Monday, July 09, 2007

Friends don't let friends...

Several months ago I was at dinner with some friends when one asked if I was still talking to a particular ex-girlfriend. I informed her that I was not, and she replied with "That's probably a good thing."

I was aghast. How could everyone not be completely enamored with any female I might choose to date?

Hard as it was to believe, apparently it was true. Further conversation revealed a couple of other friends held a not-so-favorable opinion of this girl, as well. It was a real eye-opener for me. Like a cool, fresh bar of Coast in a morning shower.

I asked my friend why she had never said anything about this before. She responded that I never seemed all that serious about the relationship and she figured it would pass. It did.

But what if it hadn't? Would she have said anything? Would I have listened?

This is a not uncommon predicament in life. As long as we are single or have friends who are single, there will be situations like this. More times than not, I've found myself on the opposite side of the fence, wondering if I should say something to a friend whose significant other, well, had significant issues.

Inevitably, I wind up asking myself the same questions. What do I say? Do I say anything? How long should I wait before saying it? Is it really any of my business? Should I keep my mouth shut and just hope for the best? And even if I do say something, will it do any good?

Well, my friends, allow me to answer all of the above questions for you with one simple sentence: I have no idea.

At this point in my life, I tend to stay out of other people's business. I figure relationships are difficult enough without outside interference. And undoubtedly friendships have been damaged, some completely destroyed, because one friend decided to say something.

On the other hand, love is blind. And I would venture to say that lust is, too. As in my situation, the person in the relationship is usually the last one to see the signs that are so obvious to everyone else.

Do we not owe it to our friends to warn them if we think they are heading down a road strewn with certain pitfalls and probable STD's? After all, certainly there have been times in our dating history when most of us could have used a stiff smack to the forehead and someone questioning, "What are you thinking?!"

Good friends know us better than most anyone. They don't usually have ulterior motives. So if a good friend does voice an opinion, listen. Or don't. But don't let it ruin the friendship. More times than not, friends will be around long after the non-platonic relationship is gone.

And if several friends you've known for five, ten years or longer have a problem with someone you're dating, that should probably send up a few red flags. Then again, looking thru rose-colored glasses, red flags appear to be white.

There used to be a popular ad campaign which used the slogan, "Friends don't let friends drive drunk." But what about relationships? How far does a friend's responsibility go when it comes to dating under the influence?

"What would Brian Boitano do if he were here right now? He'd make a plan and follow through. That's what Brian Boitano'd do..."

33 comments:

  1. I was aghast. How could everyone not be completely enamored with any female I might choose to date?

    Can I just tell you how hard I laughed at this?? Imagine the nerve of your friends not being adoring of anyone you deign to date!! Don't they know the stringent requirements these females must pass before meeting your approval?!!? Your decision making skills are not to be questioned! :)

    On a more serious note, though, this was my favorite line:

    Then again, looking thru rose-colored glasses, red flags appear to be white.

    A truer statement has never been uttered. Those feelings of love put us into an entirely foreign state of mind and everything appears rose colored. Who could be expected to see the white flags?

    I'm thankful that, for the most part, my friends have always been supportive and understanding - but also open and honest. If they didn't care for someone I was dating, they were frank about it, but respected my decision to continue dating them; If I so chose.

    I've had a single exception (don't the exceptions make the rules?) and lost a friend over a man. However, I still believe that I made the right choice.

    In my opinion, a friend's responsibility is to be honest and open about how they feel and the fears they have -- after all, they're doing it out of concern and respect for you -- but to try and accept and respect the decisions you make. After all, it's your happily (or not so) ever after. Not theirs.

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  2. Good post. I always hope that my friends will be honest with me. I agree with you..."And if several friends you've known for five, ten years or longer have a problem with someone you're dating, that should probably send up a few red flags."

    I know sometimes I don't always voice my opinion on my friend's relationships. I usually do it for the same reason your friends didn't tell you. I would like to think that if it got serious I would say something, but I don't know if that's true. I probably would keep it to myself because I don't want to be pushy or in other people's business.

    This was a good post to make me think about my relationships with my friends.

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  3. I think there's honest, and then brutally honest. Friends are also a bit prejudiced - NO ONE would be good enough for you according to your good friends. I just try to be supportive, and I've found that no one listens when I voice opinions anyway. :)

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  4. I've learned that if I do say something it falls on deaf or defiant ears. The friend can and usually doesn't pay any hede to the advice and usually sticks with crummy person longer. Then after finally coming to their senses they wonder why you didn't say anything.
    In these situations it is always best to just tolerate crummy person as best as you can. Sometimes avoidance helps friends to see the crumminess better (ie. "why doesn't Renee come around anymore? They only thing different is my new love.") But not always.

    I guess I'm lucky in that I don't have to deal with this very often. Although, my one SIL *shudder!*

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  5. There are two times when I ever voice my opinion in situations like this, and it is only ever with very good friends.

    1) when they ask. If they are a close enough friend to ask my opinion, then I give them my honest answer.

    and

    2) when I see a serious red flag about the guy/girl.

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  6. Darn! I just lost my comment. Maybe I will write it again later.

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  7. Avery Laine: Um, I'm quite sure my decision making skills are not beyond question. But thanks :)

    a friend's responsibility is to be honest and open about how they feel and the fears they have -- after all, they're doing it out of concern and respect for you -- but to try and accept and respect the decisions you make.

    Well said. Wish I'd have thought to say it that way in this post.

    OK Chick: Thanks. I tend to do the same thing as you. Just keep my mouth shut and hope for the best.

    Carmen: I've never run into the "no one is good enough according to my friends" thing. Hmm, maybe my friends don't have very high expectations for me :)

    Renee: I've learned that if I do say something it falls on deaf or defiant ears.

    The couple of times in the past I've tried saying something, I got that same result. I do like the avoidance idea, however.

    DCChick: I agree with those two conditions, but what constitutes a serious red flag in your opinion?

    Melanie: I think you should, because I'm having a hard time reading your mind ;-)

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  8. while we can't entirely know what two people share in their intimate relationship, if we spend enough time with them as a couple and know our friend well, i think our opinion should be stated. hell, it's gotten to the point with my friends that they want to have pre-screening interviews with my potentials (i say hell no to that!).

    but you're right- sometimes we are too in it to see what's really going on. that's why we have friends!

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  9. I have had too much experience in this area

    Friends might not let friends drive drunk

    People are going to marry or have kids with whoever they want especially when entering a specific age range

    You can't stop that. You could lose the friendship. You can do subtle things like refusing two out three invitations to be with them

    You can say "she has great skin" in answer to a question abou her positive attributes but it's not the same as driving drunk

    People hear what they want to hear and don't hear the rest

    With Lucia I made sure that I was around for her. I would even talk to him. She was hell bent on having a baby with him and I couldn't or wouldn't stop that--I was around to pick up the pieces

    However when she was dating somebody else--with a very strange name who lived in a specific geographical area--and I heard the DJ on the radio say "from whoever who lives in__to his girlfriend of two years," I called her that moment as it wasn't Lucia. She still thanks me for that as she was madly in love

    You have to use judgement but it's really best to let people make their own mistakes in most cases

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  10. It is funny, after my boyfriend of three years and I broke up I found out that a lot of our friends did not care for him and were nice to him and invited us for functions because of me. I was shocked as he is an out going person and I thought very likeable. One friend even did the happy dance, which at the time was not amusing to me as I was still heart broken but now is kind of funny.
    I have often wondered why no one had ever said anything to me. I guess it was the fact that I was happy and thought that he was who I would spend the rest of my life with.
    I guess as a friend we have to pick and choose the time when we are going to speak up in such personal situations such as relationships.

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  11. I guess I feel strongly on this because I have seen too many friendships fall apart because one friend gives the other advice he/she doesn't want to hear or isn't ready to.

    Even if the couple breaks up, often the half that was the person's friend will end up blaming the friend for putting flags or whatever.

    People have to make their own mistakes even if it's very costly in the end

    I have a blanket rule of never getting involved in relationships

    I know when I was crazy in love, I wouldn't have listened

    The only time a therapist will "take sides" is if one person in the relationship is overtly abusive or all the signs are there.

    There is a good reason for this. People fall in love with the strangest people and sometimes end up very happily married for 60 years

    While friends might know you well or better than anybody else, they can't know everything that makes your heart leap. It's impossible.

    I don't like the era of self-help, or people expressing what they don't like about another person.

    It gives license to everybody to psychobabble.

    Most people instinctively know what's wrong with their partner. If they ask overtly, then yes, of course tell him/her that you feel the person has whatever problem

    If your friend doesn't ask they don't want to know, and ask yourself what need does it satisfy for you to be saying these things?

    Parents should have more right than anybody to express reservations and most don't because they want their child's love

    Friends have that kind of influence now and I know of at least one couple who married almost to spite their friends, or so one party realized later

    Why am I spending so much time answering your questions?

    I do believe that it is a great one, and when putting on that therapist cap I refuse to use become totally objective

    As a friend it killed me not to say anything to Lucia about the man she would marry and have a child with.

    But she didn't listen to her other ten best friends, why would she have listened to me?

    Ultimately it strengthened our friendship because when he did horrible things, I could be objective yet empathetic.

    He still considers me to be a friend. Somebody has to be. They have an almost 17 year old daughter now, who can't just hear horrible things about her father

    I did look at it from the long haul pov and am very glad I did

    Why Bone why am I spending the day answering your question?

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  12. Sadly, this post hits a little too close to home for me.

    I once hated my best guy friend's girlfriend. (OK, um, not once, I still don't like her, but they are no longer dating: Thank.You.God.)

    I tried telling him, a few times, the things I saw her doing and why it wasn't good. Everyone tried. His mom. His brother. His other friends. Until finally... we all stopped.

    It literally got to the point where he kept the fact that they'd gotten back together after their second break-up a secret from me. It really and truly wrecked major havoc on our relationship. And lets face it: friendships ARE relationships.

    A year and a half and too many different women in his life to count ago, we were talking about the two of them, and I was telling him some stuff, like her going to her ex-boyfriend's house for holiday dinners, while she was dating my friend. And that was one of the more innocent things she did.

    He looked at me aghast and somewhat disappointed and said, "Why didn't you ever tell me?"

    He wouldn't have listened. I tried and finally decided she wasn't worth losing my friend over.

    My best female friend and I have a pact: we might date guys the other doesn't like, but we won't ever marry one the other absolutely hates. Our rationale is that we've been friends our entire lives, if we see something that wrong in the other person, there is probably a good reason.

    How far does a friend's responsibility go when it comes to dating under the influence?

    Great line… and an impossible to answer question.

    Fabulous post, Bone.

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  13. Usually I keep my opinions to myself. I don't get along with everyone, and I'm not going to have to live with my friends' choice of a partner except maybe at a few get-togethers. But if there were something that I noticed that I knew was a MAJOR flag, like stealing, cheating, abuse, or the like, only then would I open my trap.

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  14. Everyone has some good points.

    I'm with Lass in that I know who I do and don't get along with and if a friend of mine is dating someone who I find to be obnoxious, then I just keep my mouth shut and bear it.

    The only time I ever say something is if I observe the person being verbally or physically abusive or engaging in destructive behavior (drugs, sleeping around, etc.).

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  15. Sizzle: I'm kinda with you in theory. Friends should be able to give their opinion, and hopefully it's done in such a way and the friendship is strong enough to allow it.

    Pia: Yes, friends will be around to pick up the pieces. That line was actually floating around in my head, but didn't find it's way into the post.

    But maybe, just maybe, a well-placed word of concern or warning from a friend sticks with a person, and in some cases brings them to their senses before things get too far along. Maybe?

    Michelle: So many times when talking to a friend, I've said something like, "Well, as long as you're happy" and meant it sincerely. I think we do ultimately only want happiness for our good friends.

    TC: And lets face it: friendships ARE relationships.

    That's something I didn't get across here that I intended to. Perhaps it deserves a post of its own.

    Thank you. I do think one of the saddest things is when friendships are ruined because of things like this, especially when the non-platonic relationship ends soon thereafter.

    PS: You're slacking. Pia "out-worded" you 416-217 :-P

    Lass: Even with things like cheating and abuse, our words might still fall on deaf ears. But I agree, you gotta say something in those situations.

    Xinher: Haha, yes, maybe like Pia said, you just keep pointing out her great skin :)

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  16. I'm known for my blunt honesty. I never acquired that knack to make things sound pretty and sugar-coated. I have frequently chosen not to say anything, not because I don't want to- heaven knows it's hard for me to keep my trap shut- but because sometimes your friends don't want to hear. Refuse to hear. Get mad at you for making them hear.

    "Be happy for me."

    I hate that. Oh lord, do I hate that. "Be happy for me" is frequently code for "Let me wallow in my dumb choices."

    However, if the dumb choice will get them burned- not singed, but burned- I can't keep my mouth shut. After all, they are my friends. And I've lost friends to it, but as I told one of my friends, I'd rather tell my drunk friend he's pissing down his leg than just watch him do it.

    Same principle.

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  17. the landscaping co was called Tampa Turf. My "ownership" was basically my stupid boyfriend's way of not paying me for working. (yeah, I was very stupid too...I was on the receiving end of your post today!) Stupid was very ambitious but also very lazy. He wanted a company that was rolling in the dough while he sat back and did nothing. Since that wasn't happening there were many weekends where (after I had already worked 40 hours at the Electric Company) I was out there mowing and landscaping yards...he was out there too. Not sure why these yards weren't completed during the week like they were supposed to be.

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  18. Great post.
    I really tend to feel that people's choices are none of my business, but agree that if something truly horrible was going on, it would be worth the risk of damaging the friendship to speak up.

    Consider Paul McCartney's latest fiasco: McCartney's children were all obviously against that relationship, but did he heed the concerns of the people he loves more than anyone on earth? Nope.
    It's always hard to believe that others see something that we can't. Which I know, is the very conundrum here.

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  19. this is pretty funny--with a serious message

    it might be a good thing that most people don't want to say something bad about someone else--but unfortunately the case is that they talk to everyone about it except the person who stands the greatest chance to get hurt (or an STD).

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  20. For some reason this is one of my favorites from you. Perhaps because it's so very true, I've been there...on both sides. Where I feel like I should say something to a friend who I know is making a HUGE mistake and the other side where soon after the end of a relationship I wish my friends had told me just how s-wordy my ex was.

    In one circumstance I had to remove a friend from my life because of who she decided to date. Though I've been dateless for ages (by choice) I hope that my friends would tell me if they found a platonic relationship to be destructive as well.

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  21. Koikana: "Be happy for me" is frequently code for "Let me wallow in my dumb choices."

    Excellent point! I also like your drunk pissing analogy. Thanks for stopping by and chiming in.

    Renee: Well, at least you got out before too much damage was done (I'm assuming). Some people aren't as fortunate.

    Tampa Turf is catchy. I prefer Jiffy Mow. It goes right along with Jiffy Park :)

    Actonbell: It's near impossible to believe at the time. It's that whole "everybody's wrong but me" complex.

    Sage: That's a very good point, and an angle to this which I hadn't thought of yet. It could easily turn into everyone talking about it behind their back.

    Heather B: Thanks. I figured it was something most everyone could easily relate to. If the situation were bad enough, I think I'd regret not saying something more than I would saying something.

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  22. I have to say that I agree with TC...even with the B*&*$&'s name not on there...did TC mention that the family she was joining for the holidays would have been mine and my cousin would be the ex...and she didnt think that someone would say something....

    As for the dating...you never want to see it...you have perfect tastes...duh....until one dumps the other that is...or cheats...or whatever...

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  23. Then again, looking thru rose-colored glasses, red flags appear to be white.
    You're so bloody poetic.

    I only ever had distate for one of your ex's. We'll end that topic right there. :)

    And I agree wholly with listening to your friends... the real ones... as hard as it may be. They're usually right.

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  24. OH NO! I have two good friends going through a divorce and subsequent dating. There is no way I'm going to let them make the same mistake twice. And these two are like "ass" magnets. Every "ass" in a 10 mile radius, they're in love with. I'm just not having it! It's your duty as a friend.

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  25. I agree, love/lust is blind. Pointing out the obvious flaws can damage even a solid friendship. But, what kind of friend will allow you to continue a potentially harmful relationship without at least saying something? You just have to be careful with the conversation.

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  26. Wow. This one really spurned some comments, huh?! What a tough topic. I try to have conversations in a way to make the friend realize for himself/herself flaws in the relationship. It comes down to if a friend asks my opinion though. I will not blatantly state that I don't like a friend's girlfriend/boyfriend unless asked.

    Lil Bootay

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  27. You're slacking. Pia "out-worded" you 416-217 :-P

    I'll try not to let it happen again ;-)

    To address what Tag said, no I did not mention the whole one best friend's family vs. other best friend's girlfriend.

    A lot of people mentioned the whole if someone is cheating on them or being abusive... but I can tell you in my situation even telling him she was cheating on him did no good. NO good.

    Everyone who said that was wrong, there is no way she would do that to him. You could plant evidence in front of his face and he still wouldn't believe it. Bottom line in this situation: he had to be ready to hear anything negative about her. Until he was, nothing anyone else said could stick.

    Nevertheless, I did try and tell him. Several times. I couldn't have lived with myself had I not. Because I'm a firm believer that being a friend is honestly about wanting what's best for that person. And he could definitely do better.

    Your friends probably thought the same thing. And I'd guess they were right.

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  28. I've been guilty of just letting friends date some skank-a-meister. Especially my sister.... but thats just because I dont want to hear her bitch at me because I spoke my mind :)

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  29. i was wondering about the Jiffy Mow but it wasn't comeing to me. (slow old brain!) Now I get it.

    At least we weren't pimping out our mowers.

    re: "wiseing up" well that's a long story. I fought really hard to make that relationship work I still don't know why. Probably that whole "first love" thing. Even my High School guidance counselor (I worked in the office) tried to get me to see the light. Near the end he had moved me away from all my family & friends, which really didn't work out for him because I make friends with everyone easily. I knew it was over and was just trying to figure out how to leave on my own. I had my bags packed and was collecting boxes for my stuff. In the end I had to get help to leave and my new friends and my family came through for me. I had to leave my stuff behind...it was worth it.

    He kept telling me that no one would love me like he did... he was right! It's so much better now.

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  30. Do you really think the person in the relationship is the last one to see the glaringly obvious?

    I've always thought this was a myth. That the ones involved are the ones who see it first...they just decide to ignore it.

    Me, I realised the idiocies of every ex I ever hand long before the girlfriends pointed them out to me. I just never talked about them.

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  31. Tagster: Wow, that was quite a little web there.

    Blondie: You're so bloody poetic.

    Aww, thanks deary :) And, um, how many of my exes have you known of? ;)

    Carnealian: It's your duty as a friend.

    That's precisely what I was asking :) I think a lot of it depends on how good of a friend the person is.

    Kontan: Exactly. Employing some tact when broaching the topic is a must, and I think some people miss that sometimes.

    Lil Bootay: I try to have conversations in a way to make the friend realize for himself/herself flaws in the relationship.

    Sounds like a good approach to take. As for not voicing your opinion until asked, it seems to me people often ask only because they expect you to give your approval.

    Thanks for visiting.

    TC: Yeah, sometimes the person just isn't going to listen. I also think it carries a lot more weight if several of your friends have an issue with the person you're dating, rather than just one friend. One could just be blamed on a personality clash or something. But three, four, or five? Something's wrong.

    Kerry: Skank-a-meister? Do you have the copyright on that, or can I use that in the future? :)

    Renee: There's another good point. If someone is suddenly keeping you away from your friends all the time, something's not right.

    Buffy: Yeah, I think people tend to gloss over things a lot. But I think there are times when people truly cannot see, as well, because they think they are so in love.

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  32. Very good post! And very true! I think most people tend to just stay out of it, hoping, like your friends, that it will blow over...
    I will normally voice my opinion once, in a nice way, and leave it.

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  33. Hmmm this is a really interesting subject... when you meet someone new you usually ask your friends and loved ones what they think of the person, but do you really want them to be honest? This is hard! Thanks for a great post.

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