In an ideal world, your best friends and your bae would get along swimmingly. Regular double dates and group hangs are A Thing in your ultimate fantasy. But if you've tried to plan hang-outs with your friends and your partner, and it never feels right, you might be wondering whether or not your friends even like your partner. Even more concerning is, why? Do they see something in them that you don't? This can be super disheartening. You're pumped about your relationship, and it sucks that your friends aren't integrating your partner into your group as seamlessly as you hoped. But if joint gatherings are a nightmare and the animosity is stressing you TF out, it might be time to take action.
I talked to Dr. Andrea Bonior, a licensed clinical psychologist, about how to approach an emotional tug-of-war like this one. If you can't quite put your finger on what's "off" between your friends and your partner, here are three cues that pretty much prove the tension is not just in your head, and suggestions on how you can — fingers crossed — smooth out the kinks of this icky situation. (Because no one should have to pick between their friends and their partner.)
1. Your Friends' Jokes Hit A Little Too Close To Home
According to Bonior, one sign your friends don't like your partner is if they "make 'jokes' that aren't really jokes, and that are critical of your partner." That's to say, your friends' bold observations about your partner's hair, or major, or job choice feel more mean-spirited than anything. Messages that are followed up with "JK" still don't feel like your friends were just kidding.
2. It Feels Like Your Friends Couldn't Care Less
Typically, your friends will want to know all the juicy details if you tell them you're seeing someone. Your group chat will flood with supportive (inquisitive) messages like: "OMG, what's their name?" "How did you guys meet?" and "What do they do for work?" Or maybe, your friends have been by your side from the first meet-cute and just want updates on your wonderful relationship saga. They'll pop in with questions like, "So, are they a good kisser?" "When are you going to introduce them to your parents?" and "Do you think you could see a future with them?"
But if your friends have been awfully quiet since you brought up or introduced them to your new bae, take note. According to Bonior, another sign your friends don't like your partner is when "they don't show any effort to get to know or ask questions about [them]."
3. It Seems Like They'd Rather Do Anything Else Than Interact With Your Partner
If game night at your place is like a ghost town these days, or a friend seems perpetually irritated at your partner's presence, take note. If "[your friends] avoid spending time with your partner at all costs," Bonior says they probably don't really gel well with your SO. "This can all manifest in a sense of awkwardness in conversation, cancelled plans, pettiness and resentment."
On top of their shady jokes and radio silence, if they're constantly flaking on your This Is Us watch parties or getting "busy" as soon as they hear bae wants to hang at happy hour, it's time to sit your friends down for a conversation.
(Gently) Confront Your Friends About Their Shadiness
When you approach this conversation with your friend(s), understand that there's a multitude of reasons why they could dislike your partner that you might not have a clue about. Maybe their subtweets and snarky comments are coming from a place of jealousy or frustration because they feel like you've put them on the back-burner. Perhaps your partner constantly interrupts them in conversation, but you haven't noticed because you're so in love. Maybe your partner has been rude to them before, or the way you describe your their explosive temper makes your friends nervous.
On the flip side, if your partner's an introvert and your friends are all extroverts, they could simply just not vibe well. The possibilities are endless, and you won't know the truth until you talk to them about it. "Pick a private and relaxed time to speak with them. Don't make it an ambush," Bonior says. "And be prepared to do more listening than talking."
Bonior also says to avoid sounding accusatory. If you say something to the effect of, "It's clear you guys hate my girlfriend and it's so unfair. Why don't you give them a chance?" it might not go over well. Instead, Bonior suggests trying something to the effect of:
I'm getting the vibe that you're not a fan of my partner. I'm not sure if you just don't know them well enough yet, or if there's something deeper going on. I really respect your opinion and our friendship, so I want to hear your thoughts. Can we talk about this?
"Be open, curious, and respectful," says Bonior.
Talk To Your SO, Too
And because your friends' complaints might have some validity, talk to your partner if it's appropriate. If the main conflict is just a personality clash, it's probably not necessary to have a sit-down conversation.
If there's a bigger issue at hand, Bonior's main tip is to decide what you want to accomplish in talking to your SO. For example, say your partner is disrespectful to your friends whenever you all hang out. "If your friends are upset about behavior that your partner can and should change, then that should be the goal: to sensitively help your partner understand that their behavior is frustrating to your friends," Bonior says.
Will Your Relationship Be Unsuccessful If Your Friends Hate Your Partner?
If your friends are your ride-or-dies and you've got a feeling the person you're dating is "the one" (or close to it), you might be feeling overwhelmed by the tension. Birthdays, weddings, funerals, holiday celebrations, and all manner of family functions now might seem like stages set for drama.
If you talk to your SO and they're receptive to changing their behavior, the problem's solved. Likewise, Bonior says, "[If your friends] don't click with your partner because of personality types that don't particularly mesh well, the outlook is more optimistic." At least this way, they can attempt to co-exist because they know it's important to you.
But if there's more to the issue at hand, take your friends' opinions into consideration and figure out how to proceed from there. Your friends don't have to date your partner, but most of the time, good friends will have your best interests at heart.
So no. Your relationship isn't doomed because your friends and your bae don't get along. Will it be a little more difficult to hang in a group? Maybe, but ultimately, you can't control how other people feel or think. You can, however, decide how you can split your time (if that's what you want) so you can equally balance all the special relationships in your life.