A group of three woman in a small living room, one seated on the couch, another on the floor and one standing

As we get older, relationships seem to become harder to maintain and cultivate. Life gets busier, and our schedules fill up with commitments. We grow personally and professionally.

One of the hardest realities of friendship is when one of your friends befriends someone you dislike. While we’d like to avoid these situations, they’re pretty common and can be challenging to deal with. 

The most important thing is to preserve the friendship you currently have with your friend. If it’s a healthy relationship worth having, here are ways to handle what can feel like a sticky situation:

Acknowledge your friend’s good qualities.

When your friend is friends with someone you’d rather not be around, it’s easy to build resentment and assume your friend doesn’t care about you. It can easily taint your view of your friend. Take a moment to stop thinking about how much you dislike the other person and fill your memory with all the reasons you love your friend.

Maybe it’s your mutual affinity for Star Wars, or it could be how that person walked with you through a tough season. Whatever those positive qualities may be, keep your mind focused on those things. By doing this, you’re motivated to put your best foot forward within the relationship and not let the situation create an unhealthy distance between the two of you. 

Remember, regardless of who your friend is hanging with, you get to choose whether or not you will place value on your relationship and assume the best of your friend. When you observe something you don’t agree with or perhaps that rubs you the wrong way, it can be easy to hold bitterness toward a friend. Bitterness does nothing good for your relationship. It only hinders you from living your best life. It also puts unnecessary pressure on your friend to appease your every opinion. 

You get to choose whether or not you will place value on your relationship and assume the best of your friend.

Remind yourself what’s good about your friend (their consistency, humor or sincerity of heart) and appreciate those things about them in a way that keeps the friendship a mutual source of love.

Set boundaries within your friendship.

Talking about others (aka gossip) adds zero value to your life. You may feel the urge to succumb to this (trust me, we’ve all been there), but it’s so important that you choose to avoid this. Create healthy boundaries that help you steer clear from bashing their friend as a sign of respect.

If their name gets brought up in conversation, then try your best to change the subject or keep your responses brief or general. If you know your friend hangs around this person during a certain time of the week, then make it a point to schedule a hang with your friend on another day. Cook a homemade meal, grab a glass of wine and invite your friend over to your house for some healthy catch up time. 

Don’t make your friend feel awkward. Rather, be a consistent voice of encouragement and affirmation. If your friend doesn’t know how you truly feel, then take the time to open up about the subject in a way that’s objective and productive. Remind your friend that they have your support and respect. Even though you may not share the same taste in friends, you do, however, enjoy fostering a healthy relationship with them. 

Even though you may not share the same taste in friends, you do, however, enjoy fostering a healthy relationship with them. 

If you find there are certain things that trigger you, then communicate to your friend how that makes you feel. In any relationship, communication can be the best tool in gaining each other’s trust and mutual understanding.

Let go of any expectation that says your friend should “take sides.”

Instead of expecting your friend to take your side, seek to understand why your friend chooses to be friends with that person. Throw your unrealistic expectations to the side, and step into the relationship without looking for what you can get out of it. When you’re in this sticky situation, it can be easy to expect your friend to see things through your perspective. Yet, you have to remember that how you feel in regards to someone else is not their burden to bear. 

You have to remember that how you feel in regards to someone else is not their burden to bear. 

Your likes and dislikes are your business, not theirs to please. Do not add pressure on your friend to act a certain way just to make you feel better. While you have every right to not “like” a person, your feelings aren’t facts. Your friends have every right to select the friendships they wish to have.

Manipulating their feelings will only keep you from building a long-lasting friendship. Your job as a friend is to remain consistent, be supportive and show love without expecting anything in return. Healthy relationships are birthed from a place of mutual respect and mutual understanding.

How have you dealt when a friend befriends someone you dislike? What did you learn?

Image via Martha Galvan, Darling Issue 16

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