Dear Darling D,
I’ve been dating my boyfriend for almost a year, and I recently learned that my friends don’t like him. I am blindsided by this and don’t know what to do. I really like him, and of course I love my friends. We’ve been friends since middle school. How am I supposed to hang out with everyone knowing people don’t like who I’m with?
JoAnne, Boyfriend SOS
Girl, I have been there. I once dated someone for two years and found out only after I broke up with him that my friends quite despised him. When the combined worlds of friendship and romance don’t blend as seamlessly as we’d like, it can bring up some sadness, doubt, and indecision. But I’m here for you!
I don’t think there’s a right and wrong way to handle this, outside of telling your friends they’re a bunch of jerks and never speaking to them again…I definitely think that’s the wrong way to go about it. But here’s a little guide I recommend for how to handle the situation and keep both your friendship and your relationship intact.
Hear your friends out
Sometimes the truth is not easy to hear. And whatever their reasons, not liking him is THEIR truth. It may not be yours, but as a friend you should hear their concerns. Find out why they don’t like him, if nothing more than to let their voices be heard.
Think about your relationship
Once you’ve listened, decide if anything they’ve brought up has any merit. Are they concerned he is mean to you, takes advantage of you or lies to you? If so, is any of that true that you haven’t seen until now? That could be cause for concern. Or do they think he’s too cocky, not like his sense of humor or think he’s annoying? Those things are more about how they feel about him, not how you feel about him. You might like his sense of humor even if it doesn’t jive with your friends’ style.
Acknowledge and/or challenge their thoughts
Thank your friends for their honesty. It’s not easy being honest when the truth is hard sometimes (hence my friends not telling me how they felt until after we broke up) so acknowledging it is nice. If any points they raised caused you to see a red flag, tell them you notice what they see and you will pay attention to it moving forward. If there is anything to challenge, respond to them in a non-defensive manner. Challenge the idea that they think he is annoying but you he doesn’t annoy you. Ask them to be respectful of whatever you choose at the moment, and of your boyfriend – directly rude behavior is not a way to earn your respect as your friend.
Try to find common ground between your S.O. and your friends
All hope is not lost! Your man and your gal pals may not be the best of friends, but they still might agree that Khalid is the best musician out there. If there is common ground between the sides, look for it and bring awareness to it. It may help your friends be more accepting of your boyfriend when you guys are hanging out. Or maybe you decide to only hang out when there are situations where there is common ground or more people so both sides are comfortable.
Make time for both sides
Regardless of common ground, be conscious of the time you make for hanging out and staying connected to both your boyfriend and your friends. Your friends’ concerns may be more out of jealousy or sadness that you spend all your time with him. You don’t want to isolate yourself from either group, since your boyfriend means a lot to you and your friends mean a lot to you. Set boundaries – when you’re with your friends, ask your boyfriend to be respectful and not text all the time. When you’re with your boyfriend, ask the same of your friends.
Not everyone in the world gets along, and that’s the truth. But hopefully you’re able to talk to your friends and get to a point that leaves your heart happy with your boo and your friends happy too!