After my last post, I feel like I need to address the (potentially) more serious flip side of that scenario: what to do when your friends don’t like your partner. My best friend wasn’t the biggest fan of my long-term partner for years, and it really upset me. So how did I get her to see what I saw? All it took was some good old fashioned bonding time.
My best friend, let’s call her ‘Amy’, is very liberal – she is very artsy and emotionally in touch, and has strong beliefs about feminism, privilege, fat-phobia and a number of other controversial issues that she is extremely vocal about. I love that about her, but it also means that, at times, she gets very heated in conversations and won’t let things go. My partner is a textbook “lad” – rugby star, handsome, loves his bro time; he is fairly liberal but isn’t great with emotional intelligence, though his academic intelligence is remarkable (seriously, he is currently doing his masters degree at one of the top universities in the world, the guy is a genius). Both very kind and wonderful people, and very intelligent and vocal in different ways; however, they don’t see eye to eye on a great number of issues, and it shows.
Amy has never liked my partner. He wasn’t very kind or loving towards me at the start of our relationship, and I came crying to her every time he hurt me. I very rarely reported on the good stuff, as is often the issue with the people you vent to. As such, she developed a very tainted view of who is he, and that has been a really tough thing to shake. The only way I have been able to get them over it, is to truly force them to get to know each other; and believe me, a couple of dinners isn’t going to cut it. You need to get them in a situation where they have time to really chat properly, and get in touch on a deeper level – for me, it was taking them both on a five hour hike. I truly couldn’t recommend this more highly. At first it was a bit awkward and conversation was forced, but after playing a few games and getting into deeper topics, she was able to see a side of him that had never presented itself before. It worked absolutely perfectly. Since then I have invited them both to trivia nights, and their bond has gotten closer – I dare to say they have even become friends.
Now, if you’ve tried everything, and you really can’t get your friend to see any good in your partner, I think it’s important to examine why that is; maybe your friend has some valid points. We are often blind to the ones we love and have trouble seeing their flaws, and your friend’s unbiased view may help you make some important realizations. As in my last post, if after all of this your friend still dislikes your partner, it is fair to say: “I appreciate your honesty. You are both extremely important to me and the last thing in the world that I want is to lose your friendship, so I hope we can find a way to keep the relationships separate so that we can remain close.”. Being up front and clear about your wishes and expectations is key; understand that not everyone is going to get along within your circle, but there should be mutual respect all around.