Tread lightly with opinions on friend's boyfriend
QUESTION: My good friend is going out with a man who I don’t think is right for her. Should I tell her how I feel? We have been friends since elementary school, and I really have negative thoughts about this guy.
CALLIE’S ANSWER: Absolutely tell her! I think it is important for her to know what other people might see that she doesn’t. Hopefully she can understand you’re being a good friend.
LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: If she asks you about him, you can tell her, but I don’t think I’d volunteer your feelings about her without an opening. She may see something different in him than you do. If you have specific information about his character or past actions, then voice your concerns. But be prepared to drop them and accept her choice if she doesn’t listen. This is tough because she might end up getting angry at the messenger — you — instead of accepting it, so make sure you are telling her information that she needs to know for her own benefit and not because you simply clash with him personality-wise.
HELEN’S ANSWER: Keep your opinions to yourself, unless she asks for your advice. And then tread lightly. You trust your friend to make good decisions in other areas, so, only if you feel there are some red flags concerning abusive behavior towards her should you state your thoughts. Try to get to know him better and see what she sees in him. If the relationship continues, get together with girlfriends, and enjoy her company without him.
GUEST’S ANSWER: Adrienne Nobles, vice president for communications and public affairs at the University of Central Oklahoma: It depends on why you feel negatively about your friend's new guy. Are you noticing troubling behavior from your friend since she began dating him? Are you worried he is or could potentially be verbally or physically abusive? If your negative feelings about the guy stem from a concern for your friend's well-being, then you should talk with her. It could be as simple as saying, "hey, I've noticed some changes in you since you started seeing this man."
If the reason for your negative feelings about the guy are unclear, you might ask her to share what makes this guy special. Perhaps when you start to see him through her eyes, you will feel differently or have a better idea about what might be bothering you. However, if your negative feelings are seemingly superficial — or maybe even rooted in a little resentment that your friend is spending more time with a new guy than her friends — find a way to reconcile your feelings yourself. Maybe he'll never be your favorite, and that's OK. Focus on more girls’ nights than activities that include him.
If you do decide to talk with her about it, be prepared for her to get defensive. If you are genuinely concerned that her safety and well-being are threatened by him, gently stand your ground. You might be the wake-up call she needed, but she may need some time to actually wake up.
Remember, no matter what, she is your friend. If he makes her happy and treats her right, then you may need to find a way to be happy for her. After all, you aren't the one dating him.
Callie Athey is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is 40-plus, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email firstname.lastname@example.org.