What to do if you hate your mate’s partner

THERE'S a song by Irish band The Thrills with the chorus lyric: "It's such a shame when old friends fall out over new lovers."

It's a singular sentiment that I'd never before heard expressed in song, despite how ubiquitous this situation is. Everyone can relate to meeting a good friend's new partner and just … not feeling it.

Let's be clear off the bat that I'm not discussing relationships with violence or sexual abuse. If your friend finds themselves in one of those, please do everything within your power to extract them from this situation, even if it results in the fraying of your friendship. This sacrifice is worth it. Your friend will thank you, even if they also resent you and hate you.

Again, it's worth it.

What I'm discussing here is those people that just plain suck at being people. The inconsiderate. The unfunny-yet-loud. The petty. The cruel. The awkwardly demanding.

The passive-aggressive. The snipey, sh*tty people our friends sometimes date, who loudly brag about how good they are in bed, a trait that is in inverse proportion to the truth of the matter in 100 per cent of cases.

It's tough to work out what to do when your friend starts dating one of these rubbish people. At first you'll feel like Tim from The Office, desperately looking around trying to catch the eye of another as if to silently say, "Are you getting this?"

Then you'll test the waters with other close friends, with throwaway questions like, "So, what do you think about so-and-so?" and "It's weird he's dating so-and-so, don't you think? Not really his usual type, hey?"

There is often a sex-related answer to the final question, although this person is so annoying that all the orgasms in the world couldn't make you spend a second longer in their company. So you still don't get it.

You'll then advance to straight-up bitching about this person with your friends, clocking stories and excitedly waiting until the next time you can unload them all in disbelief. "He kept boasting about how much pizza he ate! Like, for hours."

The very worst occurrence is when your friend finally breaks up with the person, and the floodgates open. "Oh, thank Christ, that person was terrible!" A chorus of agreeance chimes in, and the laundry list of complaints begins. The way they chewed with their mouth open, slurping and burping and breathing loudly through their nose.

Theway they spoke to you as if you were hired help. The patronising way in which they always called me "champ". That time they boasted about how many drinks it takes them to get wasted, as if this represents anything other than poor economics. The time they wore Orlando Magic basketball shorts to a nightclub.

Then, three weeks later, your friend gets back together with this person, and you cannot unring those bells you shook so gleefully, like a manic and bitchy town-crier. Your friend remembers all the things said - if they didn't already know you felt this way before, they certainly do now - and now they resent you.

Of course they have to side with their partner; they are partners after all.

If your friends straight-up don't like your new partner, you should probably put aside all your swirling, whirling emotions and try to pay attention to this.

An often-used defence is "they don't know her/him like I do", and while this is convenient logic, it's often flawed.

Technically, they actually know your new partner in a completely different way to you: devoid of rose-coloured glasses; able to see flaws your bent, blinkered brain is blocking from your line of sight.

Remember this if you are the one with the partner everyone dislikes, but also try to remember it if you are party doing the disliking.

Hard as it seems, you need to hold your tongue and let them work it out themselves, or risk pushing them together.

"Us against the world" is the most romantic construct there is, and all you're doing by dissenting loudly is adding more romance to the equation. You will only succeed in blinding your friend further to their partner's faults, prolonging a sucky relationship they may have figured out sucks in due time, had you not thrown down the gauntlet and made them double down.

Nobody likes admitting they were wrong about someone they love. Nobody likes admitting they have bad taste. And, nobody chooses friendship over love.

Nathan Jolly is a Sydney-based writer who specialises in pop culture, music history, true crime and true romance. Follow him on Twitter @nathanjolly



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