By Tevin Boyd
What should you do if your friend is dating someone bad, but doesn’t know it? How can you help them understand what everyone else knows?
We have seen them all before—those relationships that make all of us hate that we are spending Valentine’s Day alone for another year in a row and those relationships that make us hold our breath when hearing “love is in the air.”
In today’s age, relationships have become more visible than ever. With social media influences like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, being exposed to either good or bad relationships makes us all question our own. Do they treat me like they should? Are they the one for me? These are all questions asked by millions all over the world. But the most critical question is, “When do you truly know when someone is good or bad for you?” With social media apps like Twitter, people around the world have collectively weighed in on the topic of toxicity.
But what happens when the person affected by this toxic behavior is not a follower on social media but your friend you have known since you were 10? Psychology Today did a study on why people stay in bad relationships. “Research shows that we value the positive characteristics which our partners display more so than other characteristics,” the study said.
How can we, as friends, get our friends to see what it is we see? Maybe they are afraid. Perhaps they are in love, or they are worried they will not find anyone else. The reality is that the truth hurts. It is unconcealed, exposing itself unapologetically. What we do with the truth is what is important, and as a friend, we must always speak the truth. In the end, it is their choice to determine what they feel and if they want to accept the truth or not. We are human, which means it is natural to feel emotions when having to face the facts, even if some emotions are more controllable than others. That is why it is essential that you, as a friend, guide them through the journey.
“Listen first, speak last”? —Steve Sliker
Remember, you are there to listen and lend an open ear and heart for your friend to express what they are feeling. Not allowing your friend the space to speak can set off a ticking time bomb and make them feel ignored. Do you remember the last time you felt ignored? How did that make you feel? What emotions, if any, were running through your body? Put yourself in their shoes and understand that your friend also carries the same emotions. With so much to consider, it is hard when it feels that all the odds are against you, so never forget to show genuine empathy. Empathy is one of the greatest ways to show your friend that you are there for them. Encourage them, remind them, listen to them.
It is not easy trying to leave a relationship you have built with someone. Discussing the relationship helps your friend be conscious and aware of their situation. Remember, you cannot save your friend, but you can be the hope they never had. It is best to remember you are their open journal and not to pass judgment. As an open journal, it’s your responsibility to take notes, never to judge. Most people need confirmation that it is a journey, not a race and that they will get through it. It is the small things that count, and those things are what they will remember when they are at their lowest.
Having someone to depend on is vital to healthy friendships and relationships. Help your friend to understand that you are always there for them because sometimes having help in front of you is more critical than having help behind you. Not everyone can hit a homerun! Sometimes those runs to first, second, and third base is a better experience. We all need to learn on our own.
Check in on your friend as they are navigating this journey because if every day were simple, we would all have better lives. Understand that we all see toxicity in different forms in our daily lives. Some of us see them more clearly than others, and some are oblivious. Either way, your job is to help your friend see them as vividly as possible. Remember, your friend is transitioning from a toxic relationship and remind them to be open to trying new things.
They need to know they deserve better and that better is on its way. As a friend, be reasonable but also rational. Express your concerns for your friend. As stated prior, the truth hurts! Lizzo said it best! Your friend needs to know that it is not just their battle but yours as well.
No, I am not asking you to go all Oprah on your friend but allow your friend to feel like you are their Oprah. Being reliable never hurt anyone!