“I needed to hear that from you; you are right,” my friend said after I gave her my opinion. She had come to me enough times complaining about another friend of hers who would never change, yet she refused to cut the cord. She kept hanging out with her, not saying anything about her passive-aggressive ways, her low-key insults, and how she gossiped about everyone behind their back. I told her if she wasn’t going to do anything about it, she should just accept the situation for what it was and stop talking about it.
Honestly, I was sick of hearing about the backlash, and I’m sure she was tired of being tangled up in it. I nicely told her if she wanted to continue on with that friendship, great. But I had better things to do than listen to the bashing over and over and over again.
Sound harsh? Well, I happen to believe we can love our friends and not love all of their choices. We can also show them how much we love them by not staring at them like a deer in headlights instead of telling them how we really feel. We can love our friends and ourselves by showing we have no interest in being taking part in their drama. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
I’m not one of those people who can sit and smile while blasting sunshine up someone’s ass. When they ask for my advice, I can’t lie and tell them I think they are making a great choice if I don’t think they are, even if it will ruffle feathers. I know I want to be held to the highest version of myself by the people who mean the most to me. So I offer the same in return.
Call me silly, but I think it’s showing more empathy and compassion than keeping my trap shut when I’m witnessing someone do something I know they are going to regret.
I guess I could coddle my kids, family members, and friends by telling them what they want to hear, but I wouldn’t like myself very much. Nor would I like it if they kept coming to me for validation because no one else would give it to them. After all, isn’t that the definition of a needy, fake friend?
If someone comes to me for advice and I advise them to take the easy way out, don’t call them out on their assholery, or remind them how much more they deserve and should demand it, I think that’s being mean, not to mention dishonest. I’m not saying they have to follow my advice to be my friend; I’m just saying I’m not going to be quiet about my feelings around the matter in hopes of preserving the friendship. Sitting back and smiling through your teeth while someone is doing something you know is damaging to them is a recipe for resentment, and I don’t want to resent my friends.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about insulting someone, and I’m not talking about kicking them while they are down either. If someone is grieving after a fuck-up, you don’t need to dump rubbing alcohol all over their open wounds. This isn’t a shaming game. I’m also not talking about those situations that are in the grey area, where one person might do one thing and another friend another thing, but both are valid.
What I’m talking about are those bright line, in-your-face situations. I’m talking about saving a friend from their future self by letting them know they need to stop texting their ex because sending nine unanswered messages isn’t a good look. I’m talking about letting someone know they are complaining too much, and that’s probably why some of their friends have gone MIA lately. I’m talking about gently telling someone they have food in their teeth when you’re out in public because they obviously don’t know.
I’m talking about saving people from future mishaps by speaking the hell up.
Sure, it’s more comfortable to not tell your friend they have boogers in their eyes before a girls’ night out, or lead them to believe they “don’t act that obnoxious” after three margaritas at your favorite watering hole where they have a crush on the waiter and definitely act obnoxious after three margaritas. I know it’s cost me some friends, but this is how I operate. I can’t help myself. I want the same handed back to me in return, so I’m capable of taking what I dish out.
Women who aren’t afraid to call me out are the women I want in my life. It’s a form of lifting each other up, of not letting each other fall below our potential. And I’d rather let the friends who can’t handle hard conversations and who just want things peachy all the time fade away. I’ll keep the ones who appreciate my honesty and will throw it right back at me.
Finding time to spend with friends is hard enough. And for me, there’s no need to invest in surface-level conversations where we’re walking on egg shells.
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