Third-Party Interference...Gosh it's tempting to pass comment on a friend's relationship. "Don't you think you're rushing things?” Or “Does he/she treat you well enough?” And how about, “I think he/she’s a bit bossy/barking/boastful," are things you might be dying to say. But unless they’ve asked you for your obviously "expert" opinion, keep it zipped.
A male friend, Paul, is annoyed with one of his friends interfering in the way he treats his girlfriend. So annoyed he feels he might have to choose between the two - friend or girlfriend - that's the question.
Paul treats his girlfriend, Jane, like a princess. I must say she laps it up and is rather spoilt. All of us friends think that. I figure though, as do most of the rest, that it's his business if he spoils her. And it’s her business if she allows him to wait on her hand and foot, evenings and weekends when they’re together.
Friends - and sometimes family members too - feel they've a right to pass judgement because they've known you longer then a partner. Or because as a friend they feel they don't have a hidden agenda - they simply have your best interests at heart - unlike a new partner who they assume has one. And of course it's sometimes about not having enough going on in their own world so they pay too much attention to yours.
Whatever their reason, as I said to Paul, a quiet but direct word can silence annoying interference. Better than losing a friendship or despatching a new partner unfairly because of the drip, drip, drip effect.
Yes, if a friend ends up in an abusive relationship you should interfere. Or if they ask for advice or your thoughts about a partner, then pass comment. Just be cautious with criticisms and tread carefully with complaints. Coolly announcing to someone like Paul that Jane’s “hardly a princess worthy of spoiling” may land you in hot water!
An edited version of this appeared in The Times