Should You Confront Your Friend About Their Shady Dating Behavior?
The seventh season of Bachelor In Paradise has had no shortage of drama, and this week's episode was no exception.
Quick rewind: Tuesday's episode featured couples taking their relationship to the next level — who could forget "Grocery Store" Joe Amabile and Serena Pitt adorably dropping the "L" word — while others, such as Natasha Parker, weren't as lucky. Parker, who first appeared on Peter Weber's season of The Bachelor last year, ventured to Paradise this summer for another shot at love. Although she seemingly found a match in former Bachelorette contestant Brendan Morais, he only had eyes for Pieper James, a Bachelor alum who arrived at Paradise last week.
Prior to Paradise, however, reports had surfaced that Morais and James were an item. When Parker got wind of the rumors, she asked Morais to clarify his relationship with James, and he claimed the two had only hung out a few times. Both Morais and James had been accused of planning to meet up on the beaches of Paradise, according to Us Weekly.
In Tuesday's episode, however, the remaining Paradise contestants made it clear that they were not pleased by how Morais treated Parker and urged him to leave the beach with James, which — spoiler alert — they did. And while it appeared Parker would have a chance to meet someone new — beloved Bachelorette alum Joe Park, M.D., aka "Dr. Joe" — their budding romance hit a bit of snag as Dr. Joe is BFFs with the controversial Morais. For instance, during Parker and Park's first date, you could see his body language shift immediately after Parker recounted her failed "fling" with Morais. After toasting at the table with giant margarita glasses, Dr. Joe goes from talking about how he hopes Parker is his "person," to cryptically stating, "what will be will be." (Related: Astrology Says 'Bachelorette' Katie Thurston and Blake Moynes Were Always Meant to Be)
It's understandable that Dr. Joe was surprised to hear what went down between Morais and Parker. Frankly, it can be unnerving to see someone you care about being depicted in an unflattering light. "My Brendan?" asked Dr. Joe during Tuesday's episode. Yes, Dr. Joe, "your Brendan" had caused Parker pain. But in this case, what's Dr. Joe's next move: does he pledge allegiance to Morais given their history of friendship, or does he continue to pursue a potential romance with Parker and hold his pal accountable?
First, let's talk about friendship accountability. There's this idea with friendships (and often relationships in general) that to "love somebody no matter what" means looking beyond the potentially questionable decisions they may make. But there is a big difference between holding someone accountable for their actions and standing by someone blindly simply because you're friends. Being in relationships is about creating a space for love and acceptance, not to mention a healthy amount of accountability. In the case of Bachelor In Paradise, this means Dr. Joe has an opportunity to hold Morais accountable for not being completely forthcoming with Parker. (Related: How to Deal with the Changing Landscapes of Your Friendships)
But how do you hold someone accountable? Here's the thing: Confrontation can feel uncomfortable and awkward. It may also feel a little shameful when you're the one being confronted by a loved one about something you may have done wrong. Even so, the experience itself doesn't need to be bad. A confrontation, at its core, is simply a conversation. How you choose to "confront" the person can set the tone, so take a compassionate approach if that feels better.
Although Dr. Joe did offer remorse to Parker during their date, stating he's "so sorry" she went through that trying ordeal with Morais, the situation between the Bachelor bros could potentially be handled maturely IRL. In fact, said conversation could look like: "Hey, Brendan. I just got back from my date with Natasha and felt kinda shocked about how you handled that situation with her and Pieper. Can we talk more about that?"
Or, since Morais technically wasn't in Paradise when the date went down, Dr. Joe could have said to Parker: "Wow, that sounds really hard. I would rather not talk about it anymore and just focus on us until I can chat with Brenden. Is that ok?" A little empathy goes a long way, and it would have made all the difference during Dr. Joe's interaction with Parker on their dinner date. (Related: 6 Tips for Healthier — and Less Hurtful — Relationship Arguments)
You can — and should — meet your friends with kindness and intentionality. In this hypothetical conversation between the two friends, Dr. Joe could say something like: "I love and support you, man, but I don't think you handled this situation in the best way. I respect you and our friendship and always want to be honest with you about missteps you take. And same for you towards me!" It doesn't have to be overdramatic or accusatory — it can be a calm, respectful conversation. (See: Why Conversations Go Wrong and How to Fix Them)
Relationships are messy, and sometimes, the mess is part of the charm. But that said, people can be encouraged to hold their loved ones accountable. By holding your nearest and dearest accountable, they have an opportunity to change their behavior for the better, which can ultimately help them improve their own relationships as well. Here's another reason why: If the Bachelor In Paradise roles were reversed, and if Dr. Joe was in Parker's shoes, it's likely that he would want someone to be honest and attentive to the ways he'd been hurt.
At the end of the day, it is possible to love your friend and not back 100 percent of their actions. A truly good friend is one who can be honest with you, right?
Rachel Wright, M.A., L.M.FT., (she/her) is a licensed psychotherapist, sex educator and relationship expert based in New York City. She's an experienced speaker, group facilitator, and writer. She's worked with thousands of humans worldwide to help them scream less and screw more.