I have a friend who has ‘dated down’ for as long as I have known her. She is such a wonderful, inspiring, and kind woman, and for some reason continues to date men that take all of her energy and end up breaking her heart. Recently, she started dating a guy who’s downright slimy. I do not get what she sees in him at all. He’s rude, condescending, and does not seem to appreciate her (from what I’ve seen first-hand, and from the stories she’s told me in confidence). I’ve tried talking with her to tell her that she can do better than this guy, but she took the conversation very personally. She feels as though I’m attacking her decision to be with him and that I’m not supporting her as a friend.
I just want what’s best for my friend, and don’t want this conversation to come between us. Do you have any advice on what my next steps should be? Is there much I can say to help her realize she’s with the wrong guy? Or should I keep my mouth shut and let her relationship take its course? I realize that I’m no relationship expert (I’ve had my fair share of bad relationships), but I know my friend, and I don’t want her to get hurt.
Thank you so much, Amanda!
Happy to help :).
I totally know how frustrating it can be to watch your friend suffer through a bad relationship. And there’s only so much you can do, but I do think it’s worth talking to her again. Maybe instead of talking to her about this specific guy, you could have a conversation about both of your relationship histories in general. I think there are a few things you guys could talk about over time that may help her:
1. The relationships we experience and the men we date are NOT reflections on who we are as individuals. What can be difficult about being in a bad relationship is that you don’t want to admit it’s bad because you think it’s a reflection of who you are. So you stay in it and try to fix it or make it good so that you can feel better about yourself. But the thing is, we are not defined by others — we are the only ones who can define ourselves. Maybe if you had a more general discussion about this kind of thing, it might get her thoughts turning.
2. I think talking about what you both want in your ideal relationship could help as well. Again, keeping the focus on both of you, not just her, is helpful so it doesn’t sound like you’re judging her or trying to give her advice. Digging deep into what you’ve learned from past relationships, what you’re looking for, etc. is a good direction to go, because then you can start asking things about her relationship and what she’s getting out of it, what she’s looking for, etc.
Since she got a little defensive during your first conversation, I would try to make sure it doesn’t sound like you’re judging her or telling her what she should or shouldn’t do. I think it’s more about getting her to open up and dig deeper into what she’s really feeling, and doing the same on your end. Continue having conversations like this so she knows she can confide in you without being judged and eventually she may open her eyes to the reality of her situation. In the end, you can’t control what she feels or thinks, but you can express how you feel in a way that shows you love her and want her to be happy.