Love is blind -- for the two people involved. But as an outsider, you have 20-20 vision. Whether the red flags are minor, like his annoying lack of manners, or major -- like possible cheating or abuse -- it is important to tread lightly when telling your best friend that her man is not Mr. Right. Choosing the right time for the conversation and remaining nonjudgmental increases the chances that you'll get your message across.
1. Whether to Dish
Before you spill your feelings, think about whether your concerns are significant. If the problem is annoying, but not important -- his lame jokes or bad sense of style -- it might be best to keep quiet. Even if you are convinced she could do better, he might have positive characteristics you don't notice. In addition, consider whether your opinion might be influenced by other factors: perhaps you are upset that your attempts at matchmaking weren't successful or jealous that she doesn't have time for you anymore.
2. When to Talk
If you decide that your concerns are important enough to discuss, choose a time when you are both calm and relaxed, recommends the Indiana University Health Center in the article, "How to Help a Friend." Don't bring up the subject if you might be overheard or interrupted -- at work, for example. Don't try to talk about it immediately after an incident that might leave her upset or defensive.
3. Stay Nonjudgmental
Thinking about what you want to say in advance can help you focus on your friend's happiness and well-being. Emphasizing that you are concerned about her and only want the best for her is more effective than insulting her partner. In addition, try to describe specific examples that concern you rather than making general statements. For example, instead of saying "Mike's such a jerk," explain, "I was worried about how Mike criticized you for ordering dessert last night."
4. Active Listening
Be prepared to listen, not just talk. Creating an environment where your friend can talk honestly and thoughtfully is often more helpful than trying to give advice, according to the Indiana University Health Center. Be an active and supportive listener by looking at your friend, asking questions and giving her time to answer. Summarize what she says to ensure you understand.
5. Get Extra Help
If you are concerned that your friend's partner might be abusive or dangerous, be prepared to provide extra resources. For example, offer to go with her to a local support group or counseling session, recommends the National Domestic Violence Hotline. You can also help your friend develop a safety plan and encourage her to stay connected to friends and family. Remember to support and respect your friend regardless of her choices. Victims stay in abusive relationships for many reasons, and leaving can be difficult.
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