Courtship Intervention


There comes a time in every young woman’s romantic journey when someone in her life thinks they know better than she does. He’s too this and not enough that for you. Your backgrounds are just too different. He seems like someone who may have a midlife crisis and leave you for his secretary 15 years from now so you should probably just call it now.

In some cases there may be truth to the concern. I’m the first person to admit I don’t always make the best decisions when it comes to romantic partners, but I have managed to hold down a healthy relationship or two. And even in the midst of my worst decisions, the last thing I need is to give someone power of attorney over my paramours.

This may not be the ideal topic to tackle so soon after this post, but the fact of the matter is no one could have told me a single thing I didn’t already know about that relationship. If someone had given their opinion on the matter (they did) it wouldn’t have changed the course of its demise.

One of my closest friends spoke up in the best way possible, “I’m concerned this isn’t healthy for you, but I will let you make your own way in this and be here for you when you come to the appropriate conclusion.” I respected this approach and knew she was right. Others who presumed to know me more than they do, employed a vastly different tactic. I resented them for it.

But for now let’s put aside the most recent, extreme personal example and address this in general terms. There has never in the history of love and courtship been a happy ending to a romantic intervention. Each relationship is as unique as the combination of personalities within it. Just because you think a sizable collection of porcelain dolls is a deal breaker, doesn’t mean the psychopath isn’t a perfect suitor for your best friend (he isn’t, that girl better run).

It doesn’t matter if you phrase your concerns in the most Mary Poppins way possible, there’s no amount of sugar that’s going to ease that pill. Best-case scenario your friend politely says, “thank you for your concerns” and continues on her current trajectory. Worst-case scenario she marries the guy and you don’t get invited to the wedding.

You may be right, but in reality, unless you are inside the relationship, there are bound to be pieces left out of the larger picture. I’ve had people point out perceived “flaws” in truly amazing men before they even met the individual. I’ve also had people be perfectly supportive of some dysfunctional messes.

Most of the discrepancy comes in when friends view the relationship through their own personal deal-breaker lens. They wouldn’t like it if a guy wore that shirt, took them to this place, read that book, so I shouldn’t either. It becomes even more reprehensible when the friend in question tries to guilt me into making relationship decisions that would better align with what they want. The fact is, it’s my relationship and I happen to like that shirt, adore that place, admire that book and love that guy who treats me wonderfully, so you don’t get to question my choice, let alone try to push me to change my mind.

Unless you know the friend well enough to be able to discern your deal breakers from their own, keep your opinion to yourself. How can you tell your deal breakers apart from theirs you ask? Well, there’s a simple test: have they ever told you that they are bothered by the characteristic you are about to call out? No? Then leave it alone. Don’t presume to know what’s best for someone else.