I have been in relationships where I constantly got less than I deserved. And I have had to witness my close friends get stressed by the situation. On the flip side, I have also been nearly frustrated with some friends who were either in a wrong relationship or had their priorities mixed up in certain instances.At one point or the other, most of us have had to watch our friends struggle with situations that drag them down a ‘rabbit’ hole. It could be a wrong relationship, accommodating abuse, or just a situation that makes them unhappy. It can be incredibly difficult to watch people you love struggle through things they don’t have to. But more than that, it is difficult to watch your friends navigate a situation that could literally kill them.
Beyond the struggle to want to end your friend’s toxic relationship, you need to find the best way to communicate your concerns. Regardless of how you decide to intervene, there are a few things you might want to consider to help you determine the appropriate course of action.
History Of The Relationship
How close are you? Just past acquaintances or friends who have turned sisters? How well has this friend taken advice/criticism/intervention in the past? These things matter. Otherwise, you can only hope and pray for the friend from a distance.
Degree Of Toxicity
Has your friend become almost totally isolated? You might find that your friend is a lot more forgetful and self-deprecating. In this instance, when you express concern for the friend, they wave you off, or start making excuses for their significant other. Naturally, it is also a cause for alarm and you will need to be more assertive in offering help.
You may have a friend who is going through a rough patch or maybe the friend simply has residual trauma from past abuse. It could even be that the friend lost a job, or failed in a venture, or got a bad medical report. Any of these instances may make your friend vulnerable to abusers or make them lose the will to end the toxicity.
Does your friend constantly turn up with unexplained bruises and injuries? Is there a drug history or co-dependency situation going on? Do you need to start an intervention?These are all signs that your friend is not in a safe space whether physically or mentally. And if that is the case, here are a few ways to go about it.
Part B (Handling The Situation)
Respect Your Friend’s Decision
Be tactful about criticizing their significant other. In fact, avoid such criticism altogether as much as you can. Point out instead, the signs or changes you’ve noticed in your friend’s life and habits.
Stay available. encourage your friend to take care of herself. Share opportunities for self-development, and try to spend time together. Also be willing to help them pick up the pieces and start over. Let them know you are willing to provide as much of a safety net as you can afford to. Be there for them. It will make it easier for them to leave if they decide to.
Employ Tough Love Sometimes
While you are being there for your friend and giving a listening ear, don’t allow them talk constantly about the relationship without being willing enough to do something about it. If they come asking for your opinion, be ready to tell the truth no matter how uncomfortable it is.
In the midst of all your selflessness, find ways to protect your mental and physical space from the effects of your friend’s toxic relationship. It might mean keeping a little distance from time to time, but whatever it takes, stay safe.
This applies only in cases of dangerous abuse and even here, protecting yourself is very important. But you can’t stand by and watch your friend live in extreme danger. So step in by calling for an intervention from a close group of friends or family, or alerting the authorities anonymously if necessary.
Let’s do our best to create safe spaces for our loved ones who are caught up in difficult, abusive or toxic relationships.