You were there when your friend was caught in the throes of a massive crush. You were there after the first date while she overanalyzed her every sentence, hoping that her date would call her. You were there when he did - and when subsequent dates eventually led to a full-on relationship. A supportive collegiette would be happy to see a friend find someone. But what if that ‘someone’ happened to make your skin crawl at the mere mention of his name?
Just because a friend has fallen in love with someone, doesn’t mean that you will feel the same excitement when you meet him. We asked collegiettes across the country if they have ever hated their friends’ significant others. The good news? If you have a friend that is dating someone less than spectacular, you definitely aren’t alone!
Unfortunately, this puts you in a delicate position. How do you balance maintaining your relationship with your friend against the fact that she’s dating someone you find terrible? Do you say something and risk losing a friend or suffer in silence? Luckily, Her Campus has 5 steps to help you manage the situation and make peace with your friend’s significant other:
Step 1: Look At Your Friendship First
Perhaps you have a friend who has been living the single life for quite some time. It isn’t your fault, but at some point you’ve gotten used to the fact she isn’t ‘attached.’ When you start to feel hostility towards your friend’s new boyfriend, could it be that he isn’t the real cause?
“When my best friend first got into a relationship with a guy after being single for a long time, I had a hard time liking him. Eventually I realized that it was less about the guy she was dating and more about how our relationship had changed. I was just redirecting my frustration. When a friend gets into a romantic relationship it can really change your overall friendship and that’s what I was mad about,” says Emily, a student at the University of Illinois.
In this instance, the significant other is not the real issue. The real issue lies between you and your friend… and possibly a little jealousy over the fact that you are probably getting less attention from her. So how do you cope with this change?
Expert Advice: “Be honest. Are you jealous of the new relationship? You might be holding the wrong person responsible because your friend is suddenly not as available as she was before. If this is the case, tell your friend you're feeling a little left out and would love to see her more,” says April Beyer, Dating Expert and Founder of Beyer & Company, a personal matchmaking firm.
Still, your friend isn’t likely to ditch her new love for you at your beck and call. You may have to deal with being around her and her boyfriend together on occasion, even after you tell her how you feel. Which leads to the second step…
Step 2: Get to Know Him Better
While sometimes it could be the change alone that’s bothering you, other times your friend’s significant other may have given you a terrible first impression. Your best friend should be dating someone who deserves her and lives up to all of your expectations, right? Well, the odds of him living up to perfection aren’t great. If he seemed shy and cold to you at first, he could have just been nervous to meet you (you are the one with the expectations to meet, after all). Start to fix the situation by giving him a second chance. You would want the same done for you!
“Focus on what about him she likes and try to see the good in him. If he still drives you crazy, make sure to schedule a weekly ‘girls only’ night with your friend. If he makes your friend happy, don’t try to drive him away,” suggests Grace, a recent grad of the University of Pennsylvania.
Expert Advice: “Offer up solutions to bring the three of you closer together. Invite them to lunch. Go out of your way to do something nice for your friend's partner. See what happens when you come from a place of friendship and generosity,” advises Beyer.
Step 3: If You Don’t Have Something Nice To Say…
If your feelings about your friend’s significant other are reaching a peak, it can be tempting to vent to a third party. But, if you do vent to a mutual friend, it will only escalate the drama of the situation.
Expert Advice: “It's not YOUR relationship, so unless you're asked [by a mutual friend], hold your tongue. It could easily backfire and you might end up on the outside of the friendship. Everyone loves to shoot the messenger!” says Beyer.
And if you hear that the significant other is not treating you with the same respect? Don’t fight fire with fire:
“One of my best friends got a girlfriend who was really wary of me because of how close he and I were. For a good year and a half or so I’d hear stories about how he would fight with her just to invite me to his birthday, and how she was badmouthing me behind my back. Here’s how you shouldn’t handle it: don’t ever talk bad about her behind her back either. I was really immature and I’m sure some of what I said probably got back to her, and I’m sure they must’ve hurt her feelings, too. My friend and I never talked about it, but he was definitely aware of what was going on,” says Annie, a collegiette from the University of Chicago.
You won’t regret taking the high road!
Step 4: Speak Up (But Only if the Boyfriend is Truly a Bad Egg)
If you’ve given the guy and a try for a while but still don’t like him, chances are it’s more than just the change in your own friendship that’s bothering you. It could be that the guy is just bad news, but it might just be your opinion. So, do you share your thoughts with your friend? Collegiettes have differing opinions about this step. Should you be honest with your friend about how you’re feeling or should you wait it out so that you don’t hurt your friendship?
“From my own past experience where the roles were switched, it’s better to do nothing. When she (complains about a problem in her relationship) mention in a positive way, ‘I just don’t think you’re right for each other.’ Aside from that, putting your friend in a position of choosing (between you and her man) is probably the worst thing you could do. The only way she will figure it out is on her own. And (you) will be right there to support her when it finally falls apart,” says Hillary from Bryant University
“I think in general, it is important to try to be accepting of all of the different kinds of guys that your friends may be interested in. But, I also think that if your friend pursues a guy who you feel is not a good guy, it is incredibly important to voice your opinion. As long as you keep your friend's best interests at heart, you cannot go wrong. It is also important to remember that your friend values your opinion, so if she asks for it, be honest... or you might come to regret it in the future!” says collegiette Annie.
Expert Advice: “Ask yourself WHY you don't like this person. Is your friend being harmed in any way from this relationship? Physically? Emotionally? The only reason to say something is out of protection for your friend. Otherwise, it's best to keep your feelings to yourself,” offers Beyer.
If your friend’s safety is at stake and you do feel that you need to say something, start the conversation by saying something along these lines: “It makes me really happy to see you in a relationship that makes you happy. But, lately I’ve been feeling like your relationship is creating situations that are concerning/unfair to me. Could we find a way to work past this so it doesn’t hurt our friendship?”
Don’t make the issue about her significant other right off the bat (as this may scare your friend off before you’re able to fix anything). Put the focus on you and your friend and how your friendship will be in the future. Maybe your friend will give you insight into his or her relationship that will explain some of the things that are bothering you!
Which leads us to the bottom line and final step of conquering your conflict…
Step 5: Make Your Friend Your Priority
As much as we may like to, we can’t control whom our friends date. If you love your friend (which we assume you do), ask yourself this question: Has she been happier since she got into a relationship? If the answer is yes, then you have to focus on that and let animosity go.
Expert Advice: “You are not on this planet to teach your friends how to have better relationships. It's not your job or your place. Be there for guidance and support when called upon. Whatever you do, if the relationship breaks up don't say, ‘I told you so.’ Relationships are our teachers. Sometimes you have to go through the bad ones in order to learn what's right and good for yourself. Don't cheat anyone out of their own experience,” says Beyer.
In an ideal world, our friends’ significant others would fit perfectly into our friend groups and even become new friends of our own. Unfortunately, they don’t always fit that mold or meet to the high standards we feel our friend deserves. When this happens, ALWAYS keep your friend’s happiness your priority. The person who makes her happy may not make complete sense to you. Luckily, you’re not the one who has to be in your friend’s relationship!