In an ideal dream world, when we fall for somebody, our friends and family become just as enamored with our significant others as we have, and we all ride off into the sunset together and live happily ever after in our love’s immortality.
Um… maybe not.
Romantic relationships can be a whirlwind of excitement and fireworks, but what happens when your family and friends just don’t dig him the same way you do? You can probably tell that I personally have been there and (spoiler alert!) didn’t handle it well.
In college, I dated a man several years older than I was and quickly became blinded by his flawless jawline and vintage guitar collection and, like, ability to abstain from actual employment. His lifestyle was nomadic and constantly changing, which brought excitement to my predictable school and work schedule. Our relationship moved quickly – so quickly that I decided to bring him with me to get drinks with my girlfriends a few days after we met, eager to show off my new catch and hear their feedback.
Things were going great, except for one glaring issue: my friends didn’t like him. At all. Throughout our night, he told jokes that fell flat with them; their expressions were beige, unimpressed, and the unavoidable awkwardness led to our night ending at 9:15 and me having my first ugly-cry in front of Mr. Flawless Jawline.
The following morning, I received a concerned email from one of my girlfriends that simply stated, “Yeah, we weren’t diggin’ James. We think you can do better.” She voiced her issue with his chronic unemployment, his apparent disinterest in seeing me exclusively, and how he was potentially just using my apartment as a place to crash.
So, I did what any emotionally refined woman would do and decided my friends were a huge problem and out to get me and mad jealous and like, eight other things that prove I was a terrible person at the time. Why couldn’t they see how cool he was? Doesn’t my happiness matter to them? They just didn’t know him the way I did. Over the next several months, our relationship was flourishing, but due to the rising tension I felt between James and my friends, I had to distinguish time with just him, and time with just them. They rarely asked me about him, and over time took note of and raised questions about his erratic behavior and how it made me feel.
It can be hard hearing this opinion from someone you love and trust, and I think a few of us have been there before and didn’t know what to say or do. Here’s what I wish I had done, and what you can do too if you find yourself in that sitch.
Ask about your friends’ specific concerns?
If you truly trust your friends, hear them out. It’s okay if your friends don’t necessarily like your partner’s sense of humor or style choices right off the bat. But there is a difference between your friends not vibing with someone’s personality and them alerting you to some potentially negative and/or harmful qualities. Have your friends ever accused your partner of being manipulative? Do they think you become a different person when you’re around your partner? Do you often have to choose between the two? Our friends and family don’t have the same love blinders on as we do. If more than one of your close friends or family members has brought any of these issues up, hear them out. Chances are, it’s worth taking their opinions into consideration.
Consider the source
Does Sally from three cubicles down dislike your boyfriend because she got a bad vibe about him in the two sentences you’ve ever muttered to her? If all you and Sally ever share is a copy machine and water cooler, you don’t have to listen to what she thinks. Similarly, if your family has deeply rooted issues and frequent turbulence, you might not trust their opinions or thoughts on who you’ve chosen to date, and that’s OK! Or maybe you have that one well-meaning acquaintance who you love grabbing coffee with, but your bond is completely surface-level. We can’t please everybody all the time, and it’s up to you to decide if that person’s unsolicited advice is worth taking. However, if you trust and have a close relationship with your family and friends and Sally from three cubicles down, they probably have your best interests at heart.
Keep patterns in mind
When I was dating James, he had this charming little habit of telling me he would attend events with me, and then canceling at the very last minute. When my friends pointed this out to me, I didn’t want to hear it. After all, his excuses seemed totally reasonable at the time. One day, it clicked for me: we would be invited to a party, he would bail, my friends would point out his obvious rudeness, I’d get upset with them, and retreat back into only hanging out with James and whatever couch he was sleeping on that week. At the time, I was too naïve to recognize this as a dysfunctional pattern, and it was even worse that I blamed my friends instead of looking at this behavior objectively. Patterns, by definition, repeat themselves. If your loved ones are calling out patterns, pay attention. Are they something you want to live with long-term?
Are there ulterior motives involved?
Sure, we love our friends because they have our backs and make sure that no one messes with us. But ask yourself if there might be an underlying issue first. Maybe you’ve been spending a lot of time with your beau, and your friends just miss you! Or maybe their own love lives are experiencing a bit of a dry spell, and they are feelin’ kinda lonely. Alternatively, maybe you’ve made some questionable dating choices in the past – there’s gotta be at least one ex out there whose name makes your entire crew shudder. It’s possible that your friends are trying to protect you from making the same mistakes. Talk it out with your friends. Try and understand where they’re coming from to get a full perspective.
It’s your choice
In the end, life comes down to choices. Only you can decide what’s best for you, and whose opinions are valuable. If you can’t find harmony between your significant other and your friends, try and figure out why. Remember that your emotional well being is a priority, and you deserve to surround yourself with people who not only support your choices, but aren’t afraid to speak up when they think something might be off.
Eventually, James moved all of his stuff out of his mom’s basement, started a new relationship without telling me, and they lived happily ever after. First of all, don’t be jealous of how my fairytale ended, and second of all (and most importantly), I wish I had listened to my friends and family sooner. I’m grateful that they took a chance in telling me, even though I acted sort of inconsiderate. If you find yourself falling into this situation, don’t be afraid to talk it out, and don’t be afraid to be wrong.
Karin Buckery is a 28 year old Millennial girl who recently traded in her nanny life for an office job with health insurance. She enjoys graphic design, playing music, and baking. She is currently living in Ventura with her boyfriend and their 27 dying plants. You can find her on Instagram @buckery.