Dear Andrew W.K.:
My buddy and I party hard…maybe even a little too hard at times. My buddy is also a romantic fool who thinks every girl is “the one.” And that’s fine, to each their own…unless it interrupts the partying. Which it does, frequently.
Even if I drive all the way out to where he lives, I usually get a phone call when I’m thirty minutes away saying, “This girl is coming out with us. You’ll really like her, she’s awesome! Oh by the way, she’s the one!” This inevitably has him leaving the party at 9:45 p.m. because “she’s tired” or “she’s not feeling well.” Again, I’m not going to hate this guy for being popular with the ladies, but when it’s constantly intruding on my partying, it gets old…FAST!
So how do I tell my friend that he needs to put (for lack of a better term) bros before ‘hos?
Dear Party Connoisseur,
After reading your letter several times, I find no evidence that you really care about your friend’s life beyond how it enables or interferes with your own social plans. It seems you expect him to party on your terms, or you don’t consider it partying at all. There isn’t one aspect of your letter that appears to show any real awareness or consideration for his feelings, his interests, or his own separate personal life except in how it relates to you and what you want.
You show even less awareness or concern for his female companions, about whom he’s shared his excitement with you despite your cynical, bitter eye-rolling. How dare he have the nerve to keep a romantic and idealistic spirit and tirelessly look for love in a challenging world! People with your attitude make this world even more challenging. You then reduce the women he cares about to mere accessories and obstacles standing in the way of your own planned uses for your friend. It seems that your main concern is yourself, and I’m guessing that if you honestly examine your behavior in general, you’ll identify these traits on display in most other areas of your life.
This is understandable and forgivable. We are told early on, and from many different sides, that being self-centered is necessary for a type of material success and control in the world, but we eventually realize that having too much control and self-centeredness comes at too great a cost in the areas of life that matter most. It turns out that being a good friend and a good person is actually about having very little control over anyone other than you and your own behavior. If we want to become better people and have better friendships, it doesn’t come from telling your friend to put bros before ‘hos. It comes from you putting disciplined effort into refining the lesser and more selfish aspects of your personality.
If you really were this man’s friend, you would let him live his own life and be grateful for any time you got to spend with him at all. If you really were this man’s friend, you would lovingly support his heroic efforts to stay upbeat and romantic. If you really were this man’s friend, you would be thoughtful and gentle as he shares his life and loves with you. He’s probably hoping for your approval and support, but he’s also excited to introduce his girlfriend to you, someone he admires and wants her to like, despite your shortcomings.
If you really were this man’s friend, you wouldn’t create rules and schedules for your friendship. You would realize that just getting to exist in the world with this man as a brother is already the biggest and best never-ending party you’ll ever find. If you really were this man’s friend, you wouldn’t put so much pressure and expectation on him and your times together, and you wouldn’t drain all the fun and joy out of those precious moments because they didn’t exactly meet your particular standards.
Did it ever occur to you that your friend is genuinely loving toward the women he dates because he cares about them and wants to be a good man? Did it occur to you that the reason he leaves a party “early” is because he cares about his date so much that he’s willing to put her well-being before his own desire to socialize?
I think this is an amazing opportunity to totally re-evaluate your concept of friendship, of partying, and of how you look at life and the lives of other people.
Your letter really got to me, because there was a time not long ago when I would’ve said and thought the exact same things. I saw the whole world as either helping my plans or standing in the way of them. I saw people — even my own closest friends, family, and girlfriends — as parts of a machine engineered to serve me and my ambitions or interfere with them. I’m still struggling with accepting that other people aren’t only there for my convenience and desires. But the most important thing in my life has become realizing that I’m not the most important thing. Realizing that I’m not the center of the universe — or even the center of the party — has been an incredibly humbling and challenging experience. And it’s one that I keep learning and re-learning, over and over again. And it feels good each time I learn it, even when it’s difficult or painful.
It’s a strange experience when you finally decide to stop fighting against the world to get what you want and start trying to help the world be what it wants. At first you feel like you’re losing your drive, or giving in to a force that was too great to keep pushing against — but then you realize that this force isn’t there to fight with you or hurt you, it’s there to love and embrace you and show you a better way to live.
The more we try to think about the other people around us, the better our own lives get. It’s very mysterious, but somehow when we stop trying to get other people to be better in the ways we want them to be, we start to become better people ourselves.
Go easier on your friend and just let him be himself. Love him and be glad that he exists at all. Love him and let him party in his own way. It’s all an incredible miracle that any of this is even happening in the first place — to get to be alive. That is the biggest party of them all.
[Editor’s note: Every week, New York City’s own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose, or — no surprise here — a party.]
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 7, 2015
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