Tuesday, November 6, 2012

To Speak...Or Not...?

The comment:
When your friend is dating someone you don't like and you don't agree with it, do you say something OR do you abide by this supposed code and keep your mouth shut because they are "happy"? 
Great question.
If I had a nickel for every time I got out a relationship and the immediate reaction from close friends and family was elation, I'd be...well, richer.

But, seriously... sometimes I feel like the whole world around me is holding their breath while I'm in a relationship, secretly hoping that this isn't the guy I end up with. When it's over, it's as though they can breathe again and that often includes a barrage of reasons why he just wasn't 'right' for me. Sometimes tears of relief are shed (by people who aren't even my mom). I can't help but think, 'If you were that emotionally distraught by the thought of me being with him, why didn't you just say something?!?'

I get it. I get why people don't. When I asked my family and friends why they didn't say anything when I was in these various relationships, I'm often met with some sort of answer like, 'Just because I don't like him doesn't mean that you don't... you clearly do, so I wasn't going to let my dislike of him get in the way of that.'  That's fair...if you just don't like him but think that he's good for me, I guess.

OR, there's the common, 'It's not my business to say anything.'...or, 'You're going to be the one to have to live with him your whole life, and I'm not going to try to tell you that I know him better than you.'...or, 'I trust your judgment.'

Okay... sure. But it's a little infuriating when the vast majority of the people in your life suddenly come forward after a relationship is over to confess all their concerns and fears about you spending the rest of your life with someone. That certainly doesn't help me after there's no need to even decide on whether or not being in the relationship is a good idea. It's been decided and your two cents after the fact just makes me pissed that you didn't have the nerve to tell me while we were dating. Even if you're just trying to make me feel better about the relationship being over... a heads-up while I was all in would have been nice, too.

And some people did say stuff, and I wasn't willing to listen (can't we all identify with that?)...but I certainly appreciated them being honest with me, even if I didn't like it at the time. I'm not really angry about it (whether people did or didn't say things)... I mostly think it's intriguing to think about why we don't always say something and when, or if, we ever should.

There's a lot of people that get into relationships that I think are terrible ideas. I don't always tell them. So, at what point do you address concerns that you have? Is it ever appropriate? Is it ever received well?

Honestly--I have a hard time believing that it is ever received well. I'm not sure that's a good enough reason for us to not be honest with those closest to us, though. I think, in confronting things of such a sensitive nature, we should probably always expect that we most likely won't be met with open arms. In fact, people may try to distance themselves from us, they may not want to talk to us anymore, they may think we're out to get them. It's why it's risky for us to say anything...and it's probably why most of us don't. Plus, we don't want to meddle.

I think making a decision to say something or not boils down to your relationship with the other person, your reason for it not being a good idea, and how you approach said confrontation. Here are some things to consider:
  • How close are you to this person? 
    • Do you have the kind of friendship/relationship that withstands disagreements/tension? 
    • Do they know that you love them, no matter what? That you have their best interest in mind? 
  • In saying something, do you have any alternative motivation for this relationship not working out (i.e. are you in love with your best friend and so any relationship he/she gets in is automatically a bad idea if it's not you...) 
    • Does your dislike of the person have anything to do with you? (i.e. your best friend suddenly disappeared because they started dating someone and now you're jealous, sad, lonely because you don't get to see them anymore...you want your best friend back!) 
If you're truly worried about your friend/family member, if you truly believe this relationship is a bad idea, if you've seen them going down a 'bad' path as a result of this relationship... if you have legitimate reasons that you're concerned, I think you're obligated to say something. But, I think if you say something, you have to be okay with the fact that they may not listen to you and you'll have to choose to love them regardless. You'll have to be okay with the fact that in such a confrontation they might react defensively or in anger and you cannot retaliate. 

I think my confrontations with relationships I've felt uncomfortable with/iffy about have often occurred in question form. Rather than attacking people, or making them feel like the person they care very deeply for is stupid or wrong for them... I tend to ask questions. I'd rather them come to that conclusion on their own than just listen to what I'm saying. 

I think when we ask questions (the right questions) that we also gain an awareness of where our loved ones are coming from. When we ask questions, we're inviting them to dialogue with us, to open up to us, to tell us what they really think/feel vs. us just assuming that we already know. Perhaps they're already aware of the ways this relationship is harmful and they just need someone to listen/talk with them instead of being talked at.

Either way... they'll hear you. They may not listen or heed your advice...but I think if you're going in with truly good intentions, that you'll be okay. They'll appreciate you for caring, and they'll appreciate you for loving them even when/if they decide to keep pressing on. And, if they ever do breakup...? They'll be so thankful you were a friend that was willing to speak up, even if it was hard. If they don't? I think they'll still appreciate you being willing to vocalize your concerns and not just let them forge ahead into something you had reservations about.

Be honest.
Be gentle.
Know when to speak and when to be silent (a.k.a. listening).
Know which issues are important enough to say something about...and make sure you're driven by your love and concern for your friend.

And... if you're on the receiving end of a friend/family member confronting you with some concerns about your relationship? Let them...and don't hate them for it. Remember that they are saying it because they care about you, not because they are out to get you or resent you for your happiness...or whatever reason you invent in your head. Be thankful that you have people in your life that love you too much to stay silent. Be willing to examine their concerns and invite other wise counsel in to ask their advice on your relationship. Ultimately... be willing to trust the Lord is going to take care of you, no matter what.

Don't be afraid of hard conversations- no matter which side you're on.
You might know you need to say some things....you might know you need to hear some things.
So, what are you waiting for?

* * *

Your entries will remain anonymous

No comments:

Post a Comment