Sometimes in a relationship, you are not sure how exactly to phrase a delicate subject or tricky topic. Sure, saying almost nothing is easy, but preventing the subject doesn’t do anyone worthwhile. Awkward Conversations provides you with a template for what to say – and what not to say – and why, so that you can have those difficult discussions without them turning into full-blown fights.
In an ideal world, our partner would love all our friends. Wouldn’t it be great if the people in our lives never clashed, and all of you could get brunch on Sundays? Unfortunately, it often happens that your girlfriend doesn’t take a shine to your guy friends. This is often the cause of many an ugly fight, and you don’t want to make things worse by saying the wrong thing!
Here’s our handy guide on how to navigate that most tricky of situations: when your loved ones don’t like each other.
No knee-jerk reactions, or telling her she’s wrong for not liking them.
You: So, what did you think of Mark and Liam?
Her: Umm…I didn’t really like them, sorry.
You: What? Are you serious? I wasn’t expecting this.. It’s so obvious that Mark is a good guy, how could you not see that?
This can be a classic case of what NOT to say. It’s probably not easy for your girlfriend to admit that she doesn’t like friends and family! She Really wants to like your friends, but also for some reason she doesn’t – exactly like she dislikes rice pudding. Would yelling at her for disliking rice pudding change her tastes? No, why adopt that tactic?
If anything, telling her she’s wrong about friends and family can make her dislike them more (as any student of reverse psychology could let you know). Instead, react with neutral, judgment-free statements/questions that assist you to realize why she doesn’t like them.
You: Oh. No? Was it something specifically they said or did?
Once you uncover what she didn’t like, provide a second chance at a hangout.
There’s a big probability that is fixable – there’s probably a tangible reason they didn’t go along. Maybe your girlfriend got mad that Mark was creating a terrible joke about women, when he was actually creating a terrible joke about airplanes. Maybe your girlfriend didn’t like how cold Liam was to her, when he was really just feeling unwell. The main point is: first impressions AREN’T always right. It’s likely your girlfriend needs a bit more time to warm-up to your friends!
For the time being, don’t rush to guard friends and family, or insist that she misunderstood them. Even though that is the case, wait one minute and then provide a chill solution – tactfully.
You: Hey, I understand you didn’t just like the boys last time I brought them round, however they were sort of rowdy and drunk that night. Would it not be okay if we got a quiet lunch using them today? They do want to go out with you – and I promise they’ll grow on you!
Look for ways to allow them to connect with each other.
Remember, these two groups of people may have nothing in common apart from you. You have to do some legwork here. You can’t schedule a hangout together, sit back, and expect them to hit it off right away!
Think about what they might have in common. Maybe your girlfriend and Mark share an obsession with avocado toast? Maybe Liam has bad luck with women, while your girlfriend loves to play matchmaker? Whatever it is, try and bring it up to your girlfriend. Get her to see your friends in a new light. (At least, they’ll be able to bond over how frustrating Tinder is these days.)
Show, don’t tell. Don’t say “Look, Mark’s a really great guy. You’re plain wrong about him.” Instead, tell her that she might like to come along to one of Mark’s volunteer events for the homeless. Sometimes, people need a little help bonding with each other – that’s where you come in.
Also, be sure you give your boys a heads-up to be extra nice, too. Both parties have to make an effort to get to know each other – otherwise you’re not being fair to your girlfriend!
Make it clear that it’s not a her-vs.-them situation.
The worst possible thing you could do is pit your girlfriend against your friends. Don’t divide them into enemy camps by doing anything dumb – like telling your friends your girlfriend hates them! They will (naturally) come to resent her, and this will create a very difficult situation for everybody involved. The next time you’re out with your boys, she’ll be wondering if they’re encouraging you to dump her. Or cheat on her, etc.
Don’t fall into the trap of prioritizing one over the other (even if it’s her). Don’t put your girlfriend in an uncomfortable position by saying things like this, with a martyred air:
You: I was supposed to go to Taco Tuesday with Liam, but I know you’re having a hard week. It’s okay. I canceled on him. You know how much he loves tacos – but you’re more important.
How is this supposed to make her feel? She probably doesn’t want to force you to hang with her over them.
Pull back a second. Let her know that this doesn’t have to be a minefield. Your girlfriend might feel insecure, so reassure her about her role in your life (without suggesting that they’re in competition in any way). There’s no reason for anybody to feel territorial over you.
You: Okay, and that means you didn’t like my friends this time. Maybe you’ll come to like them! But even if not – well, they’re my friends, and you’re my girlfriend. I have separate relationships with both of you…I’m confident I’ll be able to figure it out.
Look, maybe your girlfriend and your friends will never be besties. They’re oil and water. That’s okay! They don’t really have to be.
After all, this is not grade school: you have to be able to handle this sort of situation gracefully, like adults do. Avoid being angry at her for not liking friends and family! Think about it in this manner: isn’t it nice that two several types of people can both as if you so much? It is the sort of relaxed, mature attitude which will put her relaxed. Good luck!

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