When you’re newly in love, you want to share the news with everyone. Your hope is that your friends will find your partner as amazing as you do, and that the two of you, as a couple, will have close ties with the friends that you love. For some lucky people, things work out this way. Their friends approve of their partners right from the get-go, and build closer connections over time. Sometimes, your partner even makes closer connections with some of your friends than you yourself have!
Common Reasons Your Friends Don’t Approve of Your Partner
However, for many people, things don’t work out quite so perfectly. Your friends have a problem with your partner, or disapprove of them in ways ranging from superficial (e.g. what they look like or how they dress) to deeper (e.g., their political beliefs or how they treat you).
Here are some major reasons that friends typically disapprove of partners, and how to address each.
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Your partner is different from your friends in terms of politics, values, or interests
The key issue to consider here is: are you different from your friends in the same ways? For example, there are many people who still hang out with their high school friends, but, since high school, their political beliefs or personal values have evolved.
If you are dating someone who is more allied with you than your friends, it’s not a bad thing. Often, your friends will reject them because they assume this person isn’t a good fit for you either.
One way to deal with this is to have an open discussion with your friends about the similarities between you and your partner and how well you fit together. Often, this can turn into a discussion about ways you have changed. This can be illuminating for your friends and give them a new perspective on your dating and life choices.
Your partner is not “fun”
If you enjoy hanging out with a more introverted person, more power to you. Often, introverts are deep thinkers and can hold a fascinating conversation one on one.
Unfortunately, in group settings, they do not shine, and are rarely the life of the party.
If your friends are generally more outgoing and they feel your partner is boring, it is time for a sit down discussion about all of the reasons that you appreciate your partner. Your friends will likely gain an appreciation over time for this great, but quit, person when they take the time to get to know them in a less frantic setting.
Your partner is not the “right” gender, race, age, religion
Many people, even if they are longtime friends who are otherwise kind and loving, have biases or prejudices against people who are different than them.
If you love your partner, then it’s important to put an immediate stop to your friends’ judgmental remarks about these differences. It can even be useful to say something like, “I am really hoping that your judgment about this doesn’t ruin our friendship; I love you as a friend but I can’t have my partner disrespected for these reasons.
Your partner is (they believe) disrespectful to you
There is usually a lot of truth in friends’ observations that a partner is treating you poorly. Even if your partner “acts differently” when you’re alone, why are they unable to treat you with respect and love in public? This is often a red flag, and one that is worthy of further reflection. If your friends and family have mentioned that a partner mistreats you in important ways, and you still cannot see it, it is a good idea to seek counseling in order to understand what others are seeing that you aren’t.
Settings Boundaries Works
Hopefully, these guidelines can help you figure out how to deal with the main areas of partner-friend conflict. In general, if your partner does not treat you well, that is a major red flag, but anything else your friends have a problem with needs to be handled directly with them.
Setting boundaries with your friends can be hard, but it will allow your relationship to proceed freely, and if your partner and friends are both well intentioned, they will often end up connecting over their shared connection with you.