Gerry Heisler Ph.D.

Relationship Boot Camp

Relationships

Are Your Friends Trying To Ruin Your Love Life?

Can you stand up to friends trying to sabotage your love life?

Posted Apr 29, 2011

Every time Jerry started dating someone new, Mike would make some disparaging comment about her. She was either too fat, plain, boring, mousy, unfriendly, or dumb. He would also do a 180 and point out that some were out of his league. 

Mike and Jerry would go clubbing each Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night. They'd cruise in a car, go to bars, and "chase" women. By Jerry dating someone new, it threatened Mike's routine. Without wingman Jerry, Mike would have to go it alone. 

When Mike did meet Jerry's girlfriends, he would be cordial, but the women probably could sense his underlying resentment and hostility. He often was able to manipulate a confrontation by talking to Jerry, while basically ignoring his date. This made Jerry feel he had to choose sides. 

Mike was a dear friend but frightened of being alone. He couldn't tell Jerry that he was jealous, and Jerry never questioned Mike's intent. Eventually, Jerry, faced with his inability to become intimate with a woman he really adored, realized how he had been influenced by Mike. In a scene reminiscent of the classic old movie, Marty, starring Ernest Borgnine, Jerry finally stood up to him.

The emergence of a new love interest may be threatening to already existing relationships, such as family and friends. Sure, you might reasonably believe that anyone who cares about you wants to see you happy. But often this is not the case. Your friend can become just as jealous as a scorned lover. S/he might be completely unsupportive, fault finding, creating chaos and soap opera drama by saying things that will lead you to fight with your partner.

What a nightmare. Suddenly, you may feel you have to choose between your friends or your relationship.

If your friend is used to socializing with you on a regular basis, your involvement with your significant other can cause hurt and jealous feelings. What ends up happening is that sometimes your friends (consciously or unconsciously) may attempt to sabotage your relationship. Demeaning comments can be made about your partner's physical appearance, style of dress, profession, manners, or hygiene.

Sometimes friends will tell you that your new partner doesn't look like your type. Those who receive these messages can become confused, and people who are indecisive may be more disturbed and unsettled by them. Many find it draining to be forced to choose who to spend time with. Some have parents or friends who complicate this process with guilt-inducing maneuvers and statements such as:

  •  "How can you let yourself be open to another man?"
  •  "What kind of friend are you? As soon as a new man comes around, you're going to dump me?'
  •  "You don't care about me anymore."
  •  "Do you have to ask for permission from the old ball and chain to get a drink with the guys now?"

It is cumbersome to determine what's good and honest feedback, which you shouldn't discount, and when you should just trust your intuition. Some of your friends and relatives may be quite perceptive and intuitive. You may even use them as sounding boards because you realize they are better at reading the warning signs they see than you are. Lots of people become weary of escalating a relationship if their friends don't like their new partner. This is often a deal-breaker.  

Unfortunately, friends may not be objective if they are too dependent on you for social, emotional, or mental support. You need to realize how you feel when you are with your partner. It is hard enough for things to work between two people, let alone three.

In fact, it's rare that if you and your mate socialize with another couple that the four of you will get along. Jealousy, resentment, and disappointment will crop up and complicate each new encounter, so relax and don't expect everyone to agree with the partner you chose to spend time with.  

What can you do to deal with this dilemma? Ideally, we all should be able to read for ourselves the warning signs and see the red flags, which occur at the beginning of a relationship. We should know whether it's a good relationship. If you just take off your rose-colored glasses and attend to what's said, things can be pretty clear.

It's good when we avoid the either-or situation of "You see him or me!" You should be able to juggle a variety of relationships. In all healthy relationships, you should be able to have a variety of support systems outside of the main supplier.  

Long story short: If you feel good with your partner, continue to see him/her and learn to set boundaries with friends who may get envious.

Have you ever felt like you had to choose between your friends or your partner? Share in the comments below.