Jon, a dog groomer in New York City, is just not that into his close
friend's significant other. He asked that his name not be used to protect his
friend's privacy and their friendship.
The question is, what should he do about it? Should he open his mouth and
risk the friendship with his unsolicited and likely unwanted relationship
advice, grin and bear it, or simply avoid this friend when he is with
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Pretty much all of us have been where Jon is now, and many of us may have
lost good friendships along the way. The best way to preserve a friendship is
to think long and hard before you open your mouth and make sure you have good
reason for speaking your piece. A little tact helps, too, when giving
In Jon's case, the girlfriend in question is basically a downer. "She
restricts my friend and dominates all his attention when we are in a
group," he says. "If we are all out somewhere and joking and she
doesn't like it, she gets into one of her moods, and that changes his
demeanor," he says. "He's not the same when she's in the mix, so
sometimes we don't invite them to do things."
If that's the only problem, says Sarasota, Fla.-based dating expert Lisa
Daily, "then the answer is simple: hold your tongue. If you just don't like
the person or you find them obnoxious, and you want to keep the friendship,
keep your mouth closed. Because obviously, they see something in the person
that you don't," says Daily, author of several books,including Stop
Susan Jaffe, MD, a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City,
agrees. "If it's just about not liking the person, then you should hold
your tongue," she says. "Try to spend time with your friend alone,
without the significant other. Or see them as a couple in a large group, so you
can easily avoid the significant other."
Scripting Your Relationship Advice
There are certain precarious situations where you must say something, Jaffe
says. In those cases, "It's a very tricky business [and] tact is
essential." Such situations include:
Bad behavior: Let's say your best friend's new man propositioned you
online or on the dance floor. Should you speak up?
"The thing about Internet dating is that it's right there in black and
white and not like at a party where they can always say, 'I was just
kidding,'" Daily says. "If this person has emailed you, just forward it
to your friend without comment and let her make her own decision," she
If it's some other type of bad behavior, you can ask questions that make
them think, says Alison Arnold, PhD, a therapist in Phoenix who is also known
as "Doc Ali," the life coach on the VH1 series Scott Baio Is 45 ...
and Single. For example, ask, "Did you feel comfortable with how he was
last night or with how much he is drinking?" she suggests. If they don't
want to talk about it, then you have to let it go.