Once upon a time, I went through a break-up. Slowly over time people began to slide in minor bits of feedback about what they didn’t like about him in conversations. And then every now and then, it wasn’t minor.
I kept asking why no one would say those things when we were together. I mean, you see red flags that I didn’t, and you just let me keep playing on the train tracks!? What’s the point of having friends if they won’t have your back?
As I started to push this into conversations, I got a wide variety of perspectives and thoughts, so I gathered them here for your consideration.
Have you ever told someone you didn’t like their partner?
When I was griping about no one telling me their concerns, someone asked me if I’ve ever told a friend that I didn’t like their significant other. That gave me pause.
I vividly remember the day that I was going to tell a friend that I didn’t like their boyfriend. I had practiced how I was going to guide the conversation and make it friendly and casual. But then when I got there, she was gushing about him. She was enamored and seemed so happy.
I had no right to make her question her relationship just because I did. I’m not part of their relationship.
I never told her.
Risking the friendship
Another person told me she once brought up to a friend that she didn’t like the partner her friend had picked and regretted it because it changed their friendship. From that day forward, her friend always knew that she didn’t like her partner.
And now they’re married, so my friend has to live with the guy being in her life forever, and her friend still knowing what she really thought about him.
You might just be wrong.
This might seem dumbly obvious, but it’s a fair statement. Again, if you’re not in the relationship, you don’t know everything. You don’t know how they function together really.
Also, what might be a red flag to me might not be a red flag for someone else. So even if you’re not wrong, it might just not actually be significant to them and their relationship.
So we just let our friends navigate their relationship with no help?
This is where I keep ending up. We see a dysfunctional relationship, and we just let it happen? We’re so quick to tell friends if they have something in their teeth, but let them walk around for years with the wrong person on their arm?
I will clarify: I don’t think it’s helpful to tell a friend something like, “I just don’t like him,” or “he’s not what I pictured.” But I think there could be value in hearing feedback from people who know me well about someone I’m integrating into my life.
That being said, I flip it in my head. My friends did hate a boyfriend I had and I knew it. I was so into him, it didn’t matter. We’d have tension about it, but I didn’t break up with him until I wasn’t (as) into him. All their feedback was valid and it was communicated to me, and I just did nothing with it.
Conclusion: Only tell your friend you don’t like their partner if it’s a big deal
After hashing out this conversation with many people, the mutually agreeable amount of involvement a friend should have in another friend’s relationship is only if something is egregiously wrong.
What do you think? Would you (or have you) told a friend that you didn’t like their boyfriend or girlfriend? And how did it go for you? Share in the comments.