Four things you can do to help a friend in an unhealthy relationship.

By Tara Parker.

It is heartbreaking and frustrating to watch as a friend puts herself through unnecessary heartache while wasting her valuable resources on an unhealthy relationship. You could tell her until you are blue in the face that she needs to get out and she will still turn to him for the attention she craves.

She’s attractive. She carries herself well. She knows how to dress. She is funny, smart, and witty. She has a good attitude and she handles life pretty damned well. Anyone who knows her enjoys her. She seems to have her act together. So, why does she waste her time with a guy that makes her feel worthless?

Listen: She’s 26 and dates the same type of guy over and over. How can she break the cycle?

It just doesn’t make sense. Her guy is basically a lousy human being. Oh sure, he has talents and skills and may even be successful in his work but when it comes to taking care of her or just respecting her he more than falls short – and for the life of you, it is hard to imagine why she stays with him!

Maybe the information here will help you understand what she is doing or what she is going through. You can’t save her, as much as you would like. But you can understand her and help her along her way because in the end, it has to be her decision to separate from Mr. Not Right – and that is a very tough decision to make.

First of all, and this is the pink elephant in the room, the girl has self-esteem that works like a roller coaster. Some days she seems full of confidence and ready to conquer anything that comes her way and other days she wants to crawl under the bed and hide from the world.

Marrying your flatmate
Your friend is the one who needs to make the decision to end the relationship. (Image: Getty Images)

Why? Because she wants to feel loved. She wants to feel she is worth someone else loving her. She wants to know that she is important to someone else. She wears this incredible curtain that is super impressive upon first meeting her but as you get to know her you see what’s behind the curtain and she is not as strong as she looks. She might think she is confident but if she were honest with herself she would understand that she isn’t.

The flying saucer in the room is another serious challenge for the girl. What do I mean about “flying saucer”? Well, it is a factor you can see but you don’t know exactly what it is. This makes it difficult to determine if this strange thing flying around aimlessly is going to be a problem. For the girls who go after the really “bad” guys that flyer saucer is attention, which is being mistaken for interest.


What the hell does that mean?

The “good” guys will show their interest in a girl and turn that into positive attention, which gains the girl’s interest and attention is reciprocated. This is the potentially healthy making of a balanced relationship.

The “bad” guys will give attention as the girl works her tail off for it in order to get what he wants out of her. This is an unbalanced relationship.

As her friend, you will hear about all the bad attention consistently but very little about the good. When you inquire about anything good in the relationship she will defensively shrug it off as, “Oh, we have good times, too.” You probably wonder if she can hear herself over and over again? Yes, she can – which is why she eventually stops talking about him prompting you to ask her about him.

Why does a girl put up with a guy she has to work so hard for to receive so little from?

Because it is what she is most comfortable with and is all she knows.

You don’t have to like what she does to support her and you don’t have to enable it either. (Image via iStock.)

It is a sad and very real statement for the women out there struggling with unhealthy relationships.

The women who hold on to someone who doesn't treat her respectfully do so because she doesn't recognise it as an unhealthy relationship. What many of us women don’t understand is that all abusive relationships are unhealthy but not all unhealthy relationships are abusive. There is a fine line that tends to become blurred as the “relationship” develops. This is the territory where unhealthy or unbalanced compromising comes into play. This is where rationalisations and explanations start showing up. This is where she makes excuses for him. Once she crosses that line she is hooked and there is little you can do to bring her out of it.

So, what can you do as the loving friend or family member?

1. Be patient. She is smart. She will put two and two together soon and realize she is not enjoying a good thing but it is on her timing, not yours.


2. Be supportive. You don’t have to like what she does to support her and you don’t have to enable it either. When she wants to talk listen to her. When she isn’t talking ask her. Yes, you are tired of hearing about the D-bag but you need to give her the outlet because she will get tired of sounding like a broken record player.

3. Be respectful. Maybe she is not showing it to herself with her messed up ideas of relationships but that is where you showing her respect is important and most vital. And don’t insult her by putting him down – she only feels the need to defend him unnecessarily.

4. Be loving. Remember, her idea of relationships is a bit twisted. She needs examples of what being loved means and you might be one of the few who can help her re-condition herself.

It is heartbreaking and frustrating to watch as a friend puts herself through such unnecessary heartache while wasting her valuable resources. You could tell her until you are blue in the face that she needs to get out and she will still turn to him for the attention she craves. Sometimes it is sexual attention that has been falsely translated into a relationship. Sometimes it is constantly quarrelling twisted into quality time. Whatever it is, it is up to her to wake up and see what is really going on. Until then, be there for her and forgive her as she will have a hard time forgiving herself once it is all said and done.

This post originally appeared on Divorced Moms. You can read the original post here.