Mark—my best friend Veronica’s fiancée—and I were engaged in one of our classic heated debates. Midway, his friend Jeff stated, “The two of you are like Martin and Pam. You’re always at each other.”
Who did he think he was? I figured as a white American male, he didn’t understand our “cultural” style of communication. I loved Mark like a brother, so I dismissed Jeff’s observations. But, days later his words came back to me as Mark and I went at it again. For the first time I wondered, “Is Veronica—like Gina—always in the middle of our mess?”
We’ve covered a variety of topics for International Women’s Friendship month; from frenemies to the role friendship can play in our emotional and spiritual well-being. However, all relationships have their ups and downs and one factor that can challenge our friendships is lovers. The introduction of someone new into our circle changes the dynamics…especially if we don’t approve of our friend’s choice.
While our natural inclination may be to give full vent to our thoughts, doing so could lead to unnecessary strain on, or the demise of, our friendships. While I did not welcome Jeff’s observations, I loved Mark and Veronica so it forced me take stock of my behavior. Here are some principles and guidelines to help everyone involved when new love challenges a treasured friendship:
1. Boundaries First: We set the standard for the value others will place on our relationships. When a new man comes into your life—make it clear to him what your friendships mean to you. While it is important that we don’t foster competition, it is key that they respect the people who played a role in helping us become the person they are interested in. Also, make it clear to friends how much your significant other means to you. The reality is there is now less of you to go around. If you’re the new love interest, show respect to the people who came before you. When the explosive power of your new affection wears off—you will be glad that you are not the only thing in your honey’s life.
2. Think Twice, Speak Once: We can’t walk on eggshells around our friend’s significant other. We should be able to freely express our thoughts, ideas and values. However, the potential does exist to put our friend right smack dab in the middle of a big disagreement. Sometimes, tense situations are unavoidable, but it shouldn’t be because we were careless with our actions and speech. Familiarity breeds contempt—practice keeping the proper respect in your conversations and relationships with your friend’s lover. Words spoken can’t be taken back and have the power to hurt all involved!
3. Practice the Golden Rule: Even if your friend’s man isn’t all she thinks he is, treat him right! If she is neglecting your relationship and it’s gone on for more than a season, don’t take it out on him. That’s between you and your friend. Make sure your expectations are realistic based on the demands on her time and life. If ditching you for every new beau is a pattern, then it may be time to reconsider the role of the friendship in your life. We set the stage for grace—or judgment—in our future based on what we dispense in the present…sow what you want to reap!
Are you putting a good friend in the middle? What can you do to change?
Affirm out loud, “I honor, respect and value others’ relationships. I strive to be a source of unity.”
Named eWomenNetwork’s first “North America’s Next Greatest Speaker” in 2012, Coach Felicia is a Certified Executive Coach who empowers her clients to “Turn their Worth into Wealth” as she partners with them to DISCOVER their WORTH, DO their WORK and DEFINE their WEALTH. Get more insight, download the FREE “8 Choices Winners Must Make” seminar MP3 on her website.