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Being A Good Friend Means Calling Out Questionable Choices

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You know how it goes. You want to support your friends. If your friend’s doing something, and she likes it, well, you do you, girlfriend! No matter what that “something” is: feeding the homeless, divorcing her husband, yelling at her kids, cheating on her spouse … you do you.

As friends, We Are Here To Support You through tough times, even if you created those tough times yourself and refuse to admit it, like when your BFF’s running up credit card debt and bitching that she doesn’t have enough money to pay for things she actually needs. But real talk: it’s time to end the culture of #girlpower and #squadgoals above everything else. It’s time for some tough love. Time for some authentic friendship. Time to call out your friends.

Real friendship isn’t #squadgoals. Real friendship is an authentic, caring relationship between people based on honesty, mutual respect, and love. Note: honesty. Call out your friends for doing things that hurt them, that stop them from achieving real goals, not #squadgoals. Got a BFF whose dieting is teetering too close to disordered eating? Maybe you should call her out instead of making dumb statements like, “you should eat more,” or “you’d tell me if this was a problem, right?” Hi, friends. All of you knew I wasn’t eating. None of you called me out. Maybe I would have gotten help earlier if one of you had said something.

It’s time to end the culture of #girlpower and #squadgoals above everything else. It’s time for some tough love. Time for some authentic friendship. Time to call out your friends.

Call out your friends for doing things that hurt your relationship. Don’t play the politeness game. That’s when everyone overlooks things in the name of societal niceties while silently seething until everything either (a) blows up, or (b) someone gets cut off. I have a friend who I’m pretty sure is livid at me right now. She’s angry I’m talking to someone who hurt her feelings. I know she doesn’t get along with this person, but I sort of see both sides of the story. Instead of calling me out, however, my friend has … stopped speaking to me. I would have appreciated a call out instead of a cut off.

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And call out your friends for doing things that just plain suck. Friend cheating on their spouse? Adultery’s never cool. Call them out and tell them so. You don’t have to be a bitch about it. But you can say something like, “I’m worried about the affair you’re having. It scares me that it might blow up in your face, and I know you’ve been having a hard time anyway. I don’t want to see that happen to you.”

You can choose that instead of something vague like, “You do what you have to do,” or “Whatever works for your relationship.” Stand up and actually say something. Sure, it might piss your friend off. The truth does that sometimes.

A real friendship should be able to withstand that truth. Who’s going to tell you the truth, if not your friends? That’s basically the reason you have friends. They’re people you can trust to tell you the truth about things: about your choice in music, about your kid’s behavior, about … everything, really. If you’re really friends with someone, that friendship can withstand a call out. It can stand up to the truth: both telling it and hearing it.

Because you need to hear a call out just as much as you need to dish it out.

Someone has to tell you if no, you really need to stop making excuses and get your ass in gear, if you need to put your health first and make that doctor’s appointment, if your kids really were being horrible on the playground and that other mom was right to complain about them.

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But saying “call out your friends” isn’t a license to be a bitch. It’s a chance to be honest, not cruel. Say you notice your friend’s been yelling at her kids an awful lot lately. You could take her out for coffee, put your hand on hers, and say, “Hey. I notice you’ve been screaming at Jasper and Jason all the time. You know, that puts them at risk for all sorts of things later in life.” But that’s a mean, ineffective call out. Sure, it’s honest, but it just makes people defensive.

Instead, you could turn to her on the playground and say, “I noticed you’re raising your voice at your kids a lot more than usual. Everything okay?”

Being a real friend means knowing how to be kind to your friends at the same time you hit them with a truth bomb. Remember: you’re not telling them something to hurt their feelings. You’re not doing it to make yourself feel superior. You’re calling them out because you love them, and you want to help them — even if it makes you uncomfortable, and you know it might piss them off. So tread carefully. Plan out what you’re going to say before you say it, and think about how it might make them feel.

In fact, emphasize feelings in your call out: how you feel and how they might feel. You can’t argue with feelings. Give them the benefit of the doubt too, and leave them a way out: ask why. Ask what’s going on, what might be causing the situation, what they might be thinking. Listen to their side of the story.

Being a real friend means knowing how to be kind to your friends at the same time you hit them with a truth bomb.

But however you do it, make it authentic. Make it real. Make it the truth.

Make it more than #squadgoals.

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