What do you do when you just can’t STAND your “Friends-in-Law”? Otherwise known as friends of a friend, friends by association, step-friends. People who aren’t directly your own friends, but they are a part of your life anyway.

Here’s a sticky situation for you. I was going to Ottawa to visit one of my oldest friends from high school. My older sister was going to be there too. Cool. They have known each other for years and get along with each other. I invited my best friend to join us. That’s cool too. She had heard about my high school friend and my sister, and looked forward to spending time with them. I was doing my best to stay calm, and tried to think of stuff we could do and talk about that would include everyone. THEN, my Ottawa friend found out her older sister was going to be there too. That ruined it all. I barely knew her and she picked on MY older sister when THEY were in high school. This wasn’t going to work. I felt like all the pressure was on me to make sure everybody got along and had a good time. AARRGGHHÜ

Here’s another example: your best bud and you have plans to do something — anything — cool on Friday night. You’re looking forward to it, you can’t wait, it’ll be great, whatever it is. When it comes to the two of you, anything is a good laugh.

Then, your best bud says someone else will be joining you. Oh great, you think, it’s you know who. The despised friend-in-law. Now the plans aren’t so cool any more. What to do?

It has nothing to do with jealousy. You’re not peeved because two’s company and three’s a crowd. It’s something else. You just can’t force yourself to like this person. But since it’s NOT up to you, you have to make do, take it as it comes.

Think about it. If you don’t at least try (or pretend) to get along with your friend-in-law, it makes you look bad to your real friend. Your friend probably won’t understand what the big deal is. Actually, your friend may feel insulted and take it personally. That’s tough.

What you would most like to do is tell your friend exactly what you think of your friend-in-law and convince him or her to see things your way. But that’s not fair, or

realistic. You just have to put up with it. Try to see things from your friend’s perspective and do your best to stay cool.

What’s worse is when you can’t get along with your mate’s friends. How do you deal with that? This is when you have to grin and bear it, so to speak. You can voice your opinions to your other half, but do it very carefully. Remember, it’s a touchy subject, and even if you don’t like his or her friends, it doesn’t give you the right to judge your mate or to say who he or she should hang out with.

Then there is the actual family-in-law. If you don’t get along with your real in-laws,you are in big trouble. Don’t even try to get involved! Go about your business and make thebest of it. After all, you are a part of the family now and you can’t just diss this one andthat one. There will be serious consequences! You have to be tough. Vent your frustrationsto someone outside the family circle, preferably a close friend. Just make sure yourfriends-in-law don’t tag along!

•By the way, the trip to Ottawa didn’t happen after all. What a relief!