A best friend can be a wonderful support to a relationship, or she can consistently undermine the relationship's overall health — and many best friends fall somewhere in between.
The perspective of a best friend
There's a special place in each woman's heart for her best friend. A best friend is a confidant, a supporter and a buddy through good and bad times. A best friend is also an influencer of your life and relationships, because she has invested her time, energy and care in your life. As a result, she's bound to have an opinion about your choices.
So how can you know if your bestie is influencing your relationship in a good way or a bad way?
Your best friend influences your insight
Best friends usually have a wealth of opinions about romantic partners. Insight isn't a bad thing. The insight of a loving friend can prevent you from diving head first into a bad marriage, or it could protect you from a pattern of negative thinking that derails a good marriage. So how do you know if your best friend's insight is accurate and beneficial to both you and the relationship?
- Do other wise people share her insight? Surround yourself with wise people and listen to them, too. If your best friend thinks you should dump your boyfriend, but other wise people are telling you to wait, consider waiting.
- Are her thoughts and feelings outliers? If she consistently shares thoughts and feelings that seem very different from what others think and feel, don't accept her insight at face value.
- How does she view men and relationships? This is important. Even the best friend in the world may have skewed views of how men are supposed to behave in a relationship, and what a relationship should look like in practice. Listen to what she says about men and relationships in general to determine if she's a credible source of insight.
- Is she able to say the truth, even if it hurts? If she's demonstrated in other areas of her life that she can say tough things, her insight is more credible.
Your best friend influences your time
Especially at the beginning of a relationship, best friends have many opinions about how you should use your time and energy. We get it. Puppy love is a time suck and that means less time for girls' night out. But if your friend nags you about spending more time together, she could either be 1) protecting you from going too quickly into a serious relationship, or 2) expressing jealousy. So how do you know which one it is?
- How much time is she asking for from you? Dinner five times a week is probably not sustainable, but morning coffee and a walk probably is. Try to put some thought into what she's actually asking rather than writing her off as jealous.
- Are her expectations feasible? If your best friend is jealous, she will not be happy no matter how much time you give her.
- Does she express jealousy in other ways? If all else fails, just ask her point blank whether or not she's feeling jealous and how you can put her mind at ease. A best friend who is likely to influence your relationship for the better will feel comfortable telling you about her feelings up front.
Your best friend influences the ending of relationships
No one goes into a relationship hoping that it will fail, but sometimes it's time to call it quits. Girlfriends are awesomely supportive during a breakup, but they can also influence the timing of the breakup. Before you listen to your best friend's advice about ending a relationship — lest you do so prematurely — think through the following:
- What is your best friend's relationship pattern? If she's a "love him and leave him" type, she may not have the soundest advice about when to end a relationship.
- How does she view forgiveness and conflict? Has she demonstrated a willingness to forgive, even when it hurts? Sometimes relationships can forge on with forgiveness, but it's less likely to happen when a best friend is demanding that you end it.
- Has she supported you as you've thought about alternatives? Alternatives aren't always possible, but they're always possible to consider.
If you have thought through the ways in which your bestie influences your relationship and have determined that she is a source of sound advice and support, don't hesitate to share the ups and downs of your romantic relationships with her.
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