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Auntie SparkNotes: Can I Date Him When His BFF Hates Me?

Dear Auntie,

Is it possible to date someone when their best friend hates you?

Recently I’ve been talking to an ex of mine that I’m good friends with now. We haven’t dated for a while (five months) but the idea of getting back together has come up, and I’d really like to but there’s only one problem: his best friend can’t stand me and I can’t stand her.

When my ex and I broke up it wasn’t pretty, and it lead to some personal encounters with his best friend. We never had a problem with each other initially, but it got ugly after the breakup. Now that the idea of us possibly dating has come forward, she’s made it known that she hates the idea, telling him I’m a bitch and calling me a slut in the hallways at school. She’s also got her friends doing the same, and it’s made me very reluctant to be with my ex who I’m very close to and would love to date again. I just don’t think it’s worth dealing with her but he doesn’t do much to stop her. He says I should just be the bigger person and ignore it but it’s difficult and I’m worried that if we get together, she’ll cause problems with our relationship. It’s hard enough being friends and hanging out when his friends, especially her, dislike me. Any advice?

The good news, Sparkler, is that the answer to your first question is yes. It is, indeed, possible to date someone when their best friend hates you! That is, just as long as the someone in question is prepared to do their part to make it work.

The bad news is, I’m not sure your someone is up to that challenge.

Because in that hypothetical, successful relationship, the someone in question would be responsible for setting and enforcing appropriate boundaries with both his SO and his friend, including being brave enough to call shenanigans on over-the-line behavior.

Over-the-line behavior like, say, name-calling, bullying, and inciting a public mob of slut-shamers to harass someone in the hallways at school.

Which is where things get tricky, obviously. Your ex’s bestie is entitled to dislike you, but targeting you for malicious harassment is something else entirely—and if you’re going to date someone, you should at least be able to count on him to back you up in moments like this, by condemning the awful behavior even if he doesn’t cut off the friend.

Your ex, on the other hand, is not only not backing you up, but being a total blame-shifting weenie about it with this “be the bigger person” refrain. I mean, as long as you’re not retaliating in kind (or instigating conflicts yourself, which I assume you’re not, because that would really change things), then you are being the bigger person. But you can be the bigger person and still not be okay with being abused — or with having your boyfriend-to-be sit idly by and watch without saying a word in your defense, which, um, rather seems like a statement in and of itself. The sad truth is that staying silent when someone’s being bullied doesn’t convey neutrality. It conveys approval.

Which is what you can say to your ex-boyfriend, when you talk to him about this. Just be reasonable and direct: you’re not asking him to give up his friendship with this girl. You’re just asking that he not stand there like a topiary while his friend calls you a bitch and a slut.

That’s a pretty low bar to clear, and one he hopefully won’t balk at. But if he does, then hey, at least you’ll know better than to get involved with him again. Not because his best friend hates you, but just because he’s not brave or invested enough to set boundaries on behalf of basic human decency — which makes him lousy boyfriend material in his own right.

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