(Originally published by GQ)
Are her friends chronic shit-talkers? Does one of them maybe want to see your peen? Don’t fret and proceed accordingly.
Without romantic relationships, our newspaper headlines would have nothing to offer but story after story of men and women dying alone, crushed under an ever-growing pile of Hot Pockets wrappers. While, for many of us, dating is a one-on-one activity (don’t worry, I see you, polyamorists friends!), even most monogamous relationships have more than two people involved. When you do find the person you’re willing to share your shower and fluids with, you’re not just bringing a co-captain aboard the sinking ship you call your life, you’re bringing on their friends, too.
Your significant other’s friends are an essential part of their being, much like hentai and loneliness are for the rest of us. They’ve been carefully assembled over a lifetime of bachelorette auctions and Hip Hop Abs classes, and those bonds, as I believe it says in the Constitution and most sorority contracts, can be broken only in death. So what happens when those pals aren’t exactly your kind of people? Can you make a relationship last when you hate your significant other’s friends?
Here’s how to deal.
Situation A: They’re talking trash about you
For certain people, trash talking is just another way to communicate. If your partner’s friends have less-than-complimentary things to say about you, try to distance yourself from the situation enough to figure out whether it’s all in good fun or they really hate you. There’s a big difference between, “Are we feeling good about Jeff’s running socks?” and “I think we should set fire to Jeff’s running socks inside his car.” While it never feels good to have people make fun of you, a bit of playful ribbing has its place, and figuring out how to give it right back may earn you their respect in the long run. Or they’ll set fire to your car. I’m not a fortune teller.
Can you overcome it: Yes
Situation B: They love making trouble
Just ask anyone with a nickname like “Fun Jimmy” or “Sloppy Karen”: doing stuff that could get you into trouble is a lot of fun! However, there’s a big difference between getting high and hanging out on a playground and crashing the housing market. If the reason you hate your significant other’s friends is because they’re closing all the toll lanes on the George Washington Bridge, that seems like something worth addressing. It’s okay to say something! But if they brought a thermos full of Barefoot Bubbly into Hamilton and you just fucking love rules, let it slide, hall monitor.
Can you overcome it: Probably
Situation C: They’re actively trying to have sex with one of you
Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you suddenly stop having a charming personality or a butt that works overtime. Even if you don’t think you or your significant other is giving off come-hither vibes to their friends, sometimes, they’ll still want to be the creepy meat (liverwurst, probably) in your relationship sandwich. It’s not uncommon for people to attempt to quell the feelings of abandonment they experience when their closest human seems to share a deeper bond with someone else by trying to share a grosser, wetter bond with them instead. Luckily, this is probably more of a subconscious act than you’re assuming—even hinting about a threeway will probably make your significant other’s pal so uncomfortable that you all have to move off the face of the earth in order to avoid run-ins. Of course, there are those people out there who really, genuinely do want to have sex with you or your partner, societal norms be damned. If you’re not into it, stop inviting them over before Jeremy from IT is doing a poor reenactment of the Varsity Blues whipped cream bikini scene in your living room.
Can you overcome it: Maybe
As idiots so often say, “the best ships are friendships,” when of course, the best ships are the ones your girlfriend’s rich college roommate lets you drink on, so play nice and let those bonds flourish. Ahoy!