It’s a tale as old as time. You’ve got a friend who’s in a terrible relationship and inside you’re dying to scream, “What’s wrong with you?!” All the while violently shaking her and praying you shake loose whatever mechanism that’s malfunctioned in her brain. But you don’t. You can’t. Why? Because there’s about a 110% chance that she’s going to a) think you’re “hating” and b) paint you as the friend who “just doesn’t want to see her happy”.
Now let me clarify the fact that I’m not talking about some friend of a friend whose relationship woes you heard about through a new age game of Telephone called Facebook. Because in that situation, it probably is best that you keep your ill-informed opinion to yourself. But I’m talking about a real friend. Someone whose feelings and happiness you genuinely care about. But the sad reality is that all the good intentions in the world probably won’t keep her from feeling like you need to mind your own damn business.
But why is that?
If your concern genuinely comes from a good place, why is it then turned around and used against you? Maybe it’s because women are catty and it’s our experience that most women really are b*tches. Or maybe you only think she’s miserable. But then again, how happy can she be when her name is saved in his Blackberry as “some chick #435″. My opinion? It’s almost as if it’s a female masochistic tendency to only feel love in the form of pain. She complains to you about the way he treats her (**Sidenote: If you’re still listening, you’re part of the problem. Sometimes you have to wash your hands of other people’s foolishness.***), yet she keeps going back to him. Why? Maybe it’s the result of flawed parental relationships or romantic relationships of our own. Whatever the case, humans seek homeostasis and will almost always return to a situation that makes them feel “balanced” and offers familiarity–even if that means repeating dysfunction.
That’s not to say we don’t all have weak moments. But when certain behaviors reappear over and over again, it’s no longer a moment, it’s a habit. Most habits are to our detriment and are knee jerk reactions bred from our insecurities, anxiety, and/or discomfort. He cheats on her for the 10x this week and her knee jerk reaction is to forgive him for his “slip up” as a sign of loyalty and therefore proof of her worth, or worse…out of fear of being single. Meanwhile, you’re watching the whole thing play out wondering if you’re in some sort of Twilight Zone.
What do you do?! What do you say?! In most cases, there’s nothing you can say. Nothing you can do. Speaking up is often a literal waste of oxygen. The immediate response is either defensiveness or dismissal, but they both sound like this, “I knooow she’s not tryna tell me about my relationship.” They bring up some decade old “weak moment” you had freshman year of college and use it as the sole basis for why you are no relationship guru. Meanwhile, I’m thinking, “Bish…I never claimed to be an expert. I just know the difference between a relationship that’s not perfect and one that’s f*cked up!”
Because this is someone you genuinely care about, watching her allow herself to be mistreated over and over can be painful and quite frankly, serve to really piss you off. But at the end of the day, it’s not your lesson to learn.
But my question is, at what point (if any) can a woman see the advice of another woman as a way of saying “You deserve more.” instead of an attempt to sabotage her happiness?