Hello everybody, welcome to episode 219 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Today's question comes from someone who doesn't approve of her best friend's fiancé.
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, we welcome you to email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com
And our listener today is in a really tough spot. It’s a spot we’ve all seen in the movies, but still doesn’t necessarily get resolved so easily. Her best friend is about to marry a terrible guy. What does she do? Where’s the line? Well we’ll talk a little bit about how to toe that line and what type of inner reflection is necessary beforehand. I’ll also share a story from my own life at the end. So let’s get into this one and hear her question now…
QUESTION: “After a year of dating, my best friend is now engaged to the worst possible guy for her. I desperately want to say something, but how do I bring this up? I should tell you that I have communicated my thoughts to her in the past when I felt like she was on the verge of making a bad decision. But this one is different. I know she’s making a mistake and that I probably should tell her. I’ve wanted to for a long time. I was hoping they’d break up, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen now. Please, what do I do?”
Her Thinking vs. Yours on Her Fiancé
Sounds urgent. Ok, thanks for sending this in asker. Let’s take a breath and count to 10, though. After all, you have to go about this thing patiently for your sake and your friend’s sake. I think there’s a lot of thinking that needs to be done before approaching her. So let’s break the whole thing down.
I don’t know anything about your friend. Maybe she does have a history of terrible decision making or poor judgment in guys due to any number of reasons, and this is the cherry on top and worst possible outcome like you said. But that’s a big maybe.
For now, let’s assume she isn’t as mindless as your whirlwind of a question is making her out to be. You need to try putting yourself into her shoes.
What’s the difference between her thinking and yours? Why doesn’t she think he’s so bad? She obviously sees something in him, so it’s your job as her best friend to consider what that actually is and understand it from her perspective rather than shaming her for having that interest.
And even if you’ve not shamed her to her face, it sure sounds like you’ve done it within the confines of your own mind.
Cooperating With Her Feelings vs. Judging Them
Being a supportive friend means being cooperative with her feelings, not judgmental of them or trying to guide them without first hearing her out. So even if it’s something completely emotionally destructive that you feel has led to her interest in him, try to see it through her lens.
Making an effort to understand her side is what creates a sympathetic situation out of this. It reflects the partnership that friendships should be about.
To skip over this would be to assume you know what’s right for her simply because of your own experiences, and the relationship becomes much more parent-child. Or ignorant parent-child, I should say.
Your Present and Future Friendship
Taking into account the relationship you two have and what’s appropriate for it in this way is going to be paramount. Also consider the future of the relationship. You don’t want to do anything that potentially damages that, even if you feel like a hero for it.
And because this stress you have has been bubbling up for a while and you’ve yet to make a peep, you run a higher risk of being overly aggressive, volatile or impatient with any pushback from her than you would had this issue been brought up patiently and gradually over time. In short, the last thing you want to do is explode over this and be unwilling to hear her side. That’s a one way ticket to the end of this friendship.
Your Friendship History
And what about the past of your relationship with her – especially as it pertains to the advice you’ve given her? Objectively speaking, have you always led her in the right direction? Has she passed up on some of your advice and still been ok?
I might also encourage you to ask yourself if it’s possible that you’re being a little over protective of her since she’s your best friend and you care about her so much. Or maybe part of you is just afraid of losing her and feeling as though this guy or any guy she marries will replace you.
Not to say this is necessarily the case, but you could imagine that very few people in your situation would have the presence of mind to ask themselves such a raw question. Much fewer than the amount of people who’d actually find that the answer is yes.
How to Bring Up Your Concerns
Look, I know this feels like the end of the world, but you can’t treat it that way at this juncture. The only exception would be if something truly serious like domestic violence is going on. Barring something like that, this is not extreme enough to take measures extreme enough to potentially damage the relationship, if that makes sense.
You should bring these concerns up, yes. But your friend needs to feel as though they’re being brought up by a friend. You need to present this mindfully and vulnerably. Approach from a place of tenderness and concern. Let words like this lead your tone and rhetoric.
She needs to know that you trust her and that you want what’s best for her. She needs to know that you’re curious about the relationship rather than having your mind made up already. She does not need to be scolded, lectured or threatened.
Find out her side, try to understand it, and calmly present your side. And do so specifically so she can see examples of how you’ve been led to your conclusions.
A Personal Story
And I’ll leave you with a personal story. It’s maybe not one you want to hear, but feels worth mentioning nonetheless.
My brother and several of his friends found themselves in this particular situation maybe 10 years ago. He had a strong group of friends and one of them fell head over heels for this woman that the rest of them thought was an absolute she-devil. I met her many times and kind of recall feeling the same way, but I’m 6 years younger than my brother and was probably more preoccupied with following his lead than I was with formulating my own decisions.
Anyway, this would keep my brother and his friends up nights – his family too. Eventually the friends and family decided to stage an intervention. I wasn’t there for it, so I can’t speak to how patiently or calmly it was held. My brother and his friends are not the types to be irrational really, but that can go out the window for anyone when emotions are high enough.
The sad ending is that their friend ended up writing off all of his long-time friends and they’ve not heard from him since. He went on to marry this girl and they’re still together. So sometimes friendships do end over this type of thing.
Your Friend's Fiancé: Conclusion
Again, I’m not sure how well they handled this conflict or if they did it in a manner in which I’ve advised you to do. But doing so gives you the best odds. And the general consensus between my brother and his friends is that they’re happy they said something, because it was eating away at them the same way it’s eating away at you. They’ve also all come to peace with it, something I’m sure they never thought they’d do.
It’s been a while — they’ve acknowledged that their friend has to make his own choices at the end of the day. And hey, he’s still married to this woman, so odds are it’s working out well for him and he simply saw something that his friends didn’t.
Something is going to have to give in this situation. For them, it was indeed a falling out. But the wins are that they said what they needed to say and feel they did everything they could to help him. For the friend, he’s still married and presumably happy to be. Considering something had to give, both parties have found peace in their own way, and that’s not such a bad outcome.
Time to bring this one to a close. Asker, I’m wishing you the very best of luck and reminding you that while you can’t control your friend or your friend's fiancé, you can control yourself. It’ll be up to you to create a compassionate enough discussion with your friend to ensure that whatever happens, you did your best to handle the situation with grace, leaving nothing left behind.
You can do it, just don’t let your pride get in the way. So, hey, happy Monday, everyone! Thanks for being here, good luck as you start a new week, and I’ll see you back for more on Wednesday. Talk to you then.