Helping your friend ditch a dummy
It’s hard to watch one of your friends dating someone who disrespects them. Perhaps they trample on your friend’s confidence, lie, cheat or take advantage of them financially. But how can you help someone who is deluding themselves, and believes that clinging onto a toxic partner will make them happy? Follow this advice to help your friend end this relationship and reclaim their confidence.
Avoid focusing on their partner’s flaws
No matter how much you tell your friend their partner is no good for them, if they don’t want to hear it, they won’t listen. Some people will keep going back, no matter how much they get hurt.
If your friend’s dating a parasitic loser, you have probably left enough hints already. Even if you keep reciting incidents when she created a scene at a family party, or spent his last remaining pennies on booze, your friend will probably have a list of excuses to counter every complaint. While it’s probably a good thing to remind them of these issues every now and then, don’t tear your hair out if they don’t respond to these alone. In a warped way, these flaws could be what attracts your friend to their boy or girlfriend.
Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend why your otherwise smart friend is seeing a monster, but perhaps this person fills a dark void in their past, replacing it with a nasty but manageable present. She’s the wayward mother that never picked him up from school; the drinker whose self-pity was his excuse for never holding down a job. If past traumas have left your friend with no self-worth, they may shun those who treat her well, in favour of bad partners who confirm this lowly self image.
Sadly, those that are magnetically drawn to bad relationships usually have a web of their own problems to deal with. But, you don’t need a Ph.D. up your sleeve to be able to inquire about your friend, find out about his or her past and gently point out what you see.
Rather than focus on their current partner’s misdemeanours, point out how their behaviour echoes things from your friend’s past. This will be harder for them to rationalise about. If they’ve had a string of terrible partners, point that out too. Your friend will be much more likely to concede the point and admit how deep-rooted the bad relationship is if you can bring up insights that ring true. You might even convince them to see a real therapist.
Remove the barriers
You might have managed to get your friend to admit a relationship is harmful but that doesn’t mean the end of the relationship. It’s important to assuage their fears about what will happen if they ends it. “Unhappy people may not end their relationship because forces other than love, fun, and satisfaction are keeping them together,” says eHarmony Research Scientist Dr Amy Strachman. “There are ‘barrier forces,’ which include poor alternatives to the relationship combined with the potential loss of investments. If you’ve put in a lot of investment in the relationship, it makes it harder to leave. And if you don’t have a lot of other social outlets, the barriers to leaving can also be emotional, such as loneliness and fear.”
It’s vital that you minimise the issues that are making your friend cling to this relationship. If they’re worried that they won’t have a life after it ends, remind your friend you’ll be there for them and point out the good in their life. If they’re worried how they’ll meet other men or women, remind them about the trail of interested parties they turned away before their current partner came along, and tell them about other good places to meet singletons.
Most importantly, remind your friend about all their good qualities and that they deserve a good relationship. The hardest barrier to overcome is the fear that they won’t do any better than their ex, so prove your friend wrong! It’s never easy to convince friends dating bad men or woman that they deserve better but by digging deep and making the break up seem simple, you’re making it as easy as possible for them to ditch someone who’s no good for them.
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