When you fall in love with someone you get more than just that person because they come with a whole community of friends and family. If you’re lucky, you find that these are all your people too. However, in many cases, you find yourself surrounded by people you don’t like and wouldn’t choose to spend time with if it weren’t for your partner. Today I’m coming at you with the top 6 things you want to be doing if you don’t like your partner’s friends or family.
So many clients come to me struggling with this issue. As you might imagine, there are some common themes I see over and over:
- They don’t like you (so you don’t like them)
- You don’t like how your partner acts around them (maybe they don’t stick up for you with their family or they do things like drink too much around certain friends)
- You don’t like them: their politics or personalities are just completely out of line with how you operate
- Everyone’s competing for your partner’s attention, including you!
No matter the reason, when you don’t like your partner’s friends or family it puts your partner in the middle and this spells a losing situation for everyone. You’ve got to change this dynamic and here are my top six ways to get there:
1. Check Yourself Before You Speak to Your Partner
You’ve got to dig deep and figure out why you don’t like your partner’s friends or family. Is it because they don’t like you so you automatically don’t like them back? Is it because you think your partner’s going to cheat if they hang out with certain friends?
If so, your dislike of them is fear-based. You’ve got to get clear on this first and foremost before you have a conversation with your partner.
You want to be honest with your partner but first you need to understand what you’re being honest about! You want to speak to your partner about how you feel, not about what their friends or family do or say.
You’ve got to set an intention to be open and non-judgmental in this conversation. If you go in with guns blazing, you’re going to be sorry.
If you’re having this conversation and your partner starts defending his friends or family, you’ve done it wrong because they’re feeling like they have to take sides and, guess what, they’re not on yours!
So, don’t get into why you don’t like them – stay away from character assassinations. It should only be if you don’t like how your partner acts after – for example, maybe your partner drinks or parties too much with these people or gets into other risky behavior with them. Even then, you need to talk about your own insecurities when this happens and what you’re scared of. That’s the real conversation. This isn’t about their friends or family, it’s about you and your partner.
2. Don’t Try to Convince Your Partner that They Suck
Just about the worst thing you can do is try to “make your partner” see that their family is crazy or that their friends are assholes. All this will do is force your partner to defend them (and defend themselves for liking these friends or having this family).
If you don’t like how your partner acts around these people, then talk about how your partner acts, instead of blaming their friends or family (which isn’t right anyway). Your partner is a grown up and needs to take responsibility for how they are with these people.
3. Don’t Make Your Partner Choose
Don’t give them an ultimatum: “It’s your friends or me!” If you refuse to ever see their family or to ever socialize with their friends, you force your partner to constantly choose and this isn’t a role you want to be in. No matter what – don’t complain about your partner’s friends or family! Don’t set up this kind of dynamic. Bitch to your best friend or a therapist, but not to your partner.
4. Practice Acceptance
Your goal is to stop any tension you and your partner are having regarding their friends or family. You don’t want this to be an ongoing point of contention. At the end of the day, if you choose to stay in this relationship, then you’re going to need to accept these people. You can draw boundaries and say your feelings but acceptance is key.
5. Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Why do you think they don’t like you? Why don’t you like them? If you just don’t get along, think about things from their point of view and it might tell you why they don’t like you or why there’s tension. You’ve got to find some true empathy; it’ll help you learn to forgive and not be triggered by these people.
6. Get Ready and Be Kind
If you do need to spend time with them – make sure you get yourself ready first. Get centered, set intention and limit your interactions. Calibrate to having a good time with them and to getting along. Anticipate a good interaction. Stay mindful throughout the interactions and make sure you continually act from a place of love, not fear when you interact with them.
This means kindness, patience and compassion. Find that loving place in your heart. You might not be a fan of your partner’s best friend, but you are a fan of your partner. So, do it for them. Think of how much you love your partner and find it in yourself to be loving and kind to those they love.
I want to wrap up by saying that, in the end, your job is to bond with your partner; you’re a team and you need to be strong in that. The stronger the two of you are together, the more likely these friends or family will come around since they see you’re not going anywhere!
As I said, the big issue is competition – they’re competing with you or you with them but it takes two to compete, so pull yourself out of that dynamic!