Entering a relationship is a big step to take that not only impacts you, but also your friends. Though this may sound surprising, as your relationship is just yours, relationships impact what you and your friends talk about and the time you choose to spend together. Friday nights can easily transform from going out with the girls to staying in with your SO. Your friends know you better than anyone and are likely to have an opinion on your SO and your relationship. It’s important to hear out your BFF’s opinions on your SO and make her feel heard, but how much do these opinions truly matter, and when should they have a real impact on your relationship? Her Campus went on a mission to figure this out.
Consider the relationship between you and your friend
Kathleen Bogle, author of Hooking Up: Sex, Dating and Relationships on Campus, recommends evaluating the friendship you have with the friend who has an opinion on your SO. “A true friend hates to see you not treated well and hates to see someone that is ‘just not that into’ you while you put your SO on a pedestal,” Bogle, also a professor of sociology and criminal justice at La Salle University, says. “But, some friends are part ‘frenemy’ and do not have your best interest at heart.” So, rather than the opinion itself, she recommends evaluating the friendship you and your friend share. If you believe she has your back and truly wants what is best for you, Bogle recommends to “give a lot of thought to what she says!”
Understand the context of their opinion
If you believe your friends’ opinions are coming from a place of jealousy or hurt, address those feelings rather than the opinions themselves. If you think your friend may be hurt that you haven’t been spending as much time with her and jealous of the time you’re spending with your SO, make a larger effort to involve her in plans and catch up. She may not really dislike your SO, she may just feel like they’ve stolen you from her.
Bogle says it is “a huge mistake to drop your friends and spend all of your time with your SO” and recommends making time to hang out with your friends without your SO there, which will reduce jealousy. Bogle emphasizes that “when you are young, SOs come and go, but close friends may be forever.” If a friend is truly important to you, make sure to tell her how much you appreciate her and give her a space to voice how she feels if she is hurt. “Be a good friend so that your friends are there when you need them, which will be often,” Bogle recommends. There is no SO worth losing a phenomenal friendship over—or even a new friendship that could blossom into a lifelong bond.
Evaluate the opinion itself
There is a big difference between an opinion that cannot be ignored and an opinion that doesn’t affect you in the way it affects your friend. Annalise Beyer-Johnson, a sophomore at the Maryland Institute College of Art, says if her friends had an opinion on something “like that they don’t like the way he dresses, his hair or something else superficial,” she would ignore their opinions. In that case, they may not know your SO well enough to have an opinion at all! However, if their opinion was on something larger, such as if they believed her SO was unhealthy for her, Annalise says, “that would make me think things over for sure.”
Bogle says to never take a friends’ warning of a potentially unhealthy relationship lightly. While there are some things in relationships that can be worked on, such as communication, Bogle tells us that control problems and extreme jealousy are not something you want to work on. She warns us that “extreme jealousy is the number one warning sign that a relationship could turn physically abusive.” If you are in a relationship where your partner is extremely controlling or jealous, Bogle recommends breaking up “in a public space to reduce the chance of an enraged reaction” as oftentimes “abuse increases during break-ups because the partner is insecure and fears losing the relationship.” Never take a friends’ warnings on your SO lightly; true friends want to keep you safe, healthy and happy, and they may be seeing something you can’t see yourself.
If your friend does say something superficial about your SO, try saying something simple that shows you disagree and then continue to move the conversation further. For instance, if your friend says something about disliking your SO’s wardrobe, reply with “Oh really? I love it! I forgot to ask—how is X class going?” Let her know that you don’t agree, and that should signal to her that what she said isn’t an opinion you appreciate. By quickly changing subjects, it also shows your disinterest in discussing the topic further and keeps the situation from escalating. "You don’t have to get mad or fight with them about it; just let them know those little superficial qualities they don’t like work just fine for you," Bogle says.
True friends have your best interest at heart, and if they are expressing genuine concern about an aspect of your relationship, such as your SO’s controlling tendencies, that may be a red flag. However, other opinions can afford to be disregarded. Your SO’s haircut may not be your friends’ cup of tea, but it can definitely be yours!
Reflect on your own relationship
After hearing your friends’ opinions and taking them into consideration if you feel necessary, it may be time to reflect on your own relationship. Sometimes our feelings can cloud our judgment because we are so caught up in the excitement of it all. If after hearing your friends’ opinions you begin to have doubts about your relationship it may be time to have a serious talk with your SO. But, if after hearing what your friends think about your SO only confirms they’re the person you’re meant to be with, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the two biggest loves in your life, your BFF and SO, love one another just as much as you love them.
At the end of the day, your friends were there before you and your SO got together, and they will be there for you the day you and your SO end. True friends have your best interest at heart, and their opinions shouldn’t be disregarded, especially if they are on a serious matter. Listen to them with an open heart and understand that they are coming into the conversation with your best interest in mind. And of course, if their opinion is on something superficial, channel Taylor Swift and "shake it off."