How to Deal When Your Best Friend is Dating Someone You Hate

You sit on your bed alone on a Saturday night, endlessly bored and way too single. Just a few weeks ago, your best friend and you were spending the weekend binging your latest Netflix hang-up. Now, she’s hopelessly obsessed with her SO—and to make it worse, you can’t stand the sight of him or her.

It can be really difficult when your best friend gets into a relationship that you don’t approve of. In the end, you know it’s their decision, but you can’t help that nagging feeling in the back of your head that he or she isn’t right for them. Thankfully, we’ve collaborated with experts on romance and etiquette to give you the run-down on what to do in this situation—read on to find out.

1. Identify why you dislike their SO

Before you can come to terms with your BFF’s relationship, first you have to identify why their SO bothers you so much. Even if you think you know why, spell it out so you don’t have any misconceptions—where does your dislike come from?

Jasbina Ahluwalia, a relationship expert, matchmaker and the founder of Intersections Match by Jasbina, gave us a few common reasons. “There are numerous reasons, which fall into three categories, and possibly a combination of the three,” she says. Her categories are listed below.

1. You may dislike their SO’s behavior towards you.

  • You may feel slighted by what you perceive to be rude or disrespectful behavior towards you by their SO.

2. You may disapprove of the relationship itself for some reason.

  • He/she isn’t who you would pick for your best friend.
  • You feel that he/she is not good enough for your best friend.
  • You feel that he/she mistreats your best friend.
  • Your best friend might complain about him/her to you.

3. You may feel left out or envious.

  • You might not have an SO yourself, and wish you did.
  • You feel like your friend no longer has time for you due to the relationship.

By understanding why you don’t like your best friend’s SO, you can learn to tackle the problem head-on. It will help you determine whether your dislike is warranted. For example, if you are genuinely concerned for your best friend’s well-being in a potentially abusive relationship, that’s a different matter entirely. You should always look out for your best friend. Pull her aside sometime and talk to her about the situation—if she admits that she’s being abused, encourage her to leave the relationship and seek out help from the appropriate authorities if necessary.

Additionally, maybe you simply feel jealous. It’s easy to feel left out when your best friend, who usually spends her weekends with you, is now fawning over her new boyfriend–  especially when you don’t have an SO of your own. Focus on yourself if that’s the case, and maybe even head out on a date or two. Who knows, you might be double-dating with your BFF soon enough! Follow the steps below to start moving past your dislike of your friend’s SO.

2. Get to know your best friend’s SO

Even if you can’t stand the sight of him or her, get past your initial hatred and try to get to know them. They might be a nice person inside—and that’s what your best friend fell in love with. Plan some time to hang out with them either alone or with a group of friends. If you only see them when they’re with your best friend, you may dislike them purely because of feeling like a 'third wheel.'

Jasbina Ahluwalia gives you a great idea to approach a mutual understanding. “Try a counter-intuitive gesture of kindness towards him or her, and see if your feelings start to take a turn in a positive direction,” she says. “Why would that happen? Your kind gesture creates cognitive dissonance—which your mind might try to resolve by finding reasons to like him. Also, ask your friend to share with you all the good things about her boyfriend—there may be a side of him that you’re not seeing.”

If your best friend’s SO is a private person, they might come off as unlikeable from the outset. Take time to get to know him or her so you don’t come to any conclusions too fast. They might actually be a great person for your best friend. On the other hand, if her SO is outright rude to you, something’s up. Talk to your best friend about the situation and let her know you’re not comfortable around him. This is a case-by-case scenario, so work out a plan with your BFF that’ll lighten the relationship between you and her SO.

Related: Is Dating a Friend Worth the Risk?

3. Remember that your friend’s happiness is most important

Even if you still don’t see why your best friend is dating him or her, you should let your concerns go if you see that your friend is truly happy. In the end, that’s what matters more than anything. Maybe her eyes sparkle when she sees a text from her SO, or you see her light up when her SO comes into view. While it’s great to look out for your friend, there’s a point when you need to realize that ultimately, her happiness is your happiness.

If your best friend’s SO still bothers you immensely, give your friend some space. Respect that her SO makes her happy, and be happy for her in turn–  just take a break and hang out with some other friends in the meantime. You don’t have to force yourself to spend time with them. After a while, the honeymoon period of their relationship will cool down, and by then you’ll probably feel comfortable with hanging out more often again.

However, it’s a different situation entirely if you know that your friend’s SO hasn’t been treating her right. Maybe you’ve heard some gossip that she doesn’t know about, or you’ve seen a few suspicious text messages on his or her phone. If you have reason to think that the SO might eventually hurt your best friend, don’t stand by. Find out more, and if you have reasonable cause, let your best friend know that something’s up. It might save her a lot of heartbreak in the future.

4. Preserve your friendship

All too often, friendships crumble amid the whirlwind of a new relationship–  especially when dislike of an SO comes into play. While you want to give your friend some space, be careful not to let your friendship fizzle out.

Jodi R. R. Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, gives you tips on how to maintain contact during this tricky situation. “First, give her some space especially at the beginning of the relationship,” she says. “Once the newness normalizes, schedule some girl-time. Second, never make her feel like she needs to choose between you and her SO. Make sure she knows that even though you are not spending as much time together, you are always there for her.”

It can be hard to make a friendship work when a new SO comes into the mix, but make an effort to reach out to your friend and things will be all right. Everyone needs time away from their SO, even your seemingly-obsessed best friend. Good luck, collegiettes!