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Thread: My bestie is destructive in her relationships. How can I help her?

  1. #1
    Member julsiebear's Avatar
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    My bestie is destructive in her relationships. How can I help her?

    My best friend (early 30s) is a bit of an intense person - mostly in amazing ways. She is spontaneous, warm, delightfully cocky and the life of the party. But dear Lord, I would not want to date her. Over the past decade, I’ve watched her jump from relationship to relationship, always ending on *terrible* terms. One of her bfs was (in both of our opinions) an outright jerk, but the others have so far all seemed to me to be genuinely good, normal people with normal flaws. Regardless, it always seems to follow a pattern: The relationship is super cutesy for a few months, and then I get a message from her: “Hey. I need to talk to you.” And by this point I already know what’s coming.

    I’ll call her, and she’ll recount, in detail, a recent fight with her current bf. They usually start with some normal thing, like one partner being snippy or inconsiderate and the other reacting - and then they twist into strange and deeply personal attacks. Her fighting tactics are, IMO, super destructive. She’ll belittle her bf or call him names, feeling completely justified in doing so. Most often, she tries to psychoanalyse him to his face, saying things like: “You know what your problem is? Your problem is xy, you need to get therapy so you can start working on your xy. Call me when you’ve figured that out.” Then when she calls me she’ll present all her evidence that her bf should in fact be diagnosed with xy. On more than one occasion she has accused guys of being *actual psychopaths. In every fight, it’s all about him and how he has failed her because of his serious flaws.

    When she describes the fights to me, she always seems kind of panicky and freaked out, but still defensive and self-righteous. She will often ask me outright for advice. In the early years, I used to pass along things I had learned from my own relationship (my partner and I have been going strong for 14 years and have learned a LOT about constructive fighting). But slowly I get the feeling that giving advice is stupid - everyone has to learn these things for themselves. So lately, I just try to listen until she calms down. My advice never did seem to help her, anyway. The advice she really wants to hear is: How do I get him to fix himself so he can be worthy of dating me?

    These conversations with her inevitably become more frequent as the months pass, until it all ends with a venemous, very upsetting breakup, both parties seeing the other as evil and crazy. She never seems to see herself as a contributing factor to these breakups, always blaming his weakness/immaturity/mommy issues/whatever. She seems baffled about her “terrible luck” in finding good guys.

    For a long time I figured she would get more mature about fighting with age, but that doesn’t seem to be happening.

    I don’t know how to react anymore. On one hand, I’m kind of tired of being her fight dumpster, and how she handles relationships is her business. On the other hand, I love her, she’s an incredible, compassionate friend, and watching her sabotage her own relationships again and again for no reason, and then suffering, is torture. I want to yell “YOU CANT SAY THAT STUFF TO YOUR BOYFRIEND AND EXPECT THINGS TO LAST. WHY ARE YOU WITH SOMEONE YOU DON’T EVEN RESPECT?”

    I worry about her. Over the past few years, her messages are increasingly concerning, she says she’s depressed and lonely, she feels her life sucks and that everyone is terrible. She lives in a different city, so I can’t take her out or be there for her in person.

    So now this is me asking for advice...
    What would you do?

  2. #2
    Platinum Member indea08's Avatar
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    Honestly, and I’ve recently done something similar with my own best friend, I would say “I love you, I think you have a million great qualities, and I’m tired of seeing you hurting, so I’m going to be painfully honest with you.” And then I would tell her everything you’ve told us.

    Everyone loves to post cutsie memes about how “fake friends will tell you what you want to hear, real friends will tell you what you need to hear,” but when it comes time to actually be a real friend and say the hard stuff: crickets.

    You do run the risk of losing her as a friend, maybe temporarily, maybe permanently. But for me, I decided a long time ago that 1. It is harder for me to say nothing and wish I had, than to say something and wish I hadn’t, and 2. I would hope to God my friends would tell me if I was acting out of line.

  3. #3
    Gold Member LC8328's Avatar
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    So mine not be the best advice but here goes.

    I want to yell “YOU CANT SAY THAT STUFF TO YOUR BOYFRIEND AND EXPECT THINGS TO LAST. WHY ARE YOU WITH SOMEONE YOU DON’T EVEN RESPECT?”
    This is very revealing. You've had it up to here with her antics and you've been keeping it all in. Yes, you care about her and yes, you see the good side in her, but this nonsense with her relationships is obviously getting to you. So for her sake and yours, you need to tell her what you think. It doesn't mean it has to be in a rude way.

    Now normally I would say just let it go in one ear and out the other. But this is different; she is depressed and lonely. This is a life pattern for her and you have the eyes to see what is wrong.

    My vote is that you tell her in a constructive way that it all starts with her and her viewpoint of herself, as well as respecting whatever guy she's dating at the time. And as you've pointed out, maybe she will not listen. But you owe it to yourself and her to at least state your viewpoint on the subject. After you've told her, all you can do is continue to be there for her, but if her love life (and her attitude about it) never changes and she never wants to try to improve herself or her perspective on things, I'd take a step back from the friendship so that her poor decisions won't affect you so much.

  4. #4
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    I had to tell a friend who was having trouble in her marriage "Look, I don't know if you're willing, but it seems to me you might want to look at how you have contributed to this situation. If you're willing to do that, I'd love to help you out. But if it's just blame placing you want to do, I will listen but I won't offer any advice because I don't agree it's all his fault".

    She cried at first (she's crier) and then tried to defend herself, but then she told me I was right and she wanted to make changes to try to save her marriage.

    Maybe you can tell your friend a modified version of that.

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  6. #5
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    Originally Posted by julsiebear
    My best friend (early 30s) is a bit of an intense person - mostly in amazing ways. She is spontaneous, warm, delightfully cocky and the life of the party. But dear Lord, I would not want to date her. Over the past decade, I’ve watched her jump from relationship to relationship, always ending on *terrible* terms. One of her bfs was (in both of our opinions) an outright jerk, but the others have so far all seemed to me to be genuinely good, normal people with normal flaws. Regardless, it always seems to follow a pattern: The relationship is super cutesy for a few months, and then I get a message from her: “Hey. I need to talk to you.” And by this point I already know what’s coming.

    I’ll call her, and she’ll recount, in detail, a recent fight with her current bf. They usually start with some normal thing, like one partner being snippy or inconsiderate and the other reacting - and then they twist into strange and deeply personal attacks. Her fighting tactics are, IMO, super destructive. She’ll belittle her bf or call him names, feeling completely justified in doing so. Most often, she tries to psychoanalyse him to his face, saying things like: “You know what your problem is? Your problem is xy, you need to get therapy so you can start working on your xy. Call me when you’ve figured that out.” Then when she calls me she’ll present all her evidence that her bf should in fact be diagnosed with xy. On more than one occasion she has accused guys of being *actual psychopaths. In every fight, it’s all about him and how he has failed her because of his serious flaws.

    When she describes the fights to me, she always seems kind of panicky and freaked out, but still defensive and self-righteous. She will often ask me outright for advice. In the early years, I used to pass along things I had learned from my own relationship (my partner and I have been going strong for 14 years and have learned a LOT about constructive fighting). But slowly I get the feeling that giving advice is stupid - everyone has to learn these things for themselves. So lately, I just try to listen until she calms down. My advice never did seem to help her, anyway. The advice she really wants to hear is: How do I get him to fix himself so he can be worthy of dating me?

    These conversations with her inevitably become more frequent as the months pass, until it all ends with a venemous, very upsetting breakup, both parties seeing the other as evil and crazy. She never seems to see herself as a contributing factor to these breakups, always blaming his weakness/immaturity/mommy issues/whatever. She seems baffled about her “terrible luck” in finding good guys.

    For a long time I figured she would get more mature about fighting with age, but that doesn’t seem to be happening.

    I don’t know how to react anymore. On one hand, I’m kind of tired of being her fight dumpster, and how she handles relationships is her business. On the other hand, I love her, she’s an incredible, compassionate friend, and watching her sabotage her own relationships again and again for no reason, and then suffering, is torture. I want to yell “YOU CANT SAY THAT STUFF TO YOUR BOYFRIEND AND EXPECT THINGS TO LAST. WHY ARE YOU WITH SOMEONE YOU DON’T EVEN RESPECT?”

    I worry about her. Over the past few years, her messages are increasingly concerning, she says she’s depressed and lonely, she feels her life sucks and that everyone is terrible. She lives in a different city, so I can’t take her out or be there for her in person.

    So now this is me asking for advice...
    What would you do?
    As a friend, you should tell her the truth.

  7. #6
    Platinum Member Realitynut's Avatar
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    Well....I read this and I think she has some Borderline Personality Disorder in her! I know I keep saying this, but it's a spectrum illness. So you don't have to be 'totally' crazy....just a little!
    Anyway, I had a older friend who was a mental health nurse. She told me she thought I had BPD over 10 years ago. I had never heard of it. So I read up on it, and decided it wasn't me. But as the relationship deteriorated (and menopause didn't help any!) I took a step back and really analyzed myself. I did go to a psychiatrist. But I won't get into details.
    Anyway, Borderlines are fun, charismatic, Great in the sack! A dream girl, or so it seems. Until life goes on, and they get their feelings hurt at the drop of a hat!

    They also threaten suicide, to try and get their way also. But sometimes go thru with it. But usually it's just threats.
    Anger issues.
    Abandonment issues.
    Reactionary....over the top to what really happened.
    There are 9. But yes. She should be seeing someone. and find it funny she's psychoanalyzing her BF's when she should be looking at herself too.

    It takes 2 to tango.
    What you want to yell....Yell it!

  8. #7
    Platinum Member reinventmyself's Avatar
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    I have lifelong friend who does similar things.
    She is smart, `gets it' and can see herself running into the fires- but for deep seated, family origin type stuff she can't seem to help herself.
    Sometimes people just have to go low enough to learn the lesson. You can't teach it to them.

    I've honestly given up saying anything to my friend about her dating dilemmas. Our friendship is just better this way.
    It's at a point she doesn't really share with me any more. Her man troubles are not a topic of discussion. I think she's somewhat embarrassed with her choices.

    Intellectually she understands. She can say all the right things to give the indication that she knows why she makes bad choices.
    But most people have a hard time letting their emotions catch up with their logic and instead let their emotions rule the whole show.

    You can be there for her. Listen. Give advise if you are up for it, but do yourself and your friendship and don't get invested in the outcome.
    This is her journey and her lesson to learn.

  9. #8
    Gold Member thisisrichey's Avatar
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    Point #1: this is what friends are for. So you have to gutt it out if you want to keep her as a friend. There are thinsg you can do to "distract" yourself a little bit to pass the time while she goes thru her "normal details" that you don't have to pay attentino to know what's coming. And just come back when the important stuff comes up.

    Point #2: typically this means there is unresolved issues within her that is being triggered. That's almost always what's going on when things can twist in a moment and get personal. So this issue or her reaction, and the fight, is not really with the bf - but with her past. Something about her past that the current conversation is triggering. That's what you got to explore with her, or encourage her to explore with a professional. As long as these things from the past linger in us (aka "baggage"), the longer we will not be successful at certain things and certainly relationships. So ask her why she thinks it got personal? What about it made it personal for her to need to become personal back towards the bf's? There is no blaming, no "you're wrong" in all this - just a "why" exploration to figure out why - and thus work to diffuse that going forward.

    Good luck.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member figureitout23's Avatar
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    I completely realize I’m the odd man out but for the life of me I don’t understand why people take their friends venting to them so seriously.

    I have a friend who’s with a dude who cheats on her every few months she calls me up and tells me the latest story, I listen I give advice, I move on, it’s not my life to live. My role as a friend to be an ear to listen and be there for her not control her life choices, I of course give honest advice but I don’t have to live her life so whatever choice she makes has to be for her, and if I get tired of hearing it, which I typically don’t, I truly love my friends and I don’t want to see them hurt, but I recognize my role isn’t to judge. I’d think if I actually did get sick and tired of hearing it, I’d simply change the subject, or maybe be tell her to create an account and ask for advice like you are right now.

    I don’t know, me personally, when I see personalization to this level, I don’t get the motivation.

  11. #10
    Gold Member thisisrichey's Avatar
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    Figure - i get what you're saying. But true friends do help each other out too. As I said in my post, the "repetitive" and "you can predict what's coming stuff" you can distract yourself and not pay attentino too much to that (which is the exact same thi you're saying) and then come back into focus on the more serious parts.

    We all need that '1 friend' (always better to have more though) that can help us thru the toughest times we can't help ourselves. That's what a true friend is.
    otherwise, we're all just acquaintenances without any signicant other connection.

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