Your friend has started dating someone she’s thrilled about and she can’t wait for you to meet. You can tell that she’s excited by the way she’s talking him up. She sets up a happy hour so the two of you can finally meet. And you are...underwhelmed. “This is who she’s all starry-eyed about?” you think to yourself. Your friend texts you later that night, asking, “So, what did you think?” How do you respond?
This is obviously a tricky situation. You care about your friend, you want the very best for her, and you want to be supportive of her. You also don’t want to lie to her about how you feel, especially if you’ve met her boyfriend a couple of times and still haven’t warmed up to him.
Here are some things to consider if you find yourself in this situation:
Are there any red flags?
If you notice that your friend’s new boyfriend has some concerning qualities such as being mean, manipulative (emotionally, physically, financially), or deceptive, these are very much red flags in any relationship.
If you notice these qualities, bringing them up to your friend in a compassionate way is an important way of honoring the friendship you have with her. As friends, you watch out for and take care of each other. Letting your friend know what you’ve observed is a way that you can do that.
Some things to consider when bringing up your observations to your friend include setting aside a specific time to talk to her about it one on one, sharing your concerns from the perspective of your care for her, and asking if she observed any of the same qualities. Your friend may be defensive, or she may be open to your feedback. Either way, being compassionate and prioritizing your friendship are key if you observe any red flags.
Are there personality differences?
If your friend is dating someone whose personality clashes with yours, it’s understandable that he might not be your favorite person to spend time with. The two of you might be like oil and water. But if your friend is serious about this guy, you might have to learn to like (or at least tolerate) being around him for the sake of your friendship.
To help with this, think about what qualities your friend appreciates and values in her boyfriend. Can you see these same qualities in him and see why they mean so much to your friend? For example, maybe you see his romantic gestures as over the top and annoying, but if your friend’s love language is gift-giving, these gestures might mean the world to her. Try to see her boyfriend from her perspective and you might start to appreciate him more, even if he never becomes your favorite person in the world.
Are you getting in your own way?
Though it might be a tough pill to swallow, some of your dislike could be coming from some of your own internal struggles, rather than directly from your friend’s boyfriend. For example, are you feeling jealous that your friend is in a relationship she is excited about? Or are you perhaps feeling replaced or left out?
Maybe you feel like you are competing for your friend’s time and attention that you used to take for granted. It’s very common for something like this to crop up whenever the relationship status quo in your life changes.
Taking an honest look at your own inner experience can help you better understand why your personal struggles might be manifesting as a dislike of your friend’s significant other. It will deepen your own self-knowledge and improve your relationships all around. It can be hard work, but it is definitely worth it!
The reality is that not everyone in our life will get along with everyone else. Navigating these personality differences (or even clashes) is part of both lasting friendships and starting a new relationship. The good news is that we can choose to prioritize compassion and genuine care for our loved ones as we do so.