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Is there a third person in your relationship?

Whether through big fights or minor doubts in a relationship, a friend's counsel is valuable. But will you always get the best advice from them?

In many cases, the role friends play in one’s relationship from there on keeps getting more intense over time. (Pexels)

By Simran Mangharam

LAST PUBLISHED 12.08.2023  |  01:00 PM IST

It has become almost a rite of passage to get your close friends to meet your partner as soon as your relationship is on the road to becoming, or becomes, official. In fact, it is one of the important signals that partners give to each other about the serious intent of their relationship.

The excitement of sharing this great news with your friends is also laden with some amount of nervousness and hope that everyone will like each other. In many cases, the role friends play in one’s relationship from there on keeps getting more intense over time.


From big fights to minor doubts that we experience in our relationship, the default go-to option is close friends. Their opinions and counsel are valuable as they know you well and wish well for you. But will you always get the best advice from a close friend? In a previous column I wrote about how you must be careful of who you seek relationship advice from. Unless they are professionally trained counselors, the ability to give you the right advice by a person who has not experienced a similar situation to yours, needs to be considered.

Also Read: Can you end a friendship well?

N, a 30-year-old client of mine is on the verge of breaking up with her boyfriend. She has been in a live-in relationship with her boyfriend for the last three years. But then, a year ago, her best friend moved back to India and since then this friend never misses an opportunity to point out that N’s boyfriend is not the right person for her.

Before this, N was very secure in her relationship. There were differences of opinion especially in their political leanings, but N and her partner had agreed to disagree and not let these differences affect their relationship. It’s important to know that this is great place to be in a healthy relationship, it’s an approach that is balanced, equal and accommodates each partner’s individuality.

The first big issue N’s friend had with her boyfriend was his political views. Every get-together where both boyfriend and best friend are present ends with a massive, heated argument. Both then complain about each other to N. Caught between this crossfire, N feels torn apart, with both questioning her loyalty to each of them.

Also Read: 5 ways to ensure a healthy relationship


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It is obvious that N needs to find a solution for this problem. Breaking up with her boyfriend seemed like a solution. Yet, N is questioning that move, which was the reason she reached out to me.

Before her best friend came on the scene, there was love, attraction, respect, and harmony in N’s relationship. Now there are endless arguments, accusations and an air of disharmony that clouds their interactions. On the face of it, N’s boyfriend seems to be the cause of these issues in their relationship. When we dig deeper is when N begins to question what seemed to be apparent initially. N’s now definitely considering the involvement of her friend and the effect it has had on her relationship.

In my opinion, there are only two people in a relationship. There is no room for a third person to come in between. I’d go on to add that, this is true for even your own child/ children or parent/parents. Yes, there will be people who will influence you, in a positive or a negative way. But the reality of your relationship, though, will be known to only the two of you.

One can share any concerns about their relationship with close friends or family; they are an important support system. However, any final decisions should be taken by oneself. (Unsplash)

You must be the one who should allow any of these influences to weigh on any decision you take, based on the truth you know about your relationship. Know that you are on your own in this and that is a good thing. Deliberate on your decisions if you find yourself not thoroughly convinced. Chances are you need more clarity to make the call you should make. Give yourself the time and don’t be in a hurry.

I am great believer in listening to your gut when it comes to taking relationship decisions. When I first met my husband, all my friends including a very dear aunt advised me to stay away from him. All were well-meaning, as my husband was not looking to be in a serious relationship when we met (he had stated that to me in our first meeting!) and I was clearly in love with him. Despite not having the support of anyone close to me, I listened to my gut when it said that this is the person for me. A year and half of not being in a committed relationship, but having a great time together, we got into a committed relationship. Six months later we were married. Fourteen years later, I feel grateful every day for listening to my gut.

To be clear, I am not saying that you should not share your feelings or concerns about your relationship with close friends and family, you absolutely need their support. However, I advocate strongly that before you arrive at any conclusion or decision, pause discussions with others and give yourself the time and space to evaluate your situation on your own.

There is no clear path to listening to your gut. You will still face confusion and uncertainty. But you will hear it eventually over time, like N and I did. Relationships are complicated by nature but taking charge of how you handle your relationship should always remain with the you and your partner. It’s one of the most important efforts you must make for your relationship.

Tough Love is a limited series by Simran Mangharam, a dating and relationship coach, who can be reached on simran@floh.in