Have you ever hated your friend’s boyfriend? I have.
When my friend mentioned a guy she really started to have a crush on, I was obviously excited for her. Call me soft, but it was so cute to listen to her talk about him: that he wasn’t her usual type, but they could talk for hours. He was smart, wealthy and had given up the opportunity to study at a very prestigious school to play his favorite sport. Plus, he was clearly as into her as she was into him.
Not every crush is two-sided, so it’s always exciting when it is. When your friend seriously likes someone or starts dating someone, you start dating them too. Funny enough, a friend has an important role in a relationship. We all have unique flaws and issues; a friend can help a relationship thrive by offering unbiased opinions and advice.
My best friend’s relationship was sailing uninterrupted at the time, so when they actually started dating, I knew I might have to get back to work as the relationship was starting.
The thing was, there was something about him that rubbed me the wrong way.
My friend complained about him— a lot. Even when they just started dating, there were things my friend would notice about him that rubbed the wrong way. To me, this seemed odd because it was still the honeymoon phase of their relationship.
Things didn’t add up about him (for example, he quit sports a year after getting to school, and he was previously in a mutually toxic relationship). She called me once for advice, after her boyfriend got mad at her response to a sweet text. He’d made a vaguely controlling comment that seemed a little bit on the manipulative side to me.
The way he handled the situation left a bad taste in my mouth.
I made sure to bring it up with a mutual friend, someone who I trusted and who cared for our friend as much as I did. It was important for me to know if I was the only one who didn’t really like this guy. If I was, we clearly just are two different people, but if other people weren’t too keen on him, then maybe we should start to pay attention.
I had no intention of voicing my distaste or trying to talk her out of dating him. That’s not my business and I don’t have the right to do that.
However, my friend’s feelings are my business, whoever hurts her has to take it up with me.
So, I wanted to keep an eye on him, just in the unlikely case that his unpleasant qualities were part of something worse. I hoped to meet him to check up on him, hopefully to get to know him and to see he was actually a great guy (spoiler alert: we never ended up meeting).
After a few months, my friend let our group know that she had decided to break up with her boyfriend. Even though I didn’t like this guy, she did, so I felt bad that she wasn’t happy with him anymore (although I did have a secret sigh of relief about not having to meet him). She had genuinely good times with this guy, so those little things about him that she didn’t like weren’t important.
Except eventually, the good times stopped outweighing the bad stuff and she wasn’t happy anymore.
She admitted that she started to find him manipulative. I knew that was an opportunity to bring up my thoughts and reminded her of the time she called me because he wasn’t satisfied with her response to a text. I told her I didn’t like the way he spoke to her, supported her decision to break up with him, and offered genuine sympathy.
When a friend starts to date someone you dislike, it’s important to consider your friend’s feelings (or safety) above all.
There’s no reason to straight up say you don’t like this new person; it’s rude and not your place. If you have a bad feeling about a person, it may not be helpful to bring it up right away. Speaking from experience, people tend to be prideful and I would feel wounded and probably offended if someone was rude about my partner after their first impression.
Talk with your friends, if others are feeling the same way as you, there might be some truth in your gut feelings. We all want to protect our friends from potential pain, but it’s just as important to not overstep those boundaries, either.