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Do You Hate Your Friend’s Mate?

You love your friend, but can’t stand his or her new love interest. How can you clear your conscience without ruining the friendship?
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jon, a dog groomer in New York City, is just not that into his close friend's significant other. He asked that his name not be used to protect his friend's privacy and their friendship.

The question is, what should he do about it? Should he open his mouth and risk the friendship with his unsolicited and likely unwanted relationship advice, grin and bear it, or simply avoid this friend when he is with "her"?

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All are possibilities, depending on the nature of her offense, relationship experts tell WebMD.

Pretty much all of us have been where Jon is now, and many of us may have lost good friendships along the way. The best way to preserve a friendship is to think long and hard before you open your mouth and make sure you have good reason for speaking your piece. A little tact helps, too, when giving relationship advice.

In Jon's case, the girlfriend in question is basically a downer. "She restricts my friend and dominates all his attention when we are in a group," he says. "If we are all out somewhere and joking and she doesn't like it, she gets into one of her moods, and that changes his demeanor," he says. "He's not the same when she's in the mix, so sometimes we don't invite them to do things."

If that's the only problem, says Sarasota, Fla.-based dating expert Lisa Daily, "then the answer is simple: hold your tongue. If you just don't like the person or you find them obnoxious, and you want to keep the friendship, keep your mouth closed. Because obviously, they see something in the person that you don't," says Daily, author of several books,including Stop Getting Dumped.

Susan Jaffe, MD, a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City, agrees. "If it's just about not liking the person, then you should hold your tongue," she says. "Try to spend time with your friend alone, without the significant other. Or see them as a couple in a large group, so you can easily avoid the significant other."

Scripting Your Relationship Advice

There are certain precarious situations where you must say something, Jaffe says. In those cases, "It's a very tricky business [and] tact is essential." Such situations include:

Bad behavior: Let's say your best friend's new man propositioned you online or on the dance floor. Should you speak up?

"The thing about Internet dating is that it's right there in black and white and not like at a party where they can always say, 'I was just kidding,'" Daily says. "If this person has emailed you, just forward it to your friend without comment and let her make her own decision," she says.

If it's some other type of bad behavior, you can ask questions that make them think, says Alison Arnold, PhD, a therapist in Phoenix who is also known as "Doc Ali," the life coach on the VH1 series Scott Baio Is 45 ... and Single. For example, ask, "Did you feel comfortable with how he was last night or with how much he is drinking?" she suggests. If they don't want to talk about it, then you have to let it go.

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