I’ve been seeing someone new for a few months. It started casual and we made it exclusive last month. That sounds really exciting and I am super excited, but there’s one big problem: My friends really don’t like my new partner. She’s an introvert so she definitely isn’t the life of the party, and she’s got a specific sense of humor that’s different from my friends. She doesn’t really fit in with them, which I see, but I’m not sure why their reaction is so negative. It is really clear from things they have said to me, like asking if I’m bringing her to a party or changing the conversation topic when she comes up, that they have made up their minds against her. I feel pressured to choose between hanging out with them and being with my new partner. There’s a part of my brain that wonders if they are right about her and there is something negative that I’m blind to from excitement about the relationship. I want my friends to like and welcome my partner into our circle but I just feel defeated.
I’m sorry you feel caught between your pals and your new partner. That’s not a fun place to be.
I’m sure you’ve heard the idea that if all your friends dislike your partner, it’s a red flag. And it is! Your friends know and love you and they have a long history of looking out for you — a history that includes helping you get over bad breakups. They are often critical about who you’re dating out of your supposed best interests.
In this case, you’ve only been with your partner for a couple months, and exclusive for one. While it is possible you’re blinded by love to the fact that your girl is a hot mess who’s out to sabotage your life in some way that only your gal pals can see, it’s not likely.
Still, if you like, sit and think over your relationship so far. Are there any red flags? Is your girlfriend controlling of where you and who you spend time with? Does she get jealous when you go out without her? Is she trying to isolate you from your friends, or does she badmouth them? If the answer to any of these questions is yes (or maybe, or sometimes), then your pals could be on to something.
The likelier scenario, though, is that your friends are jealous. If they’re all single and you’re coupled now, they could unconsciously resent your changed status. They might worry that you’ll look down on them from your coupled perch, or that you’ll leave them behind (and have you been blowing off your pals for your girl with flimsy excuses?).
Your friends are reacting to your new relationship in an immature way (assuming they aren’t right about the red flags). Your best course of action is to model the behavior you want to see. Don’t get angry. Don’t shut your friends out. Do communicate clearly, let them know you’re happy with your partner, and also make sure they know how much you value their friendship. Ultimately, as your friends adjust to the fact that your girlfriend isn’t going away, get to know her better, see how well she treats you, and find common ground, things will get better. Your pals don’t need to love your girlfriend the way you do, but they should be nice to her.
It could put your mind at ease to give your pals a chance to explain their behavior. So ask your friends why they don’t like your partner. Do this in a group hang or talk to one or two trusted, close friends alone.
Try to hear them out with an open mind and stay calm instead of defending your partner. Is there a grain of truth to what they’re saying? Let your friends know that you love and value them, you are happy with your new partner, and you really want them to be openminded. They may give her another chance.
When your friends and girlfriend are together, everyone should be respectful. If that’s not happening or if getting everyone together makes you too anxious, then you will probably need to keep these tribes separate if only for your comfort and sanity — at least in the short term. Go out with your pals once a month/week/whatever works for you, spend quality time with your girlfriend, and be firm in your expectation that everyone act like an adult.
It may take a while but when your friends see your partner is not going anywhere — and when they see how much she cares about you — they should mellow out.
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