Helping Friends

She’s In Another Unhealthy Relationship: Here’s How You Can Help

She’s attractive. She carries herself well. She knows how to dress. She is funny, smart, and witty. She has a good attitude and she handles life pretty damned well. Anyone who knows her enjoys her. She seems to have her act together. So, why does she waste her time with a guy that you think is a d-bag?

It just doesn’t make sense, right? Her guy is basically a lousy human being. Oh sure, he has talents and skills and may even be successful in his work but when it comes to treating her well or just respecting her he more than falls short.  And, for the life of you, it is hard to imagine why she stays with him! 

Maybe the information here will help you understand what she is doing or what she is going through. You can’t save her, as much as you would like, but you can learn to understand and help her along her way. In the end, it has to be her decision to separate from Mr. Not Right – and that is a very tough decision for her no matter how simple of a solution it is to you!

First of all, and this is not always obvious, the girl has self-esteem that works like a roller coaster. Some days she seems full of confidence and ready to conquer anything and other days she wants to crawl under the bed and hide from the world.  What’s different about her is that she won’t chose to hide. She’ll fake the confidence she needs for the day.  So, why does she still go for the wrong guy?

WHY?

Because she wants to feel loved. She wants to feel she is special to someone. She wants to know that she is important. She wears this incredible curtain that is super impressive upon first meeting her but as you get to know her you see what’s behind the curtain and she is not as strong as she looks.  It is like the Wizard from the Wizard of Oz where there is a great big presentation at first only to be met with a meek person behind a curtain.  Take her curtain away and you will find a similar meek person who is terrified of what’s behind curtain.

The pink elephant in the room is another serious challenge for the girl. What do I mean about “pink elephant”? Well, it is a something you can see and recognize but she denies it.  For the girls who go after the really “bad” guys (aka d-bags) that pink elephant is attention, which is being mistaken for interest.

What the hell does that mean?

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

The “good” guys will show their interest in a girl and turn that into positive attention, which gains the girl’s interest and then attention is reciprocated. This is the potentially healthy making of a balanced relationship.

The “bad” guys will give attention to the girl to get what he wants out of her but won’t take an actual interest in her.  He is using her to gain her personal benefit, which may or may not be unhealthy or evil. This is an unbalanced relationship.  It is not good for anyone and it is hard to understand why anyone would stay in it.

As her friend, you will hear about all the bad attention consistently but very little about the good. When you inquire about anything good in the relationship she will defensively shrug it off as, “Oh, we have good times, too.” You probably wonder if she can hear herself over and over again? Frankly, she can – which is why she eventually stops talking about him prompting you to ask her about him.

Why does a girl put up with a guy she has to work so hard to receive so little from?  

Because it is what she is most comfortable with and is all she knows. She is conditioned for it.  It is a sad and very real statement for the women out there struggling with unhealthy relationships.

Your gal pal holds on to those chumps that disrespect her will because she doesn’t recognize it as an unhealthy relationship or she has not found her tolerance threshold. What many of us don’t understand is that all abusive relationships are unhealthy but not all unhealthy relationships are abusive. There is a fine line that tends to become blurred as the “relationship” develops. This is the territory where one-sided compromising comes into play.  Where rationalizations and explanations start showing up. This is where she makes excuses for him. Once she crosses that line she is hooked and there is little you can do to bring her out of it. Meaning you can’t “save” her and it is important you accept that.

So, what can you do as the loving friend or family member?

1. Be patient. She is smart. When ready she will put two and two together and realize she is not enjoying a good thing but it’s on her timing, not yours.  It will be difficult and frustrating but it is her experience to grow from.

2. Be supportive. You don’t have to like what she does to support her and you don’t have to enable it either. When she wants to talk listen to her. When she isn’t talking ask her. Yes, you are tired of hearing about the same thing over and over but you need to give her the outlet because she will get tired of sounding like a broken record player.

3. Be respectful. Maybe she is not showing herself respect with her messed up ideas of relationships but that is where you showing her respect is important and most vital. Don’t insult her by putting him down – this can lead to her feeling defensive of her situation, which can stunt her growth in the matter.  Be respectful of her…and (ugh) him. *eyeroll*  Just don’t over do it, okay?

4. Be loving. Remember, her idea of relationships is a bit twisted. She needs examples of what being loved means and you might be one of the few who can help her re-condition herself. This means being a good example to her as a friend AND encouraging your man or mutual male friends to be good examples.  (This means you might have to take an introspective look at your situation)

It is heartbreaking and frustrating to watch as a friend puts herself through such unnecessary heartache while wasting her valuable relationship resources. You could tell her until you are blue in the face that she needs to drop him and she will still turn to him for the attention she craves. Sometimes it is sexual attention that has been falsely translated into a relationship. Sometimes it is constant quarreling twisted into quality time. Whatever it is, it is up to her to wake up and see what is really going on. Until then, be there for her and forgive her as she will have a hard time forgiving herself once is it all said and done.