Dear Lulu Jeh: I’ve been with my girlfriend for many years, but none of my friends seem to like her. To be fair, she doesn’t exactly make it easy for people. She’s not a big fan of socializing and usually prefers staying in. She also claims not to understand what I do for a living, and by extension, doesn’t want to hang out with friends I’ve made through work. My friends have often made comments about the fact that she’s never around. Is there something I can do to help bridge that gap between them? I just want my girlfriend and friends to get along!— Connected But Alone
Dear CBA: Dealing with the relationship between your friends and your partner can sometimes be a delicate matter. In Cantonese, we have a saying: “there is flesh on my palm, and there is also flesh on the back of my hand.” It basically means that it’s impossible to pick and choose between two things that matter to you.
What you need to do is to find a balance. Of course, it’s easier said than done. And you have to be prepared for fact that in the end, no one will be happy.
But still, putting in the effort is better than nothing. Why not plan an intimate dinner party at one of your homes (or your home together), inviting your closest friends from work along? This way, you get to all hang out in a setting familiar to your girlfriend, on her territory. Home field advantage is always a good thing, after all, and she’ll get to stay in, too! The subject of work will probably come up, and this can be a good chance for her to try and understand more about what you do. Be careful not to talk too much about it, though. There is nothing worse than sitting among a group and feeling like an outsider.
There’s also something else you should sit down and think about. Is there something bigger going on? Your girlfriend doesn’t seem too keen on learning about what you do and what you’re passionate about. That’s something you need to work out between the two of you — and no amount of dinner parties will fix that.
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