We get it: To each their own. But sometimes your friend's choices in boyfriends can make you wonder, "Why him?" Maybe he's rude, has questionable hygiene, or calls you "bro." Or maybe he has an undeniable creep factor that you just canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t pinpoint. Whatever it is, it can be torture when your best friend has a plus one that you pretty much hate. But before you blurt out how you really feel after one too many martinis, consult this expert advice:
When to Stay Quiet
If the boyfriend annoys you on more than one level but is generally good for your friend, it's probably not worth speaking up. Sure, you don't agree with their political views and you think your friend can do much better, but if he's genuinely making her happy, it's not your place to say that you just don't like him. "If you start criticizing your friend when they seem really happy and are being treated well, you'll come off as petty, and they'll think you're just jealous," says Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., author of The Friendship Fix. Yes, they could stand to chew with their mouth closed, but your friend finds their quirky personality endearingÃ¢â‚¬”and that's the most important part.
But while staying quiet may help your friendship, you'll probably still hate the guy. If that's the case, understand that you're not obligated to third wheel with the coupleÃ¢â‚¬”it's OK to set boundaries and give yourself space. And if you want some quality time with your pal, tell her you'd love a night out for just the two of you or a group of your closest friends sans significant others, suggests Bonior. This way you're asking for more alone time without directly asking her to ditch her annoying boyfriend.
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When to Say Something
Then there's the occasional situation when the dude she's dating makes The Bachelor's Juan Pablo look like the ultimate catch. He's the type of guy who constantly flirts with other women (in front of your friend), never thinks to treat her to dinner after she just cooked him a three-course meal, or cheats on her over and over againÃ¢â‚¬”basically, the worst kind of human being. And if that's the case, you have a responsibility to speak up, says Bonior.
Give the relationship two to three weeksÃ¢â‚¬”it could fizzle out or your friend could come to her senses. If it lasts longer than that, it's best to bring it up when you're alone and refrain from using too many "you" statements, or she'll feel bombarded. Because this is an extremely sensitive subject, it's important to give the discussion the weight it deserves. Think about what youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to say carefully and consider how you would feel if you were the one hearing this from her. When you're together, alone, and not about to rush off anywhere, fight the urge to dive right into how awful the guy is. Instead, "express your concerns first, then cite any changes in her that you've seen," says Bonior. If you come from a place of concern, rather than accusations and judgments, she'll be more likely to hear you out.
As intimidating as it may be, Bonior says you might be surprised by her reaction: People may take the opportunity to open up and express their own concerns about the relationship. But of course, be prepared for some backlash, too, and understand that she may not want to see your point of view. In that case, let your friend know that you're still there for them and hope that your concerns won't change your relationship. "You have to take comfort in the fact that you were being true to yourself in speaking up," says Bonior. "You did the best that you could." (That said, if you notice any of these signs of an abusive relationship, be sure to bring up that possibility to your friend. It's possible that she may not realize her relationship is veering into harmful territory.)
And while it sucks to see your friend being treated poorly or to feel a friendship slipping away, make sure to keep that door of communication open. You never know when (or if) she'll realize there was some truth to your thoughts and turn to you for advice later on.
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