you fit in. There is not one good reason you should worry about being rejected by people you actively dislike. You worrying will not make these people less rude. But your future IS a reason to learn to get to know your inner voice. And, scary as it is, you ultimately can’t control what bf thinks, either. If he decides “gf didn’t immediately click with admittedly caustic friend group whom she never really sees anyway, so I’m going to break up with her,” that is his own stupid decision to make.
Everything you said, but especially your second point x 2000000. LW, it’s great hearing from you, and you sound more and more awesome – but let me tell you, even though some (minor) bits of your update were reassuring (e.g. The one friend who was decent, you creating a pc beforehand with bf), on the whole…. I’d say it sounds worse and worse. Like, insisting for you to meet bf’s ex gf?! At her house?? And bf not having your back even just for this (by saying some variation of “guys, this is not appropriate” / “ok, we’re not coming, but you have a good time” / whatever could get you OUT of that visit before it even started)!!
I’m sorry, because it’s clear that you love him, but he’s not treating you well, *at the very least* where these particular friends (and ex gf!!) are concerned
This comment section is giving me so much perspective on this situation but I must add that your comment, especially the part about being in my twenties and getting to know my inner voice is SO relevant to the job hunt right now too I am sending so much love thanks for you sharing this perspective, definitely helps me put everything into the bigger picture!
Sending love right back! Job hunting and worrying about long distance relationship is scary shit! Hang in there 🙂
Hello, Disheartened Daisy! So nice to hear from you!
First of all: I am very happy to hear that you have given role playing games another chance and liked it! If you ever want to try something other than D&D there is a whole world there: everything from horror to sci-fi to Star Trek, Star Wars, Buffy and Jane Austen style story telling and also very rules light options. No wonder if first trying out D&D for 8 hours(!) was confusing, it _is_ a complicated game. Personally I prefer less rules heavy rpgs, systems like Fate which I have found much easier for beginners – but enough of the rpg talk.
It sounds like you have really invested in this relationship – but also that you are now having some second thoughts. Now I wonder how long have you been together? Clearly over a year. Relationships evolve and when the pink glasses of new love come off how people behave changes. Beside what The Captain said about the effects of a long distance relationship the evolution of your relationship to a new stage might have a role to play here.
To me it sounds like you might need some more you-time, to think about what you want – and perhaps more time with Team You. What do you feel like doing? When you think about your future, what do you wish for? These are just some random questions for you to think about.
I second some of the commenters here: to me you sound somewhat insecure; much like I was when I was in my 20’s. I often wish I had a chance to go back and to tell myself that my worth does not come from whether some guy loves me or not, that I was great just the way I was. Well, I cannot do that, so I just say these things to you. If you think your boyfriend is less invested in this relationship than you wish him to be or that you are having doubts, talk to someone about these thoughts. Well, that is actually what you are doing here, is it not?
The most important thing right now is to find out what you want and what you think is good for you. This letter was mostly about your boyfriend and his friends (and his ex) but there are other things going on in your life, right? So, how much of your thoughts do this relationship take over? Do you have enough energy for your other pursuits?
The Captain had excellent points and suggestions on your relationship with your boyfriend and his friends. To me it seems that you care for him a lot and wish for his appreciation and concern which is absolutely right. Do you get the validation you deserve from him?
“I apologize in advance if I’m not supposed to comment”
we want you to comment! you’re the LW here, you’re the star, everyone wants to hear from you! 🙂
“I’m not homophobic and the situation sounds really funny but in the moment I felt really sidelined”
when you think about it, it’s the cultural default of “same-sex kisses don’t count as cheating” that’s kinda homophobic.
your bf kissed someone else while he was dating you, and now you know that you’re not comfortable with that, regardless of gender or joking-intentions. that’s useful information that you can communicate to future partners so they don’t unintentionally hurt you.
“I seem like a seriously inconvenient person to date.”
oh, sweetie, noooo. you are trying so hard to be the “cool” girl, to not take up space or have any feelings to be hurt. That’s no way to live. You deserve to exist and have your needs met. Someone who loves you will not see your feelings/wants/needs as an inconvenience – even when they technically *are* inconvenient from a practical point of view. 😛
hmm… it might be useful for you to read a book or two on assertiveness? that’ll help you learn to speak up for yourself more, and then when another ridiculous situation comes along you can nope out of it early, *before* it gets to migraine-and-yelling stage 😉
I’ll definitely look into a few books–a friend recommended Getting to Yes this week, and a college advisor recommended How to Win Friends Influence People, both very nice but assertive people so I’m definitely going to follow up on this tip!!!
Also, I never was able to quite phrase why the kiss got me upset, but I think you hit the nail on the head. I can’t express enough how helpful it is get feedback here, with new perspectives and experiences.
I can highly recommend both of those books, as well as the sequel of the 1st: Getting Past No.
Those books are not going to teach you how to view YOURSELF. They will teach you how to help other people view you (or your ideas) well. And although that is a very very useful social skill to develop, you might consider getting a book or two on self-confidence, becoming more assertive, or maybe how to become more decisive?
I say this because I think you are already doing a boatload of work to ensure no one could possibly think poorly of you, mainly by taking up as little space as possible. Even in your entry to this forum you preemptively mentioned that you should be deleted if that’s what others wanted.
I think, perhaps, maybe only subconsciously, you don’t believe you deserve to have your needs respected. That you’re not entitled to take up any room. That your pain is worth less than someone else’s convenience. How many times do you think you say “sorry” in a week, for example? Especially preemptively?
Daisy. I say this with all the love and wisdom I can muster: TAKE UP MORE ROOM. You deserve more room. You are entitled to better than what you have allotted for yourself. You are worth the trouble you cause other people. So cause some trouble already!
Go forth, and may the world tremble before your shadow.
Yes this so much this . From your follow up LW it seems like you are bending over backwards to please your bf, to make sure everything goes his way, that he gets what he wants. Not only he doesn’t reciprocate but he puts you in more and more uncofrtable situations and then doesn’t stand up to help you and doesn’t bother listing to your side of things.
As a polyamorous person, I’d like to add that being surprised with something kindasorta cheating-like can be pretty upsetting *even if it’s something you would have been ok with if you’d been asked first.* There’s 4 levels here (the kiss, the same-sex aspect of the kiss, that you weren’t asked, and that you weren’t told directly and in a timely manner after it happened) and only one level is potentially homophobic (and even then people who are basically chill with homo-sex can still be somewhat rattled at first when someone they’re dating who they assumed was straight had a same-sex sexything without having to turn in their basically-cool-person card. You didn’t have a big scene with your boyfriend, you shut down and got quiet to avoid having a big scene while still having feelings. Having feelings is OK! Not knowing what to do with them in the moment is OK! Failure to perform good girlfriend because you are having feelings is not ideal but still basically OK!)
tldr there are several reasons other than homophobia or not being cool enough that you might have reacted the way you did
Inahc, very good insights!
How about after reading a couple of books on assertiveness try out playing an assertive character in a role playing game? Here in Scandinavia we use them for educational purposes, too. They should offer a safe environment to try out new roles and ways to behave and a chance to learn from the experience.
LW, you did not make things awkward. You put up with a nasty, stressful situation, inflicted on you by BF, fo 8 hours! You attempted to talk with BF & friends,and but were ignored and ostracized. Then, exhausted and upset, suffering a migraine, you yelled in order to get what you *needed* and to make them finally listen.
BF acted appallingly. The friends acted appallingly also. You *reacted* to their awfulness.
LW, you wrote, “my bf felt like d&d wasn’t the first time I made things awkward.” That sounds like gaslighting to me. Why is he trying to tell you that you are responsible for his bad actions? Sounds like Darth Vader Boyfriend tactics to me. LW, you are not the one responsible for his behavior and that of his friends.
You also were NOT the person making things awkward in the bar with the kiss.
That kind of pisses me off, that “BF now thinks this wasn’t the first time YOU made things awkward.”
I think you’re the one with decent calibration!
I’ve got no useful advice, but I can tell you that it’s absolutely fine for the letter writer to comment. In fact, everybody loves updates from the letter writer. Thanks for commenting! Please keep updating if there are new developments.
It’s good to hear that at least one person wanted to apologize, even if you weren’t in a place where you could hear it at the time. I hope your boyfriend also apologized.
I’ve never been subjected to 8 hours of DnD with rude loud people, a drunk host, an unsupportive bf, a migraine, and no way to get away. Back in my 20s I was often in far lesser situations where I was uncomfortable, tired, hungry, bored, and/or with people I didn’t like. My take-away advice for myself and the LW is far more basic than anything about screaming or breaking up. It’s about escape planss. Now I never go anywhere without an escape plan. I could be going out with my best friends in the world for an activity I adore, and I still have my own transportation should I need it, enough money should I need that, a book to read, and a phone. Let’s say everyone else is having a nice time, and I start to feel ill. They should be glad to take me home, but I can drive myself so as not to spoil their good time. Let’s say I’m just briefly bored. Fine. I do the (not terribly) rude thing, excuse myself, and read for a bit in another room. Let’s say someone invites me to a weekend get-away, and they’ll pick me up Friday night and take me home Sunday afternoon, and this is to be in a beautiful cabin in the woods. I don’t accept that invitation! Not unless I know where the nearest train station is, can get there, and can afford an emergency ticket out. That’s even with people I like and trust! That backpack with the book and the phone? It also has a sandwich, an apple and a water bottle in it. I wasn’t even thinking about this until I read the letter and realize that I bring “emergency” supplies with me practically everywhere, and I’ve been doing so as a matter of course ever since a few uncomfortable (not nearly as bad as the LW’s) parties over 30 years ago. Nowadays the books, water bottle, and (stale but edible) crackers are in my car so I don’t have to think about them on any given day, but the principle remains. Escape plans! Always!
My partner plays table top role play games (not D&D) from noon until “well it was supposed to be 6pm but it’s now heading for 9pm” and has since we met (literally, the first night I stayed over at his, the gamers started arriving while we were still in bed, and I had to get up and go). Fortunately, I’d been friends with gamers in Uni and knew how this worked, had sat in on a game before, and basically cleared the fuck out of there every time it was a game longer than a couple of hours on a school night.
Also, I’ve seen an experienced player nope out when they were feeling grotty mid game and either go home (or in the case of the couple who were both there, one of them lay down in the spare room/on the sofa). So doing that is not unusual for my partner’s group.
If you hang around, you will find there are some gamers who literally do not know how to talk to non-gamers. All their social skills are tuned to people who game. I’ve had one girl almost tune me out when she found out. Her geekier-seeming boyfriend talked to me about cooking. That was the couple who said to my face that they could not believe that my partner, of all people, had ended up with a non-gamer. If that is the case with that group, your boyfriend literally won’t notice unless you set a challenge to avoid game talk and watch them all fail (I did this in a pub once – said if you sit at this table, talk about non games stuff. There were other tables, but the whole group was gamers plus partners. If you do this, come with a list of topics).
You might also find it helpful to try other games if people are being dicks about you learning the rules. nothing like leveling the playing field.
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Daisy, you sound like a person whose boundaries and social expectations are in good order, and I want to add my voice to those saying that you’re not the one who needs to apologise. If (if!) you do feel like giving a casual ‘hey sorry about my part in what went down last time, bygones?’ when you meet these people again it might make you feel better in a ‘well, this was shitty but at least I didn’t let my own standards drop’ way,but to be honest just dropping it from your list of things to worry about ever is also an entirely reasonable response.
I don’t know if a stranger’s ridiculous Internet moment will cheer you up any, but when I saw this chapter heading I had a moment of ‘oh crap, someone wrote to Captain Awkward about that thing that went down in 2012?’ before I remembered that was Pathfinder and heaved a huge sigh of relief.
Dear Captain, if you ever write a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Dumping People Who Don’t Make You Feel Good, I will buy it. So will others. It will be a bestseller.
I started reading this letter and, for a minute, thought it was me, except my example is perhaps a little more extreme. LW, perhaps it will resonate with you?
A year ago, I went on a Very Bad week-long vacation with my long-distance ex (then-boyfriend) and his family. It was the worst week of my life.
I had to interact with my ex’s parents, two siblings, and grandmother ALL DAY for a week (we were all staying in the same small beach house), which was exhausting and overwhelming. For example, when I suggested we split up into two teams to play mini golf so we could make use of both courses (really I just wanted to interact with fewer people for a few hours), I was told very sternly, “In this culture we DO THINGS TOGETHER.” Well okay then- I guess no allowance for introverts or people who need time to adjust to being around new people in a different family dynamic?
Ex was mostly absent from the situation- instead of coming to bed (we were long-distance and I hadn’t seen him for like 8 weeks), he read late. He took care of his parents and drove them around. I got almost no alone time with him. Before the trip, I had expressed my concern and asked for a day mid-week to ourselves. That did not happen. I felt ignored. He did not make space for me in this family, and it was on him to translate and negotiate between our two different cultures and ways of relating. Like your boyfriend, he could not figure out how (or did not want to) do this, so he just defaulted to one and ignored the needs of the other.
I took a long walk one evening along the beach to relieve some of the stress. I had finally calmed down when I got back and discovered the house in a panic. His family was SO! CONCERNED! about where I was! I “made” them worried! I “made” them upset! I “should” have brought my phone! I felt so utterly trapped. They wanted me to be tangled up in their drama. I am not proud to say, I yelled at my ex’s parents. In honest confusion and pain, mostly WHY WHY WHY would you be so worried? WHY are you freaking out about this? (Them: “We were so concerned!” Me: “I just went for a walk on the beach!!” Them: “Why didn’t you tell us you were going?!?!” Me: “I just needed some space! In my family we can just go on walks without causing all this drama! Why is this such a big deal?” Them: “But we care about you!” Me: “I don’t like to be cared about in this way!”)
I should have gone home then. But I stayed for the rest of the week, and my ex’s mom: tried not to feed me, lied to me about when they were leaving, and apparently commented on something “rude” I had done in a language I don’t speak WHILE I WAS SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO HER. She harassed my ex about what he was eating and how much, nagging him all day to drink his tea, and I lost it again at her not treating him like an adult.
My ex still thinks that he “can’t take sides” about that week because his mother and I “were both in the wrong,” which– did he not realize the power imbalance in the situation? Did he not realize how his mother was treating me? Why did he make no effort to smooth the cultural differences or make sure I was having a good (or at least okay) time?
I started reading the Captain’s response to this post, wondering what she would say, and I must say that I’m relieved. As my therapist also said, “you weren’t setting out to be mean. Sometimes things are so stressful that yelling is a natural response.”
One thing of note- LW, you too might need to be better about speaking up about your needs when they are still small needs, before they turn into big things. It’s awkward to be the girlfriend who says, “hey I need to leave this party soon” when everyone else is still having fun but it’s better than getting upset and yelling because you needed to leave 3 hours ago and YOU CAN’T TAKE IT FOR ANOTHER MINUTE. (One of the less-shining examples from early on in my past relationship). Don’t worry about being the “cool girl.” Your needs are important, and better to look slightly un-fun than to end up miserable!
But if your boyfriend really is the sort to ignore you for 8 hours, take note! That week was the last full week my ex and I dated- once I learned that I would have to deal with his mother’s animosity and drama-mongering forever without support and without any boundaries set around her behavior, I hightailed it out of there. There’s no point in dating someone who doesn’t have your back.
Oh sweet lord, a week long trip with a stranger family sounds like the WORSE. That is NO WAY to introduce the 2 parties and is better set once you are better accomdated into the the family.
Yeah, it was pretty bad. I had met them over a previous weekend where there was also a lot of family drama, and it was similarly miserable (but not directed at me). It could have been a lot better had my ex done a better job of cross-cultural communication (one problem was that the way they showed they cared for people felt a lot like being trapped and smothered to me). But on the other hand, his mother wasn’t going to stop being judgemental or controlling or drama-mongering, either, so we were bound to come to loggerheads at some point, and my ex refused to set boundaries as basic as “must tell us before she plans a trip to our theoretical house” or “she must have a clear date to leave” or “she must stay in a hotel” or “she must not tell me how to run my household,” because I could see her doing ALL of these things…
My experience was different, but boy DO I HEAR YOU on bf not wanting to handle his family dynamics and pretending to be neutral by saying “you both made mistakes”. Jedi hugs, my ex partner did the same, and that’s a big part of why he’s an ex.
I noticed several things, most of which have already been discussed in good depth.
I’ve been in situations where various ex-SO’s friends trrated me like LW. In the hopes that you’re able to recognize something to better understand your own situation, I will list a few of them.
1. SO had assertiveness problems with group, and regularly used me as an excuse.
2. SO was a manipulative Darth Vader who enjoyed setting up and watching drama between others, while remaining the innocent party who hates drama. Has this happened before? Maybe you feel guilty for situations where you overreact to misunderstandings that it feels in your gut like he set up to happen, but there’s always an excuse, and he gets some benefit?
3. SO was not horrible, but deeply immature, and raised with common female ideals to be passive, pick the big battles, and not rock the relationship boat. Rather than talking things out, being honest about pet peeves and hurt feelings, ex constantly vented to friends. Picture the kind of person who will go with you to see a band they hate, smile the whole time, say it’s a great show, deny it and argue if you do pick up a clue, and then complain about you to friends. Friends decided I was a terrible person, and treated me like I was a horrible human being whose presence they were forced to endure.
4. Ex was insecure. Friends were jealous. Ex used that jealousy to instigate group’s low-key hostility toward and rejection of me, which made ex feel superior and more important to group. I have to wonder if this is at least part of what happened to LW. The group dynamic, 30-something age of LW, and general weirdness of her being invited without being thoroughly prepped leads me toward thinking this is at least part of the problem. A group can be both close-knit and dysfunctional.
5. Ex’s ex was beloved by group, they had a Parent Trap-like fantasy, and I was perceived as standing in the way of a possible (unlikely) reunion, where ex’s ex could rejoin group without awkwardness.
I lean toward 2 and 4 in LW’s case, largely because of the lack of apology, but bad experiences cannhave more than one reason.
I’m a few days late to the party so I don’t know if you’re still here Daisy, but I have a similar story that might offer perspective in how it differs from yours.
A couple of years ago, my girlfriend invited me to join her at a BBQ hosted by some friends of hers. I didn’t know most of the people who were going to be there, but I’m usually able to find at least one person to talk to at social gatherings, so I decided to go. The host lived a 45-minute drive away with minimal traffic.
It started out fine – I got to socialize with the couple of people who I did know and introduced myself to the people I didn’t know. But about 45 minutes in, everyone I knew decided to play a Very Complicated Board Game. They invited me to join them, but I declined because it didn’t sound like I’d enjoy it. My attempts at socializing with everyone else at the party fell flat for one reason or another (some were perfectly nice but we had zero in common, one in particular was so exhausting to talk to I had to excuse myself to the bathroom just to get away from them).
I ran out of energy pretty quickly, but my girlfriend and friends were still in the middle of VCBG. I checked Uber, but between the distance and holiday weekend surge pricing, the cost was prohibitive. Texting her wasn’t an option since she’d left her phone in her purse, giving me no discreet way to tell her that I was unhappy. Knowing it would be awkward to leave so soon after we got there and not wanting to ruin her fun, I decided to tough it out on the couch with my phone until she finished the game.
The game ended up taking a couple more hours, at which point my nerves were pretty frayed. As soon as the game ended, I told her I needed to go, and she agreed to leave after helping to clean up the game table.
I was pretty grouchy on the drive home, and at first she was irritated – from her perspective, she’d tried to include me and I’d just sat on the couch with my phone. So I explained that I’d been uncomfortable and wanted to leave pretty early on, but Uber was too expensive and I didn’t want to ruin her fun. I’d also underestimated both how long the game would take and how quickly my stamina would give out.
After I explained to her why I was upset, she apologized for putting me in an awkward situation without a graceful way to exit. We figured out how to prevent something like that from happening again.
I don’t have any advice for you, but hey. Food for thought.
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