What to do when her dude is a dud.
When Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Aniston each hooked up with John Mayer, you had to wonder what their respective best friends had to say about it. Were CaCee Cobb and Courtney Cox-Arquette saying what every woman around the world was thinking, “Stay away! He’s a player who will break your heart, write a soppy song about it and make millions of dollars off your misery and follow up with some dribble on Twitter!”
It’s a tough position for any gal to be in; when you love your friend but HATE her boyfriend. Sure there are some guys who possess the charisma of a sedated sea snail and while you hardly look forward ‘couples’ night’ (and having to fight a case of temporary deafness that mysteriously afflicts you each time he opens his mouth to talk), that’s bearable. What is far harder to tolerate is when your dislike for him isn’t personal, when it stems from the fact that you KNOW he’s a controlling, cheating, lazy good-for-nothing you-know-what! And for some reason your usually cluey BFF has turned into Alicia Silverstone in a remake of Clueless.
It’s one thing for the guy to bore you to tears, it’s quite another when he brings your friend to them. Like watching a princess kiss a slimy toad a million times and somehow not realizing that this particular breed of frog isn’t going to turn into a Prince. Having to stand by and watch your beautiful, brilliant and big -hearted best buddy making herself smaller by the day so her toad can feels like ‘the big man on campus’ is hard to take. You start off getting angry with him, but end up losing respect for your buddy- as you watch her slip deeper and deeper into this muddy relationship.
No-one wants to be the bearer of bad news. If there’s a gun around, we all know what happens to the messenger.
If it’s early days, it’s likely your friend will be consumed by such a heady cocktail of lust-induced chemicals, trying to reason with her akin to reasoning with a junkie. The drugs always win. The mere suggestion that her toad is less than Prince Charming and you’ll be accused of many things, ranging from unsupportive to jealous.
If it’s later into the game and they’ve been together for some time, it may be even harder for her to hear. Destructive men have a nasty way of feeding a woman’s pre-existing vulnerabilities and insecurities. Sniffing out her weaknesses and reinforcing them; perhaps a less than perfect relationship with her father, a bad past break-up, a fear of being alone. Keep in mind that for some people the fear of being alone is much greater than the fear of being with a loser. If this is the case, don’t be surprised if the person she cuts off is you.
Dangers aside – real friendship isn’t about sitting on the sidelines and watching your friend get emotionally annihilated. It’s about stepping up to the plate and taking a swing, so that you can get your player home safe and sound – even if you know fast balls are going to be coming right at your head. As Oscar Wilde once said, “True friends stab you in the front”. But before you sharpen your knife, make sure you do the following:
My advice when dealing with this volatile situation:
- Be honest with yourself about your intentions.
Before you utter a word, ruthlessly ask yourself why you can’t stand her man. Is it because he’s bad for her or is he just bad for you? If he’s genuinely bringing her down, then speak up. If he’s just bringing you down, shut up. Sometimes loving someone means accepting who it is they love.
- Do your homework.
Simply telling your friend that she’s dating a pig isn’t going to achieve anything, other than cause a fight between the two of you. Identify exactly what he’s doing that is disrespectful to your friend and cite examples; if you have concrete evidence you will be harder to dismiss.
A word of warning: This is risky business and be prepared for your friend to react defensively. No one likes a mirror being held up to their life, especially when the picture they see isn’t pretty.
- Empower her.
As a best friend, your role isn’t to reprimand her for making bad choices, it’s to remind her of all the wonderful qualities she possesses, and not to settle for less than she deserves. Before she can move on, she’ll need a self-esteem boost. As they say, “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words”.
- Go easy.
Try to avoid launching an attack. You’ll have much more success if you subtlety and gently let your friend discover his shortcomings on her own. If he’s let her down or upset her- that’s when she’ll be more open to your opinion. Be there to support her and steer her in the right direction, away from him!
- Deal With It.
Experts estimate over 25% of couples who break up, get back together. If your friend is one of these people, you’ll have to deal with it one way or another; either find yourself a new BFF, or accept her decision and try to shoot for more ‘girl’s nights’.