I recently had a conversation with someone going through some relationship challenges and after listening to her ramble on for 20 mins about her partner’s shortcomings, I asked her a simple question:
How much of this have you told your partner?
“Well he should just know these things… he should know me…”
“So you haven’t told him… interesting. Why?”
“Well because blah… blah… blah…” (the excuses started rolling)
Now before you jump on the “she’s stupid” bandwagon, this situation isn’t unusual by any means. I’ve coached countless individuals and couples and more often than not, they’re telling me things that they haven’t told their partner.
You’re not just in a relationship with your partner when you share with your friends things you don’t share with your partner – you’re also in a relationship with your friends.
Now if you want to share your problems, and other intimate details of your relationship with your friends, then by all means do you – but realize that when you do, you’re in an “open” relationship.
Yeah, I know what you’re going to say- “That’s not the same thing Will. It’s not an open relationship and I have good reasons for running to my friends.”
OK, let’s hear them…
That’s the most common phrase I hear people when I ask them why are they talking to their friends and not their partner, and I’m sure you mean it when you say it; however, ask yourself this.
Did you always feel as comfortable talking to your friends as you do now? Of course not.
But over time you became comfortable. How? By talking to them. You will never get comfortable talking with your partner, if you don’t talk. What complicates things is you’re talking to your friends before you talk to your partner. If you’re having an issue with your partner, how is it ever going to be fixed if you don’t talk to them about it?
“My friends know me.”
If your friends really did know you then why do they say things like, “I don’t know why you’re allowing him/her to do this… why did you do that, etc”? If they really knew you, then they’d know the answer to those questions.
Besides, let’s be real, you don’t go to your friends for understanding, you go to them for confirmation.
Naturally, they’re biased towards you and when you go to them you count on them to take your side. You know what you need to do, you’re just afraid to do it for whatever reason and you want them to back you up.
Besides even if your friends really do know and understand you, that’s not what your problem is. Your problem is you and your partner are not getting through to each other. That can’t happen if you’re running to your friends and not your partner.
“My friends support me”
Really? After your friend tells YOU about a problem in their relationship, how many times have you said, “How could you be so stupid… Where’s your self-esteem… That ninja ain’t shit… He’s a boy, not a man, etc.”?
By the way, thinking or waiting to say it behind their back is the same thing as saying it to their face. Not to mention, picking up the phone and telling others your friends’ business is no better.
How’s that for support?
First, you shouldn’t let your friends bad mouth or call your partner names. That’s disrespectful and how can someone that “supports” you disrespect who you’re with or the decisions you’ve make?
“My friend gives good advice”
Isn’t it amazing that your friends have all the answers for everyone else EXCEPT themselves? My personal rule when it comes to taking advice is…
Never take advice from someone that’s more effed up than you are.
Look at their relationship(s), not their relationship status. Just because your friend is married and you’re not doesn’t mean their relationship is better than yours. Just because you caught your man cheating and she hasn’t caught hers doesn’t mean he isn’t cheating. Also realize that most people give advice based off their rules for relationships – your relationship is different, and the only “rules” that matter are the ones you and your partner have established.
“My friends don’t let their feelings get involved, so they can be impartial”
What makes you think their feelings aren’t involved? They care about you right? They just don’t have feelings for your partner. Furthermore, the fact that your friends have no feelings invested in the relationship is exactly why you don’t want to ask them what you should do with your relationship. Why are you in a relationship? Because of your feelings. Feelings are the foundation of relationships, so why would you ask someone that has no foundation in your relationship to advise you on what to do with it?
Also, how can they be impartial when they’re only hearing your side of the story? There are three sides to every story – yours, theirs, and the truth.
However, even after saying all of that, friends can be valuable resources under certain circumstances. Here is an example of a friend giving excellent relationship advice…
If you have any life or relationship questions or challenges, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for help.