What to do if you don't like your best friend's significant other

I’m the type of person who feels deeply. I am a loyal friend and fiercely protective of those who I love. So, when someone I care about is in a relationship with someone, I naturally want to get to know his/her significant other. What happens, though, when you don’t like your best friend’s boyfriend?

In college, none of my friends really dated and few were in relationships let alone serious relationships. Now, post-college, more and more of my friends are getting out there, dating, finding serious relationships, and a few have even gotten engaged recently. I’m the maid of honor in one of my best friend’s weddings, and I couldn’t be more excited for her and her future husband. I love them both and cannot wait to be a part of their big day and watch them grow as a couple. Even though I don’t know her fiancée as well as I know her, I genuinely enjoy his company and look forward to getting to know him better. Thinking about their upcoming wedding, I found myself thinking, what would I do if I didn’t like the person my friend was dating or marrying? How would I handle that?

I think it’s important to step outside your initial reaction towards someone and really try to understand what you don’t like about someone. Maybe they just left a bad first impression–they could be just as nervous to meet you as you are to meet them! Or, maybe they really are a jerk. Either way, this person is important to your friend, and your friend is important to you, so you need to dig a little deeper.

Listen to your friend about why she likes her significant other. Listen to what is important to her, and how she is feeling. Then ask yourself why you don’t like him. Is it just that he tells obnoxious jokes? Is he not what you and your friend imagined when you were dreaming of boyfriends while in middle school? Or perhaps, your feelings of dislike are rooted in jealousy, because your friend’s attention is now divided between the two of you and your relationship with her has changed.

If you find the reason that you don’t like your friend’s boyfriend is a legitimate one that is perhaps a threat to her health or safety, think about opening up an honest dialogue. I cannot speak to what to do in a situation where your friend is in immediate, physical danger, or in an abusive relationship, because that requires a more professional opinion, but if you are worried about her, it’s important to reach out and show her you care.

Before talking to her, think about her conversation style, and make sure that you don’t approach her in a way that seems like you’re attacking her choices or ganging up on her. She may be a bit defensive, or combative, but the best you can do is let her know that you have something you want to bring up because you care, and then leave it at that. Once you lay out what you have to say and speak your mind, leave it. Let her respond and react how she may, and accept her decisions. I think one of the hardest things in a friendship is realizing that at some point, your girlfriends who you were inseparable from and who you shared everything with, will build their own lives outside of that bubble. Friendships will change and grow and your roles in each other’s life will have to adapt to that as well.

If your friend’s significant other is around to stay and rubs you the wrong way for whatever reason, but its clear that the two of them truly care for each other, accept that as enough and learn to love him for all of that he brings to the table. Instead of focusing on the negative, look for the positive. If he makes her laugh, or brings her ice cream on a bad day, or helps her be courageous when facing something hard, that certainly out-weighs the way he jokes about his boss or voices his opinion about something that you don’t agree with. Maybe you two won’t be best friends, but you both can love your best friend.