At some point, many or even most of you, will find yourself in this sort of situation. You are not always sure why but you have this nagging feeling that your friend’s partner is just not right for her. And, furthermore, you don’t like the partner. You are worried that your friend has made a bad choice and you are struggling with whether or not to present your friend with your feelings. Your hope, of course, is that you are on to something and you want your friend to be in the know. There are many things to consider before discussing your feelings with your friend. Please stay with me as I outline some things to consider before spilling your guts and perhaps your gut feelings.
1. Do you really know your friend’s partner? Is it possible that your initial impressions may be incorrect and inaccurate? We all know that first impressions can be inaccurate and can change over time. My suggestion is that you let time pass and get to know the partner before even considering weighing in on the new partner. Wouldn’t it be a shame if you weighed in too early and then changed your mind as you got to know your friend’s partner?
2. Can the friendship tolerate your input about the partner? Do you and your friend have a history of being honest about dating partners? Has this gone over successfully and as you intended in the past? Or, will your friend see this as you being too intrusive and doubting her judgment? Ask yourself all of these questions before even considering entering into this precious territory. It is my experience that people are very sensitive about their partner choices and may not receive input well. With this in mind, tread gingerly.
3. Consider that the relationship may too new for you to weigh in. Your dear friend may have her own doubts and may be sorting out her own feelings. Perhaps, the best direction to go in here is to trust the process and let your friend sort out her pwn feelings. Unless, there is clear abuse going on here, you may want to see how things progress over time. Consider, keeping your feelings to yourself if there is nothing abusive going on. Over time, your friend may surprise you with her decision about the person she is dating.
4. Is your friend asking for your input? Do the 2 of you ask each other about impressions of partners? If so, then you probably have the green light to give your friend honest feedback. Be gentle and leave pauses. Give your friend room to respond to what you are saying. She may fill in gaps that may help you answer your questions and understand the relationship better. Conversations are always better if they involve give and take, right? Not a single one of us wants to be lectured or spoken at. And,I am quite sure that a conversation that is characterized by reciprocity might be better received and more helpful.
5. Ask yourself what your intentions are before sharing feelings. Take a moment to reflect on this crucial question. In fact, ask yourself what your intentions are before giving anyone feedback. Are you coming from a place of good intention? Do you care about your friend’s well-being and happiness? Or, are you simply trying to show off your fabulous (or perhaps not) intuitive skills? Try very hard to drill down and answer this question honestly. If you are not sure that you are coming from a place of good intention then perhaps you should strongly consider remaining silent.
Whether or not to tell a friend what you really think of her partner is tricky and certainly not an easy question. I strongly recommend that you tread lightly here and take your cues from your friend. The only exception, of course, is if you suspect or are aware of abuse. In that case, you must give your friend the opportunity to talk. Otherwise, you may be inadvertently supporting and even normalizing a toxic relationship.