How to Deal When His Friend Tries to Swoop in on You

man has crush on friend's wife

Sure, most of the time your partner's friends are more interested in who made a winning touchdown during the big game than the fact that you got a haircut. But "poachers" -- i.e., guys who try to ruin your relationship and steal you away -- exist. And if you have a hunch that one of your man's friends has his eye on you, you might be right.

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How to know? A recent study shed some light on "poaching behaviors," which will come as no surprise if you've ever watched a single rom-com.

A man who's crushing on you could insult your partner in front of you, for instance. Tell you, even jokingly, that you can do better. Maybe try to compete with him. (And we're guessing it doesn't have to be a foot race, but something trivial like who can build the biggest snowman for your kids.)

"Although we've done a great job of cleaning ourselves up and pretending we're cultured and civilized, at our core, we're still animals instinctively driven to scratch and claw our way to the top of the food and mating chain," explains Paul Hokemeyer, JD, PhD, a licensed marriage and family therapist who practices in New York City, Los Angeles, and Telluride, Colorado. "This explains the aggressive behaviors referred to as mate poaching. And why females are impressed with males who demonstrate alpha qualities."

The good news: Poaching is actually pretty rare. And not really effective. You're with your man for a reason, after all.

So it's okay to enjoy a little attention from the man who's suddenly looking at you like you're Kate Upton. But don't get sucked into what could be a potential vortex of destruction to your relationship, cautions Hokemeyer.

Here's how to do that:

1. Admit to yourself that something's up. If you notice that your partner's pal is treating you more like a potential girlfriend than his pal's off-limits partner, trust your instincts, says Hokemeyer. Oh, and don't just try to ignore him. While that might make you feel better, "it will only encourage the friend to up the ante," Hokemeyer notes.

2. Confide in a friend you can trust. Bring up the subject with a close bestie. Has she noticed this guy's behavior, too? What does she think you should do? Unless this guy is blowing up your phone with raunchy pics or salacious texts, "there's no need to bring your partner into this just yet," says Hokemeyer.

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3. Put your strategy into action. With your friend's help, "come up with three interventions," Hokemeyer advises. "Each one should escalate in directness and assertiveness." A general plan to follow: 1) Let this poacher wannabe know that you're happy in your relationship and how much you love your partner. 2) Tell him you sense he's trying to hit on you. (And it ain't gonna work.) And 3) "Tell him to back the hell off," says Hokemeyer.

4. Get your partner involved. How'd that third talk go? If instead of apologizing and backing off, your poacher seems even more confident that you'll "come around," it's time to bring your partner up to speed. "Tell [him] what's going on, that you've shared it with your bestie and tried three different times to call if off," says Hokemeyer.

5. Let your poacher meet his match. As in, you and your partner, united as a team, both telling him to leave you -- and your relationship -- alone. It's important he sees that you two are united as a team. "Predators divide and conquer," notes Hokemeyer. "Don't allow this to happen."

Once this is all over, your relationship will potentially be stronger than before, says Hokemeyer. "There's quite a bonding as a couple is taking out a threat to their relationship and happiness."

 

Image via fizkes/Shutterstock

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