It’s hard to be a good friend. I have the absolute best assortment of friends, and I want them to be with the best possible men. I’m protective, and while I do welcome their significant others, I make sure to keep my eyes wide open.
For the record, I’m not a shallow hard-ass who judges my friends’ boyfriends based on aesthetics or wealth. I’d rather one of my girls date a gruesome dude who treats her like a queen, than spend time with a hot guy who mistreats her.
Typically, I have concrete reasons for any negative opinion. Sometimes I just have a bad feeling, and I watch closely for the smoke that could turn into a four-alarm fire.
My friends have dated some doozies over the years. Among my friends’ exes, I can count at least two secret drug addicts, a physical batterer, some with suspected sexual preference crises, many who have had their hands in multiple cookie jars (and would have added mine to the list, had I been a willing participant), a handful who have lied about life conditions, including places of employment and marital statuses, and a bevy of gold-digging mooches.
So, what do I do about it? I do what I would want any good friend to do for me. I put in on the table for discussion.
You might be wondering what gives me the right to intervene and who I think I am. I know who I am; I’m a friend, that’s who.
There was a time when I wouldn’t blow the whistle on my friends’ mates, until I accidentally dated a married man, whom I dumped when my gut told me that something wasn’t right. Months later, I found out definitively that he was married. I reported my findings to a “friend,” who knew him. She told me that she thought he was married, but decided not to tell me.
I never forgave her for knowingly allowing me to waste my time with a lying jerk. What kind of friend was she?
After that experience, I vowed to always provide information. It’s the right thing to do, and besides, when the truth is revealed, my friend is hurt and embarrassed. And who has to be there to pick up the pieces? Me!
I decided that if I’ve been given permission to do so, it’s my duty to be my friends’ peripheral vision. New relationships are exciting, but the bright lights of excitement are blinding to the other, less exciting and sometimes negative details. I like to help keep my friends grounded in reality and away from the creeps.
If you have information or an opinion on a friends signficant other, realize that your friends might resist any negativity about a new one who they’re hoping might be THE one.
The first step is to practice your delivery.
In my case, I temper my usual direct acerbic style, in favor of a gentle delivery. For example: “Do you ever wonder what your boyfriend does on those nights when he disappears and won’t answer his cell phone?” is a better approach than: “I heard your worthless man was out with another woman last night.”
The second step is harder.
Realize that your friends will ultimately choose their own paths and make their own mistakes. Even if you spied your friend’s boyfriend having public sex with her very own cousin, she could ignore your advice in favor of her relationship. If you don’t think your friend’s significant other is good enough, she might feel otherwise. Ultimately, it’s her call.
Once you’ve done your job, all you can do is be supportive. In a perfect world, everything works out happily. If not, all you can do is be there, ready to pick up the pieces.