Being someone’s friend means you protect each other. You don’t let each other drink and drive or put themselves in harm’s way. You support each other and are honest with your feelings. You build a relationship based on trust and honesty, knowing your friend will be there for the good and bad times. So what happens when your friend is about to say “I do” to someone you absolutely dislike? Should you tell your friend how you feel or just keep quiet and stand by if they need you?
Most of us have experienced this on some level. As a psychotherapist, I must admit we ALL marry the “wrong” person because there is no such thing as a perfect partner. We marry people who will push the buttons that need to be pushed for us to grow and resolve old issues. However, when this is your friend and you aren’t a psychotherapist, you may believe your friend is making a HUGE mistake. You don’t want to betray your friend or sit back passively and do nothing. Below are suggestions that will be the most helpful to your friend and allow you to keep your integrity as being a trustworthy, supportive friend.
Get clear about what you don’t like. What is the person doing that is making you dislike them? Keep in mind that your friend (not you) is the one in the relationship. Sometimes we’re so close to our friend that we project our baggage onto them. The person your friend wants to marry may be bringing up issues you haven’t resolved, and your hurt is misdirected. Spend more time with them and get to know your friend’s partner better so you can get clearer on who they are.
If you have concerns, ask your friend to interpret the meaning. This can be done by asking your friend what their partner meant when they said something that concerned you. Your friend can interpret the meaning and hear it more clearly when they explain it. This prevents defensiveness and helps keep minds open to feedback.
If your friend brings up reservations, don’t use that as an invitation to bring up more. Keep your concerns limited to one or two. When your friend mentions their concern, allow them to speak openly without being attacked. This will help your friend be more honest because they won’t feel the need to defend their partner.
Listen to your friend. You don’t fully understand their relationship, nor do you have both sides represented. You may feel that no one would be good enough to marry your friend. When you listen, you offer your friend the greatest gift: the true expression of love. If they realize they are making a mistake, they will confide in the person who was always there for them and listened with genuine care and without judgement.
The one exception to these suggestions is if your friend is in an abusive relationship. If you feel as though your friend’s partner is emotionally or physically abusive, then it is your duty to help protect them. Talk to them in private and tell them you will help them find mental health care support.
Being a good friend to someone is an honorable position to be in, but within that position lies responsibility. No matter how close you are to your friend, you don’t always have the right nor are you always right in what they need in a partner. Be there to celebrate their good times and comfort them in their sorrows. Time will tell whether your friend made the right choice.