It can feel like an obligation to make nice and become close with your significant other’s friends. Naturally, you want to strike up a rapport with anyone close to someone you love, but it often doesn’t come easily. You might not be crazy about some of the people in your partner’s social orbit. Or maybe your partner’s friends are skeptical of you, casting you as some kind of unwelcome interloper in a previously settled group of friends.
If the latter situation ever occurs, it’ll always behoove you to extend an olive branch and try to make friends with these people, even if they aren’t immediately welcoming. You don’t have to ask them out on a “friend date,” in which you broker some kind of peace treaty. Rather, you can try to win them over with good faith attempts at getting to know them, and by generally being your best self.
Maybe this person is skeptical of your intentions when it comes to your relationship. People can be understandably protective of their friends. It’s possible that your significant other’s friends don’t see a textbook example of an outstanding partner when they see you, even though that’s what you are.
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To that end, show them that you’re supportive of your partner. Dr. Paulette Sherman, psychologist and author of Dating from the Inside Out, says showing up for your partner in tandem with genuine efforts to make friends with their friends has an endearing effect.
She tells Lifehacker:
It’s great to go that extra mile for your partner as you would have them do for you. If a friend is important to your partner then it’s great to make an actionable effort to get to know them, to be friendly and to make them feel welcome. People want to feel liked and sometimes friends feel threatened when their good friends gets in a new serious relationship and they may feel that things will change or they won’t be included. You can set the tone by showing up and making an effort.
You don’t have to talk about how much you like your partner, or wax lyrical about their talents or bombard them with compliments. You don’t want to look like you’re performing. Rather, show a passion for the things your partner is passionate about. Demonstrate a commitment to enriching their lives by being supportive of the things they love. That means showing up to events they might be participating in, or getting them thoughtful gifts for their birthday.
If your dedication and commitment is evident enough, it’s likely that any skepticism will fade away.
You have to be yourself. It’s possible your partner’s friends are being unfair, and any major overtures you make will go unheeded, anyway. But if it’s just a routine skepticism, don’t go too far out of your way to curry good favor. It becomes transparent pretty quickly when you make overt attempts to get someone to like you. This could easily seem disingenuous, especially when the person you’re trying to appeal to already has some misgivings about you.
To that end, Sherman recommends putting your ego aside. She advises:
You can’t guess why a friend may be skeptical—they may have had a bad breakup or experienced losing a friend to his new girlfriend—all things that may have little to do with you. And while you aren’t responsible for your partners friends baggage, you can make an effort to be kind and to do your part to form a relationship. If you react defensively from your ego or expect them to take the lead in making things better right off the bat, then you are not doing your part to help things along.
Let things flow naturally. Chances are that they will see you in an accurate light in due course, especially if you’re kind and accommodating to both them and your partner.
If someone is dismissive of you, it can be tempting to return the favor. But you can garner a lot of good faith by killing this person with kindness. Ask them how they are. Make eye contact and smile. Remember if they mentioned something important the last time you saw them, and then follow up on it. It’ll show that you’re kind and conscientious, which is exactly the type of person someone will want their friend to be with.
Above all, the directive here is to demonstrate that you’re a good significant other who genuinely cares for your partner. If you do that, the rest can and should fall into place. And if it doesn’t, it’s likely that it’s your partner’s friend who should reevaluate their approach.
Sherman notes that some attempts to reconcile with a skeptical friend come with limits. Perhaps this friend just has an axe to grind that seems intractable. In that case, it’s fine to let your partner have their relationship with this person without you.
If that friend disparages you or is hostile after your efforts, it may be healthy to step away and let your partner and them have their own relationship, but it’s worth a try because all new relationships take effort and building trust can take time.
Of course, you can always be civil with this person. But because any reconciliation hinges on what the other person does, understand that there’s limits to what you’ll be able to accomplish.