Relationships are complicated. Romance is a powerful force that can consume a person’s life or even steal a person’s confidence, both without too much effort.
Unfortunately most of us will experience more unsuccessful relationships in our lives than we would like to admit. That goes for our friends as well.
It is hard to watch friends partake in unhealthy relationships. Oftentimes you will want to jump up, shake them and say, “You don’t deserve this.” But something stops you.
Your friends are an integral part of your life and you care about them a lot. Jumping up and telling him or her that the one person they choose to spend the most time with is the reincarnated devil will not only make them angry, but it will also hurt them. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you are seriously worried about your friend’s wellbeing in a relationship.
If your friend is coming to you crying once a week about her significant other then chances are that something isn’t working well. Instead of pointing out of all of the partner’s flaws immediately, take the time to listen carefully to his or her stories.
Offer him or her support and feel free to give your honest input. But always keep in mind that not all problems are beyond repair. Tell your friend that whether they work it out or not, you will be there to support her.
2. Don’t say “I told you so”
Consider this scenario: After the eighth time you comfort your friend about her tumultuous relationship, you find out that the guy has been cheating on her the whole time. While your first instinct may be to scream, “I told you so,” refrain.
She just found out that the person she dedicated time and energy to form a relationship with has disrespected and betrayed her. She does not need her best friend saying that she saw this coming all along.
While it may be frustrating to help someone with the same relationship issues repeatedly, they will value your time and effort. When in doubt, consider what you would want someone to say to you.
When you find yourself frustrated take a deep breath and remember why you are friends with him or her in the first place. No one is perfect.
3. Don’t talk about your past relationships
Relationships are never the same. Even if situations seem similar, they are not. So many factors play into relationships: distance, time, effort, setting, family dynamics, history, future plans, etc. It is not helpful to compare your past relationship to this one.
Although you are just trying to help, it will make the person feel like you only understand your own issues and you aren’t willing to move forward and think about what she is trying to tell you. What he or she really needs is a caring ear.
4. Know when to seek professional help
If you start to gather that abuse or other harmful activities are part of the problem, be ready to tell your friend that you are concerned about him or her. Be calm and not overly emotional when you inform him\her that you think he\she should seek professional help.
Also be ready for any reaction. She\he may not appreciate this gesture at first, but in the long run they will realize that you are trying to help.
Interacting in friends’ relationships can be tricky business. While you want the best for your friends, you cannot force them to see the negative aspects of their relationship. While these flaws may be obvious to you as a bystander, emotions can impair our ability to think rationally. The best thing you can do for your friend is to be patient and understanding. After all, that is why this person seeks your friendship.
Hilary Burns is a senior at Wake Forest University from Cape Cod, Mass. Hilary has a passion for storytelling and has been published in multiple national publications including USA TODAY, Huffington Post and USAirways Magazine. She hopes to pursue a career in the exciting journalism industry after graduation in May 2014. When she isn’t writing or editing, Hilary is in a yoga class or planning a future dream trip to Europe.