Though we often know and appreciate our friend’s friends, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes we don’t like a particular person or the effect she has on our friend. Or maybe she doesn’t like us. This can be as innocuous as her or you simply not wanting to join in shared activities. Or it can be brutal, with one of you actively saying or doing things that are hurtful to the other.
The reality is not everyone in the world can or will like everyone else, and it’s highly likely that some of those people will end up in your larger friend groups.
In some cases, it’s easy to define why you don’t like a person or why you aren’t on the same page. Maybe she is more or less controlling than you, or more or less needy. Maybe she is mean or you don’t think she stands up for herself enough and you can see how that is hard for your mutual friend. Or she has habits you can’t abide by or her political or moral views are the diametric opposite of yours or your friend’s.
Maybe, if you know she isn’t your biggest fan, you actually know enough about your differences to understand why you don’t like each other. Sometimes the underlying cause isn’t clear. She is just one of those people you have zero chemistry with. Maybe a case of hate at first sight.
Ok. You don’t like one of your friend’s friends and it’s more than indifference. You just aren’t happy when she’s around. What can you do about it?
If the things that divide you aren’t that big and you think there’s a chance you can find better footing, it could be helpful to take some time to:
- Look for something in common. Maybe you just don’t know her well enough. Similar interests or hobbies are a place to start.
- Talk to your mutual friend about it. Tell her that you’d like to get to know this person better. She already likes you both and might be able to help.
- Consider if jealousy or envy is the cause. If so, you can work to be more accepting of her relationship with your friend.
And just remember that, after taking some initiative, you still may not become friends with this person. Which is okay, because there’s no rule that says you have to be good friends with your friend’s friends.
On the other hand, if the things you don’t like about her are deal breakers for you, you don’t want to try to get to know her better, and her relationship isn’t actively harming your shared friend, then it’s worthwhile to:
- Be nice. Do not insult her or say nasty things about this woman to your mutual friend. She has her reasons for liking you both, and oversharing puts her in a very awkward position.
- Avoid confrontation or competition. That puts your friend in a very difficult position of managing friends who don’t get along.
- Fake it. We don’t all have to like everyone in our orbit. And as long as your differences aren’t harmful to either you or your friend, it’s your job to be nice to your friend’s friends.
If she is harming your friend in some way (ie., gaslighting her, trash talking her behind her back, sleeping with her boyfriend, heading your friend down a destructive path, or is only a friend when she needs something):
- You may have to step in to help if someone, even a supposed friend, is bullying your friend. The key here is to focus on your friend, the one being bullied, and as much as possible ignore the bully and her behavior.
- Once you have stopped any real-time harm, take time to calm down before discussing this person and their behavior with your friend. You may be feeling angry. Your friend may be feeling scared or embarrassed. Taking some time before starting a difficult conversation allows you to discuss your concerns in a reasonably calm conversation.
- Tread lightly. Especially if you don’t know how your mutual friend feels about this other friend. This is likely to be a difficult conversation and your friend may be angry at you—for pointing out something bad about someone she cares about, or for shining a light on something that makes her uncomfortable.
- Offer support. If your friend has reached out to you concerned about this other woman’s behavior, be there to support her. Listen to her concerns and don’t offer advice unless asked. Or, if you do feel you need to provide resources or offer advice, ask first. For example, “Would it be helpful if I helped you find a therapist to talk to about this?” And then respect her answer.
- Reassure her and emphasize the positives. Discovering that a friend really isn’t a friend is painful. As a concerned friend, this is your chance to remind her of her wonderful qualities, all the things she has done right, and recognize the strength it takes to walk away from a destructive friendship.
You don’t have to like your friend’s friends. But you do have to try to get along with them. Give them space and try to get along for the sake of your mutual friend. And remember, they have some good qualities, too…or your fabulous friend wouldn’t like them as much as she does!