Warning! Relationship About to Blow!
By Claire Aldrich
Your friends used to be the most lovey-dovey couple you know...now they seem to nag and bicker all the time. Or they used to finish sentences for each other, and now they barely talk. When you ask your pal how things are going, all you get is "We're good."
However, if you've been through the disintegration of a long-term relationship, you know the signs. You can see it clearly: The love is fading. The like is probably gone already. What do you do? Do you hold up red flags of warning or wait around to help your friend pick up the pieces?
Entering a Danger Zone
Meddling in other people's relationships is always a red-hot danger zone. If you care about your friends, and you do, you want to give them a heads-up if you see the signs of relationship implosion. But tread carefully!
When relationships are going awry, being the one to bear the bad news can easily make your friend see you as the bad guy. Your friend's girlfriend is cheating? If you tell him and they stay together, they both avoid you like the plague. You remind them of the thing they don't want to think about or talk about.
Even when you can see that love has left the building, think before you speak. If you warn your friend that her relationship's on the verge of crumbling and then it caves in, she might think you planted the thought in her head that jinxed her one true love. She'll blame the breakup on anything but herself...and your negative view of her relationship will be an easy scapegoat.
When experience tells you a friend's relationship is on a downward trajectory, this is one time you should probably resist sharing your assessment. So what can you do? Share your own relationship improvement goals: "I'm trying to speak more kindly to my sweetie because I realized we bicker like my parents before they divorced." Point out friends who are on the right track: "I want to be more like them and keep the passion alive. What do you two do to keep things fresh?"
But if you call your friend out with a warning that the relationship's on a dangerous path, you might be seen as the cause of the failure, especially if they later reunite. Good intentions don't always lead to appreciation, and you don't want to be labeled as "the friend who tried to split us up."
So try to gently steer your friends in a better direction, but realize that ultimately it's their responsibility to keep the relationship on the right course. Deciding when to step in or step back can mean the difference between being seen as an interfering troublemaker or a comforting friend.
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