She Said, He Said

By Tristan Wheelock, Commentary

There is a phenomenon I have observed a number of times in relationships. I call it the “girlfriend voice.” A guy is hanging out with his friends, pounding beers and scoring touchdowns on Madden, when his cell phone rings. He looks down to see that it’s his girlfriend and answers the call.

Take a second and pause – this is where it gets weird.

When he begins to speak, said guy’s voice drops a few octaves and softens into cotton-candy fluff. His curse words and favorite teams are replaced with “honey” and “I’m sorry, I’ll be home soon.” What just happened?

I believe the girlfriend voice is one piece in the larger and more complex puzzle of why guys act differently when they are around their significant others.

Is it the fear of the girlfriend frowning upon overt displays of manliness? Is it a preconceived notion that girls like feminine things, so men accommodate them by making themselves feminine? Regardless of the reason, I think men should cowboy up and understand that most girls can handle a little chest bumping and beer-can crushing.

It seems simple. If one has to act markedly different around his friends because he is afraid of what his girlfriend will think, there is most likely a problem. Unfortunately for most guys, this is a difficulty they usually refuse to recognize.

I’m not saying you should dump a girl because she doesn’t understand the nuanced subtleties of “bro jargon” and the Family Guy references you sling back and forth among your buddies. I’m simply saying that relationships are about embracing differences, however strange and childish they may be.

This is not to say you should completely ignore your girlfriend when hanging out with your friends. If you invite her to come along with you and your friends somewhere, you do have an obligation to make her feel welcome. You don’t have to be overly affectionate (you don’t even have to hold her hand if you don’t want), you just have to be mature.

Imagine how you would feel if you got dragged along on a girls’ night out. It would likely be hard to find a point of reference if the conversations taking place around you focused on handbags, Sex and the City and other guys. This might cause you to become quiet, apprehensive and maybe even a little weird. Sound familiar?

In the end, guys act differently around their friends than they do with their girlfriend. It’s up to the girlfriend to accept this as long as the guy is not being overtly rude or blatantly ignoring her. There is a happy medium; it just takes maturity to find it.

By Jessica Hartman, Commentary

It’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When you’re together, he’s an attentive, sweet and caring boyfriend. He’s even lovey-dovey, talking to you in that kind voice meant only for you while whispering sweet nothings into your ear.

But then he changes. Around his friends, he transforms into a “man’s man.” Burping and cursing ensue, while sports become the center of attention instead of you. Why? Why can’t he be one way around everyone?

No matter what, all guys do this. It may not be deliberately mean or even intentional, but every guy changes his behavior toward his girlfriend when he is around friends. Showing affection and listening are usually thrown out the door immediately, and soon it seems as though the girlfriend isn’t even in the room. However, as soon as he gets into the car to go home, he’s back to the wonderful boyfriend you know and love.

If a man isn’t confident enough in himself to show affection toward his girlfriend in front of his friends, then he doesn’t deserve to have a girlfriend. If he isn’t confident because his friends will act like middle-schoolers and make fun of him, then he needs new friends.

Being reasonable, understanding individuals, most girls know there is a time and a place to be affectionate, and they probably don’t expect guys to make out with them during the Super Bowl. However, once the girl starts to feel insignificant in comparison to her man’s friends, he has gone too far.

I’d venture to say girls don’t feel pressure to act so differently toward their boyfriends while with their friends, especially to the point that the boyfriend feels uncomfortable. So girls shouldn’t have to accept this behavior from their boyfriends.

All in all, a mature man should be able to be himself no matter what the surroundings entail, whether he’s at the football game with his buds or at a romantic dinner with his girl. If he has confidence in himself, it will overcome any insecurity his immature friends may cause him. Be a man; be affectionate; be yourself.