Your potentially first mistake is pouring your heart out to a close friend when there’s a speed bump in your relationship with your sweetie – and you take their advice! They’re a good buddy, maybe your BFF, so you trust them and value what they think. So you take their advice to “dump the bum.”
Of course, you don’t just jump off a cliff when someone asks you to, but your friend’s words weigh on you. Maybe other friends or family you run to have similar reactions. Doubt slowly creeps in and somewhere down the road and gradually you’re seeing your sweetie in a tarnished light. But is that light really reliable? Are you seeing demons when they’re originating from external sources … like clouds polluting your ability to see the situation realistically?
Beware. There are certain people and certain types of advice that should be taken lightly or considered skeptically. You might be best off avoiding discussing your relationship problems at all with certain people.
Are Your Friends Pressuring You?
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”
– Coco Chanel
Outside opinions, thoughts, judgments about your relationship decisions are just those: outside opinions. They are not yours. Don’t be a dust mop, picking up on their criticisms and internalizing them.
Your friends and family may be thinking they’re serving your best interests when they sit you down and have an “intervention.” And maybe they are. But it’s you who has to decide. Don’t let your friends rob you of your judgment. They are injecting doubts that you may be picking up on and acting on without giving them careful consideration.
What Your Friends May Be Saying
“He’s not right for you. You deserve better.”
Or they may call you crazy. This could be a maneuver to invalidate your decisions and feelings. They may find fault with your relationship. They may nit-pick or make assumptions about how you’re being treated.
Questions to Ask Yourself
· Are your friends happy for you when you’re happy? Sad for you when you’re sad?
· Are they envious?
· Are they hostile in the presence of you and your mate; do they give them the “cold shoulder?”
· Are their reactions always negative when you’re discussing your relationship?
· Are they making up stories about your mate; telling you things that are untrue?
· Are you detecting the “common denominator argument” … that is, “Every one of my relationships eventually failed; yours will too.”
· Are they having their own relationship problems and transferring their negativity onto yours?
· Are they single and want you to be single too?
· Do they criticize other aspects of your life as well as your relationship?
· Are they living your life instead of their own?
· Are they divorced or in the throes of a difficult divorce?
· Do they make sound decisions about their own life and relationships?
· If it’s your mother or another close relative, is their attitude that there’s no one good enough for you? Do they have your happiness at heart?
· Do you value and trust their opinions in general?
Remember, others’ decisions are based on their own personal experiences. They may be bitter and bruised from their own past relationships.
Working It Out For Yourself
I don’t know who coined this, but it’s so true: “You can’t choose who you love, but you can choose who you’re with.” Relationships involve two people but you are ultimately responsible only to yourself. You are responsible for your own happiness.
Trust your intuition. You don’t need to explain or justify your decisions to anyone. If you feel pressure to stay in a relationship that is dysfunctional or abusive, recognize that. Are you making excuses not to leave … excuses like “He’s a good man/woman,” or “S/he’s financially secure and will provide for me.”
Your inner guide knows best. Others are not walking in your shoes. It’s you who has to search deep down to determine what your heart is telling you. Seek advice – friends or professionals – but you must ultimately decide for yourself.
In sessions with clients in situations like this, I like to ask these questions:
· Do you see a repeating pattern of discord with your mate? In other words, does the same thing happen over and over?
· Is your mate telling you they don’t like something you’re doing and that something is important to you?
· Do they seem to get satisfaction doing and asking you not to do this or that or change your behavior?
· When you give in to their requests, do you get a sense that you are giving up your independence? Or does it maybe make you feel sad, uncomfortable, or controlled?
· Are you the one always making compromises, backing down? Is the relationship one of give-and-take or does it feel more one-sided?
· Are you comfortable with who you are?
· Do you feel pressure to change something you don’t think you can or want to change?
· If you are desperate for a confidante, are you choosing carefully? Is this person in a long and happy relationship themself? Are they a good role model by which you might gauge yours? Are you taking cues and advice but being selective and making up your own mind?
You Are Responsible
“Don’t ever feel bad for making a decision about your own life that upsets other people. You are not responsible for their happiness. You’re responsible for your own happiness.”
– Isaiah Hankel
It may be your friend you should dump, not your sweetie. At least, don’t leave him/her without deep personal reflection and communication. Keep toxic people out of your life. Don’t let them make your decisions and affect your self-esteem.