It’s a totally unpleasant catch-22 when you’ve found someone you really like and are getting serious with, and then come to find that you really don’t vibe with his or her friends. It might comfort you a tiny bit to know that it’s a pretty common scenario. One poll found that a quarter of women dislike their partner’s friends.
Whether it’s because you feel like your partner acts differently around them, parties too much when they’re together, or they just give you bad vibes, it’s not a good feeling. But since your partner has likely known some of these people longer than they’ve been with you, it’s a tough situation. You can’t exactly demand that your S.O. just find an entirely new friend group—but there are some things you can do to manage the situation so that it doesn’t cause a major rift in your relationship.
Below, check out some super-helpful strategies from psychologist and conflict resolution experts to help you cope with this awkward scenario.
Pinpoint What’s Bugging You
Is there something they’ve done to offend you? Do you feel like your S.O. is a different person when with their friends? Or do you dislike them because it takes away from time you could be spending with your mate, asks licensed psychologist, Joy Harden Bradford. “Sometimes there are very valid reasons for disliking friends and other times the reasons we don’t like them have more to do with us than the friends.”
Gently Share Your Concerns
If you feel like your S.O. is someone different when with friends or comes home drunk way too often when spending time with a certain friend, address it with them. “But be sure to talk about the behaviors that concern you and not make it an indictment against the friend. Your S.O. is an adult and is ultimately responsible for their own behavior regardless of their friend circle,” says Bradford.
If you try to coerce your partner to drop certain friends, you’ll likely be met with resentment. The skill is in negotiation, suggests conflict resolution expert, David Waters. Set boundaries with individual or joint friends and how your partner spends time with them. It’s your willingness to accept that these people are important to your partner while limiting your involvement with them that honors both yourself and your partner’s choice of friends.
Don’t Give Ultimatums
Don’t make them choose between you and the friends. “It is fine for you to dislike friends and even to set strong boundaries around spending time with friends you don’t like but your S.O. can still choose to be friends with whomever they choose,” explains Bradford. An ultimatum can result in resentment towards you and possibly them choosing their friends.
Ask Your Partner for Support
If there are certain friends you don’t feel comfortable around or don’t think they like you, suggest that your partner help bridge the gap. The friend(s) could feel jealous that you’re taking up all your partner’s time now and may be a little resentful. While you don’t have to become BFFs with their friends, try having your partner incorporate you into the friend circle.
Avoid Spending Time With Them
If there are specific friends that you always argue with or get on your nerves, it may be best to just avoid them whenever possible. Though you might risk running into them at parties or events, it can be possible to keep the relationship you have with your partner completely separate from the one they have with the friend(s).
See the Silver Lining
Acknowledging that you are different kinds of people who have diverse friends, some of whom you may dislike, will help to keep your relationship alive, says Waters. “How dull it would be to like everyone your partner likes and want to be with them as much as your partner does.”
Keep Things Civil
May be easier said than done, but many times, being diplomatic and dealing with the friend(s) as well as you can may be your best bet. If the reason you don’t like the friend is more about you than the way they are with your partner, you don’t want to start any unnecessary drama. Remember that there are reasons your partner is friends with this person or persons.