I’ve been waiting so long to finally post this, but I just feel this piece was so necessary to write. Having that ONE friend who’s in a toxic relationship or who’s been in one for forever is not just common, it’s an EPIDEMIC. I’ve literally had one in high school (who luckily got out of it and is living happily ever after single) and since I came to college, it’s no surprise to know so many other women who’s in a toxic relationship or has friends in one.
First, let me define my version of “toxic” meaning that they themselves or their significant other has 1) cheated, 2) is abusive (mentally or physically) or 3) Self-draining. This means that the person or persons are in a relationship that creates more stress in their life than happiness. YES, we all have that one friend in one of these toxic relationships.
**OBVIOUSLY IF THEY ARE BEING PHYSICALLY ABUSED YOU NEED TO ADVISE MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL HELP AND IF NECESSARY, INITIATE IT ON YOUR OWN**
So yes, it absolutely sucks being in a toxic relationship, but it’s honestly really hard having a friend in one. This is because as their friend, you care and you have to witness and nearly experience their relationship because toxic relationships are super consuming. It adds stress to your friendship with that person.
So what do you do? Do you just sit there and listen (over and over again?) or do you lecture her about her self-worth (over and over again….?) It’s a grey area we all try to navigate through witnessing our friends being consumed by these awful emotional downfalls.
Here’s How to Deal (based on my experience) If You’re Feeling Absolutely Lost And Want to Keep Your Friendship (Bc No Worries, We’ve All Been There):
No matter how many times you have to hear that Brad has been cheating on Amber, you HAVE to be present. This is how you show support as a friend no matter how annoyed you are. HOWEVER, this doesn’t mean you have to lecture them or give your advice, especially if you noticed they haven’t been taking it. Just sitting there to listen lets them vent and you won’t have to be as annoyed giving advice you know they won’t take
KNOW That Sometimes You Can’t Always Help Them and It’s Not Your JOB To Do So
Sorry, but going off of listening (JUST listening) and not saying anything, it’s important to realize that sometimes you just can’t help them. You, as a friend, can only do so much and if they aren’t helping themselves or changing themselves, you can’t do anything about it. If change doesn’t happen with them, then change isn’t going to happen in their relationship. And, besides, it’s not your relationship anyways and it’s not your JOB to make their relationship work and make your friend happy in that aspect. Your friendship and their relationship are completely different relationships. Don’t involve yourself too heavily and don’t get emotionally invested.
SEPARATE Yourself From Their Relationship
It’s okay to distance yourself a little from your friend if you need space. This one is especially hard for me. Obviously you care about your friend and treasure your friendship, but there’s a line that must be drawn and sometimes they cross it. If you really have done all you can: give advice, offer support, listen and they still come to you when their relationship is in turmoil, which seems to be like, ALL the time, it’s okay to distance yourself a little and make yourself busy. This way, you don’t actually have to say “I’ve had it!” and totally blow up at them when they just want your support. I know it can be super annoying having that one friend that complains about their love life, but never does anything about it, but it’s wrong of them to always involve you and put stress on you. It makes you feel undervalued and unappreciated so it’s totally okay to take a step back and breathe because sometimes it’s a lot to handle and you feel way too invested sometimes. I realize sometimes it can get awkward at that point where you start to distance yourself, but think about this: is that friendship really worth having if YOU are the one who is constantly there for that person and all they do is never take your advice or care about what they’re putting on you? Something I have learned is that a good friend will equally listen to you as much as you listen to them and even if they stay in that toxic relationship, they will still value you and start making your friendship less about them. Selfishness is never good in ANY relationship or friendship and the good ones who realize this and don’t drown you in their toxic relationships are the ones worth keeping.
Hey, everyone has that ONE friend that can be super difficult in toxic relationships. It’s important to always be the best you can be for them in these friendships while still being sane. Listen and support and if it’s too difficult and you’re at your end, it’s okay to distance yourself for your own happiness and mental health.
Hope this helps anyone who’s experienced such!