What To Do If Your Partner Doesn't Get Along With Your Friends, According To Experts
It's probably happened to you at some point: You've met someone great, they seem to have it all, you make perfect sense together, you share the same values but, for whatever reason, they clash with your friends. It can feel crushing when your partner doesn't get along with your friends, because you're forced into a balancing act of dividing your time. No one wants to live separate lives, but when your partner can't be civil with your friends, you have no choice. Then you're put into the tough spot of having to deal with something with which you probably don't want to deal.
"Before you do anything, get curious about the situation," sex and intimacy coach Irene Fehr tells Bustle. "If your partner doesn't get along with your friends, explore why. Friendships, as much as romantic partnerships, are based on shared values, interests, as well as personalities."
Fehr suggests asking yourself where the disconnect between your partner and friends happens. "Does your partner not get along with your friends because of values?" Fehr asks, "Or shared interests? Or something else?"
Once you can pinpoint where the issue is, then you can, ideally, remedy the problem. Not everyone can get along all the time with each other, but if your partner cares about you, they should at least try to make the effort. Here are seven ways to deal when your partner and your friends don't get along.
1. Have An Honest Conversation With Your Partner About It
First thing's first: Talk to your partner about it. Even if your partner hasn't said yet that they doesn't get along with your friends, you've probably noticed. Because honesty and communication are so paramount in a relationship, start by talking about it.
"Have a conversation with your partner about it," Fehr says. "Don't accuse or assume, but explore with open-ended questions — questions that begin with 'what' and 'how.'"
Ask your partner what they do and don't like about your friends, what can be changed, and what kind of friendships they value. Maybe it's a matter of just your partner viewing friendships differently than you do.
2. Know When To Include (Or Exclude) Your Partner
Because it is a balancing act when your partner doesn't get along with your friends, you need to do some finagling when it comes to socializing.
"Make sure you're brilliant on when to include, or exclude, your mate," author and relationship expert Susan Winter tells Bustle. "Which events and under what types of circumstances will your partner shine? And which types of events or situations could cause potential problems? Using discrimination on when to include versus exclude will help you integrate your partner with your friends."
Although you may not want to exclude your partner from certain events, if your friends are going to be there, you shouldn't make it uncomfortable for everyone in involved. Also, time apart isn't a bad thing.
3. Analyze Your Values And Interests
Ultimately, relationships with people, romantic or not, are about sharing values and having things in common. If you share these things with your partner and with your friends, but your partner still can't get along with them, that's something worth analyzing.
"Explore what's important to you and how aligned are you with your partner and your friends," Fehr says. "It's normal to not have a perfect alignment and have separate activities."
But, if your partner doesn't get along with any of your friends, that something that needs to be analyzed even more so. "It might be a red flag — either about the partner or your friends," Fehr says. "Is your partner aligned closest to your values and interests, or are your friends? People can be more genuine and open with partners and less with friends — or vice versa."
4. Learn How To Filter
If you're going to a big birthday dinner and you know your partner and friends will be separated on different ends of the table, then that's an event that might work. But if it's a small, intimate group of just a few people, then it's time to filter.
"There should be a couple of your friends that feel comfortable with your partner," Winter says. "Know which friends they are, and under which conditions everyone seems to flourish. There may be certain events that prove problematic, and others that don't. You're going to have to be good at filtering and choosing the right events for the right collection of friends."
No one wants to filter, but it's a compromise you're going to have to make for your relationship and your friendships.
5. Talk To Your Friends About The Situation
Because your friends were most likely in your life before your partner, they're going to be a reliable source in regards to this issue. Not only are they likely to know you better, because of all that history, but your friends are going to see things clearer than you can you with your rose-colored glasses.
"Talk to your friends in the same way that you'd talk to your partner," Fehr says. "Explore how they relate to your partner and what do they see in them. They might have insights about their relationship with [your partner] in a way that you might not."
6. Figure Out How Important It Is To You
For some people, it doesn't matter if their partner and friends get along, because they want separate lives anyway. If you're one of those people, consider yourself lucky. It's really all about what's important to you and what will make navigating all your relationships easier.
"Explore what's going on before making any decisions and also consider your own situation," Fehr says. "Some people find it comfortable to not have their partner get along with their friends and keeping them separate. It requires some compartmentalization and prioritizing both in parallel, which works for many."
For those who are more social, compartmentalization isn't likely to be a good fit.
"It would mean excluding yourself from social situations if your partner doesn't get along with your friends — which can be a hard choice to make," Fehr.
When forced to choose, someone always misses out.
7. Realize Maybe Your Partner Is The Problem
At some point, if you've tried and examined all you can, you might just realize that your partner is the problem. Granted, it's a realization you may not want to make, but one can only ignore the truth for so long.
"Certainly, there will be individuals that your partner doesn't like," Winter says. "And there will be friends that don't like your partner. In cases like this, simply avoid putting the two of them together. But if the issue becomes chronic, take it as a clear sign that you should rethink your selection of partner."
Winter suggests asking yourself if your partner is the one always causing the problems and whether or not you're the one making excuses for their bad behavior.
"This is totally unnecessary, and serves as a red flag for you to reconsider your choice of mate," Winter says. It's not your job to clean up your partner's messes.
"Friendships provide many benefits for us, including emotional support, growth, physical presence and help, love and connection," Fehr says. "The best romantic relationship and partnership is one where it fits with your friendships, and they support each other."
While you may be able to handle your partner not getting along with your friends for the short-term, the long-term is going to be much more of an issue. It may become less of a balancing act and more of choosing one over the other. That's why it either needs to be remedied or it's time to start questioning whether your partner is a proper fit for your life.