HE SAID: Dates are very personal choices, and as friends we sometimes forget that. We have a tendency to look at the people our friends date as if they were picked out of a lineup, thinking about all the other people you could have had and compare them to the one you chose to be with. Sometimes, who we select fails to live up to the standards and expectations that our friends have for us. Who hasn’t heard their friends say “Do you think this is going to go anywhere”, “Well if you’re happy then I’m happy”, or the ever popular “I just think you can do better than him”? Honestly, who hasn’t known a friend that dated someone you were less than thrilled with? Let me start with the obvious.
We get to date whomever we want. If your friends are just that, then they will accept your choices the way that you accept theirs. All relationships have some kind of boundaries; not the kind that should never be broken, but the kind that need permission to be. It is important to have these with your friends—especially if you are happy with your selection from the dating pool.
Appreciate the fact that they have an opinion, but recognize that you can ask them not to share it—especially if you do not agree with them. Friends should have the ability to disagree comfortably, and at times do not even need to like each other. Friends do, however, need to put their personal feelings associated with a given situation below the loyalty, responsibility, and trust that exists with each other. If they cannot do this, then they are probably not friends. Friends accept. They listen. Hopefully you have these in your life, and if you do—make sure that you listen to them when you need to. Sometimes, we deliberately choose to do something that is not good for us. In the context of relationships, these choices appear with clever titles like “Mr. Wrong”, “Mr. Right Now”, and the mercurial “Mr. Random”.
Consider that your friends may hate your partner because they know you and what you want. They may see, no matter how much fun you may be having, that your relationship is going to go nowhere. They may also see, no matter how much you might deny it, that time with your partner may do you more harm than good. If your friends express feelings of dislike towards your partner and are protective in their posture, appreciate these feelings are usually rooted in affection for you—rightly or wrongly. No one enjoys watching a friend crash and burn in a relationship, especially when they think that they can see it coming and feel that you cannot. If your friends are afraid for you, then guess what—you should probably listen to them. Life is riddled with tragedies of failed relationships that ended in painful, hurtful, and somewhat avoidable ways. While everyone has a right to crash and burn on their own, that does not necessarily make it a great decision.
SHE SAID: We’ve all had the experience of introducing a new significant other to friends and hearing “…well, I’m glad he makes you happy.” Or the collective sigh of relief from your group the minute you break up with someone. I’ve definitely been there. My friends haven’t always been thrilled with my romantic choices, and I can’t say that I’ve loved every significant other of theirs that I’ve met. But we generally keep mum for the duration of the relationship, acting friendly to the not-my-cup-of-tea boyfriend. So would I listen if a friend piped up and said she hated my boyfriend? Depending on the friend, I sure as hell would…because it would mean that she sees a giant red flag that I don’t.
There’s a huge difference between a friend expressing her concern over, say, how rudely your boyfriend talks to you, and a friend who is aghast that he doesn’t always pick up the dinner tab. I’m likely to put more weight on the opinions of my friends whose opinions and experience in relationships are most in line with mine. That said, your romantic life is your own, and if you want to hook up with your ex yet again, then no amount of eye-rolling from your friends should stop you. You friends want what’s best for you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they know what’s best for you. Then again, we don’t always either.