Good friends can be part of the best medicine for our mental well-being. Studies show that social connection has the power to heal us from depression and lessen the severity of illness. Friendships can be so potent, however, that they can intrude--and erode--our intimate relationships. Learn about the warning signs of friendships gone wrong and what to do about it.

1. Hidden Agendas of Friends. Beware the too frank friend. Even good friends may not speak their mind or speak up too much. Usually, you can sense how to interpret their silence or when to heed their advice.  Danger lies, however, when you find yourself overvaluing a friend who speaks both too frankly and negatively about your intimate relationship.

These friends are often over-involved in your life.  hey tend to be unhappy or even jealous of your love relationship. They want you as more than their "best" friend; they want you to be their non-sexual companion, armor, and emotional safety net in life.  Often these too attached friends sense that you might be going through hard times with your partner, and they pull you into their lives and ways of thinking. Soon, you and this friend become the sole members in The Who Needs Partners When You Have Me Club. The mildest form of their agenda is for you to complete and fill their lives.  The worst agenda is to erode your intimate relationship and happiness and become a member of their Club.


A. Pay attention to these warning signs that you might have fallen under the spell of a friend with an agenda when these kinds of friends:

  • Take up too much of your time and energy
  • Are negative about your partner
  • Make you feel guilty for not "being there for them"
  • Increase your unhappiness with your partner
  • Create arguments between you and your partner

B. Assess the unhappiness/happiness factor of these friends. Are they miserable?  Immature? Ask yourself: What is this person's gain by being so demanding and negative?

C. Take strategic actions to correct the problem:

  • Spend more intimate time with your partner.
  • Limit your time with this friend or even end the relationship if it becomes too disruptive.
  • Discuss with your partner important issues that your friend mentioned.  There might be some truth in the friend's frankness

2. Your Hidden Agenda. One of the more common ways that couples manage their unhappiness is for one of the persons to become more involved with their friends.  Sometimes, this involvement is unplanned or unrecognized. It can sneak up on you, and soon you are enjoying your time with friends more than your time with your partner. You begin to over-confide in your friends, let down your guard, cry, and reveal the anguish that others don't see.

If your friend is also dissatisfied, you form an even stronger bond that sustains you through your distress and allows you to remain with your partner. These friendships serve as your steam valve when your emotional pain almost boils over. However, for many reasons, you don't or can't leave this partner. After a while, you adjust more or less to your unhappiness. Times with your friend become very precious. 

This sense of tolerated balance can be very dangerous. You risk sustaining unhappiness for the rest of your life or putting a lid on positive change. Here are the warning signs that you might actually be cheating yourself out of love and solutions to avoiding this problems.


A. Observe these signs that might indicate you have formed a too tight friendship bond as a way to stabilize and contain your intimate partner unhappiness. See if any of these statements apply to you.

  • Talking to my friend is more enjoyable than speaking to my partner.
  • My partner is plenty busy, so there is no reason for me not to spend lots of time with my friends.
  • I can say the most important things to my friends and not my partner.
  • When I am with my friend, I no longer feel as angry, lonely or unhappy in love.
  • I like myself better when I am with my friends because my partner tends to bring out the worst in me.
  • I am on the phone or email with my friend as soon as I can when I get home

B. Observe how much time you spend with your partner.

C. Make a list of the things that you don't tell your partner but that you tell your friends. Ask yourself:  How important are these topics? How many of them have I NOT discussed with my partner?

D. Assess how effectively you have tried to improve your relationship. Have you used the same failed methods of communicating such as criticizing or withholding?

E. How much do you want to find happiness with your partner?

F. Sit down with your partner and ask for help with your problems.  Get solution-focused.  Work as a team that has tried hard but that now needs better techniques.

G. Get professional help if you cannot make changes.