Let friend know it's okay that he doesn't like your partner
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Hypothetical Invitation: A good friend of more than 10 years recently bought a large beach house. We get together in the city for drinks or dinner and he tells me all about who he had down at the beach last weekend. He then throws out a hypothetical invitation, "You should come down sometime." I've received at least five of these, while all our mutual friends have been down at least once. I've tried setting specific dates and keep getting put off.
It is obvious my friend doesn't like my partner. But instead of admitting it, he is pretending we are welcome in his house, while never actually inviting us. At what point do I confront him?
CAROLYN: Seems to me you have the makings of a great conversation. "Look, I'd love to come, but I also know you're not a fan of (partner's name). If that's standing in the way, I understand." Often the problem isn't just the insincerity of the "Come on down . . . ," but also the uncertainty of how to let people know you really do care, you just can't abide the mates. Often the best route is to let people know you won't pitch a fit or stop speaking to them for admitting an unpleasant truth.
Hypothetical Invitation: Your answer is correct, but I realized I didn't ask the right question. How do I deal with the fact that my friend doesn't like my partner? It is putting distance between us, because I/we are being excluded.
In short, I feel like the love of my life is costing me my friends.
Carolyn: It's extremely common, if that's any assurance. I think a new partner is almost always followed by friendship plate-shifting, and it's just the degree that gets people's attention.
If the shift you're experiencing is huge and unsubtle, and you really feel you're losing friends you value — for both their companionship and their opinions — then I think you owe it to yourself to take a hard look at your partner.
If you have a versatile personality and you're accustomed to having different friends who don't mix well, then it's just a matter of figuring which friends you want to work to keep, by making the effort to continue one-on-one plans.
If, on the other hand, your friends generally like your mates, then their alienation might be an alarm. The "love of your life" can be that and a liability, too, unfortunately. Be as honest with yourself and your friends as you can.
ANONYMOUS: Re: Hypothetical Invitation: My best friends don't really like my fiance either. However, we made it work by having a pretty frank and non-heated discussion about why they don't like him (they don't hate him — they just have nothing in common, except me).
So we compromised — for every two times they hang out with me, they have to see him once. I have let my fiance know the girls aren't crazy about him (the feeling is mutual), and he graciously declines every other invitation, as a gesture of goodwill. It's not ideal. But it works.
CAROLYN: It's amazing what you can accomplish just by choosing not to punish people for their opinions. Thank you.