I met a man at a work conference six months ago and started introducing him to my friends this summer. He came to a wedding and a birthday party, as well as a university reunion weekend. Then one of my best friends rented a villa and I was going to take him, but she made it clear that she dislikes him. Since then two more friends have expressed their concerns, saying he’s loud, tactless and untrustworthy. I’m hurt, worried and a bit cross. Why would they behave like this when I’m happy? — Annoyed
This is, in a sense, a success story: you have friends who not only care but are uncomfortable letting you walk into what they see as oncoming traffic. Be grateful you have friends who bother to tread this difficult path. Believe us, they haven’t brought up this most sensitive of subjects for their own satisfaction. They are concerned. And you are annoyed. So you have choices to make.
Annabel: You could cut them out of your life and isolate yourself from anyone who disapproves of your choices because you are desperate for this man to be ‘the One’ and there is no room for anyone’s doubt in the equation. Many people would do this because it feels easier but actually that would be childish. And insane. Alternatively, you could woman-up and have the difficult conversation with your friends. This is the point where you find a way to say, "Look, I understand that you have my best interests at heart but these are my feelings and I need to see how it pans out. I don’t know where this is going to lead but I need to see it through." You are creating a boundary and giving both you and them space to run this out.
Emilie: Nothing makes people more uncomfortable than behind-the-back, passive aggression: pretending to forget your boyfriend’s name or talking about your ex in glowing terms. So the fact that they are acknowledging this openly is a good thing. My sister once hated one of my boyfriends and I caught her rolling her eyes in the mirror when I was going out to see him... after a million break-ups.
She was right, of course. He was an utter arse. But that’s not what I thought at the time. And she never said, "I told you so." People don’t. Unless they are monsters. I had a friend whose first marriage broke up badly. She told us that only one friend had actually bothered to articulate to her that she didn’t like the guy.
They fell out, but now on reflection she can see that her friend was the true one and that she was permanently on the defensive in that relationship. Also we are not in our 20s any more, our lives aren’t as intertwined as they once were, and we are (hopefully) less selfish. It is possible to maintain friendships and relationships without too much overlap.
A: But – and there is a but – do not tell your boyfriend that this is being said about him. If you end up with him long-term, he will never forget and will resent them. Or if you break up he’ll blame them. It’s best you have a relationship with him and a separate relationship with them.
And, just quietly, look at him through their eyes. They say he’s "tactless". Is he marvellously honest or arrogantly rude? They say he’s "untrustworthy". Why? I believe that if three people tell you something then it’s worth taking a look. Maybe they’re wrong, but don’t let lust and hope blind you to any red flags.
A&E: So yes, time to put on your big-girl pants and have a big-girl chat with your pals. It’s a gentle way of telling them to back off and letting them tell you that they have your back. And next time you want to wheel him out for them, do it in a relaxed, cosy way.
No more weddings and reunions for a while. More a curry for four with a load of beer and low expectations. All will become clear, Annoyed. Keep an open mind and be happy that you are so loved.
Tell us what you think in the comments below and visit the telegraph.co.uk/midults every Friday from 6am to find out the next dilemma for The Midults. Next week: I'm jealous of the time my wife spends with her male colleague and I don't know what to do