Being in a relationship, even a healthy one, comes with its share of challenges. You will find yourself making compromises, exploring each other’s interests, and doing a fair bit of give-and-take, especially in those early days, to make things work. It might be tough but, as I’ve discussed with clients in counseling, the payoff can make it all worth it — until people outside of your happy bubble start to object. The opposition can make everything seem even more difficult.
If your significant other has been on the receiving end of some shade from your inner circle, it can really put a damper on things. Here’s some tips for how to deal when your friends don’t like your man.
Thank them for caring about you
First and foremost, if they are your friends, there’s a decent chance that they are good people with (hopefully) good intentions. For that reason, you should give them the benefit of the doubt and thank them for being concerned about your happiness.
It might be difficult to do, depending on how rude their comments have been, but showing gratitude for their friendship will help any discussion get off to a good start.
Pro tip: If you’ve been ignoring their jabs but can’t take it anymore, say something like “I feel so lucky to have a friend watching my back. Can we discuss your comments in more detail?” They might be surprised by your positive approach which can deter defensiveness.
Listen to what they have to say
Once you’ve opened the door for them to share their opinion, things could get pretty tough. The thing is, though, that they might have information or insight that you need to know so it’s worth investing the time in this conversation.
With this in mind, make it clear that you don’t want to hear any ongoing complaints but you want to give them this one opportunity to speak their mind — then listen with an open heart. You might be surprised by some of the things that come out of their mouth.
Pro tip: If you are struggling to get on the same page, ask them to describe what kind of partner they have envisioned for you. It might give you some clarity in terms of how your expectations differ from theirs.
Address any jealousy issues
If you’ve been single a while, your friends may have gotten used to having you all to themselves. When your availability suddenly changes because you are spending time with a new man, resentment can start brewing.
On top of that, if your friends are not happy in their own relationships or are currently doing the solo thing, they may even be a little jealous of your current situation. Deep down, you’ll know if this is the case, even if you don’t want to admit it.
Pro tip: Be honest without yourself and determine whether you’ve been neglecting your friendships. If so, apologize, acknowledge the situation, and make plans to catch up with your squad!
Consider any concerns they might have
If you’ve done some catching up and have dedicated time to listening to what your friends have to say, there’s a good chance that they’ve given you some food for thought.
While you probably had some reactions as you first heard their comments, it’s better to take some time to digest and process what you’ve heard before coming to any conclusions. After all, they could have some valid points, which could lead to some changes in your relationship.
Pro tip: Make sure you ask for clarification from your friends or your man, if you need to. There’s nothing wrong with mulling things over and admitting that things need to improve.
Reassure them of your happiness
You don’t owe anyone any explanations about the choices you make as long as you aren’t negatively affecting someone else’s life. Still, if your friends are worried about you, a little reassurance can go a long way.
After showing appreciation for their loyalty and listening to their concerns, you may want to let them know that you are happy (as long as you are, of course!). Again, you don’t have to go into any specifics or details but it may help them accept your relationship if they know you’re satisfied with how things are going.
Pro tip: Don’t get sucked into the trap of feeling like you have to justify your love life or hide problems you might be having. A real friend would want to know the truth.
Ask for their support
It’s not always possible, or practical, but most of us would agree that things are so much easier in life when we have the support of those around us — and there’s nothing wrong with asking for it.
It might be worth discussing this with your friends along with a request that they trust your decisions and support you in your pursuit of happiness. Let them know how much it means to have them in your life and see if things improve.
Pro tip: If you face resistance, remind your friends that they don’t have to like your man in order to be in your corner… right?
Set boundaries — and stick to them
Once you’ve talked to your friends about the situation, you will have to make some changes moving forward in order to save your own sanity and, potentially, your relationships.
Sit and consider all of the instances when your friends have made their dislike for your man known and then decide what you can and cannot live with. Once your boundaries are clear in your own mind, share this with your inner circle.
Pro tip: Again, make it clear that you have heard and considered their objections so, unless something new and major happens, you really need them to respect the limits you are setting on that topic.
Try to bridge the gap
If you really want to try to bring your man and your friends closer together, you could try to come up with some activities that everyone will enjoy. Sometimes, much like team-building at work, just doing something fun with someone you don’t know or don’t like can improve things.
This could, of course, backfire so use your best judgment. If you don’t think it will work, skip it but if there is some way to bridge the gap, it will probably make your life a lot easier.
Pro tip: Pick something light that doesn’t require heavy conversation like an outdoor activity, movie, or bowling. If it goes well, try something more interactive the next time!
Shake off the haters
If your friends continue to trash talk your man, you will have to make some sort of decision. After all, you will become very resentful of them for disrespecting your relationship and, in all likelihood, this will just make you avoid them all together.
Take a proactive approach and remove any toxic people from your life. If you’ve been fair and reasonable and they ignore your boundaries and continue to be negative, they may not be a real friend anyway.
Pro tip: The first time your friend crosses the line, talk to them about their behavior and explain that you will need to distance yourself from them if they keep doing it. If it keeps happening, follow through on what you said you would do.
Commit to your relationship
At the end of the day, if you are happy with your partner, that’s all that matters. No one else needs to understand or approve of your unique dynamic. As the saying goes, “haters gonna hate” so you don’t want to waste a ton of time and energy on negativity if you know that things are good in your relationship.
Never let your man feel threatened or attacked by your friends and don’t let him fight those battles. These are your friends and, while he’s probably more than capable of defending himself, it’s up to you to handle any awkwardness.
Set your boundaries, make your peace, and commit to your own happiness. Your sanity (and man) will thank you for it!