Advice Column: Ultimatums

Dear Hailey,

How should I go about dealing with not liking my boyfriend’s friends?

Some background context: my boyfriend and I met and started dating two months ago in one of our college classes which we share together. At first, everything was great, sparks flew, I was quite swept off my feet by this guy (and I’m well aware this is how the honeymoon phase always starts). However, as time goes by and you start to get closer to someone, you start to notice certain things you don’t like about the person.

We talk about a lot of things and so far, communication in this relationship has been pretty good. I just have this one big issue which I don’t know how to mention (if I even were to) without sounding like a total a**hole. This is always a touchy subject. Obviously a guy’s friends are a great part of his identity (especially for my boyfriend, who did not have many friends back in high school, and has kept the ones he’s made back then till now). There is a lot of history between them, and I want to be considerate of that and not be the controlling girlfriend who takes him away from the people he’s comfortable with, turning him into someone he’s not.

My biggest problem with his friend group is that they are terrible influences on him as a person. He started off as pretty innocent, but as all people do, he fell into the rabbit hole with his group (he only started smoking about 3 months ago when his group “peer pressured” him into it, in his own words).

They really do have no other friends other than themselves, and every weekend they try to gather together to do hard drugs, they seem to have no genuine goals for their future, and in all, they’re just unpleasant to be around. They’re in their 20’s acting like a couple of 14 year olds whose parents just left them alone one night and gave them access to the alcohol cabinet. Not to mention that his ex is in this group (which I wouldn’t mind because I’m a grown adult, if she would just stop being so dramatic and bitter every time she sees us).

He has even mentioned a couple times that his friend group and their immature behavior and unnecessary drama has bugged him. My question is, why stay in a group that you clearly differ greatly from and offers no benefits to you as an individual?

I’m all for having fun every so often, but when this becomes a lifestyle that’s where I draw the line.

He says he wants to be with me long term (as we both do not see a point in dating aimlessly without a real future). As assuring as this sounds, it scares me to think that he’ll keep these people around in the long run. I know this sounds like I’m overthinking, but considering that he wants to be together and hopefully marry each other, it’s something I have been thinking deeply about.

He’s told me he’s the average B’s and C’s student with an undeclared major and no exact direction at all (and I feel like him being so occupied with this friend group has made him this way). I see greater potential in him, and if I am going to potentially marry him, I don’t want to believe that I’m dating someone who’s not going to be keeping up their end of the bargain and keeping a stable income for our family. I also don’t want to be with someone who drinks and does drugs every weekend as a grown adult. That seems quite likely if he ends up staying with this friend group.

Being that I came from a broken home where my parents were both high school sweethearts, and my dad ended up becoming a degenerate gambler and alcoholic (my mom was blindly in love with him, while being the only one who provided a stable income)… I’d hate to see some history repeat itself within the family. I want to be happily in love, yet stay realistic at the same time.

Sincerely,

Lost


Dear Lost,

It sounds like you are struggling with the idea of approaching him directly about how you feel. Do this ASAP. Approach it from a place of love.

It’s never comfortable to tell someone that you care about that you aren’t happy with something that they are doing. You’ve expressed concerns about coming across as controlling. Remember, your motives here aren’t to control, they are from a place of genuine concern. You are concerned about his wellbeing. You are concerned about your future as a couple, and his overall quality of life as well as your own. You aren’t asking him to make these changes just for the sake of telling him what to do. You want what is best for both you.

A good rule of thumb when approaching a difficult conversation is to use “I” statements. For example, “I am concerned about your safety”, or “I want to talk about our future” is much less confrontational than “You need to stop being so irresponsible”. Keep the conversation about your concerns, which are very valid. Use some “I” statements to get the conversation rolling. You are allowed to use statements that aren’t “I” based but use them to get started and keep that frame of mind through out the conversation.

You also need to decide what you want from him. From your letter its clear that you want him to stop using drugs. In addition to that, do you want him to stop seeing these friends? Also, is this a deal breaker? Are you willing to continue to be in a relationship for him if he wants to continue with his current behaviors?

As a rule, ultimatums aren’t something you should get in the habit of throwing around in a healthy relationship. However, is this something you are willing to continue with? Are you willing to continue to date a man who does drugs with his friends? And on the alternate side, are you willing to end this relationship if he is unwilling to stop?

You mentioned that you come from a broken home, and it sounds like you doing all that you can to keep your future family intact. Keep your frame of mind on the future, and I wish you luck with this difficult conversation.

Hailey

Posted in Q&A

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *