The following is a reprint of an article written by former AHHerald columnist, Carol Barbieri.  It was first published on February 13, 2003:

“Never judge someone by who he’s in love with; judge him by his friends. People fall in love with the most appalling people. Take a cool, appraising glance at his pals.”
– Cynthia Heimel

Most women can spot a creep a mile away.  It’s when they’re actually involved with the creep that they become temporarily blind.  And the most powerful lens prescription on earth won’t help them to see Mr. Wonderful the way he is, the way the rest of the world sees him.  It’s as if when Cupid’s arrow pierced their heart it also pierced their brain (most specifically, the part of the brain that regulates reason).  Why is that?

Your girlfriend doesn’t want to go out with your brother’s best friend, who is a nice guy, who’s kind, sensitive, charming and funny.  It doesn’t matter that he has his B.A. in Social Work, volunteers at a homeless shelter once a month, goes to church every Sunday and would treat her as if she were The Blessed Mother.

Nooooo.  She’d rather be in a relationship with the “cool” guy she met in a bar, who has a drinking problem, a drug problem, a gambling problem, money problems, unresolved problems with his mother, unresolved problems with his ex-girlfriend, problems with the law, problems making a commitment, problems expressing his feelings, and a problem treating women with respect.  She wants the guy who’s never on time, never apologizes, never picks up the check, never remembers her birthday and never wants to do anything on the weekend but stay home, drink beer, and watch sports.

My girlfriends have fallen in love with some of the most ghastly characters that ever cast a shadow on a bar of a go-go club.  I’ve witnessed my girlfriends fall “head over heels” for a heel and waste valuable time, effort, (and sometimes money), trying to win the affection of a man who is not worthy of her.  And sometimes, they lose more than just time.  Often they compromise their jobs, their relationships with their families and their relationships with their friends.  They sometimes lose sight of their goals and their dreams.  And if they’re really “unlucky in love,” they lose the respect of those whom they respect and, most importantly, they lose respect for themselves.  The respect of the heel is the one thing they never seem to gain.  But they’ll die trying.

It’s frustrating for a woman to watch her friend live in an alternate universe with Mr. Wrong, when the rest of the world is functioning, growing, loving and living life the way it’s supposed to be lived.  It’s even more frustrating when the guy has convinced her that His World is the Best Place on Earth, and that she deserves no better.  It’s as if he has a special mirror that she is forced to hold up to her face, body and mind, and that mirror is the reflection of the way he sees her.  She’s “not pretty enough,” she’s “gaining weight” and her “roots are always showing.” 

She’s not smart enough, either.  I’ve seen women with their masters degrees in Biology be unmercifully belittled by a guy who barely made it through high school.  I’ve watched women capable of solving calculus problems not be able to see that he’s the one who’s got the problem.  No matter how hard her friends and family try to convince her otherwise, His Mirror is the only mirror that really counts.  And she refuses to see herself any other way.  The longer she looks into His Mirror, the more convinced she is that the rest of the world sees her that way, too.  A good friend wishes she could take His Mirror and crack it over his (often balding) head or give his (often hefty) rear end a nice whack with it, too.

But it’s a touchy thing to get involved in your friend’s romance, to put yourself in the middle of your friend and Romeo, especially if your opinion is unsolicited.  I’ve had many a good friend turn on me, as if I was the enemy and He was the victim. 

Yes, it takes guts to get involved.  Technically, it’s none of my business.  But, I feel that it is my business to protect my friend if she’s being mistreated and to be honest when my friend asks me, “So, what do you think of him?”

I could be polite and say, “Well now, he seems to be an okay guy.”

Or I can be honest and tell her that he was flirting with the waitress the entire time she was in the bathroom, that he was not where he told her he was on Friday night, that there were amoebas who had a better personalities than he did, and that the only chance he had of ever making her happy is if he could be stuffed back into his mother’s womb and born all over again – but this time with human genes.

I want to grab her hand and stop her from running out into the middle of the street.  I want to tell her to dump him and find someone who can make her happy.

How do I do that?  How does any woman convince her friend that there is so much better out there for her, if she would just be patient enough to wait for it, even if it means being alone for a while?  How do you prove that there is a guy out there who will enhance her life, instead of chipping away at the one she has. 

How do you make her believe that there really are guys out there who are honest, loyal, fun and who like to dance?  That she will find a guy someday who will love her, respect her, talk to her, talk sense into her, make her laugh, make her a cup of tea, make reservations, buy her flowers, buy her an engagement ring and, most importantly, consider her happiness to be at least equal to his own? 

You can’t.  She’s going to have to find out the hard way, all by herself – hopefully sooner than later.

In the meantime, you’d better stock up on tissues, chocolate, red wine, Tylenol and Chick Flicks.  You’re gonna need ‘em.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...