“You know, I never really thought you two were good together,” said my college housemate and very close friend. This would have been helpful advice if it had come several months earlier. Unfortunately, not a single one of my friends had the guts to tell me how they felt about my boyfriend until after I figured things out for myself and ended things.
We dated for more than a year, and he was kind and caring. We met volunteering, so I was drawn to his good heart and positive attitude toward life in that environment. But, after that initial attraction faded I began to realize how different we actually were. He liked sci-fi and I like non-fiction. He was a penny pincher, and I enjoy a good splurge on dinner or clothes if I can afford it. We were both Christian, but somehow that meant very different things to each of us. When I wanted to lock myself inside to study, he took it as an insult that I didn’t want to spend time with him.
When you meet the right person and fall in love, you naturally learn to accept and love the differences you discover. But this guy just wasn’t right for me. Our differences were too much for me. And my friends could all tell too—apparently the entire time we were dating—but they never said anything.
After about ten months my family spoke up first. When I was home, my dad took me out for coffee and pretty much demanded that I break up with this guy. My parents had dropped hints all along that they weren’t too fond of my current boyfriend. But I didn’t want to break up with him just because my parents said so.
What I really needed was the support of my friends. I needed to know that as soon as I bit the bullet and actually ended things, that my friends would be there and would help me through it. But what if they liked him? What if they thought it was a terrible decision to break up?
I finally decided on my own that I needed to end things. And after I did, all of my friends admitted that they never understood why we were together in the first place.
I know I could have asked my friends what they thought about him. I wish that I had earlier on, but the truth is, it’s so hard to see clearly when you are in the midst of a relationship. Besides, a lot of times when you ask someone they’ll say something like “oh, he’s nice” without getting into details out of fear that you’ll take it the wrong way.
After the breakup, I begged my friends to be honest with me in the future. I told them that if they had reservations about the person I was dating, I would be grateful to them for sharing them with me. Rather than thinking that they are judging my decisions or that they think they know what I want better than I do, I see their honesty as simply showing that they care about me.
If you have a close friend who is dating someone who you think isn’t right for him or her, you might want to consider telling him or her how you feel. It’s a sensitive subject and you can’t just come right out and say, “I don’t like your boyfriend.” But gently sharing your concerns might help them see something that they didn’t notice before about their relationship.
When it comes down to it, we ultimately decide who we want to be with. I just wish that I’d had more support for making the right decision much earlier. If any of my friends would have stepped up and let me know how they felt, I probably would have ended my not-so-great relationship sooner. We all deserve true love and nothing less—some of us just need to be steered in the right direction, myself included.