7 things your best friend won’t tell you

by Denise Schipani

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 “If your friend can’t be relied on for the level of friendship you want, you can end up feeling like you’re not being heard,”…..

Whether your best friend complains endlessly about her job, has a couple of kids that drive you crazy or is married to a jerk, chances are you keep your mouth shut, despite your growing annoyance. Why? Because you don’t want to offend her and, possibly, ruin your relationship. “Women tend to feel responsible for their friends’ feelings,” says therapist Julie Hanks, director of Utah-based Wasatch Family Therapy, “so we keep our mouths shut to prevent jeopardizing the friendship.” But in some cases, holding your feelings in does more harm than good. Here, real women share what they’ve never told their BFFs, and experts give advice on whether they should spill the beans or keep quiet on the matter.

1. “I don’t like your boyfriend.”

“My best friend is in a toxic relationship. It’s the same story over and over: He gets drunk, they have a fight and she ‘kicks him out.’ But then he apologizes, and she forgives him. I want to tell her he’s bad for her, but I know she won’t listen; she’s afraid this guy is her last chance to have a child,” says Danette Kubanda, who finds it hard to maintain the friendship, which used to be important to her.

What the Experts Say: In this case, you do have to tell her, because she could be in real trouble with this guy, says Doree Lewak, author of The Panic Years. “You owe it to her to at least try to nudge her to open her eyes to a bad situation.” That said, if it’s not a matter of a cheater, abuser or toxic situation, and instead you just don’t like the guy for superficial reasons, grin and bear it. Says Hanks, “if she’s chosen him, and you’ve chosen to remain friends with her, then nothing good comes of letting her know you just don’t like him.” Instead, avoid spending time with them as a couple, while always leaving the door open for her to talk if the relationship does turn dangerous. 

2. “I can’t believe you never gave me a wedding present.”

When Karen Hanlon got married two years ago, she was shocked that one of her closest friends didn’t bring a gift—and still hasn’t made good. “It leaves me reeling every time I think of it. I’d never dare say anything because, well, don’t I sound a bit petty?”

What the Experts Say: Like showing up late, forgetting your birthday or not calling as much as you’d like, this situation can make you feel like you’re less important to your friend than she is to you, says Lewak. With cases like these, you really need to pick your battles. Whether or not you say something depends on how much it’s festering. The wedding present is probably something you can let go, advises Hanks, “because you can choose to believe that your friend truly cares about you, and that maybe she forgot or feels embarrassed about it herself.” But if it’s an ongoing situation, such as your friend not calling, you can say something like, “It makes me feel like you don’t care about our friendship because I’m always the one calling you.” 

3. “You never want to talk about our serious issues.”

“One of my best friends is incredibly smart and my go-to person for advice. We share all the good and bad stuff about our lives, but never address any kinks in our friendship, so our relationship feels somehow incomplete and not fully realized,” says Lori Brian.*

What the Experts Say: “If your friend can’t be relied on for the level of friendship you want, you can end up feeling like you’re not being heard,” says Lewak. “This is worth addressing—otherwise, what’s the foundation of the friendship?” Hanks offers a good way to approach this friend: “’I notice that when I bring up something tender emotionally, you pull back, and I wonder if we can talk about it.’ If she still avoids you, it might be a cue that perhaps she’s just a practical friend.” And it’s fine to have friends on different levels; you may just have to manage your expectations of what she can provide you with.

4. “Your husband hit on me.”

“I never told my best friend that her then-boyfriend, now husband, hit on me,” says Shelley Greene. “She was so madly in love with him that I couldn’t bring myself to hurt her by telling her. I figured she’d catch on by herself that he was no good—but she ended up marrying him.”

What the Experts Say: Though the ship has sailed in Shelley’s case, if you know for a fact that a friend’s boyfriend or husband is a cheater, you should absolutely tell her. Wouldn’t you want to know? But speak carefully. Hanks suggests trying: “Something happened that I’m really uncomfortable with, and as your friend I want you to know.” That’s different from “Hey, your boyfriend is a big jerk!” 

5. “Your children drive me crazy!”

“I love my best friend dearly—but her kid? I can’t stand him! He’s my son’s age, but he has no respect for adults, and I find him unpleasant to be around,” says Lisa Greenberg.*

What the Experts Say: What children can do to a friendship is similar to what a husband or boyfriend can do: If there are personality conflicts, they can drive a wedge between friends, says Lewak. And, adds Hanks, you can’t really say something like, “I don’t like your kid,” because once that’s out there, it can’t be taken back. “If this is a playdate mom, forget it and plan outings outside your house. But if this is a close friend, address it, but use empathy and make it about both of you.” Try: “I want to share my concern that when Joe is here, he’s doing XYZ. Mom to mom, I want to let you know, and I hope that if my Susie is like that at your house, you’d tell me.” 

6. “You complain, but then you don’t take my advice.”

“My friend complains all the time about her work life. She’s had five jobs in four years, and they’re never right. I stopped trying to give her advice because she never takes it, and I don’t want to waste my breath anymore,” says Sandra Lettera.*

What the Experts Say: It’s exhausting when a friend continually dumps her unhappiness on you. But if you value the friendship, you don’t have to just sit there and listen in frustration. “Ask her what she wants from you when she shares her complaints,” suggests Hanks. That might sound something like, “I know this job stress has been going on for years. I’ve tried to give suggestions but I don’t feel like I’m giving you what you need. What might help?’” If it’s really that she wants a quiet sounding board, don’t forget that you can set boundaries so you don’t feel quite so drained. “It’s all right to say to a friend, ‘I just don’t have what it takes today to hear about your job again. I’d love to hear more about your trip to Europe,’” advises Hanks.

7. “You don’t lean on me.”

“I met my best friend way back in college. We talk at least twice a week and get together whenever we can. But one thing that hurts me is that she doesn’t tell me when something really important is going on in her life. She bought a house, but didn’t tell me she was looking. She was very ill and I didn’t know until I called and her husband told me. I wish she leaned on me for support,” says Mary Dorning.

What the Experts Say: Sounds like Mary’s friend finds support elsewhere—and it may not occur to her that Mary feels hurt about being left out of the loop, says Hanks. “Tell her how you feel: ‘I’d love to know more about what’s going on in your life, even if it’s hard. I really care about you and I want to be supportive, especially during the difficult times.’”

Read this article in Woman’s Day


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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