We’ve all been in that painfully awkward situation of having to watch your best friend basically ruin his or her life. All right, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but having to sit by and do nothing as your number one ride-or-die continuously makes the same mistakes over and over again certifiably blows. There’s no way around it; everyone really does have to make their own mistakes when it comes to life and love. But sometimes, your friend needs an extra hard nudge in the right direction, and it can be hard being the one to tell them the truth. Communication can be tricky, after all. So when do we draw the line with the little white lies and say exactly what everyone else is scared to?
Recently, my friends have been hitting rough patches in their relationships—relationships that aren’t very healthy for them anymore—and I’ve noticed that no matter how obvious it was that they no longer belonged with their significant others, certain people around me still told them, “All that matters is that you’re happy. If you’re happy, I’m happy.” That’s a bunch of bologna.
How happy can someone be in a relationship that makes them completely miserable? There comes a time when we need to grab our friends by the shoulders, look them straight in the eyes and tell them, “You are being ridiculous.” Maybe not verbatim, but you get what I’m saying; we are not helping them by guiding them in the opposite direction they should be heading towards.
With my friends, I knew it was time to step up and stop telling them what they wanted to hear and start telling them what they needed to hear when I knew the next stop was rock bottom. If your friend is spending more time crying than laughing, you see a change of attitude in their usually light demeanor, or their priorities have taken a wrong turn somewhere, things obviously aren’t right.
It can be hard being the friend that tells the truth, but it’s almost a process of trial and error. Start by pinpointing what’s wrong. Whether it’s their love life, their professional life or their home life, pain is pain and you have to approach it with caution. If the change that needs to take place requires action on your friend’s part, don’t make it sound like they must make this change. Don’t tell them what to do; it’s human nature to cringe away from authority and this will just prompt them to do the opposite.
Ex. 1: I told best friend “A” that she needed to leave her sleazy boyfriend and that she had to move on. In return, I was told I was acting like a “mom” and “no one wants to listen to their mother.” Ouch, right? Like I said, trial and error.
Instead, tell your friend that it seems they are less happier than they used to be and you’re worried. If it’s a bad relationship you’re discussing, don’t put down his or her significant other. If it’s a job they’re no longer learning from, don’t tell them they’re at a dead end. Your friend is already surrounded by negativity, and the last thing you want to do is add onto that.
Ex. 2: I told best friend “B” that although he had started out his job happy and eager, he was no longer reaping any rewards and he had many more opportunities ahead of him. He valued my advice and followed through with it.
Telling your best friend the truth is tricky, especially when most of the time, it sounds like you’re simply telling them what to do. Just remember that in the end, they’ll do what they want no matter what. The best thing to do is be there for them whether they rise above or crash and burn. Either way, we come to learn that everything will be okay.