It’s hard to watch the people we love suffer. We want what’s best for them, and when it seems like they are settling for less than that, we want to intervene. We do so from a place of love with the very best intentions, hoping that our words and actions will motivate our loved one to change. But typically, it doesn’t work out that way. They stay in the bad relationship for reasons we may not understand, and we are left trying to make sense of it all.
Here’s the thing we all have to understand though: The person you love doesn’t see things the way you see them. You may think she deserves better, while she thinks this relationship is the best she can get. You may think life will be so much better for her once she leaves him, but she may be focusing on how hard life is going to be without him.
People who stay in unhealthy relationships often stay because the alternative doesn’t seem that much better. They imagine a life of loneliness and pain, and then they think about how hard it is to meet someone new and start over. Plus, they are honestly in love with this partner whom you can’t stand. They see good qualities in the person who may very well exist, but you just never see those qualities. All you see is the person who isn’t worthy of your friend’s love.
So what do you do when your best friend, sister or someone else in your life is caught up in a relationship that you desperately want to see her leave? You take a deep breath and check out the tips below. Although you may have the best intentions, if you mismanage things, you can push her away. That’s the last thing you want, and it’s the last thing your friend needs.
Here are five things you need to do when a person you care about is in an unhealthy relationship.
Refrain from asking too many questions
No one wants to feel like she’s being interrogated. Even if you can’t wrap your brain around why she puts up with his crap, asking her 101 questions about her situation definitely won’t motivate her to open up any more with you. And most importantly, it won’t motivate her to leave him.
Make plans to hang out and have fun
Your friend doesn’t want to think about or talk about her relationship all the time. Sometimes, it’s good to just get out, laugh and have a great time. A healthy distraction is a great thing for someone who doesn’t have the best situation going at home. Allowing her to experience love and happiness outside of the bad relationship may help her to realize she doesn’t need the relationship for companionship or fulfillment.
Don’t badmouth her partner
Sure, you probably can’t stand this guy based on everything you’ve heard, but talking about him negatively won’t help. She’s earned the right to say whatever she wants. You’ve earned the right to nod and listen. Once you begin to chime in with your two cents about who he is, she’ll begin to share less and less with you, and that makes it much harder for you to help when she needs it.
Express your opinion with empathy and compassion
When a person is in an unhealthy relationship, she usually experiences feelings of hurt, pain, anger and embarrassment. This is a time in her life where she needs a hug, not your judgment. If she asks for your opinion, share how you feel, but do it in a way that shows compassion and empathy. If she realizes that you are trying to put yourself in her shoes, she’ll be able to turn to you during times when she needs you the most.
Help your friend see her worth
People typically put up with treatment they don’t deserve because they don’t realize that they deserve better. One way to help a friend see her own way out of her bad situation is by helping her see her own worth. Offer support and encouragement in other areas of her life. Help her see how beautiful she is. Help her pursue her dreams. By building her confidence and seeing what she has to offer the world, maybe she’ll be less likely to stay with someone who doesn’t deserve her.
BMWK family, what have you done to help and encourage a friend in an unhealthy relationship?