Dear Luv Doc,
My husband and I have been a part of a group of friends since basically college. Now that we have young children we get together about twice a month with them, usually for a barbecue or a monthly game night, or maybe drinks at a club if we can swing it. Last March, one of my husband's high school friends moved to Austin for a new job. My husband and I thought it would be nice to invite them to game night with our friends so they could feel like they know people in Austin. Well, that turned out to be a terrible idea. My husband's friend's wife is really outgoing and sociable and immediately started poaching our friends one by one. It was really appalling to see her work. That first game night I overheard her suggesting privately to one of our friends that they go to a trivia night with her and my husband's friend without us! Over the next few months she has approached nearly all of our friends and suggested getting together – sometimes with us, but a lot of times without us. I know we have kids so maybe they think we can't go out a lot, but I think it's rude for them to hang out with our friends without us. I really don't know what to do. It seems like now they see more of our friends than we do. It's so messed up. How do we tell them to back off?
– The Forgotten Friends
OK, I have read over your question several times and am failing to see an actual problem here. By your own admission you invited these folks to meet your friends so they could "know people in Austin." Well, mission accomplished. Break out the Champagne! You have succeeded! What exactly were you expecting? Did you think they were going to meet your friends and then not interact with them ever again? That seems a bit unrealistic, don't you think? Is there some sort of couples code that I am not aware of that demands your couples friends get your permission to see your other couples friends? Sort of like a couples bro code? A co code? If that's an actual thing in this world, let's pray there's a giant, flaming asteroid hurtling toward Earth that will put an end to this nonsense once and for all. I know that might seem a bit hyperbolic, but living in an actual Seinfeld episode is a very specific type of hell that I want no part of, even with a loveable, pre-racist Kramer.
Remember when George Costanza didn't want to go on a double date with Jerry because he was afraid that his date would end up liking Jerry more than him? Are you seeing any similarities here? Do you really want to be those people who would secretly – maybe even overtly – like to keep their friends locked away in a room so they never have a chance to meet people they like better than you? If you are, then your friends are smart to be actively looking for new friends, because y'all are fucking scary.
Furthermore, just because your friends hang out with each other occasionally ... or even regularly ... doesn't mean they still can't be friends with you. And really, what is stopping you from inviting your friends over for dinner, or out for drinks, or for game night ... or is that sacred too? Is there a co code that says you can only have game night once a month and it has to include all your friends ... but maybe not your new friends because they're "poaching" all your old friends? Hey Jesus ... we're going to need another flaming asteroid.
Maybe I am a bit unfamiliar with how friendships work, but you can't poach a friend that isn't looking to be poached – sort of in the same way you can't poach a fry cook who's making $10.50 an hour by offering her $20 an hour. Either you're treating her right or you ain't. You can't be mad at the fry cook or her new employer just because you're a cheap motherfucker who doesn't appreciate the value of a good fry cook.
Just in case my wonderful analogies aren't landing, think of it this way: Either you're a good friend or you're not. Either you possess qualities that make you a desirable friend or you don't. Look, I am not suggesting you drop your kids off at the shopping mall while you go have drinks with your friends. That would make you terrible parents, which is way worse than being a terrible friend. What I am saying is that you have to be good friends to keep good friends ... and truthfully, it sounds like you are – especially considering your friendly gesture of inviting your husband's friend and his wife to meet your friends. That is a cool and admirable thing to do. And think of it this way: If this unexpected outcome has taught you anything, it has taught you how important your friends are to you and how much spending time with them means to you. That's a beautiful thing. Don't fuck it up by being jealous and resentful.
Copyright © 2021 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.