It happens to everyone, eventually. You’re out with your friend and her new man, sitting across the table from them like a little girl out to dinner with your parents. The guy she’s seeing is nice enough, always kind to your friend, and pleasant to you, but you can’t help but shake a feeling of deep-rooted dislike. Her new man is nice, he’s kind, he’s always polite, but you don’t find yourself clicking. No matter, you tell yourself. I’m not the one dating him, she is. Who says I have to like him?
The conversation at dinner only serves to confirm your nagging suspicion. While covering a variety of topics, from Lena Dunham to football to the general unlikeability of Taylor Swift, you find yourself up against a wall with this guy every time. Whatever opinion you might have on any of the above topics is met with an assured rebuttal from your friend’s new man. In fact, the entire evening leaves you with a sour taste in your mouth, and subsequent group hangs fill you with certainty that you’re completely unable to make a connection with this person, and even worse — you really don’t want to. How could this be? How could I dislike someone my friend, whom I love dearly, so clearly likes? Before you let your feelings solidify into a mass of hatred, heed these six steps:
1.Assess the situation. How bad is it, really? To parse out the reasons you’re feeling a certain way require you to be honest with yourself in a way that’s not alway pleasant, and could paint you in a light that’s less than flattering. It’s time to get to the root of why you’re feeling this way. Are you just being judgey because you don’t think this person is good enough for your friend? Maybe you’re feeling weird because your friend has decamped to Relationship Island for the time being, and you’re fearful that this is the end of your time together. Or, maybe the person in question really is an asshole. Whatever the reason is, make sure that you have empirical evidence, just in case you ever decide to bring it up. Separate the facts from your emotions, and you’ll be in the clear.
2. Find a way to make peace. It’s hard to tell yourself that you have to deal with someone you don’t like very much, because nobody enjoys doing things that they don’t want to do. One thing that nobody tells you about getting older, is that adulthood is a series of daily compromises. We must find ways to make peace with that which doesn’t please us. A friend’s boyfriend who you always end up fighting with over the stupidest of things is a headache that you don’t have to deal with. Staunch your desire to pick a fight, and just let it go. The small things aren’t worth your time.
3. Search for common ground. You and this person have one thing in common, and it’s the friend they are dating. Surely there must be some common ground between you two, so put on your big girl panties and figure it out. Maybe you guys both like football, or Breaking Bad, or both harbor a secret passion for musicals. Maybe you’ve never met anyone else who has actually finished “An Infinite Jest”, and this person — your best friend’s boyfriend —is it! These are all marvelous discoveries, and serve nicely to prove that the boyfriend is not actually a monster. Sure, you disagree on almost everything else, but if there’s even an inch of common ground to stand on, find it and take it. A word to the wise — the temptation to bond with this person about say, that annoying thing your friend does that you really don’t like is tempting but ultimately not the move.
4. Remind your friend that you’re still friends. If you’ve assessed the situation in full, and realize that the reason you’re not into their boyfriend is because they’ve stopped acting as a person and have instead morphed into the other half of a couple who cannot be apart from their partner, be honest with your feelings. It’s perfectly okay to tell your friend that you want to spend time with them alone. It feels strange and selfish to do this, but your friend — if they’re a good one — will understand. Friendship doesn’t have to go to the wayside once a relationship enters the situation.
5. Don’t put yourself in situations you don’t want to be in. There is no rule that says you have to be the third wheel! If a night out with your friend and her new boo leaves you grumpy and feeling unwanted, simply don’t participate. This isn’t to say that you should shun your friends the minute they get into relationships, but realize that a lot of the reason you might not like the person they’re dating is because you’re uncomfortable with that person as a concept, not as the actual human being they are. I’m not saying avoid all social situations with your coupled friends, but if you feel like you’d be uncomfortable in a situation, and could possibly interpret that discomfort into misplaced feelings of dislike against your friend’s partner, do your best to avoid them. It will be better for everyone in the end.
6. Make peace with the fact that you two might not get along. My good friend has a saying that she has invoked to me during many a late night conversation about the relative likeability of the people our friends date: “It’s not my coat.” That person your friend chooses to date isn’t someone that you’ve chosen to date, so naturally, it would make sense that they you two might not get along. That coat that your friend is wearing, the leopard print one with the fake fur collar and the zebra trim is a lovely coat, it’s a fine coat, and it fits your friend like a glove. By all means, that coat is meant for her. If you were to wear that coat? You’d look like a lunatic. You’ll happily stick to your peacoat. It suits you just fine, and you don’t want something else. Acknowledge the fact that there are tons of people on this planet, and there is coat for everybody — but not every coat has to be for you. Make peace with this concept, and you will be better off.
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