Monday, January 14, 2008

Losing a Friend to Honesty

When my roommate's boyfriend would show up at the front door, I'd open it, wouldn't say a word to him and walk in the other room to inform Teresa that her date had arrived. I hated the guy. He didn't treat my friend right, he didn't value her at all. She was gorgeous, funny, intelligent and successful. He? Nothin'- brought absolutely nothing to the table.

For his 29th birthday Teresa asked me to go to pick up balloons and deliver them to his work (I'm in sales so have a bit of flexibility with my schedule) I bought the balloons, left them on his desk during lunch while everyone was out. The balloons read, "Happy 30th" - Gaywad had to pull out his driver's license to prove to his co-workers that he was really turning 29.

Luckily for T, she and the gaywad broke up and she ended up marrying her perfect match. (One I fully supported and campaigned for during their courtship)

In another case: my roomate Sarah asked me what I thought about her outfit- she was dressed like a tan gypsy and I said, "I wouldn't wear it"-

She then got angry and walked off in a huff- came back in another outfit: my response, "that doesn't really work either"
Her anger towards me was mounting I said,
"Look, wear what you want on your date, I don't care"
After 4 outfits she finally looked smokin' hot and came in and said,
"Thank you"

My question is- is it better to hold your touge when you see a friend making a bad choice, and save the friendship or speak your mind and jeopardize the friendship?

I've always been the latter- I've ruined a few friendships because I saw my friends making bad choices, from terrible boyfriends to anorexia, it's not easy to speak your mind when your friend is doing something damaging to their life- but I thought that's what a real friend does.

Tonight, I finally made a comment to a friend that has been making some choices that I don't agree with. I've disagreed with her choices for a long time, and have remained silent because I knew she wouldn't want to hear what I had to day. Now that I've said them I don't know that she's going to ever want to talk to me again. My question is- am I bad friend for saying something or a good friend for saying something?

If I knew she wasn't going to be receptive, and was going to do what she wanted to do anyway, should I have remained in silence?

16 comments:

Jared said...

Thats a tough one. There is a thin line when it comes to honesty with friends, and I am not sure if it can be clearly defined. I, for one, appreciate the honesty of my friends. I would rather hear the bad news than some sugar coated version of the truth. There is a time and a place when it is appropriate to share such feelings. For example, when someone's health and well being is on the line. I am sure that all of the "yes ma'amers" in Britney Spears camp could take a lesson from you in telling people what they need to hear. As I have gotten older I have been forced to watch my father make decisions that I don't agree with. I am starting to understand that some people may noit respond well to such criticism. We are all on this earth to make decisions, wrong or right, and suffer the consequences of our decisions. My personal opinion?? What is said should be tailored to each person. I know which friends can handle the truth and respond positively from it and I know which friends need more TLC.

Kimberly McEvoy said...

Kory I think you should be honest and say what needs to be said. I tihnk we all need to be more truthful to our family and frieds. that said we need to communicate love and caring when we bluntly communicate our honesty.


Like you I would prefer a friend that said you Boyfriend is a &%$. Kory I really wish you went on your mission a semester later. I selfishly wish that. Because I know you would have prevented horrible happenings in my life by saying " earth to Kim, he is a looser". Sometimes we see the world, opposet gender, vices and what have you with rose colored glasses. "It is just few beers with my friends". When friends can see yeah, its just you turning in to what you preached against for 2 years. Its just s few beers that could ruin your life, its just something you shouldnt do.

Like you I have offended friends and lost some. I think I have even made some enemies in the blog world being candidly honest about my beliefs. I think that is a major issue. Bringing up someones sin, no matter their religion or beliefs. People cant handle you knowing, caring or telling them that they are plain and simple doing something wrong.

Not to drag this on but Ben and I had the terrible opportunity to have someone dear to us be addicted to heroine. After the mission partied, and no one called them on it. No one said hey I dont like those other people you hang out with.

and then We get the disturbign call in the middle of the night that his life is ruined.

What you you rather Do, offend someone by being honest or possibly wrong, or loose someone you loved by being nice and polite. Like you Kory I'd would rather loose a friendship then a friend.

I support that you should have said something, despite what outcomes you knew would happen or not.

No Whining said...

Should you tell someone something that is truth, of course...brutal truth isn't necessary...just truth.

Some times what seems like someone will never keep in touch again is only temporary.

Things fade with time. Either the unpleasant moment will fade or the friendship will fade - what seems troubling at the moment will diminish.

Now that all that "motherly" stuff has been written...who did you tell the truth too?

Steve said...

I tend to agree with everyone here, it's a fine line between being bitchy, motherly, and a loving friend. Obviously, you want what is best for a friend, so you should mention stuff that you are concerned about, but I think you should do it in a questioning, non-threatening or condescending way. Some people, no matter what will get mad, but you can only help people so much. Eventually, they have to care enough or want to do something different. Plus I'd rather look back and say "I'm glad I told so and so this and that" then saying "I WISH I would have told so and so before that really bad thing happened".

Vanilla Vice said...

She most likely will not take your advice and do it the hard way, learning her own lesson. You will then have the upper hand of saying "I told you so later" then able to give her advice at a later date with the advantage of saying, remember that time when...and I was right?

That's probably all that will happen. But I don't know the situation, so I could be wrong. But most likely when you tell her the truth (because you should) and it fails, I'll say I told you so.

bechtold clan said...

I have personally made terrible decisions, and had friends do things I didnt approve of( granted none of these things were life threatening- that would be a totally different story) however and I say this because I have often been judgemental, or thought I was right many times..and ultimately I have said things that have hurt people, or damaged an otherwise very important friendship. I have a great friend. My mother- and what makes her an amazing friend is that she listens, while she might not agree or is worried, she counsels her own thoughts and opinions. Even when I choose different she was there when things fell apart, didnt say I told you so, was a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on and continued to be there. I think that is what makes the best friends. That while we dont always agree, we can let the other person make mistakes learn from them, hopefully advise them on our thoughts about things in a gentle way, but ultimately if our friends/husbands, family etc are important to us we tread carefully on the approach.

Barowdwngs said...

You know, I've acted as various levels of counsel for my friends over the years. I'm often told that the reason I'm a good confidant (without tooting my own horn naturally) is because they don't perceive me as judging them (little do THEY know, winky wink).

While these days a lot of focus is put on being a good listener I think the really hard part is figuring out what a person needs to hear and then packaging it in a way they'll accept; if they need to hear anything at all that is. I think if you can personalize your advice in a way that they'll hear and understand then you have a license to give that person advice. If you find over and over that you can't give advice without them going out and doing the opposite then you either need to work on your listening and communication skills with that person or you need to be a certified listener and leave it at that.

I once had a friend who was really angry at her religion which happens to be my religion. While out to sushi she got into a rant about religion that was not only bordering on irrational but insulting to me and my belief system as well. I listened carefully for an hour and finally I got passed the emotional triggers to the rub of the matter. She started talking about her mom. I realized that she wasn't trying to abuse faith but she was upset at how it had changed her relationship with her mom. Everything made sense once I got passed my own need to want to defend my issues and hear hers. I empathized with her and gave her advice about the real issue. What was quickly turning into a lost cause turned into a great discussion.

Maybe your friend is the same way. Maybe you haven't found the crux for the sake of your own sensitivities. Maybe you should approach it from another perspective and revamp your message to suit.

Anyhow I hope that helps. I think I just really wanted to tell that story (shrug).

Good times

adam said...

If it's an issue related to your relationship with the person, I would definitely talk to them about it. Otherwise, I would be very hesitant. If I did talk to them about the issue I would try to do it in a nonjudgmental way--showing them I'm just trying to understand rather than trying to get them to change. I believe that we must respect the autonomy of others, and telling them they're wrong threatens that.

Sometimes people are receptive to criticism, but usually the are not. It depends on their personality, how much they have already heard it from other people, and how much the two of you have in the emotional bank account.

So rather than "speak your mind," as you put it, I prefer to let the person explain their choices to me personally, and listen in a way that says, "I want to understand this," rather than "I think you should change." I don't think anyone changes when they're feeling defensive. What they need is unconditional acceptance. Plus, if you're not friends with someone anymore, how are you going to help them?

That being said, all this rhetoric I've just written probably comes from my counseling classes. : )

Miss Hass said...

I think that it's always better to be honest with people where serious choices are concerned, rather than trying to save their feelings. I have, on more than one occasion, been saved by good friends and roommates who have warned me against making bad decisions. Even though I was angry with them at the time, I have in all cases had those feelings go away and be replaced with a profound sense of gratitude. So many times we are blinded by our own wants/needs/desires to see what is best for us.

The older I get, the more I learn that it just better to be honest.

ThomCarter said...

You did the right thing.

It may be hard, but your relationship will come back when it is time.

The person has to figure these things out on their own, but a little push in the right direction isn't a bad thing.

The last thing you want is someone thinking that you accept their bad behavior. I am sure that you accept them, just not their behavior.

Salt H2O said...

You all give good advice, I appreciate it greatly. Instead of saying what came first to my mind, I should have probably thought things through and approached it at a later date in a different matter.

There's that fine line between being judgemental and helping. When friends tell me things to vent, I tend to want to help them fix the situations, find a solution. Most chicks don't want help, they just want to blow off steam.

crazy4danes said...

You got that right....most of the time they do just want to blow off steam. I too agree that there is a fine line. People are allowed to make their own choices, we don't necessarily have to agree with them, but it is their God given right. As a friend I think we too should allow free agency to reign supreme, however some things should be said and said up front. How we say them is a different matter. My mother too is a great friend. She knows some of the things I do aren't helping me. She has very lovingly told me so, but has backed off. She's knows I'm not stupid and she knows I know. Some things don't need to be hashed.

So in short, I would take caution. A good friend is their to listen and give advice and support, not judged and condem....it's a tough one for sure!

cropstar said...

I also agree with most everything said already.

In the case of the outfit (and other cases such as this): if you ask me my opinion I'm going to tell you. If you don't want to know what I think, don't ask me. Plain and simple.

In the case of what can sometimes be seen as 'unsolicited advise' I think every case merits examination. What is the motive behind confronting a friend? If it is to help them avoid hurting themselves, their loved ones, etc. then I definitely feel like the truth needs to be said. And like jared said, there is a time and a place for those feelings to be shared. I think a lot of problems can be prevented when we make sure the tone we use in these conversations comes across and genuine caring and love and not as judgemental.

If after you share your feelings and your friend then decides to end the friendship then at least you can have the peace of mind in knowing that you did what you could to be a good friend who wants the best for her friends.

Overall, I totally respect your honesty! It's refreshing and we need more of it in our society!

Jeri10 said...

If you are coming to your friend with love in your heart and a desire to help them, and they turn on you. You didn't really lose a friend. They were never really your friend in the first place.

Salt H2O said...

Jeri-
You are very wise.

Allie said...

Although sometimes I think that if a friend turns on you, it's not that they weren't really your friend, it's that they are being defensive because they feel that you have turned on them by judging them.

It's one thing to say, "I'm worried about you, what can I do to help", and another to say, "you're really messing up, you need to do....".