My girlfriend and I recently broke up. When we were together, one of the things that really irked me was that she tried to integrate me into her friend group. I was polite around her friends, but I resisted becoming part of the group because I wasn't particularly fond of them. She even tried to guilt me with the "this is very important to me" kind of thing. While we were together I felt that I was not obligated to be friends with her friends, and that I should get to choose my own friends. Now that we're not together I'm feeling a little more guilty about the whole thing, like maybe I should have made more compromises for her. Was it okay to resist being friends with her friends?
The Spice Girls famously sang:
If you wanna be my lover // Ya gotta get with my friends
Of course you should be polite to your girlfriend's friends. You should deign to hang out with them from time to time even if you find them a little boring or annoying so that your girlfriend isn't always forced to choose between them and you. But you're under no obligation to have your girlfriend's friends replace your old ones. (Imagine what would be happening now if you'd dumped your friends for hers. Do you think your girlfriend's crew would abandon their soul sister in her hour of need to stay buddies with some guy she used to make out with? More importantly, do you think The Little Rascals would welcome you back after you've spent the last 6 months ditching them for Darla?)
The fact that you come to the table with friends of your own is normal (i.e. irresistibly sexy). It validates your girlfriend's interest in you by proving that other human beings find you perfectly pleasant to be around, sometimes. It proves you are not a shady drifter with no past (or that you are organized enough to craft a believable false-past for yourself, which demonstrates responsibility).
You don't mention how your girlfriend interacted with your friends. Did you ever let her meet them? Or did you keep them secreted away in a hidden friendship forest?
If your girl met your pals, disliked them, and wanted you to adopt her friend group as a replacement, that's controlling and absurd. If, however, every time she suggested you befriend her friends, you responded "I don't need to! I have my own friends and they are great!" but never let her meet them, you're the weirdo.
You should also remember that your girlfriend's wanting you to become friends with her friends is a compliment to you. After all, friend forcing is a two-way street. She's making you hang out with them, but she's also making them hang out with you. Presumably, she's expecting that they will find you as delightful as she does.
By not becoming close friends with your girlfriend's friends, you did deprive yourself of one of the most exciting aspects of any break-up: the dividing of the friends. When people have dated for so long that their friend groups begin to overlap, the break-up is like one war-torn country splitting into two independent nations. Who gets the Falklands? Who gets Jess (and more importantly, guaranteed weekend trips to Jess' lakehouse)? It's a very thrilling time and a great opportunity to try your hand at complex social manipulations.
While you should have made an effort to visit with your girlfriend's friends from time to time to make her happy, also remember that "This is very important to me" isn't a trump card that can be used to dictate plans every single weekend.
If a girlfriend is constantly having to goad her boyfriend into doing something he truly hates to do, it's not necessarily a sign that the boyfriend is insensitive; it's a sign that these people have different priorities and probably should not be dating. (This is assuming your girlfriend's statement was something like "It's very important to me that you be friends with my friends" and not "It's very important to me that you not be actively rude to my friends." That last one is something that's important to humans in general. That's something you should do without being asked.)
Having said all that, there are a couple cases in which it is perfectly fine to wholeheartedly resist becoming friends with your girlfriends' friends. If the "friends" in question are people with whom she has only ever interacted while they were performing a service for her (e.g. the cashiers at Wendy's), hand puppets she made herself, creatures of the wood, or haters, feel free to resist all attempts at friendship.
I am an old man who enjoys running—jogging, really, slow but steady. With some regularity, I meet slender and athletic young women with ponytails running peppily in the other direction, who, upon seeing me, make right-on! fists and call out "Good for YOU!" like I am a toddler on the potty. I want to be a gentleman but I also want to snap at them. Would that be okay?
Thatz not okay.
While social norms and the fact that you are not a crazy person prevent you from airing your grievances, in scream form, at random strangers, you can take comfort in the fact that everyone who just read that question is probably on your side now. We, too, are frustrated by these patronizing young Sarah Palins butting into your solitude to make you feel like a child. The crazy thing is that we are all rooting against people who are being perfectly polite.
In the running world, more so than in other aspects of life, encouragement from random strangers is the norm. No one comes up to you in the grocery store to say "Good for YOU!" when you opt for whole wheat bread over white. Or creeps up behind you when you're reading a book to whisper "Hey! I'm reading too. This is great!" This behavior could only exist in an activity where endorphins are flowing freely. It's kind of weird, especially to people who are cool and jaded and wear black, but largely unavoidable.
To better ascertain the scope of these women's investment in your overall health and well-being, consider faking a heart attack.
If they stop and try to help, you'll know they really do mean well. Hard to stay mad at that.
If they pretend not to notice, they are Bad People and will probably avoid that route in the future, out of shame, thereby solving your problem.
Your best bet is just to ignore the well-wishers, as you probably have been doing. They're mostly interacting with you for their own benefit anyway, and probably jog off thinking "I just made that gentleman's day!" Maybe even: "I wonder if he thinks I'm a beautiful guardian angel sent from on high to motivate him?" (Do not discount the fact that these women may be beautiful guardian angels. Can anyone else see them?)
If your frustration reaches a point where you feel it absolutely necessary to offer a rebuttal, consider an equally patronizing "Good for you!" The women won't be able to complain to you for the same reason you can't complain to them; it's hard to yell at someone who's (ostensibly) just trying to be nice.
Your final option is to kick your speed training into high gear so that the next time this happens, you can double back around and fly past your encouraging assailant, kicking up dust in her face as you go. This isn't a bad idea anyway, as you'll never outrun the icy hand of Death at a slow jog.
Anyway. Glad to hear you're still getting out there and jogging at your age. Good for you!