How To Tell A Friend You Don’t Want To Hang Out With Their Partner, According To An Expert
Friendships, in many ways, make our lives better. Research by the Mayo Clinic has found that not only do our friendships enrich our lives but they're actually good for our health too. Which is great news — that is until your friend starts dragging their partner along every time you get together. Then the enrichment isn't exactly quite the same.
As much as it can be really exciting that your BFF has found someone that they're smitten with, sometimes you want to spend time with a friend without their partner around. There's nothing wrong in wanting your friend all to yourself, nor does this make you greedy or even selfish. No friendship can thrive if your friend's partner is always in the picture, just because it tends to throw the dynamic off. Which is something that smitten people tend to miss, especially in the early stages of a relationship.
While not wanting to spend time with your friend's partner doesn't necessarily mean you don't like them, it might be hard for your friend to realize the true intention of wanting ample one-on-one time. Because of this, it's important to tread lightly and make sure your friend realizes it's about your friendship, and not about any dislike for their partner. (That's a discussion for another time.)
Here are seven ways to gently let your friend know you want more time with them, and less time with them and their partner.
1. Make A Friends And Couples Date At The Same Time
As much as you may want that alone time with your friend, one potential solution to balance out the dynamic is to involve your partner in the mix, too.
"Make a friend date and a couples date at the same time," April Masini, relationship expert, tells Bustle. "This way it doesn’t seem like you’re not wanting to see your friend and their partner. You want both — time with your friend and couples time with both couples. It’s going to be tough for a friend to feel like you’re not into couples time if you schedule both types of dates at the same time."
Let's just hope your partner and your friend's partner get along well.
2. Blame Your Partner
Oh, the blame game! Not exactly the most mature route to take, but sometimes it's best to throw someone else under the bus than take responsibility for what you want... isn't it?
"Tell your friend that your partner is really swamped and it’s going to be tough to schedule the four of you for at least a month," Masini says. "But you’d love to get together with just your friend. This is a little white lie that is OK to use in this instance."
Although you may want to give your partner a head's up just in case they randomly run into your friend's partner.
3. Build Up Your Friendship
Masini suggests telling your friend, honestly, that you have such a good time when it's just the two of you.
"[Tell them] 'I'm really craving some us time. Can we get together just the two of us?'" Masini says.
If you put it out there that that one-on-one time is the highlight of your week, ideally, your friend will respect that and stop bringing their partner along. Your boundaries and your wishes for your friendship should be respected at all times.
4. Say You Need Their Advice
In addition to pointing out that you really value that alone time with your friend, also tell them you need their advice on something. I'm sure you can easily come up with something that your friend's input would be invaluable.
"[Tell them] 'I’d love to tell you about this and that, and get your advice on this other thing,'" Masini says. '"I value your friendship and advice so much — can we have lunch next week, just us?'"
People enjoy being wanted and enjoy dispensing advice —you're also playing up to your friend's ego and desire to be needed.
5. Make The Plans In Advance
Last minute plans? Great idea! "Set the stage, make the plans, and then invite your friend," Masini says. "Make a reservation for two and then invite your friend to join you, or ask your friend to meet you during her workplace lunch hour, knowing that it’s impossible for her partner to join you at that time and place."
Sometimes we need to resort to stealth-like behavior to get what we want. And there's nothing wrong with that.
6. Choose Something That Won't Interest Your Friend's Partner
Not all couples want to do exactly the same thing all the time; one partner might want to go rock climbing while the other gets a pedicure, or vice versa. If you want solo time with your pal, choose an activity where you know their partner won't care to crash.
"Ask [your friend] to go bathing suit shopping or to get a mani pedi with you — if this is something your friend’s partner wouldn’t normally do with the two of you," Masini says. "This is a way that will seem like a natural friend date, and not something that’s a foursome activity."
With this technique, you're creating the illusion that your friend's partner is invited, of course, but they're opting out of the invitation on their own.
7. Lay Down The Law
If you tried to gently put it out there that you'd like to see your friend more and their partner less, and they're still not picking up on what you're trying to say, then it's time to cut to the chase.
"Tell your friend that you love having couples time, or time with your friend and their partner, but that you really don’t want to do that at the exclusion of time together, just the two of you," Masini says. "If you spell it out like that, an empathetic person will get it. And if they don’t…. there’s a basic friendship problem!"
In other words, it just might be less about your friend's partner and more about what going on between you and your friend.
Because there's no sense in losing your friend over their partner always being around, it's important to choose your words and actions wisely. But if you've done all you can to make them understand, then it might be time for a serious chat about your friendship.