Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How Far Should You Go?

What do you do when a close friend is both excited and conflicted about something, tells you about it in a way that invites opinion but doesn’t actually ask for an opinion? What if you’re male and the friend is female? You’re just friends but very good friends who frequently confide in each other.

How far do you go in addressing the situation? Do you say everything that’s on your mind, exactly as you’re thinking it, with respect but also directly and bluntly? Or do you sugar-coat it, second-guess it, qualify every point in some way?

Relationship guides often point out that women want men to listen but don’t especially want the man’s opinion. My scenario, however, does not involve a relationship with me and her but her update does involve a relationship she has with a man. She brought me up to date, telling me good stuff as well as a few conflicting feelings. She didn’t ask for my opinion, but we do have a friendship that includes telling each other how we feel about stuff.

In the past I would have sugar-coated the hell out of my response. My apologies to any friend reading this who may have been on the receiving end of my former tendency to say what I think you want to hear and not what I really think.

Now, for good or bad, I’ll tell you what I think. I’ll respect you and try not to rain on your parade if I think some parts of your story need a differing point of view. If I think you’re full of shit, I’ll probably tell you that and maybe even using those words. I am also willing to get as good as I give.

Maybe my previous sugar-coating was the result of some fear that I might lose a friend by saying exactly what I think. Now I believe that I am more likely to lose a friend by masking the truth. I’ll take the risk and tell it how I see it.

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