LOVE RANTS: Should I Tell My Friend That I Don’t Like Her Boyfriend?
Hi, I’m Laura and I love to rant about love. Love is a curious thing and it can be embarrassing to talk about because we’re at our most vulnerable when we’re considering love. But I want to talk about all of it. Follow me as I write this column, Love Rants, a monthly exclusive on POPSUGAR AU. Let’s rant!
When you’re in your early twenties and you and your closest girlfriends are all single, it’s really the best time of your life. No other friendships are likely to compare to the close ones you had during that time.
You sit around on each other’s bedroom floors, painting your eyelids with sticky glitter, trying on each other’s clothes, filling your head with dreams of how you look from the outside and what your futures are going to be.
You think you’re going to be together, that you’ll be able to sleep next to them on the nights you feel drunk and alone, that you’ll be able to call them to come and eat frozen raspberries by the pool and b*tch about your parents or your lover or the a**hole at work, that you’ll grow together and do amazing things independently but always have each other.
You’d never imagine, stepping over your warm gin & tonics, to change the song to something worth dancing to, that you’d end up not liking those same friends’ boyfriends, years later.
When you go through such formative life experiences together, you feel as though you know your best girlfriends inside out. It’s very much a female friendship thing, that level of closeness. They become an extension of you, these friendships, you’re living life together, you’re there for the journey — it’s an intimate relationship, without the sex.
Therefore, it seems totally wild that they’d ever date someone you don’t like. After seeing them go through lover after lover, struggle through the unrequited love, the devastating crushes, the heartbreak, the cringe-y honeymoon phase… you feel like you’ve seen get through it all. You’ve seen them in love, you’ve seen them break down over love, you’ve seen them be so totally overwhelmed by their feelings for someone else that they forget to be your friend for a moment.
The sad truth is that those intense, close friendships, don’t ever stay the same because people change and grow up differently. Between the age when you finish high school and your mid-twenties, you evolve and grow so much that it’s actually overwhelming.
When I was 19, all I cared about was flirting with bartenders, drinking fancy drinks at fancy places, looking cute, bantering until sunrise and fully living in the moment at all times. These were the days that I would pinch a bottle of expensive champagne from bars I worked at and go to midnight pool parties that involved minimal clothes and people we’d only just met.
They were the days of insane stories, of drinking and partying with barely any consequences, of finding ourselves and the way we fit into the world. It was all about the simple things, like finding our fashion style and learning how to flirt, but it also about all the messy stuff, like learning just how complicated sex can be and how to deal with patriarchy.
When my best friend started dating her current boyfriend, I had mixed emotions about it. Selfishly, I felt a bit sorry for myself, because I knew that our friendship would never be the same. I knew I wouldn’t be her priority anymore, but that she’d still be mine, and that made me feel uneasy.
What I wasn’t expecting was to feel uncomfortable around the two of them together. I’d always imagined us having partners who were an extension of our friendship, who would hang out with us and partake in all the same stuff we’d always do. But instead, I felt her change. She was different when he was there and that made me feel out of place, like I was intruding somewhere I wasn’t invited.
We’d be sitting by the pool, like we had so many times before, but there was no conversation. Just this awkward silence, a void where the conversation used to be, where we all knew it should be, but none of us took the plunge. I was afraid of saying something wrong, of making an out-of-place joke, of reminding my friend’s new BF about all the fun, and laughter and crazy stories we’d had when we were single.
It felt complicated because I didn’t know whether I felt uncomfortable out of sadness for myself and our friendship and that it would never be the same, or whether it had something to do with their relationship dynamic. All I knew was that things had changed more than I could’ve ever imagined, in this way that felt inescapable and permanent.
I remember at the time, asking my friend Bree if I should say something.
“She’ll come to you,” she replied, and that stuck with me. Why do we always feel the need to point out our concerns in other people’s relationships? And furthermore, does it ever actually do any good?
There was nothing specific about my friend’s boyfriend I didn’t like, I just didn’t like how their budding romance had changed our friendship and I was placing a lot of unfair blame on him. Sure, it wasn’t the relationship I’d imagined for her, but who am I to say what kind of relationship is right for anyone else? What I’d imagined in my head — a boyfriend that would actually just be like us, who wouldn’t change our dynamic — was an idealised version of something I had no control over.
When it comes to our close girlfriends, the ones who have seen us through the most vulnerable times in our lives, we feel this innate sense of protection over them, and the friendship you have together. I didn’t want anything to change ever, and when it did, I immediately felt negatively towards the thing that changed it.
But when I really sit back and think about it, our friendship was already changing before her boyfriend came along. I’d moved interstate, we’d both started uni, I’d distanced myself from the party crowd that surrounded us during those years and we were just older, different versions of ourselves. We were on different paths, but there was something between us that had still always felt the same.
And TBH, it still does. I still feel that closeness with her sometimes, just less frequently and in a less intense way.
Although, I won’t lie, I’ve never warmed to their relationship, I can’t say if that’s my own fault or not. I want to feel included in a relationship that isn’t mine, so perhaps that’s an unrealistic and unfair expectation. All I know is that I feel nervous when I’m around them together and that I’ve seen her less and less over the past few years.
And while there are things I’d like to ask her, I think it’s all about timing and accepting that it’s actually none of my business. Regardless of how close we are and how bound I feel to her soul forever, her life is her own and her decisions deserve to be respected.
I think my friend Bree is right; when people need to talk, they will come to you. I trust and believe in that. So, after much ranting and pondering over this question — Should I Tell My Friend That I Don’t Like Her Boyfriend? — I’ve decided the answer is no. Because I don’t not like him. And because it’s not my place even if that was the case.
And if she ever needs me, she knows I’ll be here to overthink and endlessly rant with forever. She knows she can come to me.