Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Keeping quiet?

What do you do when you don't like a friend or family member's significant other? This problem has been on my mind a lot lately. Perhaps I have high standards, but sometimes I think people in my life would greatly benefit from looking elsewhere. Yet there's no good way to bring this up, nor is it usually appropriate to give unsolicited advise. I realize that everyone makes their own decisions, but at a certain point people get too wrapped up in their relationships to see things from an objective perspective. At what point do you stop trusting that they'll figure it out for themselves, and tell them yourself?

From a worst case scenario, say you wait until they get engaged. If you don't speak up, they could be making the biggest mistake of their life, yet if you do speak up and they don't listen, they and their soon-to-be spouse will resent you forever, and your relationship will be severely compromised. If you speak up sooner, you risk alienating a friend/family member and obstructing their ability to find out for themselves.

None of these options seem like particularly good options. I mean, for me, it's a pretty strong signal if most of my friends and family didn't like the guy I was seeing. If you've ever hid asshole-ish things your significant other has done to you from your friend and family network, you know what I'm talking about. You're trying to only show them the good, so they like him/her, because you care about what they think. Not that you need universal acceptance to continue a relationship, but if those whose opinions you trust don't like the person, well, it makes you question.

Anyhow, what's your strategy? Say something or keep quiet? And if it's the former, when and how do you bring it up?


Bela Naomi said...

that issue has come up with me a lot...on both ends. Not that I am hiding any assholish things, but from dating someone that perhaps friends or family doesn't approve of. It's a tough situation. I think hearing disapproval helps with deciding what's best, if the friend is teetering, but if they're not on the edge, it may not help. Try to guage where they are, and if your advice and/or criticism will help, or just drive them away.

Matthew said...

i have a friend who married someone none of us really liked. not much anyone could do about it. i don't see him having a happy life with her, but maybe i'm missing it. i'll save ranting about jewish male submission to controlling jewish women for another day as i'm wandering off on tangents (but if you ask i'll include a free bonus rant with wild theories on its historical consequences)...
i think you noted something important at the end- the person is usually aware there are problems. If you do catch a specific instance, it is much easier to be the voice of reason and explain that those incidents are not acceptable. At such occasions your friend might be happy to have an outlet to discuss it and be led to the conclusion (s)he's otherwise unwilling to accept.

Daniel P said...

Hey manda,

Realize I might not be high on your list of favorite people right now, but hoped I could help.

I agree with what Matthew has to say- generally people are aware of flaws in their relationship/ significant other and are happy to discuss it. After all, no one is perfect and anyone who thinks his/her s.o. is isn't being honest with theirself.

Maybe you see something they don't. Maybe they see something you don't. As long as you breach the topic in a respectful way, you should only stand to strengten your relationship with your friend (and perhaps their relationship with their s.o.), not isolate them. Part of a friend's duty is telling the truth, even if it's unpopular.

As far as timing, I always think uncomfortable discussions are best to have as soon as possible. It's kinda like removing a it fast and early, so you can get over the pain and move on with your life.

Crazy Guns said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crazy Guns said...

I wanna read matthew's rant!!! Jewish males submission to controlling Jewish Women. That sounds like a GREAT READ. Anyway I hope this blog isn't a passive agressive way to explain to your friend how upset you are but not actually say it. Your confrontation with her is important for your growth as well. Just remember what I told you last time. No whining and no outright disapproval. Find out what she wants from him first and why she likes him so much. If she doesn't have an answer then tell her that it's hard to support and defend her because she has no reasoning to her choice. Make it clear that you really want to support and defend her though. But certainly be strong and do it soon before it really bothers you and you put her on the defensive as soon as you open your mouth. I've told you this before but you and I know you've forgotten half of it. now it's in writing LOL.