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Dear Harry and Louise:
I am a 27-year-old single woman. I really like this guy (let’s call him Steve) whom I have been dating for just over a month. I’m a pretty good cook, so I invited him to my apartment for a homemade dinner. I thought we would be alone for the evening, but it turned out my sister, who lives with me, and my other roommate were also there. I didn’t think this was a big deal, and I included them in dinner. A few friends of my sister and roommate showed up and lingered around the table as we finished our meal. So by that time, it was me, my date and six other people. My date and I eventually left so we could have some time alone. He did not complain about the dinner invasion, and I thought everything was fine. It wasn’t.
The next morning, my sister and roommate gave me an earful about how disrespectful and rude they thought my date was. They complained he didn’t talk enough, that he seemed annoyed by their friends, that he didn’t laugh when everyone else was laughing. They both disliked him so much they encouraged me to break it off, or at least to never invite him to the apartment again.
I have not had many boyfriends, even in college, and I really have a great time with Steve. I also trust my sister and roommate, who are great judges of character and think Steve is a rude jerk.
What should I do?
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Your first mistake? Putting your new beau in the crosshairs of your sister and various friends. Quick question: Might the rest of the contingent, beyond Steve, have been female? Just asking. Actually, I am making a point from the male perspective. You invited the guy over for what you thought might be an intimate dinner that would show off your culinary skills; rather than a romantic interlude, Steve walked into a chickfest where he's the only rooster. Instead of making googoo eyes with you, he had to endure the squinty-eyed gaze of women keeping score of how he responds to their attempts at jest.
This seems analogous to Daniel in the lion's den: Steve in the sister's cell.
In short, ignore the ladies. You are just more than a month into getting to know Steve. Give it time. Let it breathe. Reassemble your judgmental peanut gallery for a night of chick flicks, where you can hiss at men on the television, rather than make a decent guy in the flesh the target of your collective bile.
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Tell the roomies to stick it. With all due respect to your roommates' ability to judge character, they have just been judging--not deciphering the inner workings of your date's soul. You know your new gentleman better than they do. Only you know what is between the two of you.
Was Steve outwardly rude to the other guests? Did he belittle you in front of them? Or was he just quiet and thus deemed unworthy of the vibrant company that is your entourage? Steve may be an introvert who is a bit socially awkward. I am a defender of such folks (okay, I am one). He may have been genuinely disappointed when the other guests showed up and ruined a romantic dinner for two. He may have been looking forward to an uninterrupted conversation with you. He should not take out his disappointment on the other guests, and yes, he should have been a gracious diner. What he can't do is be someone he is not. He was happy to be with you before the other guests arrived, and he was happy after the two of you had some time alone. He cannot suddenly become an person who derives energy from a crowd (a true extrovert). As long as you are fine with that, then leave the judgements to your roomies. Enjoy getting to know this man who seems to enjoy getting to know you.
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We agree, I suppose, but Louise is clouded by her introverted worldview. Steve, the guy in question, might be an extrovert among a mixed crowd, but the ladies might have made him feel cornered--and alone.
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I am clouded, you are right. Steve may be the life of the party, but this party was one to endure, not enjoy.