We're in the final match-up of the Romance Rumble. The winning movie will be screened Feb. 25 at Theatre 1 at the Revere Hotel. Tickets will be free, and film critic Ty Burr will be there to introduce the night. I'll also be there with snacks. You can vote for your favorite leading man here. I'll post details about how to sign up for the screening next week.
My question isn't about my own relationship, it's about a close friend's (Beth) lack of one. We're in our 30s. I have been with the same guy for years. Beth hasn't had a boyfriend or many dates over the past decade and it's become a central topic of conversation to the point that I can't handle it anymore.
Here's the general idea: She has gotten increasingly more obsessed with finding a boyfriend/future husband. Over the past few years, it's been to the point that our group of girlfriends (some of whom are also single) sometimes wonder if we're ever going to be able to talk about anything else when she's around. There are a couple different situations that I am particularly sick of happening.
The first problem is that she latches on to the idea of one particular guy, talks about him for weeks or months and analyzes each interaction. She convinces herself that he has feelings for her, explains each situation to her friends and asks if she should go for it and tell him how she feels. The first couple of times I was all for it. From her description, you would think the guy was madly in love with her and just too shy to say so. After the first couple of guys, I got curious and asked to hang out when they were spending time together. While it was clear to me that he wasn't interested, Beth thought the exact opposite. I'm not sure how to let her down easy when these things happen. She gets herself so excited about telling him how she feels, and then the letdown is awful. But what if I'm wrong and she doesn't tell a guy because I said he didn't seem that into her?
The second situation involves my partner. He's a sweetheart and is always looking for ways to include everyone in our group of friends. Unfortunately, that has changed when it comes to his openness to invite Beth to hang out with our guy friends. She's started to become interested in several of our male friends, to the point that she aggressively pursues them. It's made them uncomfortable to the point that they ask us if she will be at an event before they will commit to attending. We all agree that we are grown-ups and it's technically not my problem to address -- these guys can handle it themselves and choose to be passive. But at the same time, I realize that if I don't figure out a way to get her to stop, I'll have to choose between not inviting her to spend time with us or our other friends choosing not to hang out when she is there.
I've started to only invite her to do "girls night" activities, but this backfires too -- she always wants it to be about me being her wing man and helping her scope out guys. She's one of my closest friends and I really don't want to hurt her feelings, but I also don't think that just because I have a relationship and she doesn't we should have to focus everything on finding her a guy. She gets extremely emotional about it, and I don't want to upset her more. What should I do?
– My Friend, Boston
It's not your job to tell Beth when you think a guy isn't interested, MF, but you can absolutely explain to her that you're having a tough time with the friendship. She might get emotional, but you'll be emotional too. If Beth is making you feel like a minor character in her inner romantic comedy, you must let her know.
Sometimes we can get swallowed up by longing, whether it's for a mate, a baby, or the perfect job. I'm sure it's been tough for Beth -- she's probably very lonely -- but her experience doesn't entitle her to lose her humanity. She needs to be conscious of the world around her.
Beth also needs to answer some tough questions, some of which can come from you. When she talks about a crush for six weeks, you can ask, "How can you move this along?" And, "How much time do you want to spend thinking about this guy as opposed to just dating him or moving on?" You don't have to play along with the banter. You can call her on her reality.
You can also suggest that she do some online dating. It’ll get her mind off of your guy friends, and it'll put her in a world where people either date or walk away. There's less wishing and hoping. Help her create a profile and play around with it. That will show her how much you care and want her to meet someone.
No one wants to be the Beth. Not even Beth. You can tell her that you need more from your time together. She's a grownup. She can take it. She deserves to know.
Readers? Should she tell Beth that she's making her guy friends uncomfortable? Should the letter writer have more empathy? What should she say to Beth? Help.