Don't Like Your Partner's Pal? Here's What You Should (and Shouldn't!) Do
You love your significant other, but that doesn't mean you have to love each and every person he's welcomed into his life. Difficulties and disagreements do arise when colliding personalities meet, and this can be especially true when two people feel possessive over a single individual, which might be the case with your partner and his best friend. "It's difficult to enter into a group of people that share a history with each other that doesn't include you," notes Julienne Derichs, a licensed clinical professional counselor. Whether you're dealing with feelings of jealousy or exhaustion, Derichs says that it's important to find a way to agree to disagree for the benefit of your relationship.
To help you navigate the unchartered waters of at least trying to befriend your partner's friend, here are some dos and don'ts to keep in your back pocket.
Do: Limit the amount of time you spend with the friend in question.
You can be nice, polite, and cordial when his friend comes around but you don't have to hang out with him more than what's necessary (like when you're both at the same gathering or if your partner invites him or her over). "Encourage your significant other to see this friend alone, or if you do get together, suggest inviting a group of people," suggests Derichs. "That way you don't have to spend that much one-on-one time with that friend."
Don't: Ask your significant other to take sides.
This part can be tricky because you want to feel like your partner is sticking up for you, but you may be putting him in a tight position by asking him to choose between you and his friend. "Unless there are extreme circumstances, asking your partner to pick sides builds resentment and oversteps what are healthy boundaries in a relationship," says Derichs. "In other words, it's unhealthy to choose your partner's friends for them and vice versa."
Do: Make sure you have solid points to back up your disdain.
Before broaching the topic with your beau, do make sure your dislike towards his friend is warranted. "For instance, if your partner's friend is a chronic liar, is someone who breaks the law, or puts others in danger, those are good reasons not to like them," she says. Either your partner shares these values and has been ignoring this potential issue or he hasn't realized this needs a nudge to deal with it.
Don't: Name call.
It might be tempting, especially if this friend is a person you really can't stand, but try to resist using harsh names and phrases when speaking about the friend in question. Instead, relationship expert April Masini suggests focusing on his or her behavior. "For instance, don't call the friend a loser-instead, you should talk about how dangerous his or her behavior is, and be specific," she says. "If your partner feels you're trying to decimate a friendship, they won't be as open to hearing about what you say."
Do: Let your partner in on your dislike for his friend.
In the event that your significant other is totally out of the loop when it comes to your feelings towards his friend, don't hesitate to bring it to the table for discussion. Just be sure to do so gently and at the right time. "Try to be sensitive to your partner's feelings and remember that this is someone he cares for," says Derichs. "You can say, 'I need some help. I want to like (understand, get to know) your friends but I feel like I'm just not connecting with them. Can you help me out?'" Derichs notes that this sends the message that you want to be a part of your partner's life.
Don't: Take your problems to social media.
As Masini notes, airing dirty laundry is not an appropriate dynamic for your not liking a partner's friend. "It's a power play with no long-term winners," she says. "You may get a social swell of support, but your relationship will suffer for having taken your problems public, and you've set a precedent for future issues where you may be on the receiving end of the surprise public outcry."
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