Friday, September 18, 2009

How far does truthfulness extend?

We want our friends to tell us the truth when we are standing in the dressing room and asking “Does this make me look fat?” But, how far does that desire for truthfulness extend? What if our friends think we are about to marry the wrong man?

Recently, my friend Nellie was facing that very dilemma. Her friend Samantha was about to marry the “wrong” guy. Samantha’s fiancé has two kids, a crack addicted ex-girlfriend, does not pay child support and will not fight for custody of the kids. All Samantha’s friends and family agree that she is dating this man as a way to save him since she could not save her father.

Nellie related the story to me and asked, “What should I do?” I answered tell her. Tell her in a loving, supportive way, but tell her. Maybe there are qualities in him that you can’t see from the outside. Maybe Samantha needs a wake up call and a way out. Truthfulness should extend past the dressing room.

I advised her to say something like this, “Samantha I love you. I will love you and support you no matter what you decide, but there’s something I need to say. I will only say it once and never bring it up again. We have been friends for my whole life and I would want you to do the same for you. I have concerns about your upcoming wedding. You are an amazing woman and deserve an amazing partner in life and from the outside looking in – it seems that your fiancé doesn’t treat you that way you deserve.”

Then leave it at that and really never bring it up again. Go to the wedding. Hold your friend’s hand and love her.

Now, I know this is controversial advice. Most people would say, “keep your mouth shut and support your friend.” But why is it that we wouldn’t let our friends go out in that shirt that lets their boobs hang out, but we would let them marry a man who could potentially treat them poorly for the rest of their life without a peep? I believe there is a difference between support and placating. Support means telling the truth and then stepping up to deal with the aftermath. Placating means agreeing with your friends’ decisions no matter what you believe serves their best interests.

Here’s comes the big question: “Who I am to judge?” We judge everything every day. You judged your friend when decided to share your heart and your life with her. Sometimes we all need a new set of eyes on a situation to get to the truth and the heart of the matter. So I say tell her. If you would tell her that her dress is hoochie short or that the new hair color makes her look like Pippi Longstocking, tell her that she deserves better. But if you do tell her and she still does what she wants, then you have to accept that and love her anyway. Maybe she really likes dressing like a hoochie Pippi, but at least now she knows she’s doing it.

1 comment:

  1. I really liked this post. I think it's important to be honest with your friends, as long as it's done in a very loving and supportive way. In the past, when I was involved with people that my friends didn't necessarily think was the best for me, they kept their mouths shut.

    However, when the relationship ended disasterously, and I was trying to pick up the pieces and move on, doubting myself, doubting my own decisions, and doubting my ability to choose wisely, many of these friends were very quick to jump in and say things like, "I never liked him" or "I always thought you could do so much better than him", etc, etc. Those words, after the fact, had the opposite effect of what was intended. They made me angry and resentful - and also made me feel worse about myself. If you thought I had my eyes closed all along, couldn't you have said something to me before? Why did you pretend to like him? Now, telling me that you thought I "could have done better" after the fact only serves to hurt me and rub salt in that very open, very raw self-doubting wound. Stepping up before the fact takes balls and courage. It's easy to speak your mind after the fact. I understand the sentiment behind "you could have done better" is well-meaning, but when you're recovering from the aftermath of a terrible breakup, it only serves to make you feel worse about yourself.

    I wish more people would realize this.

    - Maryterese