What to Do When Your Friend's Significant Other Sucks
What to say and when to say it depends on your relationship—and theirs.
BY Renata Sellitti | Aug 21, 2017 | Sex & Relationships
I once dated a guy who one of my best friends was not a fan of—though she never told me herself. She didn't hate him per se, she just felt that we were wrong for each other. He was buttoned-up and liked life to fit perfectly within the lines, while I'm an outspoken smart-ass who likes colouring in the margins. A year and a half later, when things had run their course, I came to the same conclusion. In hindsight, the fact that I'd resorted to talking to him about bitcoin just to keep our conversations from dying should've tipped me off. And even if I, stubborn and in-love, hadn't listened, I wish she would've said something.
This begs the question: What happens when the "if you're happy, I'm happy" friendship train gets derailed by your buddy dating someone whose very existence makes you unhappy? Do you vault that shit and hope their love is as short-lived as a season of Game of Thrones? Or do you find a way to say he or she ranks somewhere between YouTube star Jake Paul and Ann Coulter on the people-you'd-want-to-hang-out-with scale?
EVEN IF I, STUBBORN AND IN-LOVE, HADN'T LISTENED, I WISH SHE WOULD'VE SAID SOMETHING.
Before you decide, get to the root of it. Figuring out why you don't support their relationship may reveal more about you than the bae in question. If he quotes Adam Sandler movies too much, or she has the Janice laugh from Friends, then make peace with being more tolerant of low-level offences. If it's a jealousy thing, and the only way to get some face-time with your friend is through actual FaceTime, try waiting it out. That brand newness will fade into a more balanced routine. In the meantime, engage. As much as you might hate it, try spending time with the S.O. one-on-one to see if you can catch a glimpse of what drew your friend in in the first place. There must be something under the surface you can latch onto, even if it's as banal as the movie you all saw three months ago.
But what if their S.O. just stifles what's fundamentally awesome about your friend's personality to begin with? If they seem to love your friend despite what makes them unique, not because of it? In that case, you have a choice to gamble with speaking up and losing the friendship, or quietly stewing in your misery. Here's my advice.
If They're Dating
Solo hang: Pick times to see your friend where you don't have to share them with the S.O., like an after-work run or morning workout.
Read your clues: Examine how your friend speaks about their S.O.—what do they value most? If the emphasis is on something superficial, their relationship probably won't last long anyway.
Know your place: Say something about it if you think your friend is headed for a lifetime of relationship suckage with this person, but do not make them choose between you two. And even if they break up, never say "I told you so."
Verdict? Speak up. Face it—you might lose the friendship anyway, since you can't stand his or her S.O., so at least by being honest with your friend about your feelings, he or she will know the reason you're starting to pull back. It'll sting, but at least everyone will know where they stand.
If They're Married
Respect the bond: Marriage is a true partnership, and at that point, there's precious little your friend can do to change your mind. Further, people don't tend to side with friends over spouses. Avoid saying something unless their S.O. is causing them harm in some way, at which point speak up and try to help.
Be attentive: If your friend eventually expresses the same concerns that you have about the relationship of his or her own volition, or starts doubting the relationship, then you can chime in—but only to ask questions, not to offer your opinion. Chances are they'll arrive at the conclusion on their own, and there's no need to trash the S.O. in the process.
Verdict? Unless it's a harmful situation or your friend doesn't seem concerned, keep it to yourself. Then try to make future social situations group-based so you have other people to chat up instead. If that's not an option, aim for setups where too much talking is actually frowned upon (hello, movie theatre) and hope for the best. You're in it for your friend.
And No Matter What...
Just remember that, even if you loathe their plus-one, always treat your friend with respect and never force them to choose between you and the sucky S.O. Making someone feel like a human wish bone is a garbage move, and one that rarely ends well. And absolutely do not post something negative on social media that'll come back to bite you. We have enough loose cannons as it is these days.