I'm going to put it out there: I don't like this Justin Theroux character. Something about him gives me the creeps. For starters, I'm turned off by the fact that he dumped his live-in girlfriend of 14 years to jump straight into a relationship with Jennifer Aniston. Not classy. And to boot, he's always photographed looking...smug. Something about his constant smirk leads me to believe he's silently applauding himself for landing the mother of all A-list stars, and that his intentions were slightly less than pure.
Courteney Cox seems to agree with me. It's been reported that the two best girlfriends, close since the filming of Friends began nearly 17 years ago, have drifted apart since Jen began dating Justin in July of this year. According to sources, Courteney thinks that Justin only attached himself to Jen for the fame, money and to advance his career in Hollywood.
Jen seems to be standing by her new man, rather than her friend of 17 years; it's alleged that she hasn't spent any time with Courteney since she began dating Justin. Meanwhile, it's evident that she's continued full-speed ahead with the relationship, brushing off Courteney's concerns: The new couple have been spotted vacationing in Hawaii, shopping for a house together, and even wearing matching gold rings on their ring fingers.
People, if there's one thing that makes me get on my relationship soapbox, it's this: Don't dismiss longtime friends in favor of your new relationship! Jen Aniston has committed a cardinal relationship sin. Instead of taking to heart what her BFF had to say, she ditches 17 years of friendship for a few months of man candy.
So, should Jen have heeded Courteney's wariness and warnings about Justin? Time will tell, but I'm going to bet this relationship will implode sooner rather than later. But more importantly, should YOU listen to a friend when they impart less-than-enthusiastic opinions about your new relationship? Below, some words of advice for you (and Jen!) to consider.
How Well Does Your Friend Know You?
If you guys have been best friends for say, oh, 17 years, it's safe to say they know you pretty well. Honestly, it doesn't take a longtime friend to give you good relationship advice. Sometimes, outsiders can see with a more unbiased and clear point of view than your best friend could. But outsiders often aren't willing, or emotionally invested enough, to point out potential problems in your relationship.
The better you know someone, the more likely you are to trust them and to take them seriously. If someone you know well, care about, trust and have known for quite some time is expressing concern about your relationship, show them the respect of listening and considering what they have to say. If they've been there for you for years and through other trying times in your life, they probably only have YOUR best interests at heart. Which brings me to...
Unfortunately, frenemies exist. Some catty, backstabbing "friends" have hidden agendas, and some want nothing more than to see other people fail. If a "friend" with a history of manipulation, drama and relationship woes of their own is giving you advice, it's perfectly acceptable to think twice before taking it. Not all advice will be solid advice, and it's your job to figure out what's worth taking to heart, and what's to be dismissed.
But on the other hand, most friends don't have any secret motivation for giving you advice. They have nothing to gain by sharing their opinions, but often share them in spite of having something to potentially lose — their friendship with you. If someone is willing to put the status of your friendship on the line to share what they think, it means they care about your well-being more than their own comfort. That's not easy, and it's often the mark of a true friend.
What Does Everyone Else Say?
So, what happens when you can't tell the difference between good advice and bad? Usually, if someone with a sound opinion and logical reasoning feels a certain way (like Courteney Cox), there will be others who agree. Though I'm not one to necessarily advocate following a crowd or caring about what other people think, it definitely means something if a whole group of people dislike your boyfriend or have skeptical opinions about your new relationship. On the other hand, if someone has an opinion that's totally unfounded and unreasonable, they're likely to be standing alone. What do your other close friends honestly have to say?
Where Do Your Loyalties Lie?
I don't care if you don't agree with the advice your friend has given you. Put on your grownup pants and recognize that they were only saying it because they care about you and don't want you to get hurt. Instead of refusing to see or speak to them, tell them, "I'm really glad that you care so much about me. It means a lot. But I'm certain of this new relationship, and would love to have your friendship and support as it unfolds."
You don't always have to see eye-to-eye to remain best friends. You can't control what your friends do or think. But what you can control is your reaction to their advice. Don't ditch them for sharing an opinion you don't agree with. Show some loyalty to the friendship, and some respect for how long you two have been "together." They may not be your romantic partner, but they were there first (and they'll be there after, too). Don't burn a great friendship over one disagreement.
In my dictionary, the definition of a true friend is someone who's willing to tell you when they're concerned for you, even when speaking up makes everyone involved uncomfortable. If someone doesn't give a rat's a$$ about you, then why do they need to say anything? Your mistakes won't hurt them, and they don't care if you hurt yourself. But a true friend? They care if you hurt yourself, because hurting yourself hurts them, too.
I feel for Courteney Cox. She was trying to warn her friend away from a potential relationship disaster, and ends up getting the cold shoulder as a result. Though, if Courteney is the kind of friend I think she is, she'll be there to help Jen pick up the pieces if (and when) Justin shows his true colors.
What say you, TMR universe? Did Courteney have a right to speak up? Should Jen have heeded her advice? Do you appreciate it when friends give unsolicited relationship advice?
Each week in "Relationships by Rachel," TMR columnist Rachel East tackles relationships in all their blissful, heartbreaking and mind-boggling glory.