In the early days of a relationship, it can be tough to identify a single fault in your new-ish significant other. The conversations over dinner dates are interesting and engaging, they’re quick to use small gestures to demonstrate how much they like you, and — let’s be honest — they’re hot. Check, check, check!

Things may get tricky, though, when you’re intro’d to bae’s besties. Your S.O. likely has high expectations that you’ll hit it off with their pals, and if you’re immediately put off by their personalities, habits, or attitudes, it may leave you wondering how you can move forward with a lasting relationship. It can also make you question your partner’s character, since your friends are a reflection of who you are.

couple with friends

Not digging your significant other’s friends doesn’t have to be a recipe for a breakup. There are ways to work through this obstacle… and maybe even to gain some new pals along the way. Read on for expert tips on how to cope when you’re not a fan of your sweetie’s crew.

1. Be honest. “Your partner’s friends don’t have to be your friends too if you don’t like them!” relationship expert Sonya Schwartz says. “If your S.O. asks what you think about them, just be honest and tell them what you feel.” You learned back in elementary school that honesty is the best policy and that’s certainly true here, though you should be mindful to keep your tone as neutral and kind as possible.

2. Consider the root of the problem. Your issues with these friends may be the result of an awkward interaction you had with them years ago. You may (rightfully) worry that they’re bad influences on bae. Or maybe you just don’t like their personality. All of these concerns are valid, but they’re not equally legit reasons to shut down in their presence. Couples counselor and Baltimore Therapy Center director Raffi Bilek recommends that you spend some time thinking about what really bothers you about your partner’s friendships. If you feel like your S.O.’s friends encourage them to drink too much or engage in other habits that put their job or health at risk, it might be worth discussing with bae. “If you just don’t like them, take your space and leave it alone,” Bilek says.

3. Stay on top of your self-care. You shouldn’t need another reason to take good care of yourself, but if you were in the market for one, here it is. Marriage and family therapist Heidi McBain tells us that self-care is especially important if you anticipate having to spend time with people who aren’t necessarily at the top of your list. This will ensure that “you’re in a good, healthy space when you’re going into the stressful situations with your partner’s friends,” she notes.

4. Seek the good. “Remind yourself that there are qualities about these people that your S.O. is drawn to,” licensed therapist Christine Tomasello tells us. “Encourage yourself to look for those qualities or others that you can connect with or find appealing.” When you put in more effort to get to know your partner’s pals, they’ll also likely be more open to discussing your concerns if those positive qualities prove difficult to uncover.

5. Limit your interactions. Your partner might like to make a weekly habit of happy hours or group dinners with their pals, but there’s no rule that says you need to make an appearance just as regularly. You have it totally within your power to draw boundaries that feel healthy. Schwartz recommends that you commit to hanging out with these least favorite friends only at big, important events, like your significant other’s birthday.

6. Be diplomatic. “Act like a grown up and behave when you see your S.O.’s friends,” Schwartz suggests. “If you have to attend an event where they are present and really don’t feel like coping with it, invite some of your friends too and engage in conversation with them.” We know you have it in you to fake it ’til you make it next time you’re forced into a situation with this particular crew. Good manners go a long way.

7. Know when it’s time to walk away. Your beef with bae’s friends would have to be pretty serious to merit a breakup, but situations like this exist. If you feel ready to offer your partner an ultimatum — ditch your friends or we’re done — then it’s probably best to skip that step and part ways immediately. “Don’t try and alter your partner’s identity,” TruthFinder relationship expert Amica Graber says. “Our sense of self is very present in our interpersonal relationships. If [your partner] doesn’t feel comfortable being the same person around you that they are with their friends, it’s possible there’s a deeper underlying issue in your relationship.”

Have you ever had bad vibes with a partner’s pals? Tweet us @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)