Four men. Friends for life. They’ve seen each other through every major life-milestone, celebration, and tragedy. What happens when is betrayed by the others? Can the friendship survive? SHOULD it? Does this bromance stand a chance of lasting another 20 years? Charlie explores the delicate nuances of this complicated problem and offers her ultimate solution (and a recommendation to check out the great (but now defunct) Amazon original series, Mad Dogs, which deals with this topic and is a great show).
This week’s problem was submitted to The Rumpus Advice Column (Dear Sugar), January 27, 2012.
Three of my best college buddies and I go away for an annual guys weekend at a cabin in the woods. We’re all in our mid-thirties and we’ve been doing these get-togethers for close to a decade. It’s our way of staying in touch, since we’ve all got busy lives and some of us reside in different cities. Though at times I’ll go months without talking to them, I consider these guys my closest friends. We’ve seen each other through several relationships, two weddings, one divorce, one of us coming out as gay, one of us realizing he’s an alcoholic and getting sober, one of us becoming a father, dysfunctional family issues, the death of another one of our close college friends, professional successes and failures, and—you get the picture.
On our most recent get together a few months ago, I overheard my friends discussing me. Before this incident occurred, the four of us had been on the subject of my love life. My long-time girlfriend and I broke up last year for reasons I won’t go into here, but I did go into with my friends back when she and I decided to end things. Not long before my weekend with the guys, she and I got back together and I told them my ex and I were making a go of it again. They didn’t say much in response, but I wouldn’t have expected them to.
Later that day I stepped out for a walk, but soon realized I’d forgotten my hat, so I returned to the cabin to get it. The moment I opened the door I could hear my friends in the kitchen discussing me. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but I couldn’t keep myself from listening, since they were talking about my girlfriend and me. I wouldn’t say they were trashing me, but they did make critical remarks about the way I “justify” my relationship and other things about my personality that were unflattering. About five minutes into this, I opened the door and shut it hard so they would know I was there and they stopped talking.
I tried to pretend I didn’t hear what they’d said, but soon I told them what had happened. They were extremely embarrassed. Each of them apologized, assured me they meant nothing by what they said, and claimed they were only concerned that I’d gotten back together with my girlfriend, who they don’t think is good for me. I played it off like it was cool and acted like I wanted to let bygones be bygones, but it’s been a few months and I’m still bothered by what happened. I feel betrayed. It’s none of their business who I choose to date for one thing and for another I’m pissed they were running me down like that.
I recognize that I’m possibly taking this too hard. I’ll admit that I have talked about each of them with the others over the years. I’ve made statements I wouldn’t want the person in question to hear, even secondhand. The rational part of me understands that these sorts of discussions among friends are to be expected. It sounds weak to admit this, but I’m hurt. Part of me wants to tell them to go fuck themselves when it comes to the weekend at the cabin next year. What do you think? Should I forgive and forget or find new a batch of buddies?
— Odd Man Out
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