Lots of folks have been there before: You love your friend, but can’t stand their partner. Why did they choose this person in the first place? You, for one, don’t see anything at all, and you’re simply baffled by the nature of their relationship. But the thing is, they’re not your significant other.
On the other hand, you only want what’s best for your friend, which makes this situation a sticky one. Should you speak up, or keep your mouth shut? It’s likely you’ve already pondered such questions yourself, which is why we’re here to help you find a resolution. Of course, every situation is different, but if you find yourself in this position, here’s how to best handle it.
1. Remember you don’t know the inner workings of the relationship
Like we said, every relationship is different. And unless you’ve been privy to each and every moment a couple has spent together, you don’t really know the inner workings of their relationship. A lot goes into recognizing, creating, and nurturing a romantic connection, and only those directly involved know what makes theirs special and unique. As Elite Daily mentions, “A relationship only involves two people, not every associate or friend these people have.” And we couldn’t agree more; you really never know what goes on behind closed doors.
2. Up your efforts to make them feel welcome
If you’ve been turned off by your friend’s partner’s behavior, perhaps there’s something else going on. Have you ever considered this person might be intimidated or nervous around you and the rest of your friends? This could explain some — but not all — odd behavior on their part.
Perhaps they’re afraid you won’t accept them, especially if the relationship is relatively new. “You can remember that there’s a fine line between acting out of disdain and acting out of massive insecurity,” Lisa Kogan writes on Oprah.com. So, show your friend some love and make an effort to really make their partner feel welcome.
3. Determine what it is you don’t like about them
It’s important you take a long, hard look at what exactly it is you don’t like about this person. According to Glamour, reasons can range from highly superficial to more substantial, so it’s imperative you’re able to separate petty from valid. This is the first step in deciding whether you should convey these thoughts and opinions to your friend, or whether it’s better to keep them to yourself.
4. Know when to keep quiet
As with all things in life, it’s sometimes best to keep quiet. If you’ve already determined your annoyances are nothing more than minor, you’ll be thankful you stayed out of it. “If you start criticizing your friend when they seem really happy and are being treated well, you’ll come off as petty, and they’ll think you’re just jealous,” Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., told Women’s Health. If you can’t stand your friend’s partner because they chew with their mouth open, it’s probably best to let this one slide.
5. Know when to speak up
On the flip side, there are certainly situations that warrant a third party stepping in. If you know your friend’s partner is abusive, or if you even suspect it, now is the time to speak up. If you know your friend, or their partner is cheating, broaching the issue could be a bit more tricky. Don’t worry though, there are steps you can take.
6. Use love and logic with your friend
Love and logic means delivering the truth to someone you care about in a tactful manner. Try to fight the urge to lash out at your friend because you’re upset with their partner’s actions. Maybe your friend, who is also your roommate, lets his or her significant other spend every night of the week at your place without chipping in on bills or house chores. Thrillist says, “Your home is your haven so definitely speak up for yourself, but confront your buddy — NOT [their partner]. Remember: [your friend is] the one allowing [their partner] to do this.” The story also recommends you share your uneasiness and suggest your pal spend the night at their partner’s place every so often.
7. Spend time to get to know them
If you haven’t spent time getting to know your friend’s partner, it’s time to step up to the plate. After all, if you really love your friend, you should give them the benefit of the doubt. As The Cut points out, there’s a reason your friend likes this individual so much, so taking the time to really get to know them might be worth it. Who knows? Your entire opinion of them could be flipped upside down.
8. Spend time one-on-one with your friend
At the same time, it’s also OK to remove yourself from the situation when needed. If the person really bothers you, but you know your friend’s happy, you don’t always have to be around the two of them together. Instead, make plans with your friend, just the two of you. Eventually, your friend will catch on, and will appreciate the fact that you’re not asking them to choose between you and their partner. In fact, they might actually be thankful you’re not putting yourself in situations where you’ll only become annoyed.
9. Reassure your friend that you’re still friends
So, you’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that you’ll never be best friends with this person. But just because the two of you don’t get along doesn’t mean your friendship with your pal has to suffer. The Frisky suggests you remind your friend that you’re not a fair-weather companion, and you’re not going anywhere. You just might be around a little less.
10. Or, realize that your friendship may change
Be prepared for the nature of your friendship to change. In some cases, despite your best efforts to overcome your own personal hang-ups, the friendship simply won’t remain the same. And, if you’re confident you gave it your best shot, then maybe it’s time to come to peace with the reality of the situation. You may need to let this friendship go. CNN says, “A lot of times, friendships simply change or fade away because of that spouse that one of you cannot stand.” Sadly, parting ways may be what’s best for everyone involved.