How to Cope With a Friend That Is Also Friends with Someone That You Hate

Three Methods:Hanging Out with your FriendCoping When It's the Three of YouSpending Time in a Group

You have a friend you really enjoy spending time with, but they have a friend that you really dislike. It may not make sense to you why your friend is close with that person, but it doesn't have to. What matters is working around, or sometimes with, their friendship so that you can keep yours. Here are some tips of how you can work around this person you don't like in a few different situations.

Method 1
Hanging Out with your Friend

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    Talk to your friend. It is always difficult to talk about a tough topic, but being honest and having a conversation with your friend about the person you dislike will be better for your friendship. It will help them understand where you are coming from, and they might be more considerate when you are around that person.
    • Make the conversation as nice and gentle as possible. “I know this is probably uncomfortable for you, I feel uneasy about it, too. I just want to be open and honest with you.”[1]
    • Tell your friend how you feel about other person in the nicest way possible. “I'm not Sarah's biggest fan, we've never really gotten along well.”
    • Try to explain to your friend why you and that person don't get along. If there was an event that occurred, let your friend in on it. “I guess it comes from that whole situation between Sarah, Emily, and I, last summer...”[2]
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    Live in the present. Try instead refocusing your thinking to the present time you are spending with your friend. Utilizing mindfulness techniques will help you to train your brain to stay in the moment and to refocus when your thoughts drift to the other person.[3]
    • Come Back: When you catch yourself thinking about the other person that you dislike, or feeling anxious or jealous, think or say to yourself “Come back,” take a deep breath, and focus on what is happening right now.
    • Attentive Listening: Look into your friends eyes and really listen to what they are saying. Notice the tone of their voice, the way they laugh, or how their face changes as they talk. This will help you feel more connected to your friend and focus on the moment.[4]
    • Speaking Mindfully: Fully consider the impact your words can have on the other person. Think about how you would feel if what you are saying were said to you. Ask yourself if you are being truly honest in your communication.[5]
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    Discuss how you feel. Try to let your friend know how you feel about your friendship and any feelings you may be having about the other person's impact on your friendship. The more honest you are with them, the more honest they can be with you. It's also important for you to communicate how you feel.[6] You might try something like the following:
    • ”I don't want to make a big deal out of this, but our friendship is important to me.”
    • ”I'm worried that my feelings about Sarah are going to affect our friendship.”
    • ”I'm not trying to tell you who to be friends with, I just don't want this to come between us.”
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    Empathize with your friend. Empathy is trying to understand and feel someone else's experience from their point of view.[7] Use empathy to recognize that it is probably very difficult for your friend. They are stuck in between two friends who don't get along, but ideally would like to stay friends with both.
    • Practice empathy by making empathic responses that are validating, sympathetic, caring, and supportive. “I am so sorry, it has to be frustrating to be stuck in the middle. How can I help?”[8]
    • Avoid non-empathic responses that are impatient, invalidating, self-centered, uncaring, un-supportive, or demanding. “Don't freak out, you shouldn't feel that way. Here's what I want you to do.”[9]
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    Engage in positive reframing. Positive reframing is a technique where you notice negative events or maladaptive thoughts and make an effort to change them much like putting a picture in a new frame. Positive reframing will not change the situation, but it can change how you react to it and how you feel about it.[10]
    • Use this as a chance to learn by asking, “What can I learn from this that will help me grow?”
    • Challenge the assumptions or beliefs behind some thoughts you might be having such as, “They are hanging out because my friend likes her more than me.”
    • Use different wording, change “I really hate her” to “I'm not a fan of that girl” or “Maybe she is really struggling right now.”[11]
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    Don't gossip. If at all possible, avoid talking about the person you hate behind their back or gossiping about them.[12] It's immature, mean, and will make you look like the bad guy.Gossip can be harmful to you, your friend, or the group as a whole.[13]
    • Gossip can be a form of exclusion or bullying.
    • It can destroy your friends trust in you.
    • It can prompt others to gossip about you.

Method 2
Coping When It's the Three of You

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    Try to be acquaintances or even friends with the person you dislike. Being friends with them may be too much, but you are going to see them or deal with them at certain points due to having a mutual friend. You may even hang out together in a small or large group. So try keeping your distance, but be friendly enough not to put your shared friend in an uncomfortable position.
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    Hang out together. If your friend contacts you and asks, "me and Sarah are going to see a movie, you want to come?" try going. It may be uncomfortable, but you never know what might happen. You might be able to help the situation by spending more time together.
    • You may learn something new about that person that may help you understand why they are the way they are.
    • You'll get a chance to see your friend and them hang out together and see if they are different around them than they are around you.
    • You may find that spending time with them is not as awful as you thought.
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    Don't compete. While you are hanging out together, it may be easy to develop an “us” vs. “them” mentality.[14] That could be dangerous, because you will feel and then act like you are always in competition with that person. Instead, be the bigger person and resist the urge to get into a power struggle with them.
    • Remind yourself that they might be trying to bait you into arguing or competing with them.
    • Find an external “enemy” a object that you all agree you dislike. If you are in school, this could be a teacher or an assignment. It could also be a celebrity, or a television show.
    • Remember why you are working hard at this in the first place, to maintain a good relationship with your friend. Arguing in front of them, while you are hanging out together will not accomplish that.
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    Find qualities in them that you like. Even though you hate them, make an effort to find something about them that you like. Living with that negativity will be harmful for all three of you so try to find a way around it by picking out qualities that are positive.
    • Think about your common interests, what do you both like?
    • Focus on what you think is their best quality and go from there.
    • Join in on an activity with them and create common ground.
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    Be civil and polite. While you are hanging out together you might not be able to be friends but you should at least be civil. If you are nasty, your friend may realize that they don't want to hang out with the both of you. If just you are being nasty, it could cause your friend to prefer to hand out the the other person. It's better to always be polite.[15]
    • Say “hello” when you see them instead of ignoring them.
    • Make eye contact when they are speaking.
    • Say “thank you” and “you're welcome.”
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    Stand up for yourself. While you should always try and remain polite, make sure you are not allowing the other person to walk all over you. Stand up for yourself in the face of nastiness, but try not to stoop to their level or retaliate.[16] Your needs are important important, too.[17]
    • If the person is calling you names you can try to ignore it, or ask them to stop. Responding maturely will show your mutual friend that you are the bigger person and are more respectful.

Method 3
Spending Time in a Group

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    Avoid being around the person you dislike. If you truly cannot find common ground with the person, try to not be around them whenever possible. Walk away from the negativity and pessimism if you can and focus on the more positive people in the group.[18] If you cannot walk away from, try to make the interactions as brief as possible.[19]
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    Keep your reactions under control. Never let the person you hate know that they are getting on your nerves. If they can see they are getting a reaction out of you, they are likely to keep doing whatever it is that upsets you. Instead remind yourself that you will not stoop to their level, and refocus your attention on someone else in the group. Remember that the other person is likely just trying to get you to react, so don't give them the satisfaction!
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    Be the happy, confident, and fun person you are. If you are nice, fun to be with and hang out with, people, including your friend, will want to be around you.[20] You'll be able to show everyone that spending time with you will be drama free and that you are not interested in the conflict with the other person. Best case scenario your friends could eventually lose interest in spending time with the person you hate, especially if they are always focused on the conflict.
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    Allow for space between you. Make sure if you are in a group that you are not seated or standing directly next to the person you don't get along with.[21] If they sit down next to you, you can choose to make the best of it, or you can excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and when you return choose a new spot. Space will give you a better chance of engaging others in conversation and gives you a bit of perspective.
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    Use the time to figure out why they bother you. While you are in a group or while they are talking use the time to figure out what it is about them that bothers you.[22] Use this to pinpoint what triggers you about them. Remember you cannot change their personality or behavior, but you can change your perceptions and the way you react to it once you figure out what it is.[23]

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Categories: Friendship Problems