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Ask Ogonna: How to deal when friends give you a ‘type’ in relationships

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Have a problem with love or life in general? Send Ogonna your questions at askogonna@gmail.com and get them answered here in her column. You can also tweet her at @askogonna


Reader: My friends really don’t like the guy I’m dating because he’s the complete opposite of who they think is “my type.” They say they’re worried that he’s changing me, but we haven’t even gone out that long and I am completely the same. It’s frustrating that they don’t support me or even trust me to make good decisions.

Ogonna: First of all, I think the idea of having a “type” is an interesting social construct. We as humans tend to function in ways where we fit things into a box in order to make sense of them. When we see a pattern in our lives, we automatically assume that every situation in our future must follow that pattern as well. If it deviates from that spectrum, it’s different in a negative way, or in this case, it’s seen as “concerning.”

My friend, for example, has been told by our group that his “type” consists of anyone whose name starts with the letter J. It’s not that he can’t fall for anyone whose name starts with the rest of the 25 letters in the alphabet, but it’s the “J’s” that are taken into extra consideration.

If this at all pertains to your situation, it seems that anyone who falls out of this “type” that your friends seem to have prescribed for you is not automatically acceptable. In this we find our problem.

When friends express their concerns about your romantic interests, it’s not necessarily a sign that they don’t trust you to make good choices for yourself. Let’s be honest, we’ve all witnessed our friends making less-than-favorable choices themselves, so can they really use that against you? I agree it is frustrating, and since it’s your life, you should and can decide for yourself who you want to be with without running it by the friend group.

But if your friends are really that worried, it’s important to look into the reasons why. Sometimes, it’s harder for us to see ourselves changing than it is for our friends. And since they love and support us, they won’t hesitate to call us out when they see a difference in our behavior, especially if that change is concerning.

I suggest asking your friends if they can identify specific instances where you’ve acted differently. If they can get you to see yourself in a different light, perhaps they have some valid points that you can look into yourself. You don’t have to reassure your friends that this behavior is fine, but a little introspection could be beneficial for you to make sure who you are in your relationship is who you want to be.

On the other hand, some friends might be seeing you change in a way they don’t like because it means your relationship with that friend is also changing. When you start to date someone, you share interests, hobbies, goals, ideas and all the intimate aspects as well. You try and see life from their perspective to get to know them on a deeper level. This could subconsciously affect the way you interact with your friends who don’t get that other perspective, and so they think you’re changing for the worse when really you’re just changing. Who said we couldn’t change for the better?

The most important thing to take away from this is that your friends are concerned because they care. Take this as an opportunity to let your friends get to know your significant other a little bit better before making any judgment calls against that person or against you.

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