I’m embedding The Dandy Warhols’ “We Used To Be Friends” into this post because it relates to the topic and is one of my favourite Dandy Warhol songs.
I got into a conversation with a couple of my girlfriends today and it really got me thinking . . .
So I have this Dude Friend who I’ve been friends with since my early 20s. He is a nice guy. Sort of.
Our history is a bit weird. Way back when we first started being friends, I developed a crush on him. He did not seem into me and so we were purely platonic. We’d hang out, have fun and then go our separate ways. There were approximately three times we could have hooked up, but at the end of the day, nothing romantic ever happened. I have never been able to maintain friendships with anyone I’ve had a romantic relationship with, and I wasn’t in a very relationship-y place at the time, so I considered this a good thing. I mean why mess up our awesome friendship over sex?
So six months after I get married to the ever fantastic Boy, I run into DF at a bar. He has been drinking for some time and is happy to see me. However, when it is time for me to go, he hugs me very low around the waist and then starts bringing up what I will for the sake of brevity refer to as “Possible Romantic Exploit #2”. I feel a bit uncomfortable, but I don’t want to make a scene, so I smile and leave. The next day, I go to talk to him about it, but before I can tackle to subject, he starts talking about how drunk he was and how last night was so crazy etc. So I drop it.
For a while after that, we have a variety of encounters in group situations where he doesn’t really talk to me all that much. Things are awkward, but okay – sometimes we do stupid things in front of other people and we feel silly for it. It is not the end of the world.
Then, a few months pass and it’s Boy’s birthday. About 15 minutes after I post something on Facebook wishing my spouse a happy birthday, I get an update that this dude has sent me a message. When I check Facebook, there is no message there, but in my e-mail account, I find an e-mail containing a message from him that is mildly derogatory towards me. It’s not the most awful thing anyone has ever said to me by far, but it just seems a bit weird and not really within the spirit of our friendship. I don’t really know what to do, so I forward the e-mail update back to him to let him know that, even if he thought better of it later and deleted it, I still got his message. I also make a little joke about the message, like “haha, very funny!” to show that it doesn’t really bother me and that it’s not a big deal.
A little while after that, I hear we’re headed to the same concert. We cross paths and I mention that it’ll be fun to hang out if he’s at the same show. He responds enthusiastically and I think that maybe we’ll be able to talk or something and get on the same page. Except when I see him, all I get from him is a freeze out. He’ll talk to me if I talk to him, but otherwise, nothing.
So here’s the thing: this dude hasn’t been acting like much of a friend for a while now and I have yet to really, properly call him on it. You want to know why? Bitch Guilt. As much as there’s history and feelings and mutual friends and all sorts of other pedantic bull$h!t, the thing that secretly worries me the most is him thinking I’m a bitch and then telling other people what a bitch I am.
I know. I am like the worst feminist ever, but I can’t help it. It bothers me. It bothers me that people could think less of me and, even worse than that, it bothers me that it bothers me that people could think less of me. Like, why do I care what other people think of me? And if they think bad things after hearing that, it would be on the basis of what? Some dude I didn’t sleep with feeling spurned because we’re “just friends”? And I mean, are we really even friends at this point? Do friends mess with friends that are in relationships? Do friends slag other friends? Do friends freeze friends out? Do friends make friends cry because of how miserable and alienated they feel after hanging out? No they don’t . . . or at least they shouldn’t because that is MESSED UP.
And Bitch Guilt is messed up. That stupid word, “bitch,” holds so much power sometimes. If men stand up for themselves, they get to be called things like “brave” and “assertive” but if you’re a woman doing the same thing, the word “bitch” is rolling off people’s tongues before you can even catch your breath. So, to keep from being called a “bitch,” we women do all sorts of things. We pretend that things don’t bother us. We make stupid jokes. We swallow down derogatory words from others. All because we don’t want to seem like we’re “emotional.” Like we’re “humourless.” Like we’re “BITCHy.” And the kicker of it is, the people who are going to say those things about us, who want to say those things about us, are going to say them anyway. Because that’s what they do. Because nothing is ever their fault. Because they’re surrounded by “bitches”.
I have no idea what is going to happen in our relationship. I know he can be a decent guy, so maybe we’ll work things out eventually and become friends again . . . or maybe we’re just destined to emplode in some sort of messy show of histrionics and hormones. At this point, I don’t know and with every day that passes, I’m inching closer and closer to thinking it would just be better to excise him from my life all together. Out of all of this, the only thing I do know is that, just like no one can make you feel inferior without your permission, I’ve got to teach myself that no one can make you feel like a bitch without your permission and get the hell over this Bitch Guilt.
Has anyone else out there in the interwebs experienced “Bitch Guilt”? What was the situation and how did you deal with it?