telling someone you don’t like their significant other.

Reader D. L. asks:

I’ve known my best friend since kindergarten. She’s been dating this asshole for about two years, they moved in together a month ago, and we all think he’s going to pop the question any moment. But the thing is: he’s an asshole. All of my friends agree, so it’s not just me that hates him. How can I tell her that he’s a dick before she makes the mistake of marrying him?

Dearest D.L.:

The simplest answer to this question: don’t. Don’t do it. Don’t tell her. Avoid the subject of your dislike for him at all costs. Save your friendship.

The reason this is probably the best advice, in spite of its contrariness to the whole “tell the truth, be yourself!” preaching I usually employ, is because she’s in love. The thing about being in love is that it blinds you to all sorts of nastiness, like snoring, body hair, cruelty, etc. And love, for women, is often some sacred, special, holy thing that can’t be broken. This is why a lot of women stay with abusive boyfriends. Thinking “he loves me” somehow makes it all okay.

My mother warned my sisters and I that, as we grew up, dating guys was going to become more important to many of our girlfriends than our friendships. While some of us ladies try to fight this stereotype with all our might (I employ the term “sisters before misters!” quite often), it doesn’t mean we’re not often subject to it. Romantic relationships tend to take up all our time, and there’s still the rumor that we need to get married to make something of our lives floating around. Your girlfriend, regardless of how intelligent and wonderful she is, probably sees herself as a team with her man, and may start seeing your interference as an “Us vs. Friend” scenario, in which case you’re totally screwed.

If he’s not abusing her, it’s okay to let her make her own mistakes. And even if he is, there is a very, very slim chance she’ll listen to you. If you fear for her life, call the police. Otherwise, listen to her calmly when she complains about him, and when they do break up you’ll be able to say, “It’s all good; I hated that guy anyway.”


Dude, I hate your boyfriend. That's ok. I hate your eyeliner. Image: Tina Phillips / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A good friend of mine disclosed to me that, whenever she breaks up with a guy, her friends come out of the woodwork and say things like, “Well, I never really thought you two were good for each other, anyway.” Sometimes these things are said out of solidarity for the friend during the break up, but sometimes they’re just a sigh of relief from friends who were trapped in pretending to like a guy she was head over heels for. And it’s such a nice sigh of relief to have, especially when you two are still friends.

If you feel you must be honest with your friend and tell her that you hate her boyfriend, I advise being gentle. Have your reasons for the dislike ready, and be prepared to have them shot down. Even concrete things like “I caught him cheating” or “he’s a total mooch” aren’t necessarily going to be convincing for her. Be prepared for a total blow up, and be prepared to lose the friendship altogether.

You can stage an intervention with your other friends if you’d like. Bring cookies, say things gently, and once again, be prepared for her to storm out of the room screaming and never want to speak to you again.

But then again, you may have an altogether different scenario on your hands. I have had many friends disclose to me that they disliked a guy I was dating. What may have surprised them was my answer: “I know.” Sometimes a girl knows she’s got a bad situation on her hands, and is looking for a good way to handle it. She may feel she has no way out of the relationship, or that she’s tied to him somehow (especially if they’ve moved in with each other). She may need your help to give her courage. If this is the case, you’ll probably know it pretty quickly. When she complains about him (and it will happen), take the opportunity to support her and agree.

If you decide to go with my first advice and wait the situation out, try learning to like him. If your reasons for hating him aren’t too severe (i.e. he doesn’t abuse her, emotionally or physically), then try to see him from her point of view. I’m not saying you have to fall in love with him. But you could try to see what’s good about him — maybe he’s really kind to animals, or really confident, or really good to his mom. Take a look at the reasons you and your other friends hate him, and see if you can’t offset them with something his girlfriend likes about him. It’s a good idea to get your group of haters together and make a concerted effort; otherwise, you’re basically working against yourself.

All in all, keep your friend’s feelings in mind. She’s the one who may be marrying him, not you. While you may have to live with him as a friend, you don’t have to live with him as a lover. Which is obviously a very good thing.

5 Responses to “telling someone you don’t like their significant other.”

  1. 1 JayEm
    April 2, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Kat is right. I was in this same situation your friend is in. I ended up getting a divorce from the ass hole but I had to figure it all out for myself. My friends who didn’t like him stopped talking to me for the most part. After I dumped him I got reacquainted with them. I often ask myself why no one tried to tell me to get out of the relationship. But then I remember that i wouldn’t have listened anyway.

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