Hate Your Friend's Partner? Here's How (And When) To Tell Them

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Black twin sisters discussing issues while sitting at a public park
THEPALMER via Getty Images
Black twin sisters discussing issues while sitting at a public park

If you’re anything like me (and apparently, most adults), your friends will be among the most important relationships in your life.

You more than likely want what’s best for your nearest and dearest, so what are your options when you think their partner is a little less than they deserve?

Tackling the tricky topic of disliking your friend’s partner can be daunting, and it can often lead us to ask if the topic is worth broaching at all.

Still, the tension not getting on with your pal’s beloved beau can cause is also a significant issue. So I asked dating expert and co-founder of app SoSyncd, Jessica Alderson, how best to bring your concerns to your friend – and whether or not you should even mention it to begin with. Here’s what she had to say:

Ask yourself specifically why you’re concerned

When you don’t get on with someone, it can be tempting to just put your disagreements down to a vague sense of incompatibility.

But Jessica Alderson reckons that if you want to bring some problems with your friend’s partner to them, you should have more specific issues in mind than their general vibe.

As she says, you should, “Describe specific behaviours or situations that have made you concerned and why you think they are cause for worry.”

Otherwise, your concerns can seem like an unfounded and unfair attack – and if your search for specific, nameable offences comes up empty, it might be worth keeping your dislike to yourself.

Oh, I can get really specific about my concerns – how can I bring them up?

If you have some specific issues you want to bring to your friend, unsurprisingly, tact is key.

Alderson stresses the importance of empathy and patience when you’re talking partner problems with your friend.

“Sharing concerns about a friend’s partner is a delicate matter and it often takes courage”, she says.

“Make sure you start the conversation by expressing how much they mean to you and let them know that you only have their best interests in mind.”

Remember that while your friendship matters to your pal, their relationship is really important, too.

Alderson says that it’s important to remember that you’re only offering your personal opinion and that you can only see a small part of their relationship – so try to use “I” statements where possible.

For example, Alderson says an example of a specific, sensitive question is: “When your partner talked to you in a dismissive tone at dinner last Friday, I was concerned because I felt it wasn’t respectful.”

It’s crucial to keep your friend’s wellbeing and happiness first and foremost in your mind and to really listen to their response (even if their reply doesn’t align with your expectations of their relationship).

“Be prepared for them to disagree with your opinion”, advises Alderson. After all, you two have completely different perspectives on their partner.

Is there anything I shouldn’t do?

Yes – lots.

Alderson advises against using tactics that could end up manipulating your friend, like guilt-tripping or providing ultimatums, when trying to change their behaviour.

She also says that it’s important to take the good parts of your friend’s relationship into account, too – it can be hard to imagine them being content with someone you dislike, but if they claim to be happy, it’s likely not worth challenging.

Like we’ve said earlier, being specific about your concerns is key; not only because it ensures you’re coming from a place of real worry, but also so your friend knows what you want them to address.

And if the issue has been handled, Alderson notes, it’s important to let your criticisms go – unless, of course, another incident arises.

Lastly, Alderson says that the point of your conversation should be to introduce your friend to a different perspective, rather than trying to encourage a specific action or outcome on their part.

Tough as it may seem, you have to respect your friend’s choices. “Ultimately, it’s up to your friend to make their own decisions about their relationship”, Alderson says.

“Respect their autonomy and avoid pressuring them to end the relationship or take any specific action.“

And if all else fails, remember: journals are there for good reason.