Are Your Friends Ruining Your Love Life?

Does it ever seem like you’re just on the verge of happiness in a new romance, when your friend suddenly steps in to plant a seed of doubt or drive a wedge between you and your man? Brea, 21, has been there. Her friends threw her a surprise birthday party a couple years back, and one of her good guy friends was in attendance. She talked to him periodically throughout the evening, but didn’t think anything of it -- until her boyfriend questioned her. "A friend, who actually set us up, told my boyfriend that because I was talking to another guy, I must have been cheating. I didn’t even have a say in inviting him to the party. It ended in a huge fight, and we broke up."

Most cases aren’t as extreme as Brea’s, but sometimes it can seem like your girls step into frenemy territory. More commonly, “sabotage” comes in the form of bad advice in regards to relationship or new flame. So who do you trust, and when? Psychologist and relationship expert Dr. Ana Nogales sheds some light and gives answers to the big questions.

Why do women “sabotage” their friends’ relationships?
According to Dr. Nogales, “sabotage” is a strong word. However, friends do tend to mess with your bliss, ironically, for the sake of your happiness. “I believe that real friends look for the best for their ‘amigas del alma,’ and by doing so they project many of their own wishes and dreams,” says Dr. Nogales. “You can always hear them say: ‘But I just wanted the best for you,’ while criticizing the man her girlfriend chose, wishing that her own friend would have done the same for her.”

When is it actually malicious?
Most cases of “sabotage” aren’t actually full of ill will, but of misunderstanding. However... “There are some malicious people, but those are the exceptions. I would not say they are the rule… when there is maliciousness, it is usually because of lack of self-esteem and envy that someone else might have what she believes she cannot have. These are not real friends. They are women that have been emotionally hurt and do not know how to heal themselves,” says Dr. Nogales. So watch out for those mujeres in your life, so you know how to screen advice.

On that note, which advice do you listen to?
You have to sift through your friends’ advice and decide who’s giving you sound counsel. “A good friend is the one that knows how to listen and can tell her opinions without imposing them,” says Dr. Nogales. “Her opinions are just her opinions, and she gives you room to have your own. She would then respect your own without criticizing you.” And most importantly, above all else: “Stay away from those that tell you how to live your life!” If she “insists” you stop dating a guy you’re into, then ask another friend or trust your own intuition.

When might a good friend give bad advice?
Just like with any topic, a usually solid friend can dish out wrong guidance if she’s going through a tough time. Be watchful of her life circumstances. “We are all human beings, and we might all give advice based on our own experiences,” says Dr. Nogales. “At times when life is difficult, our own advice might not be the best and we should restrict ourselves from offering opinions. But some people cannot see that they are projecting their own resentments, or frustrations, and while they attempt to protect or stimulate her best friend, she might be offering terrible choices.” If she’s just gone through a tough breakup, or has been living it up as a single lady for too long to remember why relationships are great too, you may want to take her advice with a grain of salt.

When should you take your friends’ advice?
What’s the key method for making sure the relationship guidance is sound? Multiple voices. “Always listen, especially when more than one friend is telling you the same thing,” Dr. Nogales says. If three or four ladies tell you your man isn’t treating you with respect, you may want to listen and dump him.

When do you ignore the haters and trust your instincts?
“Listen to your gut, but then try to become an observant and see what is happening as happening to somebody else,” says. Dr. Nogales. What would you say if your friend were in your shoes? “Be objective and come to a conclusion. Your mind needs to consult with other minds, with your heart, but ultimately your mind has to make the final decision. Listening can bring new ideas or opportunities. The final responsibility is your own.”

Tell us: Have you ever had to deal with balancing your friends' advice and a relationship? Have any of your friends tried to ruin your relationship?