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Should You Discuss Your Love Life with Friends?

About half of our conversations with our best pals center around our romantic relationships — swapping stories, asking for another's opinion and dispensing advice. This piece uncovers when and how to talk to your girlfriends about your love life, and when some things are better left between you and your guy. —Glo

By Denise Schipani for Woman's Day

For years now, four fictional friends (let's call them Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte) have met for weekly brunches and weekend cosmopolitans, and discussed about every aspect of their sex and love lives. They simply can't get along without each other's advice and counsel. And why should they? Women need friends to talk to about their romantic lives, in part because only talking to your partner is unhealthy, says Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., professor, marriage and family therapist and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great. “Friends give you perspective, support, validation and information to take back to your relationship.”

But don't just open your mouth and let it all hang out. “You have to be selective in what you tell which friends,” notes Tristan Coopersmith, a dating expert and author of MENu Dating: Taste-Test Your Way to the Main Course. Choose pals you can trust, who don't have an agenda or an ax to grind. Here, eight common topics of conversation among women friends, and the pros and cons of bringing them up with your inner circle.

1. You're wondering if he's “the one.”

Is there a modern woman who makes that decision without at least running it by her best friends? If you're getting close to total commitment, this is the ideal time to share with your friends, says Coopersmith. It may have spillover good effects for you both: You get a trusted sounding board, and she gets a boost knowing that good things are happening around her — lifting her mood and cementing your friendship all in one.

2. You're not sure if you want to leave him.

A good friend is indispensable as you try to sort out the good, the bad and the not-sure of dating, so pick away at your relationship over omelets and mimosas. Same goes for hashing out sad, confusing, wrenching feelings that you may be headed for divorce. But keep this in mind when you're talking to your confidante: “If you're only piling on gripes about your man, your friend isn't getting a complete picture, which makes it harder for her to help you,” says Coopersmith. Try to give her the fullest story you can, so she can offer the best advice.

3. You two are having fabulous sex.

What an ego boost, huh?! Sharing intimate details — the female version of locker-room talk — is a great thing to do with your friends. The good feeling you get when you're chatting with your friends is something you bring back to your bedroom, creating a positive loop, says Orbuch. Just make sure that you're not bragging and you're letting your friends chime in, too. Also, though many husbands or boyfriends love having their sexual prowess discussed, be sure yours is okay with it before spilling too many intimate details.

4. Your sex life is in a major slump.

Talk about it, please! Why? Too many women keep sexual issues mum, which make them feel alone and isolated. “Your friends can tell you that ebbs and flows in a long [term] sexual relationship are normal,” says Orbuch. And, you may make your friend feel more open about discussing her own issues. The only caveat with sex talk: Choose your most discreet friends to spill to; if negative info about your sex life makes its way back home, it can be an unfairly harsh blow to your man's ego.

5. You want a baby, but aren't sure he does.

Be careful here: The decision to procreate is something that ideally only involves you and your baby's future father. Though telling a friend about your desire to get pregnant is normal and can be helpful, be careful that you're not only talking to your friend. “You may be assuming that you know what's in your husband's head, and you might well be wrong,” says Orbuch. Get advice from your friend, but then go back home and open up the discussion with your partner.

6. You're married, and are feeling attracted to someone else.

This is an instance where choosing the right friend to tell is crucial. Save this confession for your most level-headed pal (preferably someone who's been in a good marriage herself for a long time). “Hopefully, your friend will tell you that being attracted to someone else isn't the same thing as having an affair,” says Orbuch. What you need most is reassurance that you're perfectly normal, but you should keep the crush from escalating.

7. You suspect he may be cheating.

A suspicion like this can make you feel like you're going a little crazy, and a good friend can let you vent — but she can also offer perspective. “Someone who knows you very well may point out, for example, that you tend to be jealous unnecessarily,” points out Dr. Orbuch. That said, if your suspicions end up being correct, she can be there for you. Just be careful that the friend you confess your fears to won't share them, so that it won't get back to your husband (especially if your suspicions are unfounded).

8. You're puzzled by his habit of (fill in the blank).

Men are weird creatures, no doubt, and your guy's penchant for watching sports in his skivvies, or needing to spend exactly one half-hour alone on the couch when he gets home from work, may leave you scratching your head — and running to your friends for advice. Good idea, says Coopersmith: Hashing out your man's habits with your pals can help you decide what's normal and what's worth worrying about.

When do you consult your friends for relationship advice?

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Should You Discuss Your Love Life with Friends?
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