If you’re asking yourself why your boyfriend’s friends seem to hate you, I’m going to assume you haven’t done anything to earn their undying resentment, otherwise you wouldn’t be asking the question to begin with. If you found this page, it is more likely that you aren’t sure what’s going on. Either that, or you simply don’t feel like you deserve all this negativity you are attracting.
In this article I am going to explain why I feel that this negative feedback often has very little to do with you as a partner, and is instead a natural by-product of psychological factors that you cannot directly control (that is not to say you can’t do something about it, but more on that later). If you want to understand why this is happening to you, and why I feel it is natural for it to be happening, keep reading.
As always, this is a distinctly male point of view, so take it all with a copious sprinkling of salt.
A Stressed Out Caricature
Your boyfriend will turn to his friends to vent about aspects of the relationship that are bringing him down. There is no relationship that is immune to this, no matter how “perfect”. There is also no way around this, and attempts to control or limit this stress channel will backfire because everybody needs a stress dump. If we deny them this, it will build into a pile of resentment so high that it will threaten the relationship when it becomes unsustainable and collapses.
The problem that arises here is that the only thing your boyfriend’s friends tend to hear about you is negative, because that is the ultimate product of stress dumping. This leads to a false representation of the relationship of course, because your boyfriend will only really vent about things he needs to “get out” of his system, so to speak, but his friends don’t know this. What his friends will see is a relationship fraught with problems, even if these crumbs of negativity are part and parcel of a healthy relationship.
This can end up backfiring horribly if they (the friends) lack the intuition necessary to see what’s really going on. Rather than saying, “alright, they’re venting, and this obviously isn’t the full picture”. They may instead try and “fix” the problem, which may mean pushing for solutions to inexistent problems (which we all know actually means creating entirely new ones).
The bottomline is that through no fault of your own, in his friends’ eyes, you will become a stress-borne caricature of who you really are.
What can we do about it?
Our options are limited. I would not attempt to control the message by:
- Developing my own friendships with his friends to counter-balance the narrative. If you like and/or respect his friends, and these friendships develop naturally then by all means, go ahead. But remember that everyone needs an outlet, a place where we can temporarily exit the invisible confines of the relationship and shake the stress from our minds. If we place ourselves between him and his friends, then he will just find somewhere else to seek refuge.
- Limiting access to his friends. Either by emotional manipulation or by other less subtle means such as keeping him eternally engaged.
- Asking him to reprioritize his friendships. Unless you are fundamentally unhappy with how far down his list of priorities you are. If you are currently at the bottom of the barrel, I feel it is fair to bring this up and let him haggle with the ramifications of the statement.
To sum it all up, I would not place a wedge between my partner and their friends unless these friendships are directly threatening the relationship itself. I’ll take looking like a self-absorbed dictator to his friends if it means allowing my partner to manage his stress levels. But I won’t settle for a backseat relationship to them, because that isn’t what I signed up for when entering a romantic relationship. That’s my personal thick red line.
What If My Boyfriend Prioritizes His Friends Over me?
Are you made to feel like an afterthought? Is this the product of the strong pre-existing friendships he has with his friends, or is it the sign of a decaying connection?
He Always Had Strong Friendships
Some people will value their friendships just as highly as their romantic relationships. If this is the case with your partner, it will have been obvious from the very start. And honestly, if it was, it was/is up to us to accept this state of affairs as is. I feel it is fundamentally unfair of us to ask them to change their needs to fit ours now if this is always how things have been.
Not only is it unfair, but in relationships, as well all know, fairness comes excluded because our feelings and needs are not always logical or rational. If he needs these friendships to be as strong as they are, then he needs them to be as strong as they are, and attempting to change this will usually end in tears for all involved.
This Is Something New
If, on the other hand, he is seeking his friends out more and more as time goes on, it may be a sign that something within the relationship isn’t working as it once did.
I honestly think to a certain extent a little reprioritization will occur over time as the all-encompassing attraction phase of the relationship mutates into the more measured, attachment stage. However, if his need to seek his friends has completely dwarfed his time with you, then something more sinister might be afoot.
In this case we should assume something isn’t working with the relationship, and rather than point the finger at his friends, we would do well to look within the relationship‘s walls for the culprit.
What If His Friends’ Hate Is Destroying The Relationship?
Even if we accept that a part of his friends’ dislike may stem from an unrealistic portrayal of us (and we also accept why this is the case), there may come a point when this constant barrage of negativity will spill into the relationship, corrupting it. This can mean:
- The feedback your boyfriend is receiving has distorted his opinion of you, or the relationship, and he’s now pushing back unjustly.
- His friends are openly accusing you of being something you are not, or doing things you don’t do.
- You constantly feel guilty and feel the need to justify yourself to your boyfriend and his friends.
- It feels like they’re teaming up against you.
None of these situations are sustainable in the long run and will need to be dealt with. The simple act of searching for opinions (and finding this article), means that you are likely at this juncture right now. It means something is quickly becoming unsustainable.
Dealing With Negativity
Correcting a fragile situation will be always be linked with your collective ability to communicate effectively. This means your ability to effectively communicate your indignation, and his ability to understand how the situation is affecting you.
The trick here is to focus the discussion on how you are affected by this negative attention, without judging the situation in terms of what is objectively right or wrong. This way, by stripping judgment from the equation, there is a good chance we skip the tangling of egos and get right to the point.
We might feel that forcing him to pick sides is the “right” thing to do given how his friends are treating you, and what they have to say about you, but in the long run the cost of this will be the relationship because whether we like it or not, he will need the psychological outlet these friendships provide.
If instead he picks his friends over you, then the end result is the same because the relationship cannot function with you and your needs as backseat drivers. In both scenarios, we lose.
Let your boyfriend know how you feel and let him haggle with the details. Communicating effectively means debating solutions without criticizing intent.
If your boyfriend knows how this situation is affecting you and continues to do nothing about it, then either he is too weak to affect meaningful change, too lazy, or he doesn’t care. Either way, it is now up to you to do something about it.
If All Else Fails
There comes a point where we have to stop demanding action and accept that nothing meaningful is forthcoming. Understanding when this moment has come should also be part of our relationship toolkit.
I’m not typically the one to advocate breaking up as a cure, but allowing his friends to run all over you often means the problem is greater than just the corrupting nature of these friendships. It is the symptom of a larger problem that often has nothing to do with your role as a partner, though you will likely bear the brunt of the guilt and insecurity even if you do decide to break up.
Another Reason His Friends Hate You
This article deals with a subtle situation. That of attempting to balance a relationship with long-term psychological needs. Maybe, for example, his friends resent you because they no longer get to spend as much time with him. This is an understandable nugget of potential drama that will have to smoothed out somewhere down the line.
But sometimes, just sometimes, the reality is simpler than this article pretends.
Sometimes his friends are just assholes, and that’s all there really is to it. So if you are dealing with hatred rather than just disapproval or disappointment, consider this reality as well.