What Your Best Friend Won't Tell You
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BFF Confidential1 of 15
By Woman's Day
Whether your best pal complains about work or her husband, chances are you've kept mum. "Women tend to feel responsible for their friends' feelings," says therapist Julie Hanks, "so we keep our mouths shut to prevent jeopardizing the friendship." Here, women share what they’ve never told their BFFs, and experts advise on when to stay quiet.
The Secret2 of 15
"I don't like your boyfriend." "My best friend is in a toxic relationship. It's the same story over and over: He gets drunk, they have a fight and she 'kicks him out.' But then he apologizes, and she forgives him. I want to tell her he's bad for her, but I know she won't listen; she's afraid this guy is her last chance to have a child," says Danette.
The Experts Say3 of 15
If it's not a matter of a cheater, abuser or toxic situation, and you just don't like the guy for superficial reasons, grin and bear it. Says Hanks, "If she's chosen him, and you've chosen to remain friends with her, then nothing good comes of letting her know you just don't like him.” Instead, avoid spending time with them as a couple, while always leaving the door open for her to talk if the relationship does turn dangerous.
The Secret4 of 15
"I can't believe you never gave me a wedding present." When Karen* got married two years ago, she was shocked that one of her closest friends didn't bring a gift—and still hasn't made good. "It leaves me reeling every time I think of it. I'd never dare say anything because, well, don't I sound a bit petty?” [*Some names have been changed.]
The Experts Say5 of 15
The present is probably something you can let go, advises Hanks, "because you can choose to believe that your friend truly cares about you, and that maybe she forgot or feels embarrassed about it." But if it's an ongoing situation, such as your friend not calling, then you can say something like "It makes me feel like you don't care about our friendship, because I'm always the one calling you."
The Secret6 of 15
"You never want to talk about our issues." "One of my best friends is incredibly smart and my go-to person for advice. We share all the good and bad stuff about our lives, but never address any kinks in our friendship, so our relationship feels somehow incomplete and not fully realized,” says Lori.*
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The Experts Say7 of 15
"If your friend can't be relied on for the level of friendship you want, you can end up feeling like you're not being heard," says Doree Lewak, author of The Panic Years. "This is worth addressing—otherwise, what's the foundation of the friendship?" It's fine to have friends on different levels; you may just have to manage your expectations.
ON WOMAN'S DAY: Do You Kiss and Tell?
The Secret8 of 15
"Your husband hit on me." "I never told my best friend that her then-boyfriend, now husband, hit on me," says Shelley.* "She was so madly in love with him that I couldn't bring myself to hurt her by telling her. I figured she'd catch on by herself that he was no good—but she ended up marrying him."
The Experts Say9 of 15
Though the ship has sailed in Shelley's case, if you know for a fact that a friend's boyfriend or husband is a cheater, you should absolutely tell her. But speak carefully. Hanks suggests trying this: "Something happened that I'm really uncomfortable with, and as your friend I want you to know." That's different from "Hey, your boyfriend is a big jerk!"
The Secret10 of 15
"Your children drive me crazy!" "I love my best friend dearly—but her kid? I can't stand him! He's my son's age, but he has no respect for adults, and I find him unpleasant to be around," says Lisa.*
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The Experts Say11 of 15
What children can do to a friendship is similar to what a husband or boyfriend can do: Personality conflicts can drive a wedge between friends, says Lewak. "If this is a close friend, address it, but use empathy," adds Hanks. Try this: "I want to share my concern that when Joe is here, he's doing [XYZ]. Mom to mom, I want to let you know, and I hope that if my Susie is like that at your house, you'd tell me."
The Secret12 of 15
"You complain, but then you don't take my advice." "My friend complains all the time about her work life. She's had five jobs in four years, and they're never right. I stopped trying to give her advice because she never takes it, and I don't want to waste my breath anymore," says Sandra.*
The Experts Say13 of 15
Having a friend continually dump unhappiness on you can be exhausting. If you value the friendship, then "ask her what she wants when she shares her complaints," suggests Hanks. Say something like, "I know this job stress has been going on for years. I've tried to [help] but I don't feel like I'm giving you what you need. What might help?'" If she just wants a quiet sounding board, set boundaries so you don't feel drained.
The Secret14 of 15
"You don't lean on me." "I met my best friend in college. We talk at least twice a week and get together whenever we can. But one thing that hurts me is that she doesn't tell me when something really important is going on in her life. She bought a house, but didn't tell me she was looking. She was very ill and I didn't know until I called and her husband told me. I wish she leaned on me for support," says Mary.*
The Experts Say15 of 15
Sounds like Mary's friend finds support elsewhere—and it may not occur to her that Mary feels hurt about being left out of the loop, says Hanks. "Tell her how you feel: 'I'd love to know more about what's going on in your life, even if it's hard. I really care about you and I want to be supportive, especially during the difficult times.'"
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