My boyfriend and I have been dating for a few months and every time we go out with his friends I can tell they don’t like me. These dudes are giving me some serious side-eye and are super passive aggressive. I am worried that they are trying to convince him that I’m bad for him. What do I do? Do I just ignore them? Do I say something to him? Do I try to get him to stop hanging out with them?
Actually a Nice Girl
Dear Actually a Nice Girl,
The friend approval is a bit of an essential blessing for a relationship to work.
It’s tough to date someone when their support system thinks you’re a pile of sewage. Unless of course, he hates his support system. So there are times you’ll see someone defy his/her family and date someone long-term but I would like to argue, based on no statistical evidence whatsoever, that it’s harder to keep the fire going without the friends approval. Why? Because friends are the family of choice. He chooses to trust them. He trusts their judgment. And when EVERY ONE of them has the same opinion of you, he’s more likely to take it into account. Not necessarily act on it, but take it into account. I know it seems like I’m fueling your paranoia and, maybe, that’s because you might have something to be paranoid about. Those are the perceived circumstances you’re in. Your question, and it’s a tricky one, is how do you deal with the friends who it feels like are sabotaging your potential happily ever after.
Answer: You reach out to THEM. Telling him not to hang out with his friends is a really, really, bad idea. Then you’re controlling. Remember, they were there first. You’re being let into their circle, in this instance. Reach out with an olive branch. Make a gesture. Try to talk to them. Make it clear to them how much you value him and they’ll ease up, if not begin accepting you.
I’ve had plenty of friends who have been with women that I felt were harmful to them. Have I said something? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It depends on the alcohol intake and general pissed off-ness. But! I will say this, if his friends are actively trying to undermine you guys, then they’re not friends. They’re selfish pricks. STILL, you can’t give him an ultimatum. You can try to make him aware that you feel this way.
Letting him know, “This is how I’m feeling, here’s why, here’s who I think hates me, and I’m worried they’re trashing me to you.” If you lay it out calmly and get on the same page with him about his friends, it can go a long way to alleviate your stress and make him aware. If you’re screaming about how his friends treat you like crap, well, be careful. So much of effective communication is about HOW we communicate, not just WHAT we are communicating. If you play it level-headed, he’ll be more likely to react that way and listen to you.
The friends’ seal of approval is tricky to navigate when it feels like they’re ganging up against you. They were there first and will most likely still be there when you’re gone. Demanding he disown them isn’t how to handle it. Don’t hold back from him, let him know what you’re scared of and why. Just make sure to do so in rational fashion. And definitely, if at all possible, make some overtures to them. They’re important to him, they need to be important to you.
If you let them know you appreciate him and appreciate their bond, they’re more likely to at least give you a fair shake. “Kill ‘em with kindness.”
[Got a Dude itch you just can’t scratch? Sick of trying to come up with a not-totally-crazy-girl way to bring it up to your guy friends and get their take on things? Totally over over-analyzing the cryptic messages he leave on your Facebook Wall? We got your back, girlfriend. Send your question over to askthedude [at] collegecandy [dot] com. The Dude won’t sugarcoat it, beat around the bush, or any other weird cliche that means lie to you. Like a nice, juicy hot dog, he’ll be 100% real beef, 100% of the time. So bring. it. on.]