Needing A Tell-it-like-it-is Friend

Katie Young
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Wednesday - June 08, 2005

It’s important to have at least one friend who tells it like it is — especially if you’re a girl. Most guys tell it like it is to their male friends without a moment’s hesitation. It’s expected if you’re a man.

But women tend to be more comforting than candid. When we need someone to express our innermost feelings to, it often takes the form of a conversation with our girlfriends. We know our gal pals will be supportive and understanding.

But it’s also important to have one of those girlfriends who can just spit out the cold, hard truth, no matter how difficult it is to swallow.

“Get over it. Move on. He’ll never change.”

“I know, I know,” you agree. “But maybe …”

“Maybe, nothing,” your tellit- like-it-is friend says. “Get over it. Move on. He’ll never change.”

You know you need to hear it. You know you’ve thought those very same things yourself. But there’s a tiny part of you that hopes — and an even bigger part of you that wants reassurance from your friends that those hopes aren’t without merit.

I was one of those girls — stuck in a bad relationship with no strength to break free. I had become the master of making excuses for my man.

“He’s under stress. He’s tired. He really didn’t mean to be that way.”

For a long time, most of my friends listened with a sympathetic ear.

“Uh, huh,” they’d nod their heads, compassionately. “Just give him some space. He loves you. I know he does. Maybe it was just a bad day. But really, he doesn’t ever have an excuse to treat you that way.”

That was about as forceful as it would get. Some girlfriends, I’m sure, were fearful of offending me, and were counting on the fact that I would eventually figure things out on my own.

They listened for hours to my tales of woe. They’d say things like, “You deserve better.” And “You should really think about if this is what you want.”

And then, there was my friend, Kelly. “What a loser,” she wrote me over e-mail. Even in print, I could hear the tone of her voice: disgusted. “What are you thinking?!”

Kelly and I had been friends for eight years. We were complete opposites — she was logical, I was emotional. She lived in California, but distance didn’t matter. If I needed her, she was there to offer up no-frills advice that put me in my place.

“Forget about love for a second,” she’d tell me. “Think logically.”

“I can’t,” I’d whine. “I’m not logical.”

“Well, then I’ll do it for you,” Kelly would say. “Here’s the bottom line: Has he changed at all over the last year? No. How many excuses can you come up with for the times he’s let you down and broken your heart? The point is, he doesn’t love you — because to do that, he’d have to love himself first.

“So leave. Stop making excuses and get the hell out. Because you’re so much better than this idiot. And if you stay, you’ll die inside. You’ll lose everything about you that other people love … and I won’t want to be your friend anymore.”

Kelly pulled me out of the clouds and threw me back down to earth. Then she patted me on the back. That’s how it worked. That’s why I would laugh and not take offense at her brutal truth.

She had to say it more than once, too, before I really got it — before I mustered the strength to say, “I’ve had it. No more.”

It’s a fine line to tread. Sometimes telling your friend how you really feel will be too much truth for them to take. You run the risk of ruining your friendship if you’re too brutal, or say too much.

But I am so grateful for friends like Kelly. There may be times in your life when you don’t feel you have the inner strength to do what you know you should. There may be times when you need a hand saving yourself from your own stupidity. We may all be blind, at some point, to a bad decision. Those are the moments when you really need a friend who will set you straight and tell it like it is.

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