Is it wrong to befriend my SO's friends?
August 23, 2006 12:46 AM   Subscribe

Is it morally, socially or even objectively wrong of me to spend time with my girlfriend's friends?

Some background: I'm an older teen and we've only been in this relationship for a relatively short time (~6 months), but I feel as though it's something special. (Then again, who doesn't?) As such, I've been striving to integrate myself into her life as much as possible without being suffocating -- after all, making this work would be very difficult if I didn't get along with the family + friends.

In regards to the former, there's no issue there. As far as I can see, I'm very much approved of (!). In regards to the latter, I see no problem. I get along amazingly well with her four closest friends; in fact, we usually meet up once a week when our days finish early and grab lunch. Make note that this is when my girlfriend is absent due to school commitments.

I considered this to be a good thing (tm) until numerous friends of mine told me, quite blatantly, that I was committing some horrible voodoo, that befriending her best friends was a big NO-GO place. Now, I could understand their objections if I was spending an inordinate amount of time with the friends in their lonesome, but I only ever see them as a group, so the chance of anything fishy happening is remote. (Not that I'd dream of it, FWIW.)

What are your Mefitty opinions on the matter?
posted by PuGZ to Human Relations (37 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's just this one person's opinion, but I'm against this. They're her friends, she might feel as though your befriending them somehow cuts into her feeling of independence, or opens the situation up to them choosing between the two of you in some way... I'm doing a poor job of explaining it, so maybe better if you just mark my answer down as a vote against.
posted by jonson at 12:54 AM on August 23, 2006

If you're girlfriend's bothered by it, don't do it. If she doesn't mind, carry on. Who cares what anyone else thinks? I don't see why it should be a problem.
posted by chrismear at 12:58 AM on August 23, 2006

Working through the negative opinions and perceptions that your girlfriend may get from something like this is part of being human. I would have serious trouble dating someone who was bothered or threatened by my befriending of her friends--I see no problem with it, especially in the extremely limited situation you've described.
posted by hototogisu at 1:05 AM on August 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh, for what it's worth, she's not in the least bothered by it. (We're not *that* insecure!) She's actually glad that I get on well with her friends, because it means she doesn't have to worry about who to invite for outings and whatnot.

I posted this question not because it's a real dilemma for me, rather to gauge the opinions of MeFi. (I hope that doesn't break too many rules around here!)
posted by PuGZ at 1:32 AM on August 23, 2006

I think it's awesome you get along well with her friends. This bodes well for the future for the two of you. Let me tell you, it's a disaster when you can't get along with the other person's friends.

That being said, the caveat here is it can easily be overdone. At some point, the puppy love is going to start wearing off. When it does, both of you will need more space of your own. If you spend so much time with her friends that they become just as good friends with you, it will be harder for her to find a place where she can get some downtime from you. Part of the reason to keep your own respective friends is so you have a life of your own and don't try to integrate into 100 % of each other's lives.

Have fun with these people and be their friend. Just don't go overboard.
posted by Happydaz at 1:48 AM on August 23, 2006

One word: loyalty.

Go ahead and befriend them (without trying too hard), but accept and respect that they are first and foremost your girlfriend's friends. If there is a conflict between you and your girlfriend (sooner or later, there will be), they should remain loyal to her. They may not necessarily agree with her, but they will support her and care for her over you.

So, in a nutshell:
- NEVER try to win her friends over to you. Get your own friends.
- NEVER speak negatively of your girlfriend to her friends. It will bite you in the butt.
- NEVER confide your innermost thoughts about your relationship to them. They are HER confidants, not yours.

Naturally these are simplistic rules that don't apply to all complicated situations -- use extreme caution if you're thinking of breaking them.
posted by randomstriker at 2:30 AM on August 23, 2006

I'm a girl and I wouldn't mind if my boyfriend befriended my friends. We live in the same residence accomodation anyway, so a lot of our friends are mutual.

I don't see why it should be a problem, unless boundaries are being overstepped or something.
posted by divabat at 2:31 AM on August 23, 2006

As others have said, unless your gf minds, what's wrong with it? It's an issue between you two. It doesn't matter one bit what somebody else thinks. Enjoy life, don't worry so much.
posted by keijo at 2:48 AM on August 23, 2006

Not to interrupt this Monster Agreement Rally, but, addressing the question from a different angle, why have so many people told PuGZ that it's weird, and what should he do if people continue to say it's weird?

I had this problem at roughly the same age. We lived in a small town, and people would actually take Jane aside and whisper to her that I'd been seen having a coffee with Jackie and Alison, almost as scandalised as if we'd been seen kissing or something.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:09 AM on August 23, 2006

Just don't sleep with them. It needed to be said.
posted by geoff. at 3:18 AM on August 23, 2006

Could lead to problems when the subjects intimate nature are discussed by any combination of parties. If that kind of thing bothers you.
Otherwise, don't sweat it.
posted by asok at 3:40 AM on August 23, 2006

It sounds like a bad idea because you don't realize it could be a bad idea.
What I mean is that you think that's perfectly ok to befriend HER BEST FRIENDS and don't seem to notice any potential conflicts, which means you might, inadvertly, start one.

Best friends are off limits, friendswise, because they're HER friends, confidants and what not. IF you get TOO close with her best friends and start confiding in them, then that creates a potential conflict with the best friends and her which can quickly turn ugly.

It's good that you're friendly with them and going to lunch with them as a group isn't a bad thing at all. Just be aware that there are lines there and you SHOULD NOT cross, like randomstriker said.

Finally, do you have close friends of your own and is your GF close with them? Because you should have close friends of your own that you spend more time with than your GF's friends.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:22 AM on August 23, 2006

Just don't sleep with them. It needed to be said.

It needs to be reiterated.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:44 AM on August 23, 2006

Making friends with people is pretty much a universally good thing to do. Suggestions that you should be sure to spend time with "your" friends at least 51% of the time are coming from a strange place psychologically. It's also true that many people have weird taboos about things for no good reason, so if some interpersonal recommendation of a friend of yours seems nonsensical to you, it probably is. Don't worry about it.

It sounds to me like you've got your head on straight, so if the people saying it's a bad idea can't explain why(and jealousy has been ruled out) then don't listen to them They probably just watch too much TV.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 5:34 AM on August 23, 2006

Your girlfriend doesn't mind? Then this is a no-brainer. The warnings that they are (or should be) loyal to her first are worth remembering.
posted by grouse at 5:45 AM on August 23, 2006

Civil_Disobedient: "Just don't sleep with them. It needed to be said.

It needs to be reiterated.

Don't sleep with them while you're dating her.

It needed to be corrected.

He's a teenager, come on. He shouldn't, but will, get the impression that this relationship should be permanent. If he listens to that, he'll end up like that poor sap who's been dating a girl for 8 years since he was 18 and doesn't know he doesn't love her anymore.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 5:53 AM on August 23, 2006

They are an important part of her support system, and as someone above said, she needs to spend time away from you sometimes and you don't want to get in the way of that. And what randomstriker said.
posted by teleskiving at 6:12 AM on August 23, 2006

There is absolutely nothing morally wrong with befriending her friends, not even close.

Socially there might be a problem, if she disapproved, but she doesn't disapprove, so don't worry about it. However, you should be sensitive to her feelings about this (just pay attention to her comments, don't walk on egg shells) and if she changes her tune, adjust your activities accordingly.
posted by oddman at 6:16 AM on August 23, 2006

Everything in moderation. You hang out with her friends too much and soon you'll have no haven when the honeymoon period wears off. You need to have a seperate set of friends and things you enjoy doing that aren't tied to your relationship, or you'll drive each other bananas.

Don't kill independent george. Worlds colliding...
posted by ZackTM at 6:27 AM on August 23, 2006

Do it only with her blessing and knowledge. I've gone on several "dates" with the friend of my GF. Of course we are all a bit older than you and know the limits of these interactions. Be upfront with her friends about those limits so there are no misunderstandings or "accidents". And always be aware of the line of no return.
posted by JJ86 at 7:06 AM on August 23, 2006

Remember: Theres no such thing as a free BJ
posted by darth_smoothies at 7:42 AM on August 23, 2006

Other side of things. I've been good friends with my wife's friends ever since we started dating. It's a pleasure because they are wonderful people. It also makes for good surprises. For instance I was able to call up her best friend, who lives out of state now, and plan for her to fly in for a surprise birthday party/beach trip weekend. So i guess what i am saying is that maybe talking with her friends and setting up a little surprise party without your girlfriend knowing, could be a good public display of your loyalty to gf and innocuous friendship with her friends.

PS As things get more serious in your relationship, if you have a decent enough repoire with her best friends, it can actually be helpful to talk with them about issues you and GF are having -- sometimes its easier to have a third party to be able to say an argument is silly or you can find out what she really wants for Christmas...
posted by iurodivii at 8:06 AM on August 23, 2006

It's not a moral or ethical question. It's a practical question and a question of respect.

Morally and ethically, you have every right to associate with anyone you wish, so long (of course) as they are willing to associate with you.

Practically, on the other hand, it could be a bad idea, particularly if she has objections to it. But, since you've stated that she does not, there should be no problems so long as you set respectful boundaries.

As other people have said, don't sleep with them (while you're dating her), don't disrespect her in front of her friends, and don't share more than is appropriate, particularly about your relationship. And try really hard to avoid situations where they would have to choose between you and her.

If, in the future, the two of you should break up, whether or not you sleep with her friends is a matter of respect (or lack thereof) only, and not a matter of ethics. It may be considered rude or slimy by some, and is sure to cause uncomfortable situations, but that doesn't necessarily make it unethical.

Freedom of association is so important that they put it in the U.S. Constitution...
posted by jaded at 8:16 AM on August 23, 2006

My boyfriend is good friends with my friends and there's been no problems so far. Follow common logic and you'll be OK. If things start to get a little hot between you and a friend, such as if a friend is coming on to you, the answer is always no. And don't confide too much in them, as they are your girlfriend's posse and thus their loyalty does not lie with you.
posted by Meagan at 8:23 AM on August 23, 2006

I have broken up with guys that couldn't get along with my friends.

For me, a man who is friendly with my social circle is a selling point.
posted by Julnyes at 8:53 AM on August 23, 2006

What's that Spice Girls song? "If you wanna be my lover...gotta get with my friends..." (I feel ashamed to have just posted that).

Go ahead and be friends with them. Just don't make any one of them a better friend of yours than your girlfriend is.
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:10 AM on August 23, 2006

Unless you live together, it's a no-no. You shouldn't be seeing her friends without her unless you knew them before you knew her. On their part, it's going to cause a big conflict of interest which will prevent you from ever really being close with them. If you do become too friendly there wll definitely be feelings of jealousy and anxiety. It's a lose-lose situation for everybody involved.

Take it easy and hang with your own friends. If she's with you, sure, hang out with her friends and try to make a good impression. Also note: nothing lasts forever. All your new friends that you worked so hard to impress will never call you again if something happens.
posted by nixerman at 10:19 AM on August 23, 2006

"You shouldn't be seeing her friends without her unless you knew them before you knew her. "

Nah. Again, barring violations of common sense, you're pretty free to hang with whomever you like.
Anecdotal evidence— With my current girlfriend, the situation was a little different in that almost all of her pals were guys when she started dating me, and the few that weren't were in longterm relationships. I fell in really well with their group, to the point where she did complain some that her friends were calling me to go out instead of her. But as we'd usually all go out together, she got over it. And some of my best friends that I knew before her have become her pals too.
With my previous girlfriend, I also ended up being really good friends with her friends. We all had gone to high school together (though this was well past high school when we started dating), and everyone was OK with it. Breaking up with me ended her relationship with them, not mine (though they all moved and I've lost touch with them).

I guess out of all of this, I'd say that I'm one of those people who believes that social customs are overstated by people who like to manufacture drama. Since I'm not one of them, I get along fairly well even when I contravene "the rules."
posted by klangklangston at 11:01 AM on August 23, 2006

The big difference is, are you inviting yourself to things or are they inviting you along? Like almost everything in life, it's possible to do this properly or be a complete doucebag about it.

If you hit it off with them and they like having you out for things, great. You owe your girlfriend a single "you're not put off by my going out with them without you, are you?" and after that point it's up to her to tell her friends "it makes me feel uncomfortable for you to be inviting pugz all these places without me" if she doesn't like it.

That's the big reason you need to make sure you're invited. She'll tell them privately if it bugs her and they'll - presumably - respect her on that. So if they never invite you anywhere but you keep showing up at their regular haunts, that's a message.
posted by phearlez at 11:22 AM on August 23, 2006

Don't sleep with them while you're dating her.

It needed to be corrected.

Still needs to be corrected:

Don't sleep with them even after you finish dating her

In addition, remember her friends can be your friends but by association only - as such, if you break up you can't continue to hang around with them as if nothing has changed.

(Well, you might be able but it won't be easy)
posted by mr_silver at 11:54 AM on August 23, 2006

I have broken up with guys that couldn't get along with my friends.

Yeah, I've broken up with girls who couldn't get along with my friends. Then, I've never been insecure enough to think that my friends would betray me for a GF, or anything like that, so there you go. Some people think like that. Your GF apparently isn't one of them. Congratulations.

For your own good, though. Two stories.

A few years ago I was dating a girl who went to school in Massachusetts. For the last semester, she transfered to NY and moved in with me. She got along with my friends like gangbusters, and could definitely hang out with them without my having to be there. Still, problems between us grew, and I finally had to end it that summer. Afterwards, she had no one to turn to, because all of her friends were my friends first. I didn't plan on putting her through that, but it couldn't have been easy.

Secondly, a girl who I dated on and off for the past year or so. She lives with three of my best guy friends, and is one of their friends from college. The relationship kapt going "on-again" because of mutual attraction and whatnot, but kept going "off-again" because after a few weeks, the dynamics in her apartment would change to where her roomates would start to treat her as my GF, which is weird.

So yeah, this can be touchy, and people get hurt sometimes, but that'll happen anyway. You're what? 17? 18? Go out. Have fun. Be stupid and reckless. And come back here in 10 years to tell PuGZ 2.0 what to do.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:36 PM on August 23, 2006

Response by poster: I doubt anyone's going to see this now that we're on the second page and everything, but there have been fantastically varied responses and lots of them!

For what it's worth, I do indeed have my own friends (!) and I spend the majority of my time with them. At any rate, one of her friends was my friend first. (Which only muddies the water further, heh)

I do know my limits, including the 'not-inviting-yourself-along'. I'm pretty sure I'm going about this the right way, but as I said earlier this was a good way of gauging what most sensible people would have thought of such a proposition. Thanks again, AskMeFi. :-)
posted by PuGZ at 1:35 PM on August 23, 2006

I just want to add my own personal experience. I'm coming from the other side, the girl. The last serious boyfriend I had about a year and a half ago had a large group of friends. We attended the same law school, so many of his friends became my friends. Strangely, none of my friends became his (because none of them really liked him). When we broke up, the situation was very awkward for his old (my new) friends. We had a pretty amicable breakup (no cheating or bad blood) but things were still weird. I lost touch with some of the friends I met through him, but kept in touch with many of them, too. Those that I kept in touch with have lost touch with my former boyfriend. It's almost like we split custody of the friends. Of course, this may not be the case in your situation, but it's something to be conscious of.

To answer your question properly, I do not think there is anything wrong (morally, ethically, objectively, whatever) with you befriending your girlfriend's friends, provided that it stops at friendship. Overt flirting, however well-intentioned, never ends well, and I am sure I don't need to tell you that sex with your girlfriend's friend is a bad, bad, bad idea.
posted by Not in my backyard at 3:20 PM on August 23, 2006

I don't think it's a bad idea to be friends with her friends- during a relationship it's fairly healthy.

However, you must remember that they are your TEMPORARY friends (most likely), and when you break up, they'll probably stick with her instead of you. Maintaining the friendship afterwards could be really hard/awkward, especially if you and the girl end badly.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:05 PM on August 23, 2006

"addressing the question from a different angle, why have so many people told PuGZ that it's weird"

My guess is simply age and the maturing process - the friend are likely also teens, probably still in the highschool mode of thinking about relationships, without much experience of long term relationships.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:09 PM on August 23, 2006

mr_silver: "Don't sleep with them even after you finish dating her"

Oh, come on! I know there's a certain respectful waiting period, and it's good form to let her know what's going on between you and one of her friends, but after a month or so has passed, it's game on.

Now, it's not good form to pursue one of her friends, but if you find out there's a mutual interest, it can be worked out if everyone pays attention to the possibility of bruised egos and is mature enough to handle a bruised ego without a bunch of drama.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 7:53 PM on August 23, 2006

Oh, come on! I know there's a certain respectful waiting period, and it's good form to let her know what's going on between you and one of her friends, but after a month or so has passed, it's game on.

When you're 18 then yes it probably is "game on". However when you leave university and start working then relationships become more serious and as such, it is generally considered bad form to start dating one of your ex's friends.

Whenever it occurs, someone is always left feeling uncomfortable about the whole situation and often it can get quite messy (been there, seen it and also watched others from afar). In addition, there are plenty of people out there that aren't in the small circle of your ex's friends and a clean break is always the best way.

Think of it another way, if you poured your heart out to a women, thought she was "the one", loved her in every way and then after several years she broke up with you and then went out with your best friends - how would you feel watching them sitting at the table opposite you being all loved up when actually, deep down in your heart, you wanted to be in his place?
posted by mr_silver at 3:59 AM on August 24, 2006

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