Carolyn Hax is away. The following is a past column.
Q: I have a friend who came out of the closet and moved from a creepy husband (alcohol, crawly hands, very parental, controlling) straight to a live-in girlfriend with a similar personality. I know that what my friend goes for is not my business, even if it makes me worry. But lately, every time I see her, she asks me if I like her girlfriend. And since I don't, I've evaded the question or lied outright. But now she's reminded me that her friends never liked her husband, either, and didn't say so until after she'd broken up with him; she'd never have stayed with him if she'd been given honest feedback. She has asked, openly, for me to give her my honest opinion. Should I?
Seeing a Pattern
A: Yes, absolutely — about everything but the girlfriend.
You don't have to like your friends' mates. But you do like your friends, and for that reason alone any friend who seeks your opinion deserves more than your careful evasions.
Plus, as a friend, you're in a position — close, but not too close — to see things she might have missed. Useful things, like her being in a live-in lesbian relationship with her ex-husband.
The trick is to skip the pointless "nope, can't stand her" and stick to what counts, which is whether she's happy.
If she were, she wouldn't be fishing for feedback. You can say that to her — and that you're worried, and that her love dynamic seems awfully familiar, and that you're deliberately not saying anything about her girlfriend, since you're right: It isn't your business.
Which brings us to the sum of all honest opinions: She shouldn't count so much on friends to form her opinions. How does she know "she'd never have stayed" had her friends been honest? Because she already had major doubts of her own, apparently.
If her instincts are telling her once again that something's not right at home, then the better answer is to trust them, and not wait for her friends to weigh in.