Social Question

kevbo's avatar

What's reasonable to expect (or endure) for how one's significant other regards one's friends?

Asked by kevbo (25644points) February 4th, 2011 from iPhone

Mainly I’m looking for perspectives. This has been a sore spot for me over the course of multiple relationships, and I am wondering if my expectations are too high.

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18 Answers

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Can you give me an example? Not sure I know where you’re going with this.

kevbo's avatar

I’d rather keep it open ended, but use verbal disdain and/or dismissal (expressed privately) as a starting point.

augustlan's avatar

If the friends aren’t harming anyone, and you want to continue to enjoy these friendships, your SO needs to let it go. It’s one thing for your SO to have a negative opinion of someone you care about, but they need to keep it to themselves for the most part. I can understand a comment once or twice, but I’d let it be known that I didn’t appreciate the constant bad mouthing. “I know you don’t like my friend, I get it. But I do, so could you please stop making these comments?”

One caveat: If your SO is talking about specific behaviors (and not just generally disliking all of your friends), and those behaviors negatively impact her (or your relationship with her)... well, that’s a horse of a different color. I’d take that as a legitimate gripe, and do whatever I could to alleviate the situation. It could be as simple as not forcing them to be in each others company.

If it’s been a problem across multiple relationships, it may be time to wonder if they’re on to something. Maybe your friends really are a problem?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Depends on if they’re spending time around each other or affecting each other’s lives. If my SO is constantly hanging out with the friend and myself, I’d ask why they continue to hang out with them and make it clear they don’t have to (so long as I’m actually on board with that, which I am). If they aren’t spending time around each other, and they aren’t affecting each other’s lives (ie friend’s gambling problem has gotten me into debt, which then forces me to move in with SO prematurely or something) then I’d make it clear that even though they don’t care for that person, I do, so I’d ask that they respect that – but then I’d try to respect their opinion as well, and not bring up that friend a whole lot.

There are some exceptions. If they feel that a friend isn’t treating me right, it’s a lot harder to say that the SO should keep their opinions to themselves than if the SO simply thinks that the friend has an annoying voice and a stupid job. And, of course, there’s a very fine line between respectfully declining to bash your SO’s friend and failing to communicate what’s going on with you to your partner.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Do the women you date express an opinion that your your behavior changes when you’re around your friends?

It’s hard to offer much imput except to say that if this has happened several times with several different girlfriends, then 1) you are either attracted to the wrong type of young women, and seem to find women who want to control your life 2) you are significantly different from your friends, and they are trying to tell you that if you are really like your friends, they would not date your friends or 3) At some point, you were like your friends, but have changed through life circumstance and don’t really seem to share much in common with them anymore except shared history. This is perhaps more apparent to a new girlfirend than it is to you, or 4) your friends really are like what your girlfriends say, and you don’t see it because you have other things in common with them.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

It doesn’t matter too much to me if someone likes my friends or not but if I kept hearing the same thing about the same person from different S/O’s,I would take a closer look to see if they have good reasons for feeling as they do.

Seelix's avatar

I agree with @lucillelucillelucille – if you’ve had a few different SOs say that they don’t like your friends, it might be worth thinking about.

Partners in a relationship are rarely going to be in agreement about everything. Mr. Fiance and I have been together for 10 years, and there are a couple of friends of his that I don’t really like and he feels the same about my friends. We each know how the other feels, and it’s fine. We’ve stopped making a big deal about it. Really, if you dislike a friend of your SO’s, don’t hang out with that friend. It’s as simple as that.

Find out what it is about your friends that your SO doesn’t like. Take that into account, and ask your SO not to mention it anymore. Give a little, too, though – don’t spend all of your SO time in the company of your friends as well. If your SO is willing to clam up about it, you should be willing to make a concession as well.

jca's avatar

I would like more details. Other people who have answered brought up my little lingering doubt, which is if there are multiple s.o.‘s saying the same thing, maybe there is an issue. Do the friends all have something in common? LIke, do they all like to spend a weekend night drinking a case of beer and passing out? (just an example)

marinelife's avatar

Disparaging remarks are pretty out of line no matter what. If you have had multiple SOs that make disparaging remarks about your friends, you need to look to see if you have a bad pattern in the women you are attracted to or you need to put on objective glasses and look at your friendships.

I would think it was the former not the latter.

Coloma's avatar

There is no law that says everyone has to like everyone else. As long as the friendships are not destructive in nature or prone to unsavory behaviors that involve risky and/or unhealthy or dangerous interactions, nobody has the right to determine their friends or spouses friends. That is controlling behavior and forcing another to give something up for you leads to major resentment.

kevbo's avatar

Thank you all. I appreciate the responses.

I’ll add a little more detail to satisfy the curious. My sister may have been the start of all this a long time ago. She would frequently call my hometown friends (when I was in my 20s) losers, and she was in general a pretty abrasive person. Another gf, after a time, just simply rejected participating in things with my family (or friends), and I was kind of too naive to know how to handle that. It’s been a mostly back burner issue with my current relationship (relative to my friends only—who are admittedly a little bit of work in different ways but by no means destructive), and she let slip a really ugly comment that given my history above really turned my stomach. I have a really difficult time with that kind of disharmony, so here I am.

The odd thing in this case was that I thought I’d finally found someone who really understood this kind of graciousness, because much of the time she treats other people really well.

Coloma's avatar

Usually when what someone says really bothers us it is because there is a grain, or more than a grain of truth to it.

If there is truth to it, this is still no excuse for rude and unkind comments.

It is also possible she is just an immature, controlling and jealous person that resents you spending time away from her with anyone.

Sounds like you’ve got some work to do in this relationship.

janbb's avatar

As always in these situations, you need to really talk to her about it and find out where she was coming from. It sounds like she reactivated a wound with her unkind remark, but its effect on you may have been from the previous wounds and not from any harm she may have intended. I have a close friend who is very sensitive to my quips at times because of his background and I have asked him to tell me when I go too far so I can rectify things. No-one can be a mindreader, it is how she reacts when you discuss the issue with her in a non-accusatory way that will show you if she is a keeper or not. And remember to own your own stuff – that is the parts that are from your wounds – when you talk about it.

jca's avatar

I agree with @janbb. I would just talk to her about it and see where she was coming from. she might not know that it bothered you like it did. i wouldn’t associate this one incident with her being negative, controlling, etc. If in all other respects she’s a great and gracious person, like you said, there must be some reason why she made this remark when she did.

BarnacleBill's avatar

It sounds like you could totally tip the problem in the bud by proactively communicating an opinion of your own about your friends to girlfriends early in the relationship. Don’t give them a chance to feel the need to communicate their opinion about your friends to you. It should probably be something like, “My hometown friends and family are in many ways different than I am now, but they are good people, and I have history with them. I know what they’re like, so there’s no need to tell me.”

kevbo's avatar

I talked to her about it this morning. It’s always a minor ordeal with these kinds of conflicts, because her usual reaction is to clam up for half a day. Anyway, my message didn’t sink in right away (“but… but… but…), but I think she’ll come around enough.

Coloma's avatar

Well….remember, there is no relationship that is worth merely ‘enduring.’
‘Enduring’ really shouldn’t be in a relationships vocabulary.
Love isn’t about endurance like cross country running. lol

klutzaroo's avatar

If you have crappy, loser friends (and its time to take a long hard look at people you’re friends with because you grew up with them and might overlook the faults that are more apparent to people new to them) then you’re going to have issues no matter who you’re with. If several people have had problems with these people, its probably them or how you act when you’re with them. Case in point, my ex. I had an ex who was very close to his friends that he grew up with. Individually, they were ok. But get them together (especially if you add alcohol) and they reverted to acting like children. The maturity level dropped about 15 years (not that it was that high to begin with) and I, like so many girlfriends in the past, grew to dislike who he was when he was with them. We still went and hung out, but it put a strain on our relationship because the person he was with them was not someone I wanted to date. He refused to consider a future where he wasn’t living close enough to his friends to go hang out all the time along with a host of other things, that ended our relationship.

I agree completely with @BarnacleBill and if I were you, I’d look at each of his points as something to look into. If you’re finding these things are true, it might be time to look for some friends that reflect who you are now, not who you’ve been. Any girlfriend will probably like these friends better. You don’t have to abandon your old ones, but reducing the amount of time spent with the objectionable people (that they’re objectionable to multiple people means that they are in fact objectionable) might help your relationships.

Worry less about your “message” and more about why this keeps happening. Odds are that if this girl is nice as can be to everyone and can’t stand your friends, there’s something wrong with your friends that you need to be looking at, some work you need to be doing, rather than making sure your “message” gets through.

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