A while back, I remember reading some survey about the most common ways of meeting singles. If I recall correctly, the winner was still the place of work and the extended social circle was also well represented, although online dating was somewhere near the top too.
If you have a close-knit group of friends who go out together, spend time together and go way back, it’s easy to see why dating someone who’s in some way connected to this group is going to be more socially acceptable for you than bringing a stranger into the fold. Sure, they might take to him or her immediately, which often happens, but what do you do if your friends don’t seem as enthused as you are? There are many reasons why friends may not like someone’s choice of partner. It could be their own issues such as jealousy, misunderstandings or snobbery or it could be a perfectly valid reasons, like being able to see a bad dating pattern or a hidden danger. Here are a few things you can do to handle such issues.
1. Establish your own opinion before introducing your partner to your friends
It’s tempting to introduce your partner to your friends as soon as possible to see how they respond. This is especially true if you’re feeling uncertain and want a second opinion. Feeling uncertain is natural at the beginning of any relationship and often our fears play tricks on us just when we meet someone who’s actually really good for us. I suggest resisting the temptation to involve other people’s opinions in the mix, until you’ve spent some time with your new partner and had a chance to think about what you actually feel. Yes, your friends may see some things your happy, love-hormone glasses filter out, but they may also be influenced by their own issues or miss out on qualities your partner has that are not immediately apparent. This could be especially true if your partner is shy or uncomfortable in some social situations. If you’re comfortable with your choice by the time you introduce such a person to your friends, they may feel more relaxed, thus making a better impression from the start.
2. Challenge your friends (nicely)
You don’t want to fall out with your friends over a partner, but if they seem to disagree with your choice, you should probably find out why. They may have a good reason that you’re simply not aware of, or you may be able to put them straight if they’ve gotten something wrong. Ask them for their reasons, but be ready to hear out their answers without freaking out. If you think any negative thing they say about your new beloved is likely to throw you into fits of rage, then it’s better to just ignore the situation until you can handle a serious conversation on the matter without writing off your friends completely.
3. Make time for your friends
Sometimes, the reason friends don’t respond favourably to your new choice of partner is that they are afraid they will lose you. I’ve seen it happen plenty of times with platonic friends of the opposite sex, for example, who fear their friend won’t seek out their company once happily attached. When this sort of things happen, it can actually be the most suitable partners these people dislike, as they realise they are about to lose a valued friend. The best way to avoid this issue is to make time for your existing friends. Make sure you keep spending some time alone together and that they know you value their company. The bad news is that a certain loss always happens when you enter a new relationship. Your priorities change and you simply won’t have the same time to give to people outside your relationship. Real friends ought to understand, but it doesn’t always work this way. Nobody likes to lose a person they care about or to introduce a complete stranger (such as your new partner) into what used to be time spent together discussing their lives and secrets. If you are seen to be making an effort to keep your friends in your life, you may find their resistance slowly disappears. Acknowledging and apologising for the fact that you may disappear for a while may also help make your friends understand you value their feelings. While people then to fall off the radar during the first few months of a new relationship, once things balance out and become steadier, it’s easier to find time to see old friends. Your friends may well understand this without you having to say it, but it’s one of those things that’s always good to hear.
4. Make your choice
You shouldn’t have to choose between your friends and your partner, but sometimes you have to. There comes a point in a relationship when you are happily part of a couple when the default option is for you and your partner to go out together and see people together as a couple. If certain friends still won’t accept that and expect to see you alone because they won’t tolerate your partner than this could end up causing you relationship problems. If you’ve challenged their views, given them a period to adjust to the change (by spending some time alone with them and introducing your partner into the picture slowly) and they still won’t make him or her feel comfortable, then it might be time to drift away or give them an ultimatum. As long as you’re happy and your partner is not abusing you or treating you badly, a true friend should be happy for you.