It starts with asking yourself these hard questions.

By Dr. Jenn Mann
Sep 23, 2020 @ 12:20 pm
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DEAR DR. JENN,

My best girlfriends can’t stand my boyfriend. I've vented to them about him in the past, but things are great now and they still seem to hold a grudge. I think he is amazing and I want them to take the time to get to know him, but now they avoid hanging out with him at all costs. I do trust my friends and they know me well, but the way they're acting seems extreme — he's never cheated on me or done anything that I see as unforgivable. How do I navigate this and make everyone just get along? —Torn

DEAR TORN,

When your ride or die squad feels this strongly, you need to look a little closer to make sure you are not missing anything important. This requires a deep-dive assessment from all angles before you start problem-solving. I'd start by asking yourself these questions...

Do your boundaries suck?

Let's say you have a big blow-up fight with your guy and spill to your friends. They get worked up, and then you go home. When you get there, he has flowers waiting and makes heartfelt amends. You cuddle, talk, days go on and you have 100 different reparative experiences with your partner. But your friends stay in a time capsule of frustration and anger where your story that you shared with them ended. They are still mad at him and did not experience all of those reparative experiences that you did. It makes sense that it may take them longer to recover (typically, friends or family will be about six months behind).

Bottom line: Most couples, especially after they get past the honeymoon stage, experience some conflicts and negotiations that can be rough, but it's important to have boundaries. Don't tell your gal pals about every little conflict you have or over-share personal information about your man.

Are your friends right?

Are you blinded by love or great orgasms? Could you be dating a douche bag and just not be seeing the reality of the situation? I recommend asking your friends for honest and specific feedback about what they do not like about your guy. Do your best to listen without getting defensive. Keep in mind that these are people who love you and probably have your best interest at heart. They want to see you happy and in a healthy relationship. Why are they having an issue with this person? Could their concerns be valid? Be open-minded.

Is there something else you're missing?

After you've heard them out, take the time to really assess if there’s something else going on. Are your friends jealous that your boyfriend is getting all your time and attention? Are they envious that you're in a relationship and they are not? Are they holding your past relationship choices against your partner?

This is a possibility I've seen come up in my own practice. Jane Doe was a therapy client who had a history of picking abusive alcoholic men who took advantage of her. She spent a lot of time exploring this in therapy and eventually started making better decisions and picking healthier men. But because she had such a pattern of picking losers, her friends operated under the assumption that any guy she'd pick was bound to be bad news. When she first brought him around, they grilled him and looked really hard for problems with him. It took her friends a good year of getting to know him to see that he was different. It was a painful process, but one that ultimately paid off.

Get outside feedback.

If you really feel unclear and can’t figure out if the problem is with your guy or your pals, speak with a neutral person. If there’s someone in your life who knows him and has spent time with your gang, ask for some feedback. Otherwise, getting advice from a trusted advisor, religious leader, mentor, or therapist can help you to sort through the confusion and find a resolution.

Getting everyone together.

If there’s too much tension, you may want to let that pass before bringing everyone together in a group setting. I would recommend doing things with one of your friends at a time with your boyfriend to start. It’s a lot of pressure for him to deal with an entire group, plus most people are more relatable, vulnerable, and honest in a smaller group. Keeping the numbers limited also allows your friend and boyfriend to find common ground more easily. You also may want to try an activity that takes the pressure off of everyone to talk and instead allows you all to share an experience. Go to a movie, do something athletic, do something creative, or just run an errand together. This can help everyone to get used to spending time together and create a sense of familiarity.

The bottom line:

Time, open conversations, self-reflection, and an open mind tend to help the truth come to the surface in these kinds of situations. Trust that you will gain the clarity to know what the truth really is and that you have the strength to take whatever steps need to be taken. Hopefully, everyone will come around and will ultimately see why you care so much about each one of these people in your life.

In Hump Day, award-winning psychotherapist and TV host Dr. Jenn Mann answers your sex and relationship questions — unjudged and unfiltered.