We’ve all done it, slipped a little white lie in when talking to a friend. Your hair looks fine. Of course he’ll call you back. You are absolutely right.
It’s not like you meant to be dishonest, but the words tumbled out of your mouth before you even had the chance to think about them. You’re not lying; you’re sparing her feelings. Does she really need to know that you think she completely overreacted or that no, you don’t think the reason he didn’t call was because he got run over by a truck? You’re just trying to be a good friend. But are you really? Not according to Lori Gottlieb, who believes that being one another’s “yes women” is turning our BFFs into our worst enemies.
I pride myself on always telling the truth, in friendships, in relationships, and at work. Always. Honesty is not only important; it’s necessary. It builds trust, gains respect, and keeps things simple. There is not a single situation that could possibly be made less complicated by lying. At least, that’s what I strive for, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I too have caved to the pressure of being a “yes women” on more than one occasion.
According to Gottlieb a “yes women” is a friend who tells you exactly what you want to hear. She reiterates your opinion right back to you, squashing your fears and reaffirming your beliefs. She makes you feel better about yourself, while also making herself feel better. If you’re right, then so is she. There’s safety in numbers. Misery loves company. We’re just helping each out, right?
Wrong. We think that by lying to our friends we’re helping them, when we’re actually doing just the opposite. Honesty is the best policy. It’s a tried and true cliché for a reason. Wouldn’t you want to know the truth? Isn’t it better that you have a BFF who cares enough to withstand your rage when she disagrees about your new boyfriend? Sometimes, the truth hurts. But that doesn’t make it any less valuable.
Granted, nothing is ever that simple. If the truth will do more harm than good should you still be honest? Your friend just finishes telling you about her horrible day. She woke up late, failed her Poli Sci pop quiz, and then had an argument with her boyfriend. The fight is over and done with and even though you disagree with the way she handled it, nothing can be done about that now. Ben and Jerry’s container in hand, she turns to you. “You think I did the right thing, right?” I applaud the women that won’t cave under that kind of pressure.
And even if you are one of the brave and blunt, that doesn’t always work in your favor. When someone asks for honesty, they don’t actually want honesty. At least, most women don’t. They want to hear you agree with them. They want to hear their own carefully crafted opinion repeated back to them. No one wants to hear “that dress makes you look fat”, or “yes I do think your boyfriend is cheating on you.” No one wants to hear the bad stuff. So on the off chance that your friend fesses up and tells you that the bright orange romper is best left on the sales rack, you probably won’t be particularly happy with her, either.
But maybe you should be?
When it comes down to it, it’s all about personal relationships. What do you want in a best friend? What type of person are you and who do you surround yourself with? Someone who will pat you on the back and tell you it will all work out, or someone who will tell you to stop whining and start dealing? Can you lie to your BFF to spare her feelings or are you always straightforward, despite the consequences?
It’s this ability to see a situation from someone else’s perspective that Gottlieb’s article lacks. She makes interesting points, and offers what could be life changing advice. (Her article has been described as the He’s Just Not That Into You of female friendships.) But she makes the mistake of assuming that everyone holds the same values that she does. With Gottlieb, everything is black and white, right and wrong. Everyone is exactly the same, and there is only one way to react to a situation. She generalizes, speaks for all women, instead of just herself, and doesn’t stop to consider that maybe, just maybe, there are exceptions to her rules.
What do you think, CollegeCandy readers? Do you want the truth and nothing but the truth? Or would you prefer the white lie and the spared feelings? What would a true best friend do? When is it okay to lie and when are you doing your friend an injustice?