Three’s Company

What goes on in a man’s head when his friend’s new girlfriend arrives on the scene? Probably not what you think…

For guys, a simple life is a better life. Complicated means trouble. Complicated requires time and effort, and means we can’t just sit down and watch the game with a beer.
Things were simple when we were teenagers. At least, when it came to women. Sure, we may have hated a lot of stuff – our parents, our siblings, school, life – but not girlfriends, our own or our best friends’. Back then, if you liked someone and they liked you back, you went out together. You pretty much did things you’d be doing with your friends anyway – going to movies, going to the beach, going to parties. She was almost like a new friend, except you had the bonus of kissing her and hopefully feeling her up once in a while. Then, one day, one of you stopped liking the other one (and started liking Johnny Clague, that bastard!), and you were no longer girlfriend and boyfriend.


As we got a little older, the complications arose. Just into university, the average guy with a steady girlfriend still socialised with his mates but he’d ninja-bomb with his missus at midnight. He might be ragged a little the next day for leaving the party early – but no guy really begrudges his buddy having sex.
Suddenly, bang, you’ve got a mate in a serious relationship. Now he’s not leaving the party early, he’s missing it altogether. Soon he disappears from society, ensnared in her web of friendless female evil. You’ve lost a drinking buddy and this is not on. When you do bump into them – together – he may make derogatory comments about his old social circle, using words such as "maturity" and "lacking". This is even less on.
At this stage of his life, a guy might look at his best friend’s new girlfriend with the same suspicion you girls reserve for a fake "designer" handbag. In such instances it was often a case of waiting out the relationship. Give him a year, give him two even, and he’ll be back. They always came back. There was Jim, who vanished in a haze of reefer to Observatory with the hippie girl in third year; there was puncher Smith, who disappeared with that Irish redhead around the same time; there was even Ned, who spent four long years in the wilderness. But they all returned with a vengeance, and when they did, we were there to shake our heads gravely and say, "Chicks…" Then: "How about a beer?"


These days, though, as we near the end of our twenties, the serious relationships are getting serious. I talk to my mate Pea and he tells me how his life revolves around his girlfriend’s friends’ engagement parties, Sunday lunches with his folks, Sunday dinners with her folks and at least one of her work functions a week. No wonder the poor dude just wants to chill on a Friday night.
Am I angry about Pea’s state of affairs? Bitter that his girlfriend – sorry, she’s his fiancée now – steals him away? Logically I should be. After all, until now serious has meant seriously complicated.
But I’m not really. Because here’s the thing: Pea and his fiancée are great. His mates, including me, all think so. She’s a lovely girl, they work well together and they make the effort to see us whenever they can. So why the change of attitude towards a girl who’s technically stolen our mate?
It turns out that, since our younger, simpler years, we’ve all grown up a little. Mates’ girlfriends aren’t considered rivals for their attention anymore because, believe it or not, guys understand that serious relationships are inevitable and the only way to cope with "losing" a mate is to compromise and see him occasionally. When a friend settles down with a girl and they’re right for each other and make each other happy – and we still get to see him every now and then – we think, "Good luck to him."
So what’s the moral of the story? It’s simple: be nice to his mates and expect them to be nice to you. The sooner you and your man’s friends realise it’s not a competition, the sooner you can all get on, which makes things a lot simpler for your man. And remember, a simple man is a happy man.