I Ask: Do You Tell Your Friends The Truth?

And more importantly, do you still have friends?

As I’ve gotten older, I realize that I’m falling behind in fashion, music, and cultural cool. And I’ve turned to my friends and BEGGED them to call me out when I get stuck in the 2000s and everyone else is all 2015.

But I have a friend stuck in the 80s (and not all OH THE EIGHTIES ARE BACK). I’ve never said a word. She’s not asked. (HEY ALEX! AM I STUCK IN THE EIGHTIES? YES YES YES THANK YOU SWEET MOTHER OF AWESOME FOR ASKING.)

So I’m pretty sure my friends will let me languish in lame. Karma really DOES suck.

So what do you do:

…when a friend says, I GOT A NEW HAIRCUT!, and you realize that she DID THAT TO HER BANGS ON PURPOSE. Do you smile and nod and hope she doesn’t ask if you like it?

…when your unibrow friend forgets two eyebrows are, well, EXPECTED? Do you give a salon gift card? Do you discuss the downsides to unibrows within earshot (as my classmates did)? Or do you just pat them on the back and hand them a Muppet movie?

Who knew I was related to so many Muppets? Unibrows RULE!

….when your friend is a crappy parent? A commenter asked if you can mention to a friend: HEY! YOU LEAVE YOUR ONE YEAR OLD IN FRONT OF THE TELEVISION FOR FIVE HOURS A DAY. (I would send her to my television challenge. But passive aggressive is a superpower of mine. Better than aggressive, I always say. Okay, I never say that. Aggressive is WAY better.)

….when your husband buys toe shoes? And then asks for a week whether I like them? (The best answer I came up with: I like that they’re on your feet and not mine… sweetie?)

….when I post a picture of myself still wearing a wide brown belt and gladiator shoes? Ten years from now?

So what do you do? Do you tell your friends the truth? (And if yes, can I be your friend? I’ll only hate you and your truth for like ten minutes. Maybe a day. I’m kind of sensitive actually.  So maybe smile and nod.  Unless you say it REALLY nice.  Okay now I’m nervous.  Forget it.  LIE TO ME.)

Answer that makes me want to meet her friend (not necessarily the one with the chin hair. but maybe). D is for Me says: I just can’t bear to made people sad. I was once at dinner with a close friend when I noticed an extremely long hair on her chin. I immediately sent a text to our mutual brutally honest friend passing the burden of pointing it out. It worked best for everyone.

Answer that made me realize there are other weird people too. Laura says: im usually TOO honest. but we have “honest planet” in our house, i got it from my stepmother. you have to tell the truth (TOTAL truth) with less consequences (less of me storming off and brooding about the fact that brian doesnt like dinner-at least he was honest) when asked to answer with “honest planet.” with the toe shoe thing, do you like my shoes? i like that they make you happy…honest planet? I liked them better in the box. at blue ridge. they are ugly.
it’s like a get out of jail free card with giving your opinion…most of the time.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

39 thoughts to “I Ask: Do You Tell Your Friends The Truth?”

  1. It’s funny you post this now because it has been a topic of conversation among my classmates. They think I’m “unfiltered” because I tell people the truth – always nicely – but always the truth. I recently lost a friend in class because after complimenting her every class for 2 years on how great she looked, I whispered to her during break that she wasn’t wear her most attractive outfit. After she tore me to shreds for 5 minutes I thought, well forget her then. She asked me why did I tell her that and I told her because I’d want someone to tell me that and she responded that I was just trying to hurt her feelings and I was immature. Whatever.

    I will always tell you the truth and probably give you my opinion – always nicely – whether you ask for it or not. And I hope you do the same for me.

    Actually if I rewind time will you be my friend 5 years ago? Especially when I was learning how to wear eye shadow (at 23 years old) and wore bright blue eye shadow up to my eye brows at my bridal shower and NO ONE SAID ANYTHING ABOUT IT! Yeah – those pics look greeeeat!

    1. UGH. That is why I need an honest friend. It may hurt my feelings but BLUE EYE SHADOW in 2005 up in your EYEBROWS? You should NOT be friends with ANY of those people. Or they should buy you new gifts. You can all take pictures and re-enact the entire shower sans eye shadow. It’s the LEAST they can do.

  2. I barely have any friends as it is – best to keep my mouth shut and keep them around even if they do watch the Twilight movies and make me feel like crap for not teaching my kid her ABC’s. Wait – why are we friends again?

  3. Yes, I think I’m a very honest friend. I don’t have a lot of close friends, so the ones that I AM close with, I feel I can be honest with. And I expect and hope that they are honest with me, too. The only one that I might not be honest about is a bad haircut. It’s REALLY hard to tell someone that they have a bad haircut. Unless they don’t like it, either (then you can console them or just laugh about it together). But if they DO like it, it’s pretty hard to find the right words without insulting them (I think I would use your example – just smile and nod and hope she doesn’t ask if I like it!). Luckily my friends don’t do crazy things to their hair! 🙂
    Um, toe shoes? Those are really weird. I would have no problem telling my hubby that!

    1. THANK YOU! The toe shoes are SUPER WEIRD.

      Anyway, I don’t have a lot of close friends either so I feel more comfortable EXCEPT I get paranoid that I already don’t have that many so if I say something I may have EVEN LESS. The paranoia might also play a role in my lack of friends.

    1. But don’t you reel them back in with your cooking? You could be honest with me all day if you’d make me some of those delicious recipes afterwards. SERIOUSLY. Friends for life if I don’t have to cook.

  4. No friggin way your husband wears those. Hideous? Uncomfortable?
    I digress.
    I have very few friends. I only have one friend in person (who actually lives in my city and we actually see each other and actually have things in common), and the rest are all online (hello!) or old college friends. Whom I only see a couple of times a year. I do think I am one of those people who are politely honest. I won’t say, “I luv it, it’s gorgeous!” if I don’t. I might find something specific about it that I like, such as color. Or if I down-right hate it, I might say it confuses me. But usually I am the one with the ugly hair.

    1. I love the answer: It confuses me.
      I’m totally tucking that one in my back pocket because I definitely the kind and honest kind of person.

      And I don’t have a lot of in-town friends either. THE FOOLS.

  5. I do the “deflect” move. “Do you like my new haircut?” “Do you?” To my very closest friends (probably 2) I will tell the truth because they tell the truth (yes Anne, you still have too much baby weight to pull of a bikini gracefully – or they way you used to).

    But most of my friends and my husband’s friends joke incessantly and viciously. So if you are wearing, saying, or doing something stupid – you WILL get called out. But there have been possible future mates of friends that have left that friend because they can’t handle our “honesty”. We all laugh it off as “joking” but what do they say about jokes…

    Most of the time I just smile, nod, and let someone closer or more important to that person tell them the honest truth. Because we are all adults and we make our own decisions. So if you want to wear your bangs with lips – go right ahead. But don’t expect me to hang out with you…

    1. OOH! I love the answer the question with a question. I actualy made the mistake of complementing a friend’s haircut. She hated it. Then we had the awkward silence of a complement to her becoming an insult of MY taste. I should’ve TOTALLY asked her first.

      And yes, certain friends are our truth-tellers. THANK GOODNESS! Because I would look AWFUL otherwise.

  6. Hell no. My job as a friend is to love my friends unconditionally – 80’s, funny shoes, unibrows and all. There are plenty of jerks out there who will tell them the truth anyway sooner or later… friends are supposed to be your “happy place”. My real friends lie to me most of the time and I know it and that’s totally fine with me 🙂

    1. I definitely believe we love unconditionally. SO I think friendships need to lay the ground rules. Like I have friends who I NEED to hear the truth from and I would kick their butts for NOT telling me. However, I have friends who are the WORST TRUTH-TELLERS EVER. And I’m happy with lies. So you and I are good. We can just lie to each other! FUN!

  7. Good question, Alex.

    I think the truth hurts. And it all depends on how sensitive and vulnerable the person is. Some people are hardy enough to hear it, some others may crumble.

    Me? I’m a crumbler.

    Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies….

    1. Although I was not pleased to sing that song for the rest of the day, I LOVE that you just know your a crumbler. And I will most definitely remember that when you wear THAT outfit again. (just kidding. seriously kidding. it’s okay. don’t cry. no seriously don’t. i didn’t mena it that way. i love your clothes. i’ve really only seen like three outfits of yours. in pictures. and they were GREAT. GREAT! okay? we okay? you sure? okay. okay, good. hugs.)

  8. I tried to be super honest with friends….long ago. It never went well. Weeks of uncomfotable silences followed. Now I hold my tongue.

    I find most of my friends are looking for reassurances rather than true gut-wrenching honesty. I can do reassurances well! “You know what’s great about that haircut, it’s going to be really easy to style each day.” “The dress is great but are you sure you want to have to iron it?”

    I’m chickenshit to the core, but this method keeps my friends nearby.

    1. I have friends who I KNOW are looking for the truth and friends who I am guessing are looking for reassurances. And I, too, look to be supportive and kind BUT still be honest.

      I tell my friends that I want their honest advice but not to be offended when I don’t take it. Haircuts are the exception. Just let me it’s AWESOME.

  9. I have always told my friends the truth..they whine for a bit.Some have walked away.But most say I’m a keeper 🙂 What can I say?I’m awesome 😀

  10. I see we have some differences. I try to get my husband to show a little toe. It’s just so refreshing in the summertime. And as for friends with unibrows? Let’s just say I don’t call them friends. I’m not stuck in the 80’s and most of my friends were BORN in the 80’s. Yeah, it makes me feel old. I do get questionable haircuts but I would still let you be my friend as long as you let me down easy. I’m used to it from friends.

    1. Man, you’re a tough one. No unibrows but lots of TOES! We are going to have a lot to walk through to make this friendship work.

      At least we can make fun of each others’ questionable haircuts. It’s as good a starting place as any.

  11. I just can’t bear to made people sad. I was once at dinner with a close friend when I noticed an extremely long hair on her chin. I immediately sent a text to our mutual brutally honest friend passing the burden of pointing it out. It worked best for everyone.

  12. Depends. If they ask and there is nothing they can do about it-like they are wearing something hideous and there is no way they can change-yes I ‘ll say they look beautiful. (notice nothing about the horrid outfit)

    If they are truly asking about something and they ask for advice then i will generally give it.

    1. I want my friends to always know that they can count on me to be kind AND honest. It’s just hard when those aren’t the one-in-the-same. I usually use the can-they-change-it criteria to decide how much of my sentence to omit as well.
      A friend dressed in an awful outfit asks what I think once we are already out?
      Me: You look beautiful (and then I think in my head) ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU’RE WEARING SOMETHING ELSE. 😀

  13. Alex, how is it that this is my first time here?? I’ve seen you ALL over the blogosphere, in comments, and I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on you for this long 🙂 (saw you on the email that’s going around about BlogHer..)

    Anyway. I’m totally passive aggressive, and rarely just come out and tell people something like what you’ve mentioned above. Unless it’s my husband. Then he hears the honest no filtered version of me. Otherwise? I guess I filter a bit too much. And just think people like who they are and what they’re doing, so why dampen their mood? 😉 Even if they look like they’re in the wrong century or whatever!

    1. I always wonder if people are asking to hear the truth or to be reassured. And I tend to be more to-the-point if the friend can change (like we are trying on outfits at her home) versus out and about. Out-and-about I try to find the one positive thing and hope she doesn’t ask about the rest.

  14. I don’t wait for people to ask me what I think because it rarely occurs to them that whatever they’ve just done is the President of Suck.

    So I feel it’s my job to tell them. Surprisingly, I have lots of friends. And on a more horrifying note, now they wait for my critique.

    1. I totally think that I don’t always know to ask HEY AM I LIKE TOTALLY 1992 WITH THIS HYPERCOLORS TSHIRT?

      I need like one friend like you. No more tho. I can be a touch sensitive. So I’d just avoid you on those days.

  15. Honestly (yes, honestly) it depends on the friend and what the relationship means to me. I’ll admit I’m more honest with some then with others. I’m never mean, and I don’t outright like, but I might skew the truth if it’s easier. We all have friends that we expect to be honest with us, but I don’t expect ALL of my friends to be honest with me. I just don’t have that kind of relationship with everyone. And frankly, I don’t usually ask those friends for their “opinion”.

    Where my husband is concerned, oh yes, I’m honest and I expect him to be too. And sometimes he is brutally honest and no I dont’ like it. But that’s the deal I bought into when we married.

    1. I tend to ask the opinion of my close friends only. And sometimes I ask the friend who is the cheerleader. And sometimes I ask the friend who is the tell-it-like-it-is-er.

      It helps that I’m better at figuring out what I’m actually looking for 😀

  16. im usually TOO honest. but we have “honest planet” in our house, i got it from my stepmother. you have to tell the truth (TOTAL truth) with less consequences (less of me storming off and brooding about the fact that brian doesnt like dinner-at least he was honest) when asked to answer with “honest planet.” with the toe shoe thing, do you like my shoes? i like that they make you happy…honest planet? I liked them better in the box. at blue ridge. they are ugly.

    it’s like a get out of jail free card with giving your opinion…most of the time.

  17. Honestly? No. That’s what I have sisters for.

    With my sisters, I can ask if these jeans make my butt look fat and they’ll consider and say, “Yeah. I don’t understand why you bought them.” And when they ask me what I think of the new guy they’re dating, I’ll say, “He’s seems nice, but…”

    With my friends, when it comes to looks, attire, fashion, I prevaricate. I disemble. I’ve discovered that most of the time, they really don’t want to know the truth, they just want reassurance. That’s my job as a friend. To be there to support them. When that haircut looks like it was done by a flobee, they know it looks bad. They need me to say that it doesn’t look THAT bad.

    If it’s something they honestly want my opinion on – bridesmaids’ dresses, nursery colors – then I give it.

    If it comes down to deep revelations…it’s a case by case situation.

    1. I totally agree that sisters ROCK and my sister can pretty much say anything to me. I wish she lived closer {sigh}

      And I need to pay more attention to which friends are looking for reassurance and which ones are looking for bold honesty.

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