How To Deal With A Friend Bringing Their Partner To Everything, According To A Relationship Therapist

We've all been there — you have a good friend that starts dating someone and they disappear. Suddenly, your go-to person for movie nights and spontaneous dinners always has plans. Whether they've been dating for some time or have just started seeing each other, getting wrapped up in a relationship is common. That can leave friends feeling like they've been pushed by the wayside. And sometimes that means their significant other tags along to hang-outs that used to just be the two of you or your friend group.


The feeling that you're losing your friend to their relationship can feel overwhelming and frustrating. Sometimes you want to spend time with them without their significant other or feeling like the third wheel. Dr. Briana DeNeal-Findley, a relationship and trauma therapist and the founder of The Bee Network, understands both points of view. In an exclusive chat with Glam, she gives advice on how to deal with a friend who always brings their partner along, even when uninvited.

Try using 'I' statements

You value time with your friend, but when they bring their partner around, you don't get that quality time. "It can be very frustrating dealing with a friend who always brings their partner to every single event. Your defensive side may instantly want to complain to them about how annoying or inappropriate it is," Dr. Briana DeNeal-Findley exclusively tells Glam. "However, when trying to get your point across it is best not to complain. When we complain to a friend it is very easy for the friend to become offended. When someone is offended [they] rarely are able to hear past the offense."


In many cases, they want to spend time with their partner and want their partner to spend time with you. They may not know that having their partner at an outing or gathering is unwanted. Complaining to a friend, whether it's in the moment or in the future, can make their defensive side come out. Dr. DeNeal-Findley explains, "Instead of responding to your desire to have time with them without your partner, you will find a friend who is responding trying [to] defend themselves. Use 'I' statements (I feel __ when__). This will place the emphasis on your feelings about the situation." With this method, they won't feel attacked, and they'll be more open to hearing you out.

Talk to your friend one-on-one

If you want to discuss the situation, it's best to do it one-on-one. "Reach out to your friend to try to find some private time where you can speak to them one-on-one. Do not try to address the issue when out with a crowd of friends or in front of your friend's partner," Dr. Briana DeNeal-Findley exclusively explains to Glam. "This can cause embarrassment, and once again your friend may become offended." If you have the conversation with your friend's partner, both may feel offended and attacked. It's better to address it with the one you're closest to.


Dr. DeNeal-Findley suggests, "Let your friend know how you feel every time they bring their partner and make suggestions on how you would like for your time together to be [spent] differently." It would be good to point out that it's not about their relationship but more about wanting to spend time with your friend without their partner around. And providing solutions going forward shows you're willing to compromise.

Let them know when plus ones aren't welcome

Sometimes, there are events when partners may be welcome and others when they should stay home. "Sometimes you just may want to have a girls' night out. In that case, no one wants to kill the vibe by having a significant other around," Dr. Briana DeNeal-Findley tells Glam in an exclusive chat. "Instead of waiting to see if your friend will bring their partner (again), let them know at the time of invite that no plus ones are allowed." When making plans, if it's an outing that partners aren't invited to, make it clear from the start.


"When inviting your friend to hang out, let them know the details of the event as well as the atmosphere that you are aiming for," says Dr. DeNeal-Findley. "This is another opportunity for you to be direct about how you would like to spend your time together as a friend." Explain that it's a dinner for just the girls, a girls' spa night, or just a one-on-one hangout with the two of you. If you make your expectations clear up front, chances are they'll show up alone.

Reiterate the importance of having time with just each other

You've spent a lot of time — sometimes months or years — building your friendship. And feeling like it's falling by the wayside because of their relationship is frustrating and sad. "Outside of feeling annoyed that your friend always brings their partner around, you may also feel like you can't truly bond the way that you used to," Dr. Briana DeNeal-Findley exclusively tells Glam. Even if you do get time together, they may still bring up their partner, making it feel as if they're still there. Or they may cut time together short to spend time with their significant other. 


"Talk to your friend about how you value their companionship and the time spent together," Dr. DeNeal-Findley suggests. "Use examples of past outings to highlight spaces where you felt comfortable to be yourself or free to tell or do anything together with your friend." Explain that you just want time to continue building and strengthening your friendship, keep up with each other, and spend quality time together. Just as they need time together as a couple, you need time together as friends.

Be understanding

When an uninvited partner keeps coming around, the situation can quickly become tiring. "It is easy to want to tell your friend not to bring their partner around or maybe even just stop inviting your friend out altogether," Dr. Briana DeNeal-Findley tells us in our exclusive chat. "However, seek to understand why they may bring their partner around all the time before you throw in the towel. Don't just seek to get your side of things out but be open to their perspective." There may be unknown reasons why they're bringing their partner with them.


"Sometimes, a friend may not notice that it is an issue," Dr. DeNeal-Findley explains. "Other times, they may feel under pressure from their partner. Allowing your friend to feel safe in the conversation makes room for change and provides an opportunity for both of you to be vulnerable." Be empathetic to their situation, whatever the reason, and be willing to have a conversation about what compromises to make. In doing so, you'll find a situation that works for both of you.