They know you better than you think…
When my ex and I split up, friends poured out of the woodwork to confess they’d hated him all along. Not just didn’t think we were right together; hated him.
They thought he was controlling, they thought he was rude, they didn’t like the way he judged me, and they didn’t like how he never seemed to put me first. And as they were telling me this I’m thinking “Whaaaaaaaa? How did they not tell me?”
Turns out they did. Multiple times. Some in not so many words, some outright. I hadn’t listened to any of them. I’d stopped sharing so much about my relationship to certain friends. I’d started making excuses for him. “It’s just how he is sometimes”, “He’s different when we’re at home”, “He’s just a very logic-driven person”. Excuse after excuse, and sometimes even outright hostility; feeling like my friends were just jealous, wondering what had gotten into them.
I’d literally rewritten history to justify our relationship, and I needed to know why. Why do we not only ignore red flags, but ignore our friends and family as well?
We’re addicted to love, literally
Relationships expert Dr Alexandra Redcay says it has a lot to do with our chemical makeup.
“Love is just like being addicted to drugs or alcohol,” she explains.
“It’s an addiction, it is. And for whatever reason, we’re not wise enough to figure it out.”
In fact, the brain chemicals released during falling in love have been found to mimic drug addiction. Redcay says in the first flush, we turn off the part of our brain that sees fault, which is why we’re able to so easily explain away behavioral inconsistencies when we first start going ga-ga for someone.
But it’s also for this reason we should look to trusted family and friends’ opinions, sometimes more than our own judgement, when it comes to finding the perfect partner.
“We have to open up our heart to a self-assessment,” Dr Redcay says.
“Your friends and family must meet your prospect. If you feel uncomfortable and pressured, and ‘Oh, my gosh, [the prospective partner] is going to think I am crazy,’ maybe that’s a problem. You can stage a fake, a setup like ‘Oh, we just happened to go to this restaurant, and ‘Oh, look, there is my best friend. Why don’t you join us for dinner?’ Because they will tell you if that person is good for you or not but the problem is we have to listen to them.”
Introduce your friends early
Redcay says this introduction has to happen early, within three to five dates. Why? “Because that’s when we fall in love – within the first three or five dates – that’s when we’re already hooked.”
Wired For Dating author, Dr Stan Tatkin, also suggests vetting potential partners with family and friends.
“Mate selection for long-term relationships is a social process involving other people, not something to be done alone. It’s a vetting process in which family and friends – who, unlike you and your wannabe partner, aren’t on ‘love’ drugs – have a chance to weigh in.”
His biggest tip is to ask questions. Questions like, what are your first impressions of him? What did you like? What didn’t you like? How do I act when I am with him? Any red flags?
Through actually seeking out opinions, we can make it much easier on friends who mightn’t have otherwise wanted to rain on your parade. It’s getting to the root of potential conflicts by identifying what bothers your friends about your new beau (or what they love about him if you’ve struck gold!)
Be ready to run
Which is all well and good, but what if you really like someone and your friends instantly get a bad vibe? Redcay has strong feelings about this.
“If your friends say, ‘Run,’ then run,” she emphasizes.
“Don’t pay attention to the one person that says to you, ‘Oh, whatever makes you happy. I trust you make a good decision.’ … If three out of five of your friends, or two out of three, say, “Oh, I don’t know. I’m not feeling it. I’m not thinking they’re right for you” then run, even if you think, ‘Oh, but they have so much potential, and we have so much in common.’ No, just run. You have to trust your community because they are wiser, they are wiser than us when we’re in the midst of this.”
And even if our new man passes the initial vetting, we’re meant to keep getting ongoing advice. Self-assessment and assessment by friends is apparently crucial to ensuring you pick the right relationship prospects.
Our friends aren’t bamboozled by the same brain chemicals that turn our emotions to gooey mush. They know us almost as well as we know ourselves, they’ve seen us in past relationships, and they’ve clocked our patterns.
Your meanest friend is your best friend
The bit of advice that resonated with me most was that we’re meant to ask our “mean friend”. You know the one; she’s the one you’re scared to ask because you know her honesty can sometimes feel like a swift punch to the gut.
She’s not going to be a “yes girl”. She will tell it like it is every single time (sometimes with more tact than others). And she’s the most valuable resource you have in figuring out who you’re really dating.
I know in the future I will be doing a lot more vetting of the men I choose to let into my life. I will ask questions, I will keep reassessing. And while I would not dump someone instantly if just one person says they don’t like him, I’ve promised myself to ensure I acknowledge it and be on the lookout for further red flags, rather than ignoring it.
And if two or three or four friends all have similar opinions? Then I’ll run as fast as my emotional legs can carry me.
Images via giphy.com and pexels.com.
Comment: Would you trust your friends’ opinion on your potential love interest?
Elizabeth is a journalist and editor who’s great at providing relationship advice… for everyone but herself. She’s happy to share her own hilariously bad attempts at finding love, and in her spare time likes long walks down the makeup aisle. Follow Elizabeth on Instagram (@thebeautypalate) for all the beauty product eye candy and mouthwatering food you can handle.