Do You Hate His Friends?
Free Troubled Relationship Help - What To Do When You Don't Like His Friends
Dear April Masini,
I just got engaged – and I’ve been spending more time with my new fiance's friends now. Trouble is, I HATE them! Do you have any advice for how I can deal with my boyfriend's friends?"
Signed, Friends For Life
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Friends For Life,
Friends are important indicators of how you feel about yourself, who you go to for counsel and companionship, and how you spend your time. Never get too serious with a date without meeting his or her friends because you will get to see a side of him or her that you don't otherwise. And if he or she doesn’t introduce you to his or her friends, be aware that he’s either hiding you – or them – and something’s up!
Friends As Second Family:
It used to be that people were very, very close with their families, emotionally and geographically, but now that families are spread out all over the country and the world, a person’s friends become a second kind of family, and you should never consider marrying someone without knowing his or her friends the same way you would his or her biological family. When family lives across the country, friends are who you call if you get in a car accident or you need to borrow something immediately. These friends take on an intimacy with you that used to be reserved for family when family lived around the corner and down the block. But now, friends are a kind of second family, and for better or for worse, you will learn a lot about your partner by the kind of friends he or she keeps. And remember -- unlike family, your partner picks his or her friends!
But sometimes, like in your case, you don’t spend much time with your date’s friends – or enough time with them until after you’re engaged - to know how you feel about them. So now, you have to do a balancing act. You have to spend some more time with these friends to make sure that your dislike is well founded – and enough time to figure out that if it is, what you’re going to do about it.
If You Meet His or Her Friends and Don't Like Them:
1. Give it a chance. First impressions and intuition are very important. But do give it a chance before you seal your judgment on these friends. Try getting to know them over the course of six months in different ways: one on one with just you and them, in groups with your partner and the friends, and in groups without your partner. If your date has married or coupled friends, try spending time with just the ones who are your same sex. Sometimes girl talk – or if you’re a guy, locker room talk, can be revealing in ways you hadn’t yet seen.
2. Don't lie. If you don't like one of your partner's friends -- or more than one of them -- be honest with your partner. If you are afraid to tell him or her because you think that if you do, he or she will drop you -- you're not in a good relationship to begin with. This is like a blackmail dynamic, and if you don't deal with it now, you'll find it popping up in other parts of your relationship until you realize you're in a dysfunctional and manipulative relationship.
At the same time, be open enough so that if you do change your mind and you do start to like them, you can go back to your partner and tell him you’ve changed your mind. There has to be room in your relationship for changing one’s mind and making mistakes. The best part of any relationship is the balance between being able to count on constancy and allowing for growth and change.
3. Be graceful in your confessions. If and when you tell your partner you don't like his or her friends, do it diplomatically. "What on earth do you see in that person??" is reserved for cases when his best friend is Charles Manson or some other convicted serial killer. Short of that something like, "I can see what it is you like about so and so -- he is a lot of wild fun." And then ease into. "Sometimes his idea of fun makes me feel insecure about us because..." You owe your partner a thoughtful explanation and discussion on this subject. You wouldn't ever come right out and say, "Your father is really a dolt." Reserve the same respect for his friends. Have your opinions, and express them gracefully and respectfully.
You've Decided To Marry (even though you don’t like his or her friends):
Okay, so you love him and you still hate the friends. But you want to marry no matter what. Then you have a few choices in the way you can handle things to try and make a happy life together. Here are some of them:
1. Grin and bear it. Relationships are about compromise as you shall read in my book, Think & Date Like A Man. Go out to dinner or a movie once a month with him and his friends. Consider it charity. Or a chore. Like doing the dishes. It isn’t the greatest way to spend your time, but it has to be done to make the rest of the day more pleasant. Same with brushing your teeth or getting your hair cut. Don't remind him or her that seeing the friends is charity or a chore. Keep it to yourself. Vent to a friend – one of yours!
2. Cultivate new friends as a couple. One of the coolest things about relationships is the creativity inherent. You can put up a new canvas and start painting a new picture. You can do anything you want to keep it fresh. Do things where you will meet new couples and invite them over or out. This dilutes any friendships your partner has with friends you don't like. Be on the lookout for couples or people you want to have as new friends, and make the effort to invite them to do things with you. This takes work, but can be extremely rewarding.
3. Separate lives. This is not recommended for most couples. Many people in stale marriages live "silent divorces" whereby they are married and co-habitating, except for sex -- which has a tendency to disappear when other times together disappear. The silent marriages can last a lifetime, or they can eventually lead to divorce. It is the very few, sophisticated couples who are able to live Victorian-like separate lives where the men and women do many things separately -- including sleeping (not sex -- sleep).