When you start a new romantic relationship, there are so many exciting things to look forward to: the honeymoon stage, planning your Instagram debut, learning all about each other, and feeling overwhelmed with happiness and possibility. Some of the fun stuff happens outside the relationship, too — telling your friends all about your new boo is great…until it gets tricky.
In the midst of your inevitable first lovers’ quarrel, you might start waffling over whether to tell your friends your wonderful new relationship has hit a rough patch. What if they’re unforgiving and never welcome your partner back into the fold post-fight? Worse, what if they suss out that the person isn’t actually that great for you before you’re ready to admit it to yourself? Now you are also facing the prospect of a friendship rift, which can drive you further into that potentially un-great relationship, and away from a solid one with your pals.
New data from the dating app Hinge revealed that 84% of Gen Z singles who took part in the survey admit they’re not always totally honest when asking their friends for dating advice, and will even willingly omit important details. Seeking advice from friends always requires walking a fine line — do you really want them to tell you what to do, or do you want them to affirm your own feelings? — but asking for relationship advice can be even more fraught. Here are some things to consider when debating how much to tell them — and how much stock to put in what they say.
Your friends know you better than anyone
One factor in support of consulting with your friends about your romantic triumphs and struggles is that they likely know you better than anyone. They’ve seen you at your best and at your worst, and they know your relationship history.
Melissa Hobley, a dating coach and the chief marketing officer for OkCupid, said she regularly advises newcomers to the dating-app world to enlist their friends in helping them set up their profiles. The perspective of a well-informed observer is super helpful. You might see yourself as studious or basic, but a friend can remind you that you’re a karaoke sensation after one drink, or a wizard with one-liners. They can tell you all the great — and interesting — traits that make you who you are, which will help you figure out which ones to highlight when setting out to attract a mate.
That valuable, intimate-yet-outsider perspective also comes in handy when you need advice, Hobley said. She noted that even in adulthood, some of her best friends are the people she grew up with in Indiana who have been by her side since she was “an awkward 13-year-old.” Longtime friends are more likely to know what kind of partner will complement your personality, how you tend to handle conflict, and whether you have a tendency to make excuses for others’ behaviour and stick around in a less-than-ideal relationship. They are scholars of you, and they’ve put in years of research. An opinion from an expert in the field is more valuable than one from somebody who has no grasp of the material, right?
But figure out which friends are really there for you
That being said, some friends are soldiers ready to go to war for you, and others are the kind of people you go out with on a Friday but wouldn’t necessarily trust with the big stuff. You should be more open to advice from those who’ve demonstrated a commitment to your wellbeing.
Hobley advised you ask yourself a few questions about your friends before you ask them questions about your love life: “Are they supportive? Are they wanting to take you out when you get a promotion? Were they there for you in your lowest point? Are they checking in on the anniversary of your grandparent’s death? Are they supportive in good times and bad? Are they consistent? When they say they’re gonna have brunch, do they show up?”
If the answer to most of these questions is “yes,” you can feel confident these friends truly want to help you live your best life. If you ask them whether you should stay with someone, break up with someone, or marry someone, you can know their answer is based in their beliefs about what would be best for you.
Remember, too, that some friends are only down for a good time. Use your best judgment to determine if a friend is counseling you to break up with a significant other because they want you to be more available to hang out with them, or maybe even because they enjoy the drama.
Friendly advice can be difficult to give — and receive
It’s hard to tell a friend their partner sucks — there’s always the risk you’ll upset and alienate a friend who is not yet ready to see that their significant other is a walking red flag.
According to the Hinge, half of Gen Z singles surveyed admitted they’re not always honest about how they really feel when they give their friends romantic advice. Their reasons vary — 54% said they don’t want to hurt their friends’ feelings, and 47% said their friends don’t seem ready for honest feedback. This hesitancy only erodes trust, and it goes both ways: 86% of Gen Z singles have also questioned the advice their friends have given them. Over half said the person they turn to for advice most often isn’t currently in a healthy relationship themselves.
In spite of how hard it can be to give and get honest answers, 80% of the singles surveyed did say they think it’s important to get their friends’ advice on who to date. Friendly feedback is part of the whole “friend” deal, from the moment you first show them a picture of the cutie you matched with on an app to the day you tell them you’re scared it’s not working out.
Speaking in a press release, Hinge’s director of relationship science, Logan Ury, advised caution. “You’re the one in the relationship, not your friends,” Ury wrote. “It’s critical you learn how to tune into your own feelings and needs and figure out how you feel about someone.”
Balancing your own self-awareness with the natural — and helpful — inclination to crowdsource opinions from the group chat is delicate, but it can be done. Over time, your friends have hopefully helped you figure out who you are, even when they weren’t explicitly offering you advice. Use that knowledge of self to judge the guidance they give you about your relationship, take it into consideration, then make your own decision.