My friends have never been keen on any of the men I’ve dated. And I’ve told myself that it doesn’t matter – after all, I’m the one in the relationship, not them. But after a decade of dating and stubbornly refusing to listen to my friends’ concerns, I’m coming around to the idea that it was I, and not them, who was probably biased.
Here’s why I never gave my friends’ disapproval much weight. When it came to boyfriends, my exes were strong personalities who didn’t share similar hobbies with many of my friends (for example, one ex was a jock, and my circle of male friends are board game geeks). Because common interests were thin on the ground, they didn’t often hang out with my friends. As a result, I chalked down their dislike as them just not spending enough time with him to really see what he was like. My friends just couldn’t see what I saw, I convinced myself. How wrong could my judgement be?
But over the years I’ve been on the receiving end of being that friend who has gently tried to tell my friends that she’s with a guy who doesn’t treat her right, and having my words fall on deaf ears. And it made me rethink my own reluctance to listen to counsel in the past. I’m still single, but with the next guy I introduce to my friends, I’m going to try to rejig my preconceptions. These are the reasons why.
Your friends have nothing to gain by not liking your partner
Logically, what benefits would they have by encouraging you to split up? If a friend pipes up to say that something doesn’t seem quite right, or that he’s not caring for you the way that he should, she obviously knows that such comments will upset you. And only frenemies would make hurtful remarks without basis. With that in mind, friends who have your interests at heart would be able to clearly articulate why they find your relationship problematic (don’t entertain vague “he doesn’t seem nice to me” comments).
In fact, breakups tend to result in being there for your broken-hearted friend, bringing tissues and taking them on hedonistic nights out – it’s not something anyone happily signs up for.
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Friendships go back longer than your relationship
Until you find a keeper, boyfriends are transient whereas friendships are for the long haul. These are the people whom you grew up with, and who have seen you through past break-ups (and picked up the pieces). And if you’ve got recurring bad habits when it comes to the men that you pick, they will also be the ones who will be able to pick up on these details.
A friend of mine explained that her close friends never verbalised their worry about her ex-boyfriend, but she could tell that that they had reservations from their body language and how the conversations quickly became awkward when the topic was brought up. Not wanting to dismiss their opinion, she gave her relationship greater thought. In the end, he didn’t stick around, but there was no question that her friends did.
Your friends are your cheerleaders – and your man should respect that
Good friends are the Piglet to your Pooh. The Thelma to your Louise. The Betty to your Veronica. I think I’ve made my point without descending into more cheesy clichés. They should always be in your corner, and your significant other should also treat them with respect. It used to frustrate me that my boyfriends tended to be more aloof around my friends, despite them being loud and verbose when in their own social circles. I excused it by thinking that as long as my boyfriend demonstrates his love when the two of us are alone together, then how he acts in public shouldn’t really matter.
Again, it took a friend to point out what should have been the obvious: why does he have two personas, if you say that he is so different with you than he is with us? It gave me pause because they were right. In fact, my partner should be doing more to get my friends on his side, since he should know how important my friends are. If he can’t even manage the effort to do that, what does it say about him?
So consider me reformed. It’s time I swallowed my pride, acknowledge that I can’t be right all the time, and listen to those who are trying to tell me something important. Trust your tribe.