I'll Just Make The Same Mistake

What do you do when you see a friend making a big mistake? Do you speak up? Or are you just the supportive friend in the aftermath of the mistake?

(I'm going to go on the record saying these are hypotheticals. Ahem.)

Say, for example, if a friend of yours is getting married, but she's only twenty. Her wedding will be the summer between her junior and senior years of college. Clearly, you can't speak up here. You can't say, "You're way too young." You can't say "If he really loves you, he'll still be there in a year, after you graduate from college." You can't do these things because it's her life to live. It's her mistake to make. And who's to say it is a mistake? Maybe you're overly cynical about marriage and commitment. Maybe she really is in love and it will last. So instead, you help her pick out a wedding dress, you proclaim to love the location she's chosen, and you of course agree to be a bridesmaid.

Now (again, hypothetically), what if a different friend was thinking about getting back together with an ex. An ex who cheated on your friend, and left him crushed and even more untrusting. Say that this ex then went on to trash talk him to their friends, blame everything on him, and generally act like a not nice person. This friend of yours tells you about his possible intentions towards his ex. Do you say something here? You don't want to be the jackass that talks badly about the ex, and then they get back together, and all your friend can remember is what horrible things you said about the person they love. Also, who's to say the ex hasn't changed? Maybe she's turned a new leaf. Maybe you're again being over cynical. But you also don't want to see this person make the same mistake twice. After all, it doesn't hurt any less the second time around. So do you say something? Or do you grit your teeth and say good luck?

I second guess everything in my own life, I suck even worse at advising other people how to live theirs. I'm all for giving people space and letting them choose their own path. If it's right, it's right. I'm not going to be the person to talk you out of making a mistake, but I will be the one there afterward, holding your hand. These mistakes we make shape us into who we are.

The moral of the story is, I suck at giving advice.


Lisa said...

I'd rather be honest with my friends and give my opinion, if I feel that strongly about it, then watch them make a huge mistake. I've always appreciated it when my friends have had my back that way too. That's what friends do for each other.

ajooja said...

I got married when I was 19, just six weeks after I met my lovely, 21-year-old wife. We've never had a fight these past 23 years. By all accounts our marriage has been a success.

So, it was kind of tough to discourage our daughter when she got married at 19 (pregnant). She loved him, even though he's a felonious, immature asshole.

They're divorced now but it's her life to second-guess, not mine. You know?

There's only so much you can say to people you love without being an ass.

Robin said...

I've learned the hard way that speaking up and being honest doesn't do any good, people will do what they want to. If they ask for my advice I try to give it to them as real and honest as I can. I have a friend similar to your 2nd person mentioned, I hate seeing her hurt and wasting her life and self but I know she can only learn on her own.

Josh said...

Hypothetically speaking, if your second friend were to get back together with his ex, do you think, hypothetically, that he'd really want to throw away 12 years of friendship? Also, hypothetically, the decision has been made already and I don't think you have to worry about it.

Amanda said...

Lisa- Yes, but I'm a chicken

Ajooja- I agree 100%

Robin- I'm with you. I still usually hold back when people do ask me

Josh- I was just speaking hypothetically, what are you talking about?

Robin said...

I get nervous with the people I know will get defensive and a fight will ensue. With some people it's just not worth the effort.

Anonymous said...

I always approach these situations in the same way, which is...I tell my friends that I have some concerns I want to share with them. I then tell them about my experiences with the same thing but always let them know that I understand their need to make their own decisions and will stand by them when they do.

Every now and then, someone thanks me because all they were waiting for was for someone else to vocalize what they had been internalizing. Other times, I'm not heard at all. ;)

Sarah said...

I told my friend that I don't think she should have gotten married. She wanted to marry him right after he graduated high school (and became legal). They didn't have jobs and would have to move in with his parents. I was concerned that she'd since drop out of college and realize she made a mistake. We ended our friendship instead.

She has since dropped out of college and her and her husband have no intentions of ever moving out on their own.

I give my honest opinions, sometimes I can be a little bit more frank than I need to be. But I'd want that from my friends rather than watch me make a mistake.

But then that's me.

Poppy said...

It's her life so unless she's in immediate danger I would just be supportive and then talk about her on my blog behind her back. :D

whall said...

I got married at 21. No-one told me I was too young.

I'm glad.

Amanda said...

Hilly- I only like to talk if I think I'm going to be heard, sadly.

Sarah- I like it when everyone agrees with me and thinks I make correct decisions

Poppy- Finally, someone understands me :)

Whall- I just want her to finish college and get her degree before having to deal with married life.