When the first hint of a possible love interest pops up, there’s only one thing to do: call together your tight-knit council of best friends to weigh in and evaluate the situation.
It’s all very Sex-and-the-City-esque, really. Carrie Bradshaw would most certainly gush over her new man with Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha at their next lunch date and opinions would undoubtedly be shared around the table.
Questions about how he approached you, what you’ll wear on your first date, and those gorgeous eyes of his will undoubtedly be fired at a rapid pace. This kind of consulting persists years into marriage in girl world. But, exactly how much should you let your girlfriends’ opinions affect the decisions you make in a relationship, and how can you tell the difference between constructive advice and misguided suggestions?
Dr. Joyce Morley, also known as “Dr. Love”, is an expert on relationships. Featured as a relationship counselor on Lifetime’s new weight loss show “Love Handles: Couples in Crisis”, she knows a thing or two about what can bring a couple crashing down. Pressure from friends definitely falls into that category.
When it comes to letting your girlfriends influence the flow of your relationship with your significant other, Dr. Joyce suggests paying careful attention to the kind of friend you go to. It can be hard to distinguish between a friend who’s looking out for you by dishing a bit of tough love and the friend who would rather have you wallowing in sorrow on the couch beside her.
Positive (and supportive) Polly
The kind of girlfriend you should to go to is the friend who is supportive and ultimately looking out for your well-being.
“It can be positive if that girlfriend is supportive, if she’s right there with you,” says Dr. Joyce. “She is excited for you, and can’t wait for things to work out for you, even if she doesn’t have it. She will be more constructive than destructive.”
There are several characteristics that might indicate a friendship that will help you move forward in a healthy relationship. This kind of girl will be a great listener, will take care not to jump to conclusions, she’ll be patient, and will talk through your mistakes with you rather than judge you. Even if she has some harsh things to say, she delivers those things in a constructive way.
“It’s not so much about saying ‘Here’s what you did wrong,’ but ‘Here’s what I suggest’. She’ll be there for you when the chips are up and the chips are down. Her feedback will be timely, appropriate, and constructive. She’s a collaborator,” says Dr. Joyce.
On the flip side is the friend who is, simply put, a hater. Misleading advice can be masked beneath the girl-talk you depend on.
“This is the whole ‘Misery loves company’ syndrome,” Dr. Joyce continued. “You don’t find out until you get in a relationship that she’s jealous because she’s unhappy and wants you to be, too.”
When it comes to a friendship that may be taking a toll on a relationship with a significant other, Dr. Joyce suggests looking at the behavior of your friend who is giving you advice. A friend who tends to be more negative might act out of jealousy, act in a standoffish manner, or even attempt to derail your happiness. This is not to say that all of your single friends will attempt to dismember your relationship. Even your friends with boyfriends might feel like your friendship has been jeopardized.
“Sometimes, if she’s inadequate in her own life and doesn’t feel good about herself, she will misuse your relationship by misguiding you,” explains Dr. Joyce. “Or maybe it’s just that she feels she is losing you as a friend.”
This is the part where you take action. Because you really don’t want to end up with a…
When a girl has that negative voice chirping in her ear, it can affect the significant other in any relationship. Dr. Joyce notes that someone who feels like his partner’s girlfriends run the show can become overwhelmed and even insecure in the relationship because “the girlfriends say what to do and when to do it”. This could lead to breakdowns in communication. No guy wants to feel like he’s dating his girlfriend and her army. In some cases Dr. Joyce has seen, men have even tried to sabotage the friendship. For this reason, Dr. Joyce suggests setting boundaries—how often the girlfriends will be around, how much information will be shared with them regarding your personal relationship, and treating advice as just that…advice, not the law.
If you think you are that negative friend or may have placed more significance on a friend’s advice than appropriate, Dr. Joyce suggests dealing with these issues openly. You and your girlfriend should sit down together—go grab dinner or ice cream. Use ‘I’ statements, and be honest. If you’re a little jealous or feeling like a third wheel, say so. If you feel smothered or misguided, make it known.
"I believe people don’t change, they grow,” says Dr. Joyce. “If you’re truly friends, you should be about to talk about it, and your girlfriend should understand and you both can work it out.”
Dr. Joyce Morley, a.k.a. “Dr. Love”, is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She has a monthly radio show on Kiss 104 in Atlanta, Georgia, and is featured as a relationship counselor on Lifetime’s new weight loss show “Love Handles: Couples in Crisis”.