A Guide To Dealing With Partners You Cannot Stand

Words by: Emma Sudano
Art by: Lauren Easter

We all want our BFFs to be happy in love, on one condition: that I’m happy, too. It’s an age-old dilemma, you don’t like your friend’s partner. So, what do you do? 

You probably want to yell ‘you can do so much better!’, maybe even grab their arms and shake some sense into them. You think back to all the wine-induced hours spent mapping out their ideal partner, based on everything from personality to how they will look in the wedding photos. For fuck’s sake, there were probably even Pinterest boards made. Why didn’t they listen to the Pinterest boards?! You love your friend and vow to always be there for them — yet any time they mention their significant other, you cringe with every fibre of your being. But what are you going to do? Tell them that their partner is a jerk? Is it truly your place? Should you shut the fuck up, keep your head down and secretly loathe their spouse? None of these seem to be viable possibilities. 

I’ve been through exactly this, so let me tell you what I did… and please believe me when I say that openly hating your BFF’s S.O. makes you a bad friend. 

I have been best friends with this girl since she moved to my high school back in 2016, and she has had one asshole boyfriend after another. However, it wasn’t until the most recent shit-head that my fuse ran out. There was no more supportive bestie; there was only an angry, resentful, unsupportive friend. I honestly don’t know how we are still best friends — but in my defence, this bloke was beyond shitty. 

I’m not going to delve into the dirty details of their relationship, because I respect her too much to put them on paper. So instead, I’ll tell you what I did wrong:

I told her to dump him. I told her point-blank that he was abusive, mean and controlling and the most diabolical human I had ever laid eyes on. That was the first and most consequential mistake I made. The more I compared their relationship to those of other, healthier partners, the less she opened up to me when things went south, and so the more she relied solely on him. I made her feel as if she had no one else to turn to, which only made it harder for her to leave. 

Our friendship eventually triumphed over that nasty piece of work. Thankfully, along the road, I discovered some more effective approaches to deal with these kinds of situations, and I hope you can learn from my mistakes. 

  1. Understand why you loathe their partner

Is it perhaps because they’re not the Timothée Chalamet doppelganger you had in mind for her? As trivial as it may sound, sometimes no one comes close to matching your ideal partner for your BFF. But if it’s because they’re a misogynistic, sexist pig, this is a fair reason to condemn them (and please use me as a reference!). No one deserves to be treated like this. 

  1. Decide whether or not you should tell your BFF

If you have no reasonable grounds to dislike them and can tell that they adore and treat your bestie like a chivalrous, respectful Nicholas Sparks character would, it’s probably something you should keep to yourself. However, if they are toxic (cue our queen Ms Spears) or there are numerous reasons why they aren’t meant to be (that your bestie is clueless of), it’s time to stand up and tell them (see below).

  1. Take it slowly and don’t overdo it

This can be the most terrifying aspect. No one likes to tell their bestie that their S.O. isn’t what they had imagined. You must proceed with caution. It’s not the time to go full speed and rip their partner to shreds the first time you say something; that’s a sure-fire method to drive your friend away. Instead, try to validate your friend’s concerns by admitting to them you’ve witnessed certain things that don’t sit right with you. Make it clear that you are not judging them — it’s the greatest way to ensure they feel comfortable talking to you.

  1. Remember they are still your #1

If you only remember one thing from what has been said, make it this: they are your friend regardless of the type of relationship they are in. Even if you cannot stand the toxicity oozing from every crevice of their partner’s body, that should be the main incentive to stay. Every person, especially those in bad relationships, needs their best friend.

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