Watching your friend make what you presume is a poor relationship choice can leave you feeling guilty about not speaking up about your observations. Allowing your friend to date a man who is bad for her can lead to your friend’s relationship dissatisfaction, or serious mental and emotional distress, depending on the severity of your friend’s unhealthy relationship.
1. Be Honest
As difficult as it may be, it’s best that you come clean and honestly tell your friend how you feel about her boyfriend, say Anne Milford and Jennifer Gauvin, authors of “How Not To Marry the Wrong Guy.” Milford and Gauvin say that if you notice your friend making a poor relationship choice, then it is your responsibility to bring it to her attention. Give her factual information about why you are not particularly fond of her relationship choice, such as spotting her boyfriend in the store with another woman, or overhearing him speak rudely to her or her child. Let her know that you are honestly concerned about her overall happiness, and could not stand by and watch her make a choice that could negatively affect her life.
2. Acknowledge Her Strengths
It is possible that your friend may become defensive about your criticism of her boyfriend, so be sure to cushion the blow by acknowledging her strengths, suggest Milford and Gauvin. Remind her that she is a smart woman, with plenty going for herself and the ability to find a man who will treat her well. Emphasize the fact that you are not criticizing her choice, but noting some concerns you have observed in her mate. This approach may encourage her to be more receptive to your opinion than if you were overly critical of her boyfriend.
3. Don't Judge
When you state your case to your friend about why she should not date her boyfriend, be sure to take a non-judgmental approach. Refrain from using an overly hostile or dogmatic tone when presenting your perspective to your friend. If she feels like you are judging her, she is likely to shut down and completely distance herself from you for fear of future persecution. A comment, such as “I can’t believe you would be foolish enough to date him,” suggests that you are judging your friend as incompetent of making good choices. Even if you are surprised that your friend would choose her current boyfriend as a romantic partner, keep this opinion to yourself and remember: everyone experiences lapses in good judgment.
4. Unconditional Support
Even after you have presented the most solid case for why your friend should no longer date her boyfriend, she may choose to stay with him. If this is the case, try to be there for your friend as much as possible – unless there is a threat to your personal or family’s safety -- especially in the event that she realizes you were right and later relies on you for emotional support. If your friend learns that your suspicions were correct and calls on you for help, refrain from saying “I told you so,” and simply provide her with a listening ear and shoulder to cry on as she sorts through her thoughts and feelings. Your friend is entitled to her own learning experiences, and would greatly benefit from knowing that she has friends who will be there for her, even when she makes mistakes.
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