It’s hard when you don’t like your friend’s new boyfriend. You want to support her and be excited for her, but you know she could be dating someone better. In order to keep this bad relationship from causing a rift in your friendship, take a supportive stance caring for your friend, rather than one that will make her feel betrayed. Here are some tips on how to support your friend while still watching out for her well being.
1. Don’t Judge Her
This is the number one. When your friend is talking to you, she’s trusting you and confiding in you. If you judge her for what she’s doing, that’s all going to go away. You’ll have made her feel uncomfortable and ostracized, and in most cases that won’t result in her ending the relationship, just in her pulling away from your friendship. If you judge someone for doing something they’re not going to stop doing it, they’re just going to stop talking to you about it. Once your friend feels judged, you’ve lost your ability to be there for her in what’s probably going to be a hard time, and you’ve lost a degree of closeness in that important friendship.
2. Listen to Her
You may have a lot you want to say, but remember she’s the one in this relationship. Even if you feel like you know what she should do, she still knows better, at least if you trust her the way you should. Trust in a friendship means you trust that she knows way more than you about what’s going on, how all that makes her feel, and what she as a person needs. You can still watch out for her when she needs it, but she is an adult who knows herself, and that means she knows better. When it comes to conversations, let her do most of the talking and don’t constantly butt in with your opinions. Ask her questions to learn more about what’s going on and how things make her feel before you comment. When you are worried about something, you can voice that concern in the form of a question like “do you think that’s because…?” so she doesn’t feel attacked. You can also still be straight with her, saying “I’m just worried about…” whatever. Just keep away from judgmental or condescending tones.
3. Remind Her What She Deserves
This is a place where you can definitely speak up. Your friend probably has a hard time reminding herself how she deserves to be treated and that’s where you come in. If she’s letting unacceptable behavior go by the wayside, let her know it’s not okay for him to act that way. There are scenarios in which she’ll know that already herself. Maybe she’s just tired of fighting and it’s a smaller problem in comparison with others. If this is the case, don’t beat her into the ground about it. Again, she knows what’s best. But if she’s acting like certain situations are okay, when you know for a fact that her boyfriend is doing something unfair, let her know that she’s an amazing woman he’s lucky to have and he needs to recognize that in how he treats her.
4. Validate Her Feelings
This is your number one when it comes to how to support your friend. There’s nothing worse than really feeling something, only to be told you’re wrong for feeling that way. More often than not, people’s feelings deserve validation, meaning they deserve to be told that what they’re feeling makes sense and isn’t just totally irrelevant to the situation. Probably if your friend is in a relationship you seriously don’t approve of, her boyfriend isn’t listening to or paying attention to her feelings, which is making her feel like they’re less important. Or even if she’s in a pretty good relationship, he could just have trouble understanding. It’s your duty when it comes to how to support your friend to remind her that what she’s feeling makes sense, is important and deserves to be heard and resolved, if those feelings are bad or painful. She’s looking to you for support, and validation of her feelings is a huge component of providing that. This can also give her the empowerment and strength to address the problems to her boyfriend herself.
5. Speak Up When Things Go Too Far
I definitely preach taking the backseat in your friend’s relationship problems, where you belong, but that doesn’t mean turning a blind eye when things go too far. If she is being physically or emotionally abused, you have to speak up and help her break things off. But you can also speak up even if things haven’t gone that far. Maybe she’s just completely miserable and crying all the time. If it seems like the cons have started to outweigh the pros and she’s only ever upset, sit down with her and talk about it. Ask her if she thinks the relationship is really worth all the pain it’s putting her through. Ask her the last time she felt content and happy. Ask her if she sees a way for things to get better. Help her figure out whether or not she really wants to stay in this relationship, while continuing to support her without judgement. This is extremely important when it comes to how to support your friend!
As a true friend, support without judgement is your ultimate goal and the best way to help. Even if you aren’t in favor of this new relationship, the worst thing you can do is drive her away in this time of need. Keep her best interest in mind and listen to her whenever she needs to talk. She’s a smart lady. With your help as a good friend, she’ll figure out how to get back on track living her best life soon.