Dear Hobie & Monk,
A few months ago a good friend of mine rekindled his relationship with an ex-girlfriend. To make a long story short, they had been together since high school and all through college and broke up a little after graduation. He moved to one major city, where he quickly enjoyed success. She moved to another and found the same. After they got back together, he confided in me that she wanted him to leave his job and move to her city. At the time I told him (and I’m paraphrasing) that as long as he was happy, I was happy for him. He did not look happy. I’ve recently learned that he is planning on quitting his job and moving to her city. I haven’t really spoken to him about it since, but when I do, should I stand by what I said before and stay supportive? Or do I say what I really think? That he’s making a mistake.
- Worried about a friend
Monk: I think you should speak to your friend, and I would approach the conversation as you have this question, emphasizing your observed difference between the aspirational (his happiness) and the apparent (he doesn’t look happy). Convey your appreciation for the difficult nature of his situation and give him the chance to talk about his thought process and decision to move without judging or offering advice. This is what good friends who remain good friends do for one another.
Hobie: Monk is right. You’ll want to be supportive of your friend, rather than on the side of any specific decisions he makes, so keep the focus on finding out how he’s thinking and feeling about his decision to move. Who knows, the situation may be different than you initially realized, may have shifted in the meantime or still may be truly as disastrous as you imagined. But stay neutral and let him fill in the blanks. And then ask how soon you’re welcome for a visit in the new city and stick with him however this plays out.