I know this is a pretty taboo topic, which could come with a lot of heated opinions.. but here's my situation..
My best friend is having an emotional affair with a guy via the internet/telephone. They talk nightly, exchange 'I love yous', and he is her very first 'love'. Best friend is overweight (350+ lbs) has absolutely no self esteem, and unfortunately for her, a hopeless romantic. The type that wanted to be married with babies by 21, so she really loves the attention.
Problem is, this guy is extremely emotionally abusive, treats her like garbage - and after a year of talking to her, decided to finally 'let it slip' that he has a wife and daughter (four year old) on the other side of the country that are relocating to live with him now that he's settled (he's military).
Best friend dropped out of school and moved back in with her parents because this relationship is so unhealthy and abusive, and that was even BEFORE finding out he has a family. I hoped beyond hoped that this would be that last nudge she needed to leave him, but, alas he "still loves" her. So they're going to "wait and see what happens".
I've made it abundantly clear how I feel about this guy, and I've tried to support her come **** nor high water - but I'm coming to the point of not being able to support her anymore if she can't find the willpower to stick to her morals. I no longer trust her, and I don't want to be a friend to someone making unhealthy choices that are several years in the making.
So here's where I'm a little lost. I feel this way regardless of whether I have the right to or not - but I'm unsure of whether or not I have the right to tell her that this is why I can't be friends with her anymore, and what it is exactly that's causing me to come to this point. I don't want to judge her, or make it seem like I'm looking down on her - but she claims to be a strong Christian, tries to be a moral person, used to be very head strong and motivated. Now she's living back with her parents, dropped out of college, working at a fast food place, having an emotional affair with a man with a family. I try to be a supportive friend, but I can't support the choices she makes.
So what would you do? How would you approach this, or what kind of insight, experience, or opinions could you offer - if any? I'm open to hearing anything. Thanks very much in advance.
06-07-2008, 08:15 PM
At this point, you have done everything you can do as a supportive friend. You've told her your objections, you've given her your opinion, and you know that *you* are uncomfortable being in this friendship if she continues to see him.
I don't know whether or not you should tell her that this is the reason. Certainly she will already know it's a problem, but on the other hand, you don't necessarily want her to start feeling like "all she has is him/no one understands their love". I think that would be a dangerous place for her to go. IF you were going to tell her that it was because of this guy - stress that it's about you feeling it's unhealthy, and that you don't like that she's willing to trust someone who would lie and cheat. Don't make it about her, since you know she already has such low self-esteem. This guy is obviously poison for your friend. You want to stress his bad attributes - not hers'.
06-07-2008, 08:36 PM
These are the exact conflicts flooding my head and heart. It seems as if there are absolutely no 'right' answers for anyone involved. So any choice I make, I want it to be the least painful and detrimental for everyone involved. Ideally, I just want something very negative and very unhealthy to have even a glimpse of silver lining, whether thats through ending the friendship or not.
06-07-2008, 08:39 PM
I'm unsure of whether or not I have the right to tell her that this is why I can't be friends with her anymore, and what it is exactly that's causing me to come to this point.You most certainly have the "right" to be honest about your feelings, your observations, your fears and establish YOUR boundaries. Its the fair, healthy and sane thing to do.
So what would you do? How would you approach this, or what kind of insight, experience, or opinions could you offer - if any? I'm open to hearing anything. Thanks very much in advance.I think you should tell her the truth, voice your concerns, why you have the need to set forth the boundaries you do at this time. Best of luck! :)
06-07-2008, 08:46 PM
I would tell her the truth, especially unless she enjoys pain she should drop this guy. I don't think I would drop her as a friend, though because she is going to need a friend when she realizes the truth about this liar.
06-08-2008, 12:18 AM
In the end, you are going to have to make a decision based on what is best for YOU. You have done an amazing job as best friend so far, but she has to make her own decisions, some of which you may stand by and others which you won't be able to.
Why is it that you now want to stop being her friend? Is it because she drags you down into negativity and holds you back from being the best you can be, or because she makes poor decisions? Someone who constantly complains about the bad decisions they make in life and how their life is wretched because of it, someone who cannot give any more to the relationship than the problems and burdens of their own life, and who has no intention to change the patterns which cause the bad decisions, can be cancerous to your own well-being. But someone who is a good friend but makes bad decisions about her own life is someone who needs a friend the most.
In the end, you have to do what is right for you and your own emotional health. But your friend deserves your honesty too. I think that if you decide to sever ties with her, then the reasons should be told to her.
There are good and bad ways to give the news. "You have become a bad person who lives a life I totally disagree with and I cannot even consider associating with you anymore" is not the best way to approach this. But "I feel like our entire relationship is based on your need to be supported in this situation that I cannot support, and as such, it's not really much of a friendship anymore, is it?" might open the door to dialogue and help her see better that her destructive behaviours are costing her dearly. And who knows, it might be the kick in the right direction she needs :)
You should do what is best for you, and remember that HER reactions are HER responsibility. I think that leaving a door open for her if she ever wants to start turning her life around is a good thing that would help her not descend deeper into the spiral... you are under no obligation to continue relationships that are destructive to you.
06-08-2008, 12:23 AM
Well, having been on both sides of this coin (from the friendship perspective both of being a friend to someone who is making decisions I don't like/support and being the friend who someone else couldn't support), I think you first need to decide something.
Is this a case of ... I don't like you any more because you've become a bad person and I can't/don't want to be your friend any more ever.
Or is this a case of ... I love you dearly and want to support you, but we've reached a point that I can't, in good conscience, support you any more and need to put some distance between us, but I'll be here if you ever decide to change your mind.
Because those are two very different situations and you need to have clear in your own mind what the truth is here before you say anything to her.
Either way, I think the best thing is to be perfectly honest, once you've decided. Not hurtful. Just honest.
06-08-2008, 12:37 AM
I agree with Photochick. There are two approaches that you can take and you need to know which one it is that you're taking.
But I'm going to echo what everyone else has said as well: Just be honest.
06-08-2008, 01:36 AM
It's absolutely exhausting having any sort of relationship with her, at this point. Everything always turns out to be about this guy. She hates her job, she hates not being in school, she hates the way her life is leading - but it's all because of choices she made in response to her relationship with this guy. And she used to be a great friend, so I care a lot about her and want to help her out of this - but she's not ready to change any of it, and it's taking everything I've got to bite my tongue about the exact same situations day in and day out. It's changed who she is as a person, dramatically. And if that's who she's choosing to be now, I don't know how else to sit through it anymore.
Thanks so much everyone for your advice and support.
06-08-2008, 10:31 PM
Talking to a girlfriend about their guy is a VERY touchy subject. When your "in love" you get into a fog and can't see what everyone else does. Also girls tend to get mad at the friend if they say somethine bad about the guy. Unless it's something serious or a VERY VERY good friend I would never say anything negative to a girl friend about thier guy, reguardless of how much of a scum bag the guy is.
I would continue to be friends with her but change the subject anytime the guy comes up and let her know that you don't want to talk about it. If beyone this you just don't like the kind of person she is I would discontine the friendship...no need to be dramatic about it.
06-08-2008, 11:13 PM
I had a very good friend who was in the same type of situation -- she would drop everything when his wife was gone to run over to see him, wait at his beck and call, etc. It drove me crazy. I even went as far to meet him one night when we were out (not knowing he was going to be there) -- she was so desperate for me to like him -- but I really couldn't.
I made it clear to my friend I thought she was a wonderful person, that deserved so much more out of life. I continued to be her friend, because to me that is what she needed more than anything, but I must say we drifted apart naturally, she just was too wrapped up in pleasing him, she let everything else go.
My opinion is that you are not responsible for her happiness, she is -- and as a good friend, you have tried to help and when she is ready to accept your help, she can come to you.
06-09-2008, 07:39 AM
Have you suggested counseling? I know that's a pretty lame thing, in some people's view--but she sounds to me like someone who is in crisis. She's obese, she's dropped out of school, she's using her relationship in this guy to hide from life--he has become her focus.
As a friend, I would try to be kind, very kind, but honest about how this isn't getting her anywhere, and I really would suggest to her that she see someone professional about her issues--someone she can talk to who isn't invested in friendship or in the outcome. Her pastor or other clergy is probably a good start!
06-09-2008, 08:01 AM
I think I would be honest with her about my feelings -- that she is making some seriously damaging choices, for herself and for this guy's innocent family. Aside from the emotional abuse she endures from him, she's willingly having an (emotional) affair with someone she now KNOWS is married... you don't have to be religious to see how wrong that is.
BUT I think i would temper it; as you said, she is very overweight and a natural romantic. I think a lot of people, especially those who have trouble finding romantic relationships and who have low self-esteem, can particularly have trouble tearing themselves away from something this unhealthy, and the low self-esteem is the root of all this. Maybe she figures she will never be able to do any better than an emotionally abusive married man. She probably knows intellectually how f-ed up this whole situation is, but her low self-esteem and FEAR of being all alone are probably keeping her from doing what she knows she has to.
I dunno... just be gentle with her. She definitely needs a kick in the a$$, but... not too hard a kick...
06-09-2008, 08:11 AM
Oh this hits home. I have a friend going through something similar, but the relationship is physical... and she's considering having a kid with the man.
And if not for moral reasons, I just feel that this friend deserves a better guy. Really, a guy who only can talk to or see you when he feels he can? What a rush for him.... And I guess to someone with little relationship experience this might seem like heaven. But, to me, it's just ... sad. And it makes me a little angry, how many awesome guys are out there in the world, but these chicks gravitate towards such unhealthy situations... I know it's more complicated than just that, but seriously, there's a better world out there.
Whatever you do, don't make it about him, because then she's just going to get defensive and you won't get through.
When I first found out about what my friend was going through, I told her upfront, once, my feelings on the matter. Not about the affair. But about the stipulations put on her relationship because it was an affair. I told her I thought she deserved a better situation. That there were plenty of men out there, unattached, that could put her first not just "next in line". But, I also told her that I didn't want to stop being her friend.
She does talk about him sometimes, but we have plenty of other things in common and we tend to try to keep things on the "other" stuff.