How to Tell a Friend Their Partner Sucks

How to Tell a Friend Their Partner Sucks
Photo: GaudiLab, Shutterstock

Is your best friend dating an arsehole? At some point, your best friend is gonna date an arsehole. These are the facts, unless you’re extremely lucky, and these facts suck. It hurts to see someone you care about dating someone who is terrible, especially if they don’t see that yet.

What can you do? We know what you’re thinking: What if you approach them with your assessment of their boo and they accuse you of jealousy? What if they get mad? What if they ditch you completely — and get more wrapped up in the relationship with that stinker in the process? Let’s try to avoid those catastrophic scenarios, shall we?

Make sure you actually aren’t jealous

Before we go any further, are you jealous? Do a sincere self-audit privately in your own mind. Make sure you’re not projecting your anger at suddenly not being the other half of the most important relationship in your best friend’s life.

That might be the first thing your friend accuses you of if you confront them about this, so you need to make sure you are convinced of your innocence yourself before you try to convince your pal of it.

Make note of clear examples of bad behaviour

One way you can make sure you’re not acting out of jealousy or resentment and bolster your point when you bring it up to your friend is by making a list. Does your friend’s boyfriend get inappropriate in the comment sections under other women’s thirst traps on Instagram? Does a friend’s new girlfriend constantly borrow money and never pay it back? Do you have proof your pal’s beloved is cheating or otherwise acting badly when they’re not around?

Screenshot texts they’ve sent you complaining or worrying about bad behaviour and use their own words to show them what they’re going through. People in bad relationships have an incredible habit of glossing over the icky parts, forgiving, forgetting, and sticking with the rose-coloured glasses. It’s not unheard of for someone to be crying over their boyfriend’s lack of interest in them on a Friday night, and then posting a picture of them out at brunch the next day. Everyone copes in different ways, but if your friend is forced to confront the reality of their own sad comments to you, you might have a breakthrough.

If there is any other proof of unkind or aggressive behaviour that you can get your hands on, do it. This will be an emotional conversation and concrete evidence can ground it and keep it from going wildly off-track into accusations and misunderstandings.

Don’t go alone

Roxy R., a mother of two from the Upper Midwest, has seen a lot in her years of parenting. She offered a great tip: Go at this intervention-style.

If multiple people approach the friend with concerns about their partner, the friend may realise that this is a bigger problem than they thought. If it’s just you, the friend can write this off as a you problem, but if there are more voices involved, the friend might have to admit that yes, this is an issue that’s pretty evident to everyone but them. (And, of course, it probably is evident to them, so be kind; they could be working hard to ignore the red flags in their partner, but they’re not that dumb.)

Don’t approach the bad partner

The bad partner isn’t your friend, more than likely, and it’s not your place to lecture them. If you go that route, they’ll have an easy way to invalidate your concerns to your friend by saying you went behind the friend’s back to lash out at the partner.

Don’t do it. Leave them alone. If you’re doing this from a place of care and concern, your focus should be on your friend, the one in the bad situation. As much as you might want to yell at a partner who is scamming or cheating on your friend, it won’t solve much.

Be sincere and welcoming

Set aside a place and time to do this that isn’t threatening. Have a nice lunch or go somewhere neutral. Don’t do this at your place, for instance, because you don’t want to give the appearance of attacking a friend while you have a home court advantage. A cafe or a coffee shop can be a great, neutral zone.

“Tell them you love them and make it clear this is coming from the heart, because you care about them,” said Chrissy P., a 28-year-old in Minneapolis. “Put your relationship first. Say you’re telling them this because of how much they — and the relationship you have — mean to you. And make it obvious you don’t want to lose them over this.”

To that end, fight the urge to walk away. It’s terrible to see a friend being put through something like a bad relationship, but they’ll need someone there for them when it inevitably ends — or even before, during rough patches and fights. If you really do care about them, you have to see this through. Abandoning them will only help secure the hold the mean partner has over them, making them feel they have no one to turn to but that person.

Be there for your friend. Make your concerns known, use proof to back yourself up, and be kind. Then, just hope it works — but plan to stick around either way.

 

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