For anyone who has been in a relationship where they have perceived they are dating the enemy, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s the person who you think is absolutely amazing, wonderful and brilliant… But you’re the only one who thinks so. Your friends and/or your family don’t share your sentiments which can become a really tricky situation to manage. When you like someone, you naturally want the people who are the most significant in your life to like them as well, but sometimes, it can be wishful thinking.
This blog provides 4 tips for those who may be finding themselves in this situation where you’re dating someone your friends and/or family don’t approve of and are unsure on how to proceed.
First of all, you need to keep in consideration the fact that your friends and family love you and only want what is best for you, so if they are perceiving you are dating someone who is ‘not right for you’ for some reason, you have to consider what is driving them to think this. Consider their feelings and talk to them about their concerns; is this person a past criminal and they’re worried about you? Has there been a rumour going around about this person which they may have heard or is it just a general gut feeling they get?
You certainly have to communicate with your friends and family, but just because somebody may consider your new partner to be a ‘show-off’, ‘up-themselves’ or ‘know-it-all’ in public, remember behind closed doors, this person could have another side to them which only you see, so it is important to communicate the reasons as to why you’re attracted and into the person in question, if it is a concern to your friends and/or family.
#2: SET BOUNDARIES
When I say ‘setting boundaries’, I mean in regards to what gets discussed and how much people are judging and telling you, but also setting boundaries regarding your time. When we meet someone, it’s very natural to get into the vortex of spending all of your free time with this person as it’s difficult to drag yourselves away from them (e.g Honeymoon periods) and often our friends and/or family feel they’re missing out on your time and energy.
If you are a repeat offender for doing this, and now your friends and/or family don’t like your new partner, it causes more issues than normal, so try and set boundaries to share your time. I’m not saying to share ‘equally’ between two parties but consider the needs of the people who are always there for you, single or not.
#3: LOOK AT YOUR ‘PACK’
Squad, posse, friendship circle… Whatever you like to call it, the realisation is, do you have a tight crew? Regardless on whether this applies to friends or family, having a group who are tight means they will collectively talk and figure out whether this is the right person for you.
It can be really tough sometimes for someone new to come into the ‘circle’ – especially if you have a big family or tight-knit group of friends and an ‘outsider’ is coming into the group. It can actually be very intimidating for the person, so they may have their own coping mechanisms which may impact negatively on your family and/or friends. However, your family and/or friends do need to learn when to back off, support your decisions and whilst they do want what’s best for you, they need to respect the fact you need to make your own mistakes. They can’t protect you from everything or manipulate your choices, limiting your experiences with this person.
#4: DON’T SEEK APPROVAL FROM EVERYONE AND MAKE DECISIONS BASED ON APPROVAL
Keep in mind, not everyone is going to get along in this world. You might have a group of friends where some get along naturally with everyone and others who are tougher nuts to crack. Our friends and family do always think they know what’s best for us, as they know us better than anyone else, but we can have limited experiences on who we date based on the judgements of other people.
I remember when I was around 18 and I met someone who was around 7-8 years older than me and we were complete opposites! He was a musician, wasn’t employed during the day (or much at night, for that matter) and my friends and family perceived he wasn’t good enough for me and I could do so much better. He was a very broody kind of guy and no one could see the attraction there, but we actually had a 3 year relationship. What people didn’t see, was his intellectual and loving side, where I actually learnt a lot from him. So, if I had just sought the approval of my family and friends and based my decisions on this alone, I would never have had the experience with him.
Experiences you have with someone are experiences you get to take with you. Boyfriends, girlfriends, partners… They come and go but so do friendships. So friends shouldn’t stand in the way of the partner you have chosen at this point in your life.
Managing your friends, family and your partner is accepting they may not accept your love interest straight away, so think of ways to slowly introduce your new partner; perhaps organise get togethers in smaller groups of 1 or 2, around interests which your partner and friends/family resonate with and can relate to. There is no point trying to get them to bond over something where there is no mutual interest whatsoever.
As previously mentioned, you need to remember your friends and family only want the best for you, but you also need to make your own decisions and choices which can sometimes lead to mistakes but overall these are experiences with different people you take with you for the rest of your life.
If you perceive you are dating the enemy and everyone is against you, don’t alienate yourself – friend and family opinions are usually based on love and not criticisms. Next week I will discuss the other side of this topic – when YOU have been the ‘enemy’ for absolutely no reason whatsoever, which has certainly happened to me in the past! How do you manage when the mother-in-law doesn’t like you or your partner’s kids don’t warm to you? It’s another tricky situation! Stay tuned!
Until next week.