When Your Friends Don't Like My Friends

We all have our BFFs (you know, best friends forever). But what happens when you don't like your friend's friends? Or your friend's friends don't like you? How do you get a friend to like you? Do you tell them if you don't like their friends? See, friendship can be complicated!

I take offense when a friend, colleague or someone I hold in high regard likes someone I don't respect.

Take, for example, "Melanie." I adore her. We regularly get together and keep in touch via e-mail and phone when we don't see one another for awhile.

But Melanie has this friend "Diane."

I cannot stand Diane.

She's rude, classless and mean.

Fortunately, Diane lives a good plane trip away, so I rarely see her. But whenever Melanie mentions Diane, I think, "What do you see in her?" (Sometimes I verbalize this. It's no secret to Melanie how I feel about Diane.)

Another person I adore fancies (not romantically) a guy I find to be an abhorrent showoff. The mere mention of this man sends my eyes rolling from Rensselaer county to Schenectady and back.

The belief others should like and dislike the same people we do has a ring of elementary school alliances, yet it's hard not to be bugged by what you consider a poor choice on someone else's part.

We like our friends for many, many reasons. But one of the main things that attracts us to people is respect. We admire actions, thoughts, words. So when a friend chooses to spend time with someone we don't particularly enjoy, we question our own judgment as much as we question theirs.

The same feelings arise when a friend dates -- or worse, marries -- a man or woman we really do not like. We trust our friends, and realize they (probably) know better than we do who fits best in their lives, but the I'm-removed-and-can-see-things-more-clearly side of our personality wants to reach out and shake some sense into them. Instead, we have to snap into mature mode and refrain from saying "I told you so" if the relationship ends. Expressing disdain can backfire or, at least, cause defensiveness or hurt feelings. Remember when you were a teen and your parents didn't like your friends, insisting they were bad news and only going to lead you to run up your cellphone bill calling Dial-an-Insult? In some cases, parents went a step further and forbade their kids to hang out with -- or date -- certain people. This often led to tense relationships and, for some, rebellion. While human nature motivates us to judge others, being wrong is also human. So no matter how certain we feel a friendship or other type of relationship is toxic, there's a possibility our friends, children, siblings see something in the person that we're missing. But people are also intuitive and, so often, our instincts steer us in the right direction. That's what they're there for, after all.
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