Friendship: one of the most coveted relationships you can have the honor of being bestowed with. Friends are the family you choose for yourself, yeah? Chances are, some of your friends know more about you than your own parents. I can say that I have a group of friends that I can count on one hand that have known me over half of my life. These women will probably have more memories with me, of me, and know more about me than my future husband ever will. They will remember what I looked like in elementary, middle and high school; the idiotic things I said and did in college, the first place I lived here in LA.
But with the glory of having a comrade to engage in debauchery with, to gripe with and to go through social awkwardness with also comes the crappy parts of having that friend. Perhaps it’s holding their hair back. Perhaps it’s trying to get them to put pants on. Or maybe it’s the inevitable: the fact that, at some point, you will hate their boyfriend.
Maybe hate is a strong word. You may hate them, but you may also feel many of your friends are selling themselves short with the people they’re dating.
As a friend, you have the short end of the stick. Not only do you have to hear all the good points (the first dates! the sweet gestures! the engagements!) but the terrible things as well, which can range from cheating, name calling; when they spent a large amount of money without consulting you first, dinner with an ex behind your back, flirting, arguing, multiple breakups, and, sadly, if he’s been abusive.
As friends, these are the burdens we take on: to love our friends unconditionally, lift them up, and try to help advise them when it’s necessary. But it’s hard to forget those terrible things when a reconciliation comes about, because the last thing we want is to see our friends end up with someone unworthy of them in the long run. Sure, nobody’s perfect, but why settle when the red flags keep popping up repeatedly?
When you’re in your teens, or even in college, you don’t tend to worry about these relationships because, more than likely, they will fizzle out, fade, die — whatever you want to call it. But as I’ve gotten into this thing others like to refer to as “adulthood,” (I prefer “4 years of Ramen or Lean Cuisine?”) I have gotten increasingly more neurotic about my friends. Mostly because they’re all dating or have dated jackasses, and also because, outside of work, my life consists of hanging with said friends or going to the gym.
“You are meddling in their lives!” you may be thinking. No, I am not. When you love someone, don’t you want what’s best for their own physical and emotional welfare? I do not want anyone I know walking down the aisle, only to get the big D four years later. (And by “big D,” I am referring to divorce.)
At first, I wondered why so many of their boyfriends were such idiots, and then I wondered what my own problem was. Newsflash: It’s normal to not be keen on your friends’ boyfriends from time to time. In fact, so many of our friends these days are worried about the option of being alone that they tend to cling to people not worth their time. So it’s normal to hold a grudge, be bitter and still be weary of said boyfriend who has broken their heart or done an unforgivable thing. Because more than often, at this age, if our friends aren’t married (like, no kidding, 90% of mine, thank goodness), they’re dating some idiot who doesn’t have his shit together. It’s true. Said shit could be their job, their emotional state, their spending, their drinking, their education… the list goes on.
Let me backtrack for a second. Some of my friends’ boyfriends, exes, or whatever their defined as these days (some of them are in relationship limbo) are great people. People I’ve had great times with, people I adore, and even people I consider a friend too. But guess what? They don’t have my allegiance. I might like these two people as individuals, but together? To the left with it.
While you would like to brush this whole “feeling” off, it’s almost impossible because it can affect your life in a few ways. It can make your life a living hell because all your friend does is spend every waking minute with this person and they’re always around, NO MATTER WHAT. So you have to hear their arrogant, self-satisfying babble when you could not care less.
Or, it can ruin your relationship with your friend. She cares too much about him at that point. Women tend to put on their Boyfriend Goggles(TM) in relationships. They impair everything! Good decisions get thrown out the window sometimes, so you’re more than likely getting kicked to the curb until she figures out this lowlife isn’t loyal, isn’t going anywhere, and has no real attributes she should be attracted to.
Or you can deal with it and drive yourself nuts.
I used to spend my time thinking about how I was going to tell my friends I couldn’t stand their boyfriend, and what a terrible decision it was for them to (move in, get back together, quit their job for them, etc). It was like the nagging thing in the back of my head. I am classified as a Stage 5 Helper, and these girls NEEDED help! Didn’t they? Didn’t they need me to tell them everything that was wrong with their relationship?
If you don’t know the answer already, it’s no.
And you know what? That’s why it’s never happened. Because I realized something. Well, two things. More than likely, these women know, deep within their hearts, it’s not right. That there are too many red flags for this to be the real deal. And sure, they’re probably ignoring it for now so they can enjoy the time they have left, but ultimately they know in their heart it’s not “it.”
Second, it’s not worth it for me, and not for you as a friend, either. It’s not your battle to fight, your mountain to climb, your experience to go through. If they are in physical harm, obviously reach out to the appropriate parties to keep things safe. But emotional harm can be just as damaging, and I understand how hard it is to walk away and not say something when your friend just got prescribed a new pair of Boyfriend Goggles.
At the end of the day, you can cause a bunch of drama by speaking your mind and probably get nowhere because, let’s face it, we’re all adults. Your friend is going to make her own decisions. You can say something, or you can love your friends, advise when necessary, and hope they get some sense smacked into them at some point.
I will say that I have been vocal with one friend recently about her relationship, and it takes a really special friendship to be able to vocalize something like that and have them respect what you’re saying, knowing it’s coming from a good, honest place. Some of your friendships won’t be able to handle — let alone make it through — a conversation like that. Even your best friends.
So mind your mouth before you try to offer help and advice.