By Kelly Seal
Your friends are an excellent litmus test for the people you date. They can be perceptive and objective even when your vision is clouded with thoughts of mind-blowing sex or romantic weekends away. But even better, they can spot your weaknesses and the type of douchebags you might end up sleeping with.
Your friends are the people who know you best – who’ve seen you at your lowest points, crying into your chardonnay or puking into the toilet at 2:30 in the morning after you’ve downed half a bottle of vodka. They are there for you, just as you are for them. And most importantly, a good friend wants to see you happy.
So what happens if you’re dating someone who puts down your friends or tries to alienate you from them? It happens more than you might think. Most of us want our personal lives to grow when we’re in a relationship. We want all the important people in our lives to get along with each other. But let’s say your new boyfriend (or girlfriend) makes you uncomfortable because of snarky, sarcastic comments about a friend’s career, jokes or clothing choices, or tells you your friends are lame and not worth your time. You may find yourself caught in the middle, not wanting to hurt anyone, but not comfortable bringing your friends and new boyfriend together. To keep your new relationship moving forward, you might stop seeing your friends altogether just so you don’t have to explain his bad behavior.
Unfortunately, when a guy puts down the people closest to you, there’s a good chance that he treats everyone in his life in the same way – his family, his own friends, and eventually you! Even in of the midst of new love it’s hard to see all that. It’s easier to laugh uncomfortably at his insensitive jokes or make excuses to your friends that he’s having a hard time at work or is stressed.
Sometimes it’s difficult to accept that your new boyfriend could behave this way, especially if he treats you with kindness and respect. How can he have a separate personality around your friends? And why can’t your friends see the good in him the way you do?
You can tell a lot about someone by how they treat other people. You can’t expect a new boyfriend to like your friends as much as you do, but he should make an effort to be nice to the people most important to you. This shows respect to you as well as the people in your life.
There are people who put others down to make themselves feel better, and it is a sign of deep insecurity. Your new significant other may lack self-confidence and is trying to make up for it in an unhealthy way. But it can also be a deeper problem.
Some people who display this type of behavior – belittling others to make themselves look good – do so because they are controlling. They want to be in control of you, the relationship, how you spend your time, and even how you perceive them. It is not only a destructive type of behavior, but it can dangerous to you and others.
So what should you do? First, it’s important to communicate openly with your girlfriend or boyfriend and express your concerns. Let him know it’s not acceptable to treat your friends badly. If you aren’t the type to confront him directly, or you prefer to ignore the situation and keep trying to smooth things over, then you’re expressing that his behavior is acceptable. You’re letting him know it’s okay to disrespect your friends, and by default, that it’s also okay to disrespect you.
The rest is up to you. Only you can decide whether or not the relationship is worth more of your time and energy. If you’re still feeling confused after you’ve confronted him about his behavior, ask yourself: is he making a real effort to change and get to know my friends and treat them with respect? Is he honoring my feelings by refraining from making nasty comments and put-downs? If not, then you know what to expect from him in the future. It might be time to move on.