Saturday, October 30, 2010
I don't like you not liking them.
A topic we have talked about here before is making things fit. Adding a new partner, integrating households, primary and secondary considerations, your SO finding a new SO. But what happens when you end up with two partners who truly don't like each other?
Here you are, finding yourself stuck between two people who really don't care for each other. You have had some talks, both one-on-one and as a group. You have tried being the catalyst to compromise between the two partners. You have all spent time together to get to know one another better. Being the hinge between these two people you have taken responsibility to ensure communication is open, feelings are respected, and needs are being met. In short, you have been responsible as much as possible and done everything you can think of to spark a good relationship between your two partners but it just isn't working.
They just don't like each other.
Now you are seeing your hopes of an integrated family, living under one roof, being swept away in the wind. Those dreams of cozy nights cuddling as a group on the couch are evaporating. Fantasies of sharing the same bed seem about as possible as life on the Moon being discovered.
Maybe the perfect life isn't taking shape but then, has your life been perfect? Are you famous beyond your dreams? So popular you can't even remember all your friends names? Rich beyond belief? Probably not. (In case I'm wrong and you are rich beyond belief email your PayPal account information to me NOW! Thanks!). So do your relationships have to be perfect? Probably not. Hopefully you are a realist and know what has happened was a possibility and you are okay with loving two people who may never be good friends.
The question is; what do you do now?
If you have gotten this far without anyone murdering someone you must be doing something right. Sit down, think about it, and figure out what that thing may be. Then keep doing it.
The big one I would focus on is respect. I would insist that each of my partners respect the other. We would have a group meeting where I would be quite direct about things. I would let them know that a change is about to take place. That although I've been trying to help them have a friendship I now realize that isn't going to happen and I will no longer work toward that outcome. I would let them know I accept they are individuals and respect their feelings. At the same time I would insist they respect one another. No playing manipulative games for time, attention, etc. No bashing each other verbally in my presence. No blatant disregard for feelings or refusals to be considerate of each other. I would let them know I love each of them and I won't tolerate bad behavior towards one another.
Now maybe that sounds like I'm being a parent and not a partner but in my opinion I need to take that position. Again, I'm the hinge between them so I need to take some responsibility. It is also up to me to ensure my needs are met and being a chew toy in a tug of war would be the opposite of meeting my needs.
I would also think I probably need to stop trying to make them like each other. Planning dates together and such sounds great but with two people who don't like each other continuing to do that may cause them to begin to resent me or the situation.
And finally, I would let them know that their liking each other isn't a requirement. It won't prevent me from loving either of them nor will it cause me to love either of them less.
Have you been in this situation before? How did you deal with it? If you haven't, what would you do if you ended up in this situation?