Don’t Like Your Friend’s Partner? If They Ask, Say This…
It generally doesn’t go well when you tell a friend you don’t like their significant other, so what do you do when your back’s against the wall? It can be extremely difficult when we see someone we deeply care about in a relationship with somebody we dislike. Situations like these have the potential to cause serious damage to your friendship, so they must be tackled with sensitivity and diplomacy.
If you don’t like your friend’s new partner and you’ve been asked for your opinion it’s probably a good idea, to be honest. The question is to what extent? For some situations, the decision to say something can be fairly straight forward. For example, if you suspect that the relationship has the potential to, or has graduated into the toxic territory, you should say something.
Many of us would suggest that if you don’t like your friend’s significant other because you are sensing controlling or abusive behavior you need to speak up. But for those of us in the ‘grey area’, there are a number of variables in terms of what can and cannot be controlled. It’s easy to see why people have difficulty knowing how to respond in this scenario.
Sometimes we really have to decide whether or not saying something is going to have the desired outcome. Will saying something help? Will they listen? Will it ruin your relationship? There is a risk of a potential disruption in your relationship, no matter what you choose. Not because of you and your relationship, but because of the behavior of their partner, which is out of your control.
So if you’ve decided to or you HAVE to tell your friend you disapprove of their partner:
- Decide how you’re going to talk to your friend. What’s important is conveying your message in such a way that your friend is receptive and can hear your love and concern for them.
- Select an appropriate time and place where you and your friend won’t be interrupted. Start by first explaining how much you value friendship which is why you have decided that you feel the need to express what you are seeing.
- Explain the behavior you are seeing but also keep away from judgmental phrases. Use phrases such as “I feel that” or “what I think I’m seeing is” and even if the partner is a terrible human, (as tempting as it may be) refrain from saying so. This will create safety and trust in a relationship and will make your friend much more likely to share their concerns with you later on down the line.
- Follow your explanation up by expressing what your greatest wish is for your friend. Your friend may or not disagree and what they choose to do once they’ve received the information is out of your hands.
- Once you’ve said your piece, you’re best to leave it there. UNLESS your friend is in danger.
- If your friend does come back to you at a later date to express concerns it’s important to be empathic and elicit conversation by being reflective and by asking open-ended questions. Sometimes, all we really need is someone to help us process the situation just by being there for us and asking the right questions.
So, if your friend asks you what you think of their significant other, we’ve got some suggestions of what you can say below:
1 | The Minding Your Own Business Approach
They’re okay. I mean, I don’t really know them. I’m just glad that you’re happy!
I sense that the dynamic of the group shifts when we are all together. This is normal, but perhaps we can spend a little bit of time together with just us from time to time?
Perhaps in time we will get to know each other better? I know how nerve-wracking it can be to meet your partner’s friends.
It’s okay to not like your friend’s partner; we can’t like everyone that we meet! The problem is that if you tell your friend that you don’t like who they’re seeing, you risk straining your relationship with your friend.
When someone – especially a close friend – asks you what you think about their partner, most of the time, they’re honestly only fishing for compliments. They want to show off how great their new partner is, to have you singing their praises…
If you tell them that you’re not too impressed or that you just don’t like their new partner, it can cause a rift in your relationship. Sometimes it’s best to just let it go; as long as it’s not a harmful or toxic relationship, it doesn’t necessarily affect you. Your priority should be making sure that your friend is happy!
The good thing about this script is that you largely remain neutral. Whilst you’re not confirming that you’re mad about your friend’s new partner, you’re not really stating that you dislike them.
By saying that you just don’t know them, you’re not ruling out the possibility of warming up to them in the future.
Above all, it’s important that you reassure your friend that you’re happy for them.
2 | The Honest Approach
Honestly… I’m not too sure about them. I don’t think you’ve been the same person since you’ve been with them, and I think your new partner has a negative influence on you. Obviously, I don’t know them as well as you do, so I’m not seeing them in the same way, but as long as you’re happy…
Sometimes you just can’t help how you feel about someone. Whilst you should generally try to avoid telling your friend that you don’t like their new partner, if it is inevitable, you may wish to just be honest.
Your friend will probably appreciate the honesty; they obviously value your opinion. If you’re especially close, you may not typically try to hide anything from each other, so your friend would expect you to be completely and brutally honest anyway.
What makes this script ideal is that it’s passive and non-confrontational. You’re not just stating an open dislike for your friend’s partner; you’re justifying it by saying that they’re having a negative influence on your friend.
Another great reason to use this script is that it doesn’t attempt to convince your friend to leave their partner. It acknowledges that they’re happy, which is all that should really matter.
Similar to the above script, this also hints at the fact that you could warm up to your friend’s partner in the future. You explain that you don’t know them as well as your friend does, and you only see one side of their relationship. By confirming that you don’t see them in the same way, you’re being mature enough to notice both sides of the coin.
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3 | The Confrontational Approach
I just wanted to let you know that I really don’t like how [Partner’s Name] treats you. I think they put you down/treat you badly/aren’t very good for you/other reason, and I’ve noticed that you’ve not been yourself since you’ve been seeing them.
I understand that my perspective might skewed because I have my own standards of what I think is acceptable (and I’m also well aware that I am not in the relationship myself), but this is what I’m seeing from a third party perspective. If you ever need to talk about anything, I’m here for you without judgement.
If you do choose to be honest with your friend and admit that you don’t like their partner, it’s absolutely important to explain why. Naturally, your friend will see their partner through rose-tinted glasses, so they might be oblivious to any problematic behavior or red flags.
If you don’t like their partner, it’s probably with good reason. This script is a great choice for when you need to call out any issues or make your friend aware of any concerning behavior.
It allows you to show your friend that you care about them by using non-threatening language and expressing concern at the situation – it’s a script that is designed to bring you closer to your friend, or to get them to open up to you in ways they otherwise might not.
This script is great because it doesn’t outright say that you don’t like your friend’s new partner; rather that you just don’t like the way that they treat your friend.
You can prove to your friend that you respect them and that you only want what is best for them. It also allows you to remind them that you are there whenever they might need it, without putting any pressure on them at all.
4 | They Make You Uncomfortable
If I’m honest, I feel uncomfortable when I’m around this person.
If you tell your friend that you like a new partner, you start to run the risk that they’ll be invited to all of your social situations. There’s nothing worse than being exposed to PDA on the bleachers!
If you don’t want to outright admit that you don’t actually like your friend’s new partner, you might consider using this script. Whilst it is quite simple, it has a heavy, lasting impact that usually doesn’t prompt any further questions.
This is a good way to simply imply that you don’t like someone without having to say it directly. It could be a good way to break the tension between yourself and a new friend that you don’t quite know yet or someone with who you’re familiar but not entirely comfortable with.
When you tell someone that their partner makes you uncomfortable, they will try to limit your interactions. It will likely have an impact on the relationship between you and your friend, which is why you shouldn’t consider using this script on someone you’re especially close to.
If anything, this is a good response to dance around the subject!
At Never the Right Word, our aim is to give you practical examples of how to handle life’s difficult conversations. If you have an awkward situation that you’d like example templates for, request a topic here.
Lastly, if you found this content helpful or want to share your own examples, let us know in the comments. We’d also be delighted if you shared this article and joined us on social media too!
Never the Right Word
Hi there! I’m Amy, and I’m the person behind Never the Right Word. I’m a designer-by-day who’s fascinated by human psychology; you’ll find me learning about what makes others tick through all types of media and good old-fashioned conversation.
In 2019 Never the Right Word was born to fill the gap of ‘how-to’ websites with copy and paste examples showing you EXACTLY what you need to say to steer difficult conversations into positive outcomes.
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