When to listen to your friends

When it comes to you and your man, your friends will either think you're a perfect match or a match made in hell. Do they say things like, 'He's not right for you' or 'You're different around him'? They could have your best interests at heart -- or they could just be jealous. Here's when you should listen to your sistahs' gripes about your significant other and when you should tell them to back off.

"Some key signs that girlfriends should look out for is if they see your boyfriend talk negatively about you to them behind your back, if he checks out other women blatantly in front of them, or is flirtatious and even comes on to a friend," says love, dating and relationship expert Janice D. Bennett, Ph.D.

You should also listen to what your friends say about your man when:

1. You can't relax and be yourself

If you're always quiet around him when you're usually a motor mouth or if you skip the raunchy jokes so as not to offend him, there may be a problem.

2. You quit your yoga class

If your friends point out that you've missed the last month of workout classes or book club meetings, heed their concern. It could mean you are becoming too wrapped up in your BF's world. A good partner will encourage you to pursue your own hobbies and interests.

3. You no longer have an opinion on politics

…Or the war in Iraq, abortion, religion, etc. If you stifle your views to appease his, there's something strange going down.

4. he has become your only social life

You say you live your "own lives," but the truth is you seem happier and more carefree when you're with just your friends instead of your man.

When to fight back

"By the time someone is in their late 20s to early 30s, they should know which friends they can go to for specific kinds of help… So, I think that it's important to remember the source of the advice in order to know whose advice should be 'taken with a grain of salt,' vs. the person who is so loving and loyal that her advice and opinions are not just designed for her benefit," Dr. Bennett said.

Tell your pals thanks, but no thanks, when:

1. You feel comfortable and supported

He tells gross fart jokes -- and so do you. Your friends might find it nasty, but if you share a penchant for this type of humor, it's a sign you're well matched.

2. They're single and bitter

Is she saying she never sees you and ask for one-on-one time, even after you just went to the mall with her last weekend? Your friend might be lonely or jealous because she wants what you have.

3. They refuse to meet your partner

You can't pass judgment on someone you've never met. If your friend has nothing good to say when you relay stories about your guy, invite her to dinner with the two of you, so she can see what he's really like.

4. They don't care about your needs and desires

We've all had friends or family members who want us to marry a certain type (usually tall dark and handsome, with a law or medical degree and a time share in the Caribbean). If your man doesn't fit their mold, they might gripe about how "you can do better." The bottom line: if he supports you, makes you feel good, challenges you in the right ways and lets you be yourself, tell your loved ones that you're happy and they should be happy for you.


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