There are going to be times in our dating and relationship lives that one or possibly more than one of our friends will not like the people we are seeing romantically. A considerable number of clients I work with come into therapy believing their partners social relationships is causing stress on their romantic relationship. Many of the couples I work with insist most of their relationship issues stem from their dislike, distrust, or conflicting relationship with a partner’s friend which has led to problems at home. Many of the issues that seem to permeate my work with individuals and couples include one or both partner’s belief that their partners friend or friends are interfering in the couple’s relationship, being provocative with them, harboring inappropriate feelings for them or being a “bad Influence” on them.
5 Things to Consider before Disclosing Your Feelings to a Friend:
1. I often ask those that I treat to isolate the feelings of dislike and or “hate” and identify the reasons why they have such negative feelings about their friend’s boyfriend or girlfriend, i.e., is your friend’s boyfriend or girlfriend rude, narcissistic, insulting, overly flirtatious, treats your friend negatively, etc.
2. Determine if you should stay silent or need to confide in your friend about your feelings surrounding his or her boyfriend or girlfriend. In essence you must decide if you can manage your feelings on your own without informing your friend or whether or not your feelings even need to be conveyed to your friend. If you determine the girl or guy acts like a jerk when he or she drinks, try to make sure you are not hanging out with your friend when his or her partner is more likely to drink. If your friend’s girlfriend/boyfriend tends to be become an entirely different person in front of his/her friends don’t hand out with them when these friends are around.
3. Determine your purpose for telling your friend about your feelings, what you hope the end result will be. Your reasons should not be selfish, or include a make-or-break, i.e., “if you don’t dump the jerk I do not want to be friends anymore”. By putting a contingency on a friendship conveys the message the friendship may have not been as authentic or valued as once thought.
4. If you absolutely must divulge your ill feelings about your friend’s girlfriend or boyfriend them make sure you do not pick the wrong time. Do not discuss negative issues with your friend when he or she is struggling with other personal issues (that you know about), if they tell you they are engaged, have set a date for marriage, or are excited about moving in with his/her boyfriend/girlfriend.
5. Last but certainly not least, when making the decision to speak with your friends about your ill feelings toward his/her girlfriend or boyfriend do not have the conversation in front of other friends or her family members. Do not turn your disclosure into a lead singer with backups type of situation. You do not want to discuss such a sensitive topic with others chiming their agreement or lack of in the background. You also do not want to make your friend feel as if he or she is being ganged up on or need to take a defensive stance.