My friends have dated a lot of different types of people. While most of them have been lovely, funny, kind, brilliant people, there’ve also been a fair share of assholes and asshats. A couple of sexists and racists. A smattering of dickheads and douchebags. Far too many liars and cheaters. And yes, a few of them have even dated scumbags and low lifes.
Sometimes, you know these people suck, straight off the bat. But most of the time their crapness reveals itself gradually, like dusk dissolving into darkness. They seem like a perfectly reasonable person until you hear them say something like, “I just don’t find women funny,” or “Do you really need another piece of cake?”. Things that make your blood boil with rage because you’re friend, your wonderful, shining, amphibious unicorn of a friend, can’t quite see how awful this person is.
So what are you meant to do? Well, it’s a doozy. No matter how close you and your BFF are, no one wants to hear a bad word against their SO and you are at risk of getting yourself in a shooting-the-messenger situation. Which is obviously not ideal.
Personally, I have a three-month rule. Whenever one of my friends arrives at my front door all glazey eyed and smiling like they’ve slept with a coat hanger in their mouth, I always squeal along with them and listen as they talk about how magnificent this new person is. But somewhere in the back of my head, I mentally hit start on my three-month timer. From that point on, I have three months to form an opinion about their new partner in crime.
Because I’m a generally sunny, half-glass full person, I always give new partners the benefit of the doubt – plus my friends almost always have better judgement than I do, so if someone they’re dating is a little bit terrible, they’re pretty much always the first to notice and cut them loose. But every so often one slips through the cracks. Love makes the chemicals in your brain go all weird and twirly, so it’s completely understandable.
During that three months, I try and get a handle on this new person who has suddenly become a part of my social circle. I watch the way they treat my bestie, if they listen when she speaks, if they make her laugh, if they let her eat a bite of their burger even after she insisted she wasn’t hungry.
And if at some point during the three months I have doubts, I take a deep breath, scrounge up all the courage I have in my 5”4 body and *gently* mention my concerns to my friend.
“Did it upset you when X said Y?”
“Does X always put you down like that?”
Or “You seem a little subdued whenever X is around. Is everything ok?”
This generally goes one of two ways: they break up, or they don’t. Either way, you’ve said your piece and it’s now your job to take a step back and support your friend as much as possible.
If you don’t realise how much your BFF’s partner sucks until after the three months has passed – sorry, but tough. You had your three months, and the window is now closed, so all you can do is smoosh your nose against the glass and hope that it will be over soon. I know that sounds harsh, but unless the person they’re dating is really, truly, appallingly awful, you’ve got to wait this one out and trust that your friend will get there on her own. Because sometimes being a good friend is sitting down and shutting up and letting them find their own way. Otherwise, if you keep mentioning how much you dislike their partner, you risk driving a wedge between you and your BFF that could chip away at your friendship.
In the meantime, try your best to find something, anything in common with their bae – trains, species of orchid, Kimye. Anything. And if you seriously, honestly, find yourself feeling like a video game character who is just walking into a wall over and over again, steer the conversation towards your BFF. They’re something that you two will always have in common.
And you never know, over time, you might turn out to be wrong about their partner. I have been, loads of times.