How To Handle When Your Friend Asks THAT Soul-Destroying Question
And without ruining your friendship at the same time.
Here's the question no friend wants to get asked.
"Do you like my partner?"
Like, kill me now. I don't want to answer that. Please don't make me answer that. Why are you asking me? Make this whole thing stop.
I know that's a dramatic knee-jerk reaction. But that's how it feels when someone starts asking the question.
The fight or flight mode kicks in hard and you want to run away from the entire conversation. It's not healthy to run, granted, but there is nothing good that comes from this conversation.
So of course this has happened to me.
A friend of mine asked me this very question about her new boyfriend. I thought the dude absolutely sucked, not that this was the issue, in hindsight.
At that very moment, she was the one who sucked. What kind of friend was she right now?
Oh gees, I thought at the time. How do I get out of answering this?
The reality is bleak for the person in my shoes; you can't get out of this. But you can ask your way out of it.
I've used my awkward and uncomfortable experience to hopefully help you.
Here's what you could say when someone wants to know your assessment of their new, old or soon to be out the door partner.
Ask: "Why do you want to know?"
Let's put this shitty conversation back onto the person making the situation this bad.
They don't deserve to walk away from this relationship crime without a little punishment. In my slightly bitter opinion, they need to justify why this question needs answering.
They need to justify why they want to know, considering how much is on the line.
More on that later.
It's also a fair question to; why do you want to know what I think of your partner?
I'm not in your relationship. Whilst I respect and appreciate my opinion means something to you, what does my opinion gain? What does it do for your decision-making?
And perhaps I deserved the question, in which I need to know if I started this questioning.
Did I give her a look that made her think I didn't like him? Did I say something out of place? Did I question him too many times about his life, work, hobbies, and appendage size?
Help me understand the "why" in this situation.
Ask: "What is in it for me to share my opinion?"
We ask ourselves this question because we don't know the answer. What do I have to gain by saying my honest, unfiltered thoughts about their partner?
Sure, you could this is a selfish point of view. But self-preservation is hard to ignore. I need to look after my own interests. And the friend asking this question is clearly looking after their self-interests.
Someone has to advocate for you.
If we were to answer this question ourselves, there isn't anything in it for us. If we say how we're feeling, we run the risk of offending our friend.
If we're too supportive of their new partner, we run the risk of not being on our friend's side. If we say we don't know, we look like we don't care.
There's no outcome that doesn't result in potential doom for us.
In this situation, the friendship you have between you and your friend needs to come first. If you want to advocate for that friendship, silence is golden.
Hence the answer to this question is paramount; the friend asking needs to understand the risks they are taking.
Ask: "What does my opinion change for you?"
Here's the thing for me; I've rarely asked my friends what they've thought of my partner.
If I have, it's never been a serious or intense grilling of their thoughts. I've waited until they've told me how much they like or hate them before asking further.
But ultimately, I value their thoughts and feelings but who I date isn't up to them. They aren't the deciding factor in whether I press forward with a relationship or not.
It's not that I don't think they have a valid point. But they aren't the ones dating my partner.
They don't have to see my partner the way I do. In fact, I don't want them to or I will have a fight on my hands.
I appreciate people go hunting for confirmation bias; if I like their partner, they do too. Or if they aren't feeling so great about the relationship, maybe someone else can help end it for them.
But that just sets me up for my failure, too.
I don't want to be the deciding factor in keeping or dumping a partner. Again, it's another thing that could backfire on me. And then onto our friendship.
Hopefully, by asking this question, you can help your friend see that they're looking for this confirmation bias and looking for it in the wrong place.
Remind them: Your opinion isn't fact
Here's a little logic to help you with this problem. Your opinion about your friend's partner is just an opinion. We all have them, thousands of them a day. It's another opinion that could be wrong, right or both. It's not fact.
Because it's not fact; we should approach these opinions with the proverbial grain of salt.
There is too much involved with an opinion you can take into account or ignore; there is so much to analyse.
Someone might be having a bad day when they give an opinion. They might be projecting their own heartache onto the situation. They might be angry at the friend asking and saying something mean in the heat of the moment.
It's too unpredictable and not always true.
Opinions represent feelings. And feelings can always be wrong when you're looking in from afar.
You could say this argument helps you tell that probing friend that your opinion isn't worth listening to. In a way, it's not, too.
With the possibility of getting it wrong, why should someone listen to you?
Ask: "What matters to you more?"
As you may have gathered by now, your friendship is on the line with this conversation. Big time.
You're inviting an argument, a possible collision of opinions, emotions, and feelings over this one question.
You say the wrong thing and you're screwed. You say what they don't want to hear and you're even more screwed. Is this what your friend wants to do?
Your friend needs to decide what matters most in the situation; your opinion of their partner or your friendship. Because that's what is on the line should this conversation continue.
That doesn't mean you need to shy away from an honest relationship. I'm not advocating for lying or avoiding conversations.
But we all know what can trigger arguments. It's not fair to push the buttons when you know the probable result.
Inviting pain into a friendship is worse than keeping it polite for the sake of the friendship. Sometimes, honesty isn't the best policy.
Remind them: Everyone is in charge of their dating life
How do we avoid this situation becoming a triangle relationship? Because that's the other place we're headed to right now.
Everyone hates the plutonic threeway between a couple and their interrupting friend. In most romantic relationships, there are two people, and that is more than enough to handle.
Until I'm invited and willing to accept an invitation into a romantic triangle, I remind myself I'm not the one who has to love that partner.
I'm not the glue holding them together, nor am I the thing pulling them apart. I'm nothing. I'm not in this. It's not about me as a friend.
Your friend always has the right to ask for your opinion, by the way. That's the part that sucks for you. You can't stop this conversation. They will have it, time and time again, with all your objections noted.
They can justify asking you all they want. But you can equally justify denying their request.
And if you ask me, staying out is better than ever getting involved.
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