Monday, December 19, 2011

Tolerant Man's Good Life Is Turning Into An Intolerable Soap Opera

Dear Tazi-Kat:

My problem is pretty confusing, so I will try to tell things as straight as possible. I have been with my girlfriend, "Melanie", for almost two years, and things are great except for her insecurity. She is convinced that I am going to cheat on her like other men have. I know that she goes through my stuff (cell phone records, wallet, etc.) looking for proof that I have a woman on the side, which I don't. I love her, and do everything I can to convince her. In fact, I have started leaving love notes for her in my wallet to reassure her that she is the woman for me. She is trying to break herself of the habit, and her insecurity is an issue we are actively working on together. Melanie was picked on a lot in school, and even though we are both older now (mid-twenties) her self-esteem is still fragile.

I have been best friends with my buddy "Mike" since we were kids. About six months ago, Mike started dating one of the "mean girls" who used to pick on Melanie in middle school. "Sandra" went to a different high school than Melanie, and they have not seen each other since the 8th grade. When she saw her again for the first time in years, Sandra apologized to Melanie (in front of Mike and me) for the bad way she treated her; but Melanie refused to accept her apology because she didn't think it was sincere - she thought Sandra was just trying to impress Mike, which I kinda think, too, considering that Sandra's apology was quite detailed, and brought up some pretty humiliating memories for Melanie (i.e. "I'm sorry I shoved your head in a toilet and flushed..."). After this incident, Sandra refused to even be in the same room as Melanie; so any hopes of the four of us hanging out ended.

On Thanksgiving night, I invited Mike over after Sandra had gone home; and he stopped by for a few beers and to watch the football game. Since Melanie and I live together, she was there too. Sandra saw Mike's Facebook status that night, which said he was at my place, and flipped out on him; saying she did not want him hanging with Melanie. She gave him an ultimatum; saying he could be with her or with me but not both of us, so long as Melanie was in the picture. When Mike refused to choose, Sandra left him.

I felt bad, since Mike really liked Sandra, and took him out drinking to help with the heartbreak. The bar where we were had a mechanical bull, and I wanted to try my luck on it. I asked Mike to hold my wallet while I rode, and I did fairly well even if I didn't last the whole 8 seconds. What I didn't know was that Mike used this opportunity to slip some condoms into my wallet, figuring Melanie would find them; be convinced that I was cheating; and kick me out, which would solve the problem of having to choose between me and Sandra. He was heartbroken and very drunk, and has apologized for what he did so I am not angry with him; but he did put me in a bad spot. I know this letter is already long, but here comes the part where I ask for advice:

Melanie did find the condoms in my wallet, and as Mike expected, she freaked out accusing me of sneaking out on her. I pointed out that I KNOW she looks through my wallet; so if I was cheating, my wallet would be the last place I would try to hide condoms. At the time, I did not know how they got there; so I told her that Mike probably put them there as some kind of a sick joke. Melanie believed me, agreeing with my logic, and things are somewhat okay on that front, but she is wondering why Mike would "play such a cruel joke" on her. I did not have the heart to tell her the truth.

My problem is, Mike is still heartbroken over Sandra leaving him and is taking his mood out on Melanie, telling me that if she had just accepted Sandra's apology all this would never have happened. Melanie can tell that Mike has been cold towards her, but she can't figure out why. If I tell her the truth, she will be able to figure out that Mike actually tried to break us up (by putting condoms in my wallet) and then I will have to choose between my best friend and the woman I hope to someday marry. I'd like to wait and see if Mike's mood blows over, but I am not sure how long that will take; and Christmas is coming. I'd like everything to be back to normal for the big day, since Mike usually comes over to celebrate with Melanie, me, and my family - partially because I want things to be normal between us; and partially because I don't feel like explaining the whole soap opera to my family, who live for this kind of drama.

So, any advice to offer me, Tazi-Kat?

Choosing Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Dear Choosing...:

Your situation sounds like the plot of a romantic comedy, except that I am sure you are not finding it very funny. You seem like an emotionally generous man, considering how you have handled Melanie's insecurity and her invasiveness of your privacy; as well as your forgiveness of Mike's cruel indiscretion.

If Melanie is as insecure as you say, telling her the real reason for Mike's coolness towards her would be a very bad move, indeed; therefore, I think your first step should be to talk to Mike. Tell him that you understand that he is hurting, but that he needs to understand Melanie's position, too: that Sandra put her through hell during their youth, and her non-apologetic apology only brought back the pain. You may also want to mention that as unfair as Sandra's ultimatum was to him, he is putting you in the same situation of having to choose between your best friend and the woman you love. If Mike is as good a friend as a best friend should be, he will work on his attitude towards Melanie.

Time has a way of healing all wounds - and of wounding all heels. If Sandra truly cares for Mike as much as he seems to care for her, sooner or later she will be open to listening to what other people have to say; and maybe by then she will be able to see past her own viewpoint. Those who make ultimatums usually don't expect to lose. This blow to Sandra's ego may be just what was needed to bring her down off of her high horse.

If for some reason some sort of tolerable relations have not been re-established between Mike and Melanie by Christmas day, just explain to your family that Mike recently went through a difficult break-up, and in his grief he cannot be trusted to be polite to others - then ask someone to please pass the potatoes.

-- Tazi-Kat

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