Relationships

Can't get along with your friend's significant other?

Author: Canadian Living

Relationships

Can't get along with your friend's significant other?

Many of us wish our friends would settle down and find the right person. You want them to be happy, but also have someone to bring on double dates with you and your partner so they no longer have to feel like a third wheel. But what happens when your friend meets that special someone and he happens to be a person you can't stand? You need to figure out whether to say something (and how to say it) or whether to bite your tongue. Needless to say, it can be a difficult decision.

To get some more insight, we turned to Rebecca Rosenblat, a relationship therapist and host of "Sex @ 11 with Rebecca" on Rogers TV. She weighed in on the best way to go about tackling this tricky topic, while not only saving face, but keeping your friendship intact as well.

1. Get your facts straight
If you can't stand your friend's significant other, it's important to determine the reasoning behind your dislike. That way, if and when you talk to your friend, you have concrete examples to work with, as opposed to just feelings, Rosenblat explains. She suggests asking yourself what you dislike about them and why. "Who knows, you might just find out that subjective feelings are all you have, in which case, their feelings trump yours."

2. Be gentle
If you do decide to speak up, it's important not to be aggressive or insensitive. Instead, speak to your friend as you would want to be spoken to. "Leave your emotions out of it. Don't attack anyone; just show genuine concern that you can back up with facts," says Rosenblat. The calmer you are the better; otherwise your friend might go into defensive mode and not hear anything you have to say.

3. Practice makes perfect
Before you discuss the issue with your friend, practise saying what you plan to say aloud to yourself first. Broaching the topic will likely be stressful, so rehearsing before you get into the situation can help you maintain a sense of calm, Rosenblat explains. "Thoughts and written words can be very different from how things sound when said out loud," she says, adding that practising first is the key to a smooth conversation.

Page 1 of 2 -- Learn when to back off on conversations about your friend's new partner, and why it could save your friendship, on page 2
4. Manage expectations
One of the most important things to keep in mind if you do discuss your feelings is to avoid expecting your friend to choose sides. Try not to get into a loyalty match. That's not what this is about. "If you're treating it that way, maybe you need to look within yourself to see if it's jealousy and selfishness on your part that's creating a cloudy lens," Rosenblat says.

By making a friend choose between you and her partner, you are putting her in a very difficult position -- and you might lose a great friendship because of it. If you truly want the best for your friend, voice your opinion and accept her reaction for better or for worse.

5. Don't push the issue
If your friend refuses to listen, then you will likely have to drop the subject, rather than continue to push. The situation doesn't have to ruin your friendship if you don't let it. You can politely decline invitations anywhere your friend's partner is going to be.

Rosenblat suggests being honest and saying something like, "I feel a little weird about being around him because of my reservations." Then you can try to arrange other opportunities to get together, although you could be met with resistance. "Don't expect your friend to make special plans with you excluding their significant other," she says.

All you can do is try to find some time to see each other every now and again, and do your best to maintain the friendship you always had by discussing other topics and doing the things you always loved to do together.

If none of the above works, take a step back and remember what's important. At the end of the day, you liking your friend's partner isn't the point; respecting your friend and preserving your relationship is. You don't have to love him as much as she does, but you can be respectful (at a distance) for her sake.

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