Love or Friendship: How do you choose?

I’m dating a guy who is not my normal type. None of my friends can stand him. They all think he is a loser because he dresses differently. His family isn’t rich and can’t afford to get him trendy clothes but I don’t care about that. He’s a great guy and he’s good to me. Why can’t my friends see how good he is for me and be happy for us? Why are they making it so hard?

This is such a common problem especially among teens. The social structure of high school can be unforgiving and patently unfair. All too often the things that make some people “popular” and other people “unpopular” have nothing to do with the substance of the people and everything to do with superficial things like clothing, excellence in sports, or good looks. No matter how often adults tell teens that this kind of thinking is wrong it never changes. It is a combination of immaturity, the closed environment of high school and peer pressure that make this social divide so pronounced among teenagers. But love is often blind to things like this and that is a good thing.

First let me congratulate you for following your heart on this one, you are 100% in the right. If a guy makes you happy and treats you well that is way more important than what he wears or whom he hangs out with. If he is good to you and good for you this is all that matters. But you need to face your friends and their irrational disapproval and that can be a difficult thing to do. Peer pressure is a very influential force, especially for teenagers, and far too many relationships are crushed by the weight of it. Here are some tips to help you stand up to your friends in the name of love:

  • Make these your words to live by; the clothes don’t make the man.

  • Stand up for your guy whenever your friends cut him down and always remind them that he is good to you. If they are real friends eventually this will sink in and they will support you.

  • Insist that your friends include your guy whenever possible and ask them to try to really get to know him for your sake. Again, true friends might protest but in the end they want you to be happy and will at least give him a chance.

  • Never sit by silently while your friends criticize your guy. Tell them that you don’t appreciate them being so superficial and then tell them why your guy is so great. Do this every time they put him down. Eventually they’ll get it.

  • If your friends, or your guy, ever put you in the position of having to choose between them just refuse to do it. Tell them that they are both very important parts of your life and that you wish they could get along but if they can’t you’ll just have to make time to see them at different times. Then stick to the plan. Never give in to the pressure.

  • Love can’t conquer all but peer pressure should never be allowed to control you. If your guy is a good guy your friends will come to see it in time. You just need to keep singing his praises and bring him around them as much as possible. If they see how good he is to you first hand eventually they’ll come around.

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