To Whom it may concern

Will Nelson, Senior Columnist

A friend of mine has been in a relationship for a few years and although they are serious about the relationship, their partner is much more intent upon eventual marriage while my friend would like to wait a while. They are happy together but I feel like my friend has settled for him just because he is nice even though they have very little in common. My friend has contemplated breaking up in the past because they haven’t been with many other people and they are not always compatible, however, their partner has always begged them not to. I’m not sure how to help my friend or if I should even say anything at all because maybe it isn’t my place to give unsolicited advice, but I don’t want them to be unhappy and end up with someone permanently just because that person is “good enough” and they’re too nice to say no.


To whom it may concern,

This is a particularly difficult situation. It’s one thing to see your friend suffer from something negative, but watching them progress in the direction of something good at present that may make them unhappy in the long run is a different beast entirely.

You mention how you’re not sure if it’s your place to give unsolicited advice, but depending on the nature of your friendship, I don’t think that’s something to be concerned about. It may not be your place to tell them to break up with their partner, but giving advice to a close friend, especially in a situation where you’re concerned for their happiness, shouldn’t be an issue. If they’re a true friend, they’ll listen to you at bare minimum, even if they don’t follow your advice. 

If you haven’t already, I’d recommend just sitting down with your friend and having a conversation with them. Ask them what it is about their partner that attracts them, and if they believe that maintaining this relationship is worth their time. Even straight up telling them that you think they can do better could be helpful. Some people could get angry about things like that, but proper friends should value the opinions of their friends and accept them with an open mind. 

I won’t pretend to understand the nature of this person’s relationship with their partner, but based on what you’ve told me, I think that I agree with you. Relationships that are held together by the pleas of one party can only lead to resentment and dissatisfaction. 

The ‘too-nice-to-say-no’ bit is one I’m familiar with, and in my experience, people like that sometimes just need a little push from others who are close to them. It’s not your place to make decisions for your friend, but expressing your opinions about this relationship isn’t only appropriate, but an act of kindness.

Thank you for your response, and may your shoes always fit just right.

Kind regards,