Is it OK to say if you don't like a friend's new partner?
Posted by John Aiken, dating and relationship expert onWe've all been confronted with this sticky situation at some time or another. You've got a really close friend who you love spending time with and you're both currently out on the dating scene. Your friend then meets a new love interest and becomes totally smitten. The only problem is - you don't like their new partner!!! What do you do? Speak up or keep your opinions to yourself?
Good strong friendships can survive many things. Intense arguments, major disappointments, and large-scale hurts. But when it comes to this situation, you're on very shaky ground if you're thinking of saying something unless it's based on a history of serious issues such as violence, addiction, gambling or infidelity.
The reason why it's such a delicate and potentially friendship-ending decision to voice your personal and subjective dislike, is that you're not talking to a rational close friend at this point in time. Instead, you're talking to a love drunk, head over heels, besotted person whose brain is flooded with feel good chemicals (e.g. dopamine, noradrenaline).
In this state (called 'limerence'), your friend is skipping around being obsessed with their new partner. They long to spend all their time with them, they constantly fantasise about them and their future together, and all they see is their amazing character traits.
So if you think that speaking up and telling your friend that you simply don't like their new partner will make a difference - it won't. They're not going to listen. They're not able to. You'll lose to the chemicals every time!
Not only that, because your friend is now totally 'lovesick' with this new person, they're not going to appreciate your honesty or point of view. Instead, they're going to take this very, very personally indeed. They'll defend their new lover, become angry and hurt by your words and 100% disagree with you. And this may change your friendship forever.
So if you think it's going to get them to break-up with their new love interest - think again. It will simply push them closer to this person and further away from you.
So my advice would be AVOID telling them that you don't like their new partner. Instead, create some space and give them distance. Avoid catching up with them together. See your friend separately if possible, and essentially turn your focus to your other friends.
Let your friend come to the realisation that it's not going to work - rather than you trying to tell them.
Be civil and polite when you're around them both, but keep your thoughts to yourself. If they really are bad together - it will fizzle out. And if by some miracle they manage to make it work, then you haven't ruined your friendship, and you're in a position to deal with them both moving forward anyway you like.
John Aiken, RSVP dating and relationship expert, seen regularly on Ch 7's the Morning show, and author of the new book Making Couples Happy (www.johnaiken.com.au)
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