A very close friend of mine recently broke up with her long term partner.
Over dinner one night, after the debris of the breakup had settled and a few wines in, I confessed – I never really liked him.
He wasn’t abusive, he never cheated, in fact, he didn’t actually do anything ‘wrong’, it was just a feeling I had. Come to think of it, it wasn’t even that I didn’t like him, it was that I didn’t see him make her happy, he didn’t bring out her best self.
She thought for a moment and then responded, ‘you’re not the first person to have said this, why did no one tell me while we were together?’
Would it really have made any difference? I justified my inaction with another question.
Who am I to tell you what to do?
And then, I thought about my own experience, one past relationship that ended particularly painfully. As my friends came one by one, to console my broken heart, the truth soon came out. They never really liked him.
Why, oh why, did no one tell me? I felt instantly annoyed. Could someone have prevented all this heartache?
Are we doing a disservice to our friends by not saying something when we don’t like their choice in partners? Or when it’s just our own preference should we keep our opinions to ourselves and let them make their own mistakes?
When you’re in love, it’s hard enough to see the signs right in front of you, or feel the niggling doubt in the back of your mind, let alone hear it from your friends. Would you really listen?
And maybe there’s something in going through the pain.
If we’re the sum of all our experiences, good and bad, then going through something shitty – like a breakup, is important for our growth.
I’m not saying sit by and watch your friends stay in terrible relationships. But, maybe when we don’t feel it’s the right match, it’s our duty as friends to simply support each other while we figure it all out.