Here’s something that I’ve noticed about friendships: we’re often not completely honest with each other, even when it comes to best, best friends. We lie to each other, whether it’s a white lie to make someone feel better or a lie that makes YOU look better. We withhold information because we don’t want to be judged, or because we don’t want to start a fight. We refrain from saying we’re angry about something because we’re scared to confront a friend. We don’t tell them the truth about a fight they’re in because we want them to love us for being on their side, always.
That’s why I bet there are a bunch of things you should be saying to your friends that you’re probably not saying.
It doesn’t make sense, when you think about. A close friend should be on your side, supporting you and loving you, but they should also be the person you turn to for help. Lying to someone to make them feel better isn’t helpful – it’s just pandering to what they want. A huge lesson I’ve learned in the last few years is that sometimes friendship means feeling uncomfortable. Sometimes it means saying the thing no one else wants to say, or getting in an argument over something important, or speaking up even when you feel weird. This is the stuff that goes into GOOD friendships.
So, want to be a better friend? Here are 12 things you should actually say to your friends (that you’re probably not saying):
1. “I don’t think your boyfriend/girlfriend is treating you the way you deserve.”
This is one of the hardest things to say to a friend, especially if they are really head over heels over the person they’re dating. They don’t want to hear this, to be honest, and you know that. So, even though you know they deserve better, you keep your opinions to yourself, and you hope that one day, they’ll realize it. In the meantime, you complain about said significant other to anyone who will listen, while pretending to care when your friend talks about him/her.
We’ve all done it. I’ve done it! It’s SO hard to tell a friend that you think their boyfriend or girlfriend sucks. But as your friend, you have to be honest – it could help them. You don’t have to say, “I absolutely hate this person.” Saying you think they deserve better gets the point across and reminds them that you’re keeping their best interest in mind. Will they get mad? Probably, honestly. They might push you away. But you still did the right thing, and one day, they’ll realize that and respect it.
2. “You’re actually doing the wrong thing in this situation.”
What do you do when you listen to a friend complain about a fight she got in with an S.O/friend/family member/co-worker? You probably listen, make sympathetic or angry comments at the right time, and remind them of how right they are. We all do that. And sure, with little tiffs, it’s totally fine to ignore the facts and just be there as someone for your friend to vent to. But if your friend is complaining about something big, and it’s pretty clear that SHE is in the wrong and doesn’t realize it – you should say something. Gently, but honestly. That kind of perspective can really, really help. Sometimes people need tough love!
3. “Actually, I am mad about that.”
How many times do we act like we aren’t mad at a friend when we’re actually furious? SO MANY TIMES. I’m a non-confrontational person, and I’m really guilty of doing that. It’s just easier to pretend you’re not mad and act fake instead of getting in a fight. But it’s also bad for your friendship. It’s okay to get mad at each other sometimes! It’s also okay to be honest about it. Do you have to do it for every little thing? Nah. But you should do it for important things that could really affect your friendship, or that really hurt you.
4. “Uh, no it’s not okay that you just ditched me… again.”
This is similar to the above, but worth stating. If you have a friend who ditches you a lot, what do you do? Do you act like it’s NBD because you don’t want to seem needy? Probably. But actually, it’s totally fine to call your friend out on her crappy friend behavior – in fact, sometimes it’s necessary. If that’s something you stop being friends over, then you were never really good friends to begin with.
5. “I hate when you ‘joke’ about that.”
A lot of close friends get so close that they start picking at each other. They start teasing each other and making fun of each other for little quirks. A lot of the time, we’re fine with it. But sometimes a friend starts joking about something that you actually don’t find funny at all. Every time they say it, it bugs you, but you act like it’s fine because you don’t want to look like you’re not fun. Guess what? It’s fine to say, “Please stop joking about that particular thing. It hits a nerve.” Just do it! I know it’s uncomfortable, but why let something like that bring you down?
6. “No, I don’t think he’s interested in you.”
Have you guys ever seen the movie He’s Just Not That Into You? It’s about how women (and men!) will make excuses for dudes they like because they want them to like them back. It’s also about how friends will support this. You’ve done it – your friend says something like, “I texted him, but it’s been four days and he hasn’t answered even though I know he’s had his phone.” And you’re like, “OMG girl don’t worry, he’ll totally answer, he’s probably busy, he likes you so much.”
Stop. Doing. This.
It’s not helpful to lie to your friend and tell her what you know she wants to hear. She deserves the truth. If you don’t think someone is interested in her, say it in a nice way. You can be like, “That’s actually pretty shady that he didn’t answer. I think you should back off from the situation.” THAT is helpful. Pandering is not.
7. “I don’t think you should do that.”
Maybe your friend is about to do something really stupid and illegal. Maybe she wants to try a drug. Maybe she wants to hook up with another friend’s boyfriend. It’s okay for you to be like, “Hi, this is a terrible idea and I don’t think you should do it.” That doesn’t mean you don’t support her – it means you care.
8. “What you’re saying is racist/sexist/insensitive/not cool.”
Look, if your friend is saying things that suck, call them out on it. This is how we get better as people. I know it’s uncomfortable, but you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable because she says whatever she wants… and you can’t for some reason? See, it doesn’t make sense.
9. “Your boyfriend/girlfriend flirted with me/was spotted with someone else.”
I’ve been in a situation where I caught my best friend’s boyfriend cheating. Did I want to tell her? No. Did I hate the whole situation? Yes. But of course I told her. I know how hard it is to be the messenger in this situation. Your friend could easily turn around and get mad at you for that, even if it doesn’t make sense. But wouldn’t you want someone telling you something like this?
10. “I’m sorry I just acted like a huge jerk.”
Just like we’re reluctant to call out a friend for acting like a jerk, we’re also reluctant to apologize for acting like one if she didn’t say anything about it. If you did something wrong, you should apologize, even if she doesn’t confront you. Maybe you ditched her, and she told you she wasn’t mad, but you could tell she was. Just say you’re sorry! That’s being a friend.
11. “I can’t hang out because I just need some me time right now.”
Be honest about why you can’t hang out. Why lie and make up excuses? Tell her it’s because you want to go to sleep early. Or maybe it’s because for one night, you need to bail on plans because it’s the only night your crush can hang out and you just REALLY want to see where things go, and would she mind postponing? Guys, it’s basic. Just do it!
12. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.”
Corny? Yeah. Also necessary. If your friend is a good friend, tell her how much you love her.
Which of these things do you disagree with? What did I forget to include? Tell me in the comments.