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Do two negatives really make a positive?


Hey Doc,

I can't stand my girlfriend's best friend. She is negative, controlling, manipulative, and complains constantly. This, in turn, leads to my girlfriend complaining to me about her friend. The negativity bothers me so much that I've told my girlfriend I can't be around her friend anymore. I have no problem with the two of them spending time together, I just don't want to be involved. But now I regret saying anything, because it has put a strain on our relationship, because my girlfriend wants us to get along. Is there a way for me to make it right without having to be around her friend, or do I need to just suck it up? (Also, her friend has no idea I feel this way.)

– Negged

You are absolutely right, negative people suck. I could complain about negative people all day. No, seriously. I can be totally negative about negative people, and as we all learned in math, a negative times a negative equals a positive, right? So, for instance, if somebody is being negative and I respond negatively to their negativity, we should both be shitting rainbows in no time. Then again, mathematicians aren't necessarily "people" people are they? Sorry, I don't mean to be negative about mathematicians. They do some really amazing work. That whole pi thing? Totally tubular. I personally never would have thought of something like that.

Well, shit. There I go being negative again. It's hard being totally positive, isn't it? In fact, I think most people would agree that positive people can be really annoying too – maybe even more annoying than negative people. Admit it. Who among us hasn't wanted to punch the Dalai Lama in the fucking face? Okay, maybe not everybody, but I bet I can find a few people in the Chinese Communist Party at least. Positivity has its drawbacks. Generally things turn out for the best, and people are generally good, but not always, and it's useful to recognize this fact.

Negativity has been a key to human survival for thousands of years. If your car breaks down next to a farmhouse whose owner has a penchant for chain saws and human-skin lampshades, you don't ask to use the phone, you move on to the next farmhouse – ideally at a faster rate of speed than the guy with the chain saw. This isn't rocket science. You don't need to read the textbook.

Of course, in the modern world, our ability to visualize negative outcomes hurts us more than it saves us. We build up defense mechanisms over the most ridiculous shit – so much so that we lose any sense of perspective. Here's the thing: It's up to us as adults to not lose our perspective and, more importantly, not to let the crazy fuckers who have lost theirs to influence ours.

So, regarding your girlfriend's friend: Stay positive. Realize that if her negativity affects you so profoundly, it might be that you feel susceptible to those types of thoughts yourself. Remember also that this is your girlfriend's best friend, so she must have admirable qualities. She is therefore worthy of your compassion and understanding. Rather than avoiding her altogether, try to understand the reasons for her negativity and without being judgmental or preachy, try to be the positive influence that leads her to the light. Just know, however, that you might get punched in the face.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

negative people, positive people, Dan Hardick

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