We spoke to Dr Tony Ortega, a clinical psychologist, dating and relationships expert and author of dating manual #IsHeHereYet, to see if there’s any way to get around your disdain for your BFF’s other half without completely ruining your friendship…
If you dislike your friend’s partner, should you keep quiet about it?
The one thing to remember is that when we’re in a relationship, we can be blinded by our partner's faults. Therefore, no matter what our friends tell us, we may refuse to believe it. Instead, I would challenge you to look at why you don't like them: are they reflecting back some unwanted quality about yourself that you don't like? Are you being a hater because your friend is in a relationship and you are single?
If your dislike is justifiable and objective (for example, other people see it too), you have to look at how harmful it could be to not tell your friend. If it's because they chew with their mouth open, I don’t think your friend is in danger and you can stay quiet. But if you notice some narcissistic and borderline abusive tendencies, then I would speak up.
Is it worth trying to get to know him better?
I don't see why not. There’s been plenty of times in my work with clients where I’ve had an initial impression of someone that, over time, turned out to be incorrect. By taking the time to get to know your friend’s boyfriend, you could see him in a different light, good or bad.
Unless someone’s a full-blown narcissist or sociopath, one encounter with them may not give you sufficient experience to get to an objective assessment of them.
When should you say something?
The main criteria as to when you have to say something to your friend is when your friend's partner is doing things that may put your friend at risk. If it's that the partner is odd or annoying or lacks social skills, maybe a matter of fact statement over drinks at Sunday brunch could be OK.
Just be careful of how you deliver the message, because your friend could get defensive. Remember – they may not be seeing what you are.
How do you approach the subject with your friend?
If you’ve arrived at an objective assessment, I would sit them down and tell them in person, maybe in a public place. I would avoid electronic means of delivering the message as texts and emails can be very misleading and very ineffective forms of communication.
Make it just you and your friend – no one else – unless the situation escalates and an intervention is in order. And use ‘I feel’ statements – this will lower your friend’s defensiveness as they are about to hear something they most likely don't want to hear.
If your friend stays with him for the long term, how can you try to get around your dislike for him?
First of all, you can laugh to yourself and be glad that you’re not the one in a relationship with them. The reality is you are not the one in the relationship: it's your friend's relationship, you only have to be around them during very select times.
Just focus on your friend's happiness and that will make your friendship stronger.