You’ve heard the story; you’re in a relationship with a man you really like, apart from one thing – his friends SUCK. They don’t make an effort, make you uncomfortable with their insensitive talk about your boyfriend’s past endeavours, and generally make you feel like you’re not there with their gross ‘laddy banter’. You almost wish they didn’t exist.
But they’re your boyfriend’s friends, you start to reason. They must have something nice about them for him to keep them so close. But the more you persevere, the clearer it becomes that they’re just, not, interested.
Recognise this situation? Unfortunately it’s pretty common, so we spoke to relationships coach Sam Owen for a bit of advice on how to tackle something like this without having to sacrifice everything that’s good about your relationship. Here’s what she suggests:
1. Don’t ignore the issue
Why? Because – as inconvenient as this situation is – his friends are important. “Romantic relationships are about complementing each other’s lives,” Sam says. “Partners who can seamlessly fit in help ensure happiness and solidarity.”
And if it comes across as if you’re not trying, there’s every chance thiscould have an effect on the future of your relationship. “Worst case scenario if they are very close friends, is that he may take it as a sign – if his friends don’t like her, there might be a good reason for it.”
2. Be honest
As with most things, it’s best to tell the truth – even if you feel stupid saying it out loud. According to Sam, “it’s always good to communicate your feelings with your partner, because otherwise negativity, problems and bitterness could fester.”
Especially if you feel like his behaviour changes around his friends. “Tell him you notice he’s different around them and ask him why that might be. He may not even realise he is, and by exploring the topic with him in a non-confrontational way, you might get him to introspect more and this could lead to a positive change.”
3. But be sensitive
It’s probably not the nicest thing for a man to hear, that his girlfriend ‘doesn’t like’ his friends. So think about it. As Sam says: “It’s about how you approach the conversation. Talk about your concerns and feelings and then see how he responds, rather than making argumentative statements and launching accusations at him.”
4. Ask yourself: are you jealous?
It’s one of the hardest things to do, but make sure you’ve been honest with yourself about whether your jealousy of his friendships could be preventing you making bonds with those all-important people.
It’s completely normal, and can happen particularly with female friends that you’re subconsciously feeling threatened by. “Get to know the female friend,” Sam suggests. “Often what we fear about this sort of situation is the unknown, and our imagination can run wild. By putting a real personality to the friend, you can usually allay a lot of those fears.”
And don’t worry – you don’t have to start taking her on shopping trips or inviting her for sleepovers. “It can be a good idea to spend time together with your partner present so that you can bond with their female friend and get a real sense of their friendship and just how platonic it is.”
5. Make an effort
Yep, it might be a case of grinning-and-bearing it while you give it one last shot. Sam suggests planning an activity to break the ice, creating your own joint experiences, might be just what you need to move forward harmoniously.
“Organise a fun physical activity to do together that you know everyone will enjoy, something that can help you to bond. Alternatively, offer to cook a meal for them and invite them over for an evening of fun,” says Sam. Well they do say the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach…
6. Look out for red flags
It’s one thing not feeling included or welcomed by your boyfriend’s friends, to a point where you feel uncomfortable. But if it seems like he doesn’t want to facilitate any relationship between you and them, by not inviting you along to anything – consider that this might be a warning.
Sam suggests this “could be cause for concern. You should be allowed to see for yourselves whether you get on together;” it shouldn’t be left to him to decide that you won’t.”
Source: Cosmopolitan UK