Welcome to Lean On Me – a weekly agony aunt style column from Metro.co.uk where Kate Leaver answers your friendship woes.
All my friends are in relationships, and most are married or engaged. I’m only youngish still, 26, and have been single for just coming up to a year.
I used to date but stopped because of my friends. They wanted to know every little detail and it sort of felt like they were dating vicariously through me. It put a lot of pressure on me to find someone they’d approve of.
I’ve recently started dating again and whilst I’m happy to tell my friends things, I don’t want them to have that much input.
I know they’re just being protective because I’ve made some awful choices in the past, but I don’t think I need that much control.
They’ve guilted me into not seeing a guy again if he was 10 minutes late, or I wasn’t 100 per cent on whether I liked him after meeting him for an hour.
Is there a polite way to remind them it’s my decision at the end of the day?
There is nothing more thrilling to a seriously committed person than scrolling through someone else’s Bumble options.
The monogamously engaged love nothing more than to collect juicy details from their single friends about dating. I’ve been guilty of this, I know it.
It’s primarily because they miss it and the version of themselves they were when they were single.
It’s a nostalgia thing, plus it’s fun to talk about love and sex and romance. But it’s also because they feel entitled to their single friend’s life as entertainment. A distraction from their own relationship, which may or may not be less exciting than those early dating days.
It sounds like this is happening with you and your friends. Sure, they’re protective of you, I get that. It’s lovely to have people who look out for you.
And if something were seriously wrong or you felt unsafe with a man, I’d want you to feel like you can tell your friends and ask for their help. But it doesn’t sound like you’ve reached that point.
It sounds like your friends are using you for gossip and being pickier about your suitors than they probably would be about their own partners.
They’re behaving like they are entitled to infinite details about your dating life – and they seem to have reserved the right to judge you and the men you’re seeing, too.
You can simply say out loud these words next time they try and take away your agency here: ‘This is my decision, please respect that.’
This is not great for you, obviously, and you will probably have to pull them up on it. They may not even know they’re doing it.
I know you love them, I’m sure they’re great, but you do not owe them saucy anecdotes to distract them from their own relationship status.
Your dating life, and the decisions therein, belong to you. It is up to you and you alone whether you like a guy enough to see him for a second date.
Your standards are the ones that matter here – so if you want to forgive someone for being 10 minutes late to a date, you go right ahead.
If you weren’t sure about someone after an hour in their company but you’d quite like to give them a second chance, go for it. Do not give your friends permission to treat you this way, or to make you feel guilty for being autonomous in your dating life.
Yes, you must remind them that it’s your decision. You can simply say out loud these words next time they try and take away your agency here: ‘This is my decision, please respect that.’
You’ll just have to gently but sternly remind them that this is your life, not theirs. Your heart, not theirs. Your body, not theirs. And if they don’t change their ways and back off a little bit, you’ll have to ration the details you tell them about your dates.
They do not deserve to hear your stories if they’re just going to judge you, berate you or boss you around on this.
Do you have someone else you can debrief on dates with for a little while? Another single friend? A sibling? A work buddy? It’d be great if you had someone else you can whisper and WhatsApp with after you’ve been on a date, so you still have someone to talk to while you give your nosy friends a little time out.
Next time your friends try to tell you how to live your life, kindly put them in their place.
Remind them whose life it is. Ask them to please respect your decisions. And do not feel like you owe them stories or anecdotes just because they go fishing for them. Remember that it’s your opinion that counts here, so go forth and date whoever you like.
I hope you meet someone wonderful. I hope you fall in love. I hope you tell your friends as much as you want to and I hope they learn to behave themselves.
This is your life, babes, do not forget it.
About Lean On Me
Kate Leaver is the author of The Friendship Cure and she will be answering your friendship woes in her weekly Metro.co.uk column.
If you’d like to submit a question or problem, email LeanOnMe@metro.co.uk with ‘Lean on me’ in the subject line.
Submissions are anonymous and you can follow the discussion on Twitter #LeanOnMe.