Help – I can’t stand his friends
What happens when you think your partner’s friends are a bad influence on him? We answer a reader's question, showing you how to tackle this delicate situation.
I’ve met an amazing man but I can’t bear his friends. He’s heading for 40 and his friends have been in his life for ages. I feel like he has changed quite a lot since his youth but they are still rowdy, beer-drinking, party people. I just don’t want them in my life. What should I do?
Without the opportunity of meeting you to find out more, there are two situations at work here. But before we broach them, we just want to mention one vital point.
You should never enter into a new relationship with the expectation that your partner will change. In premarital counselling sessions, if someone says “I’m sure that will get better after we’re married,” alarm bells ring. You should always think that your partner’s worst traits will be amplified once you are married. If you expect them to change, you will probably be very disappointed.
Now back to those situations:
Your boyfriend’s friends are a bad influence on him. His best intentions are always shattered the moment they’re around and they encourage destructive behaviour that he later regrets. He won’t acknowledge the fact that he needs to end these friendships for his own good.
If this is the case, you must wait for him to say so himself. He will need to tell you that he wants to create distance from these friends and only then can you expect him to make promises. These promises will not necessarily be fulfilled but he will at least be expressing a desire to act in a way that you would like.
Your partner’s friends are a good influence on him. What they do together is harmless male fun, be it football, drinking beer or going away for boys’ weekends. It’s the sort of closeness that not everyone has the luxury of and should not be discouraged. Perhaps you are jealous of the time they spend together? You might not approve of everything they do but there is nothing destructive about their behaviour and its biggest effect on him is to allow him to switch of and relax.
While there may be more issues at stake here, the truth probably lies within these two scenarios. Really, the important question is not whether his friends are a bad influence, it’s whether you will be happy in this relationship if nothing else changes? Weigh up your expectations now.
It would be dangerous to embark on a serious relationship believing that you will just avoid his friends. In this case, what you really want is your boyfriend to avoid his friends and that is a big demand. In fact, requesting him to distance himself from his friends at this stage would be a recipe for disaster. Your decision about whether or not to pursue this relationship should be based on the current circumstances and your conversations with him about what he wants in his life.