Miss Information

My male friends' girlfriends all hate me for no reason.

By Cait Robinson

Have a question? Email missinfo@nerve.com. Letters may be edited for length, content, and clarity.

Dear Miss Information,

I'm a thirty-year-old married woman. My husband and I are very close, and our marriage is happy and healthy. My problem lies with my male friends. I have a number of male friends in my life whose girlfriends absolutely hate me and have even put down the ultimatum, "Stop speaking with her or I will break up with you."

I haven't slept with these guys. I don't confide in them about any relationship issues — if I have a problem with my husband, I go to him and tell him. I don't understand the motivation behind this, and it hurts to have it happen over and over again. Recently, I was chatting with a male friend, and he accidentally missed a text from his girlfriend. This set off a huge fight between them, and I emailed his girlfriend to explain that yes, I was speaking with him and I'm sorry that the text was missed on account of his talking with me. She replied, "I don't understand why you can't just talk to your husband. Why do you have to talk to my boyfriend at all?"

I honestly don't know how to respond to this. I talk to her boyfriend because he's cool? Because we have things in common? Because it's 2011 and we're in America and I have the right to speak to anyone I wish to? I'm no temptress, Miss Info. I'm slightly overweight and have a home dye-job and I wear jeans and sneakers almost exclusively. I'm no threat to anyone, as far as I can see. I don't understand why this keeps happening. Am I missing some huge societal clue that says I should not have male friends?

For the record, my husband has female friends. I don't care if they speak or hang out together — he married me. We own a home and will eventually raise a family together. That's enough reassurance for me.

— I Don't Want Your Man.

Dear I Don't Want Your Man, 

This is a thorny issue. It's high-school politics lingering into adult relationships. (Are you refusing to wear pink on Wednesdays, too?)

Maybe all of your male friends are choosing only posessive shrews to date and then standing idly by as these shrews challenge you to catfights. But I doubt that's the full story. Admittedly, bitchy "hands off my boyfriend!" emails are never called for, but there's a fair amount of defensiveness in your letter, too. Your hurt is understandable, but it might not be helping.

If girls glowering at you is a pattern, examine what you could be doing (even unknowingly) to fan the flames. Are you behaving awkardly around these girls? Are you ignoring them when you see each other at parties? Are you ever dismissive, terse, or cool toward them? Do you brush them off in favor of their more-fun boyfriends? It may not be conscious or ill-intentioned, but you might seem like more of a threat than you know. 

The solution here is not to dump your male friends or rely on your husband solely for male companionship. Instead, you may want to invest some energy into leveling the playing field with these girls. If your friends are in love with them, they must have some good traits, right? 

Drop any defensiveness and try to be the bigger (wo)man, and the girlfriends might rise to the occasion. Go out of your way; even a warm smile and wave from across a bar can work wonders. Chat them up at parties, offer them chocolate you just found in your purse, maybe even consider inviting one out for drinks. Kill them with kindness. Let them see you as a person, and your "conniving minx" alter ego should fade away. 

Dear Miss Information, 

I am a young man. I have pectus excavatum. It does not affect any biological systems, but it is serious. The diameter is about four inches and the depth is two. I was a very brash, confident young lad growing up, and no one ever had much of a problem with my condition or said anything about it. But as I get older, people have move visceral and negative reactions. Even friends of years cannot stand to look at my chest. 

Apparently I have a handsome face; some might say beautiful. Yet every interaction with women ends badly. It doesn't matter if I've known them for three minutes, three hours, three days, three weeks, or three months. If I let them know before sex (on any given timeline) they are gone. Some silently freak out while others are more verbal. Whether I show them beforehand or they find out during foreplay or the act, they become like deer in headlights and pretty much act comatose. No matter how revved up or willing they were, they always shut down. They're still "willing?" to have sex but it feels like it's forced, like rape. I can't do that. They freak out and get quiet, their eyes roll back, we both go limp.

I am a good person. I always have been — that's how I was raised. But with this face and this chest, I feel like a trickster, a con, a sexual practical joke. Is there any help for me?

 Hollowed Out

Dear Hollowed Out,

I have a couple of gnarly abdominal scars. I don't mean like "chicks dig scars!" scars, but like "holy shit, what happened?" scars. Like your chest, these only come up when my shirt comes off. Sometimes they're a topic of conversation; most often, they're not. At some point, I gave up my angst and started embracing them as part of my "story," because they are — sort of like how manatees get banged up by speed boats. It's character, the hard-won kind. I bring it up simply to say that many a beautiful face hides some corporal "flaw." It doesn't have to be a point of shame.

The first thing you need to do is stop considering yourself a "practical joke," because you're not. Like most curses, yours can also be a backhanded gift. If a girl is interested in your pretty face but gets turned off by your shirtless body, she's at best a fair-weather friend. This adversity just allows you to more effectively separate the girl-wheat from the girl-chaff, as it were. And, right, I know this sucks when you want to get laid, but it's saving you some heartache in the long run — why sleep with someone who isn't going to respect you in the morning?

In an effort to triage the "worth it" from the "not," and to avoid surprises, I would mention the pectus excavatum early on. Not when you're drinking and getting handsy — when you're sober, fully-clothed, and clicking. Mention it casually in a situation when sex isn't even on the table, then let it go. It doesn't need to be a discussion, just a mention. If she passes that hurdle and clothes start coming off, check in with her. If she seems uncomfortable, don't progress from "make-out" to "pants off;" keep it PG while she builds comfort. Giving her plenty of time to get her bearings and make the next move will prevent catastrophic rejections. 

In general, Hollowed Out, you get to control the message on this. If you consider yourself a deformed freak, your partners will pick up on that. If you find a way to be open, lighthearted, and charming about it, the whole issue will diminish. To that end, good therapy can help anyone with a chronic illness/body issue come to terms with themselves. Most of us are hit by speed boats at one point or another — the coolest ones are the ones who figure out how to live with their scars.

Commentarium (39 Comments)

Nov 21 11 - 2:54am

Pectus excavatum could be rectified by surgery. He should consult a thoracic surgeon.

Nov 21 11 - 3:37pm

That was my first thought too. Yeah you can try to re-arrange your entire personality, and hope that you'll land with the odd girl who clicks with you in every other way and is also totally cool with your pectus excavatum, and endure more humiliation from the girls who can't deal with it. Or you can fix it. There's nothing more noble about the former path than the latter.

Nov 23 11 - 1:15pm

Why would you fix something that is not truly broken? It seems to me that he lets the girls discover this abnormality on their own without any preparation. That's when you get the deer in headlight response. I believe that, when you have a meaningful relationship, this is talked about before having sex. And in a meaningful relationship it will not be an issue. I don't understand why he would have to re-arrange his personality.

Nov 25 11 - 5:10pm

"Why would you fix something that's not truly broken"? Really? You can't conceive of why someone, who's otherwise in the physical prime of their life, would want to correct a physical defect that is apparently serious enough to make people run for the hills when they see it? And how the OP should somehow strive for a Meaningful Relationship in which this physical defect will magically not be an issue?
Puh-lease. This is reality, not a Hallmark Channel movie. This guy isn't trying to be Derek Zoolander, he has a fucking cupholder between his tits and it's freaking people out. Procedures to fix this condition are apparently minimally invasive. "Fla" and "Nope" nailed it. Why go through life having to explain it when you can just fix it and make it a non-issue. It doesn't make you "fake" or a shallow person to do so. Go for it, OP!

Nov 27 11 - 12:03am

Linda's message was a mixture of "the problem is you didn't tell them ahead of time" (LW1 stated quite clearly that he did try breaking the news at many different times/methods) but also of "don't deny your true self!"

It's true that nobody should be calling this guy a freak who needs fixing. And it's easy to say "They should live with this thing that scares off other people because it will be a weathervane to find people who /really/ loves him." when you're not them. If that's what LW1 wants, or he likes his body the way it is, fine. But if that isn't what L1 wants/likes the situation is a lot more sticky, and I don't think anyone else has permission to say LW1's choice to change would be "untrue to himself" or the "coward's way out."

Nov 21 11 - 3:00am

I've actually been with two guys who had pectus excavatum, it was never an issue. There's got to be other girls like me out there.

Nov 21 11 - 5:38pm

I was with a guy with pectus excavatum and a guy with really horrible keloid acne scars on his chest. The former was so self-conscious about it that he basically refused to take his shirt off. The latter used to joke to people who stared at him when he whipped off his shirt to go swimming that he'd been shot with a shotgun. The second guy's attitude was pretty great, and it made me feel more comfortable around it to the point that I didn't even notice it. The first guy's lack of comfort with his own body made me feel uncomfortable, even though the chest divot didn't bug me at all.

Good luck! You deserve to find someone less shallow!

Nov 23 11 - 11:10am
I agree

My current boyfriend has some pretty significant health issues, but is confident and good-humored about them, and I don't mind at all. I still find him irresistible. My previous boyfriend, however, could have been a model he was so stunningly beautiful, but was also crippingly insecure about some minor flaws that it ultimately ended up wrecking the relationship. It's all how you think about and treat yourself.

Nov 21 11 - 3:52am

My ex has pectus excavatum, and I loved it-- it was a perfect hand holder/warmer. His chest was not one of the reasons we broke up.

Dec 30 11 - 10:22am

Same here. To be quite honest, I sometimes miss it. His heart always felt closer than it does with "normal" men, I secretly found it a bit of a turn on, but never discussed this because it wasn't an issue, it was just who he was, no big deal. I'd just like to say that if it is a real problem for these women, then I'd say they might not be the women for you. There will be more women who will think it's no big deal or who (secretly or not) find it a very beautiful part of you. Don't operate something that doesn't need fixing, unless you absolutely feel you have to and it'd be an enormous relief. And what's more: there's no such thing as normal. We all have some weird body-things and self-image-issues. No problem.

Nov 21 11 - 5:26am

On the first one, I find that kind of weird, but I've had sort of similar issues. I think some girls don't know how to relate to guys unless it's flirtatious or sexual so when they see a girl who acts comfortably in that kind of situation, they get uncomfortable. I don't know what to say about it other than that.

About the second one, I've slept with a guy like that and known several others, and they either were players, or pretty confident. He shouldn't act like it's a big deal because then it will seem like big deal to other people. People will comment on it, but he needs to be able to joke about it. If he can bring it up jokingly with someone, then he can bring it up without it being some weird big serious talk that freaks the girl out. Anyway, I've just never even thought of that as a big deal.

Nov 21 11 - 9:20am

I agree. I am very happy in my relationship and every man I meet fails dramatically in comparison to my boyfriend, (if I even bother to compare.) However, I find myself more comfortable with guys than girls. I don’t flirt with every guy, and I don’t ignore the girls. I do have a few chick friends, but I tend to have more man friends than lady friends. It’s great that my boyfriend doesn’t mind like I don’t mind his chick friends, and I hang out a ton with him and his friends, everyone considers me just one of the guys. Everyone but a few girlfriends that is. Ironically enough, the girlfriends are dating the guys who i'd never be romantically interested in. Like... ever. They're fantastic friends, but not my kind of boyfriend material. It's a shame that some women can’t be comfortable and accept JUST FRIENDS. I think if they stopped sitting on the side going "she wants him, I can tell" that we would ALL get along so wonderfully.

This being said, Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of girls you SHOULD be suspicious of. The ones that touch and flirt a lot. But this is where you need to tell your boyfriend, I’m uncomfortable with the way you two act together. Don’t give your man an ultimatum. It’s unfair for you to do so without expressing how you feel before hand. If he ignores the way you feel, you shouldn’t be with someone who doesn’t care. You can also tell the girl how you feel, but try your best not to come across like a huge bitch. None of that Get you r own boyfriend, Hands off, or back the fuck down kind of stuff. Politely tell her how you feel, and if she gets an attitude, then do what you think is best.

Nov 21 11 - 7:18am

I also had an ex with Pectis exacvatum- never a problem, neither of us even mentioned it until months into the relationship..

Nov 21 11 - 7:20am

My boyfriend has a long scar from heart surgery as a child. The first time we had sex (in the afternoon, in the sunlight, totally naked), I was so into him that I missed it. I know LW 2's issue is different, but if she's really into you, it won't matter.

Nov 21 11 - 8:20am

My brother had pectis excavatum, and his heart wasnt lined up under his sternum. Which meant that if he had for some reason needed CPR, it would not have worked! He had surgery for that reason and is fine now. Fingers crossed that he will never need CPR.

Nov 21 11 - 10:28am

A girlfriend who's nervous/insecure about her relationship has one of her texts ignored because her boyfriend was talking to you. This is logically not a threat, because how did she find out? Either her boyfriend explained it to her, or she just suspected you and you confirmed it, and neither of those would have happened if something sneaky were really going on (or about to go on) between you and boyfriend. This is a relationship, though, so forget logic; this looks like boyfriend prioritizing you over her. She can't yell at boyfriend, because she's too insecure about the relationship. So guess who gets yelled at?

Shrug it off, and if you do make friends with girlfriends, at least enough so they can get to know you and see you as less of a threat, that will help.

Nov 21 11 - 11:41am

One thing the first letter didn't mention - do you have female friends? If not, then that's probably a contributing factor in the jealousy of these girlfriends (she doesn't hang out with women! she only hangs out with men who aren't even single!) Also, if you don't have female friends, then you are probably a bit tone-deaf when it comes to picking up on inter-female cues, and could be unwittingly sending bad signals to these ladies.

Anyway, what you have to do with these girlfriends is divide and conquer. If you can befriend ONE of them, the rest will have a harder time viewing you as a threat. The more of them you can befriend, the more ridiculous the others will look for hating you. Identify the one girlfriend who seems a most likely candidate for friendship, or at least, for non-hatred. She is probably of a more shy variety, not an "alpha" female, probably not the hottest girl in the group - the least bitchy girl. If you have female friends, invite that girl to come along with you and one of your girlfriends to a movie, mani-pedi, etc. If you don't have any female friends, then invite her and her bf over for dinner with you and your husband. Then make nice.

Nov 21 11 - 3:46pm

I agree with you. I'd also add that whether or not you want to become individual friends with the girlfriends, it'd probably help if you did couple things as well as hanging out with the guys individually. I'd probably be weirded out by a girl who ONLY wanted to hang out with my boyfriend alone, (even though I'm a girl with lots of guy friends), while if we did couples activities some of the time it wouldn't bother me if they wanted to hang out one-on-one too.

Nov 21 11 - 3:48pm

"You" in all but the first sentence being the LW, not @js, obviously. ;)

Nov 29 11 - 1:25am

Doing couple things is a great idea. As a personal policy (trust me there is a good reason for this) my guy isn't allowed to have girl friends that I don't know. If he meets a cool lady, we all go out for dinner or drinks at least as often as he hangs out with her alone. And if they are hanging out alone, no alcohol is permitted. LW1 may be interested to know that many, if not most, women out there have had someone cheat on them (maybe the guy they're still with) and may have very good reasons for limiting friendships with other women. Getting to know her is basically the one and only way to diffuse some of the suspicious behavior. Good luck.

Nov 21 11 - 3:45pm

LW#1, I know that women being jealous of their boyfriend's female friends isn't uncommon, but all of them, all the time? Either 1. you're seriously gorgeous, or 2. you're not good with interpersonal boundaries/signals. Honestly, based only on this letter I have no idea which it is, but I'd put good money on it being one of the two.

Nov 21 11 - 4:41pm

I agree- if it is as epidemic a problem, letter-writer probably is the problem.

Nov 22 11 - 10:23am

wow! way to trash women on here!

Nov 22 11 - 3:49pm

In what way am I trashing women?

Nov 21 11 - 4:31pm
It's them, not me

If a dude with a sunken chest treated me well I wouldn't care. Seriously. If that is the only issue in a relationship I say count your blessings. The women LW#2 dated can't possibly be perfect either. I'm sure they had some weirdness physically too.

Nov 21 11 - 6:29pm

I wouldn't care at all about the chest. It's not like I sit around stroking my boyfriend's "normal" chest... that stuff gives you character and an ability to empathize with other people who face an uncommon form of adversity / self-consciousness. Just be a good guy and be yourself. Anyone who can't hang with something that makes you different can kiss my ass.

Nov 22 11 - 9:27am

The way I see it, pectus excavatum is like the physical form of a mental illness, like schizophrenia. Bear with me on this. I have schizophrenia, and people freak when they find out. Then they find out more, and they relax. So my advice would be to explain it - your heart problems, if any, if there are none, great. Explain why it happens, etc. Then get them to become accustomed to it. "Do you want to touch it ? It's fine, just a hollow, it doesn't hurt me, I'm healthy". They will slowly relax and get used to you and accept the PE. They may end up liking it. Good luck. And ease yourself into sex in a relationship. It helps if they have put their head to your P.E. previously, just resting it there, as well as other parts of the body. It's an involuntary reaction, to freak out when you do something new, especially to a really strange looking thing. So get them to be acclimatised to you in all poses.

Nov 22 11 - 1:38pm

Or get a tattoo around pectus excavatum!!! I gots a pretty gnarly scar on my shoulder that i got when i was a child (one of the "what the fuck happened?!?!" kind of scar) that I always felt self conscious about... then I grew up and decided that I could tattoo around it, not to cover it but to make it a part of me that i liked. It worked, now I'm showing it off as often as i can.

Nov 23 11 - 11:19am
I agree

Body art can transform something mundane or unsightly into the most fascinating, beautiful thing. I speak from experience.

Nov 23 11 - 12:01am

At the end of the day more women are suspicious of the female friends of their boyfriends then are not, so it's not at all "suspicious" that all of her male friends girlfriend's dislike her. In my experience I've found that more women are like this (a lot more) than not, especially if you hang out when they're not around.

I feel they see that woman as a threat because it was a close intimate relationship that existed before they came into the picture, as a result that friend knows you better, may know things about them they don't, may be your confidant if you two get into a fight, etc, etc.

I don't know if it's malicious per se (in all cases), but they just see the woman as a potential threat to their relationship, or wonder why you never made a move or vice versa.

In any case at the end of the day in my view most women aren't going to be okay with their boyfriend having a close female friend, at least that's not been my experience and I don't think guys are any different. I was on a date with someone once and we were talking about how it was great that we both had opposite sex best friends as it was one less thing to worry about, so it's obviously a widespread issue.

After all many of my female friend's boyfriends have had issues with me, and I've never been interested in those friends. People are just jealous, no need to over analyze it.

Nov 23 11 - 1:57am

@ Hollowed Out.. I've never had a boyfriend with a Pectus Excavatum. In fact, I didn't even know what it was until I looked at it on wikipedia. I don't think it's un-natrual, ugly or anything of the sort. I think, if anything, it's unique, interesting, and something that is part of you that makes you... you. I know there are girls out there that are right for you. Don't change unless you must (IE-medically relevent). Stick it out just a little longer and find that girl that was meant for you. I'm 20... I'm a young girl, and I know there are girls out there for you. Just hold on a little longer.

Nov 23 11 - 7:02pm

I have a pretty hollowed-out chest, due to (I discovered at age 30) having a lumbar spinal defect (spina bifida occulta) that ruined my posture growing up. My wife doesn't seem to mind. It's a place for her to nestle her head while I massage the little part of her brain that pokes through her skull. OK joke - but everything up to "nestle her head" is true. Just keep going, Hollowed Out, and you'll find the girl who loves you for your character and your kindness and whatever other qualities she likes.

Nov 24 11 - 4:33am

Good friend of mine has pectus excavatum. Used it as an asset – to sneak drugs through search/pat-down situations. Has problems with the ladies because he's emotional and smokes weed like most other people breathe. His approach to it was more "Hey, check this out!" than anything, though these days, you're not going to see anything unless you'd get shirtless privileges to begin with.
Honestly, if you're nervous about anything about yourself, ANYTHING, TEH LADIEZZ are gonna pick up on it. Scratch that, if you ACT NERVOUS, then you're FUCKED. Just remember that you create the narrative, most women want to be wooed and put aside whatever agency the feminist movement has fought for. Most women are not feminists, and even those that are still want you to be the one to do the actual wooing, to pretend that everything is okay. FAKE IT TILL YA MAKE IT, AMIRITE. What you want to have is a certain sense of élan. That's the word you're looking for.

Nov 27 11 - 8:23pm

@NAT: You had me up until "Most women are not feminists"? Oooooooof. You just created a hole in my chest. You know, where my heart once was. (I know, I know, that was a stretch.)

*Humans* like being wooed--not just women. Liking positive attention and feminism are not mutually exclusive traits. If you think feminists are a minority, it's only because we look shockingly like regular women. Helps with our secretly-coordinated sneak-attacks.

Nov 27 11 - 9:19pm
I agree

You said it, Cait! Nat's idea of what feminism is and what women are makes my skin scrawl. True feminism is merely a desire for gender equality, not misandry, and certainly not some kind of spiky disdain for love, affection, and desire. No one should put aside their agency in order to be in a relationship. In fact, a relationship can only be healthy and positive if both parties have agency and equality. Too many people - Nat included, it would seem - think that relationships have to be an either/or situation: either the man wears the pants and the woman is submissive, or the woman wears the pants and the man is a spineless lapdog. Neither situation is healthy. There is a balance; there is give and take; there is mutual respect, desire, and affection--or there is dysfunction.

Ok, I'll get off my soapbox now. As a feminist in a happy, healthy, equal relationship with a man who is also a feminist, I just had to say my piece.

Nov 26 11 - 8:50pm

One of my best friend's friends has pectus excavatum. He's extremely confident, charming, and flirty; he has no problems with attracting girls (and pleasing them). We've hooked up a few times and the divot's is completely inconsequential. I suspect the dozens of other girls he's been with would agree.

Dec 02 11 - 3:56pm

Dear hollowed out,

I'd date someone with pectus excavatum. In fact, my boyfriend's chest is a little sunken, more so than a normal male chest. But I love and have loved every flaw on his and all my exes bodies, so I think you'll meet someone one day who wouldn't care, and even accept it wholeheartedly. Cheers!

Dec 10 11 - 1:24am

UGH! its so sad that the mind isn't pleasing to the eyes as well... I would date someone with pectus excavatum. I love that people are different it makes them special. :) . I wish you the best in your endeavors.

Dec 11 11 - 5:04pm

Oy....there's always a reason....you just don't know it yet. If there's that many who dislike you it may be time for some serious contemplation of your flaws.