Friend caught in the middle
How can I tell my friends I don’t like listening to them fight?
I am single but I often socialize with some old friends who have been married for a long time. They have always bickered with each other, but lately I’m very uncomfortable with how angry and argumentative they act.
I told one of them, who is my best friend from school, that I didn’t want to intrude on their private time, and maybe they needed time alone to socialize without me. But she said it was easier to have me around than for her to be alone with her husband, and insisted that I continue to socialize with them. How can I decline without being rude? — DX Dear DX,
Your friend seems to be suffering from the debilitating effects of couple culture.
Couple culture doesn’t have to be debilitating. For some people, floating through life inside the couple bubble makes them nicer and more polite — they feel loved and confident, and as a result they treat people around them even better than they normally would. Friends like these are a wonderful gift to the rest of us, whether we’re single or partnered ourselves.
But too often couple culture can lead to oblivious disregard for others, especially if the couple is a deeply unhappy dysfunctional duo like your old friends who feel they have the right to air their passive-aggressive, or aggressiveaggressive, grievances in public.
Unfortunately for you, such crapped-out couples behave even worse around single friends because deep down they wish they were single as well. But as long as they’re too afraid or too conventional to uncouple, they’ll vent all their frustrations on poor, pathetic single you, because you (according to their projected fears) are so desperate for company you’ll put up with anything.
Continue to socialize with your best friend one-on-one if you want, and give her any support she might need to navigate her way through, or out of, her destructive relationship. But don’t feel obliged to serve as a distraction for their problems. Unless their marital hostilities attain the Edward Albeean entertainment levels of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,
there’s no reason to put up with their rudeness.