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Lying? Cheating? Verbal abuse? Being a low down dirty shame? I know this sounds like the intro to an anti-f-ckboy drug infomercial but it’s not. Sadly, these elements are often present in some of our favorite couples love lives.

I’ve often wondered why we make concessions for certain dysfunctional habits and character flaws in romantic relationships that we would flip tables over for if anyone else did them to us. Pick your favorite romantic comedy and there’s likely a scene or story arc that involves a man doing the least — or sometimes the most in the worst way possible — who still gets the girl. Think Sex and the City and the innumerable instances of hell Big put Carrie through before their marriage. Yet when it came to the ladies’ relationship with one another, the smallest infarction could stop them from speaking, albeit temporarily. Still, there is a stark contrast between the rapid way in which women will cut off their friends when they feel they’ve been wronged and the delayed reaction to disrespect from men, making me wonder: Is it possible that women are socialized to value romantic partnerships over platonic friendships?

I know I’ve been guilty of it. I’ve fallen out with friends over multiple late meetups in the name of disrespecting my time. Yet I’m also the same person who stayed in a five-year relationship that was the very definition of wasted time. No one’s perfect, but the ensuing concessions we make for romantic relationships and the lack thereof when it comes to friendships is worth questioning. And we see it all the time, from famous couples like Emily B and Fabolous to people in our own personal lives, like an old roommate for whom I had to set visiting sanctions regarding the times her inappropriate boyfriend could come over. The underlying theme here is men get more of a pass than our girlfriends ever would for bad behavior.

I asked a girlfriend of mine who had cut off a lot of friends along her way to the aisle about my theory of romantic relationships being valued above all others and she pretty much confirmed my hypothesis. “No one gives you a medal for being friends,” she told me. “That ring is a tangible reminder of what that relationship culminated in.”

Is it a bad time to mention they’re now divorced?

For the sake of equilibrium, I asked one of my best guy mates what he thought about this idea and his assertion was that, generally speaking, women have been taught to value relationships with a significant other over their friends. “Women make it easy because of the ‘pick me’ complex. As a man, with that in my favor, I don’t have to work too hard to do right.”

Ah, explains so much. And this idea that there is more of a tangible “reward” in a romantic partnership is exactly why a lot of friendships get sacrificed for relationships — and mostly situationships — that usually never end that well.

As someone who’s still growing and taking the time to nurture my relationships in all forms, I’m working on keeping everyone in my life on an even playing field. Whether you’re my man, girlfriend or the butcher who always shorts me an ounce or two, I have fundamental benchmarks of what I consider to be a mutually respectful and meaningful relationship. I no longer go out of my way to make give undeserved chances for bad behavior. Much like anything else, you have to earn your forgiveness and do the work.

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