Fickle Frenemies

I love to be there for my friends, but I have a friend who is in a destructive relationship. Every other day she needs me to be there to console her about whatever fight she and her boyfriend had. This takes anywhere from an hour to the entire day. I don’t know how to be there for her while still maintaining my life.
-Busy Burnout

Dear BB,

It’s important to be there for your friends in times of need, but when those times of need expand into days or weeks or even months, it can get pretty overwhelming.

You need to get your friend to understand that there is a give and a take in any relationship, and, right now, she’s doing a lot of the taking. Bring it up during a time where she’s not in the middle of a fight with her boyfriend so she’s more level-headed.

You can start off by saying that you’re concerned about the number of fights she’s been having with her boyfriend. People in healthy relationships do fight, but this relationship is to a point where (you’ve definitely used the correct word) it’s gotten destructive.

Understand that a bad relationship can be like a drug, and it’s difficult to give it up once you’re addicted. This relationship is not only destructive to the people in the relationship — it’s destructive to everyone surrounding it.

Let her know that if she’s going to get better, she and this guy need to part ways. Tell her that you’ll be there as a friend and you’ll help her if she truly needs you, but that the destructive cycle of this relationship is not something that you’re willing to be a part of any longer.

Avoid using the word “busy” or any variation of that meaning. While you are a busy person, you have shown that you are not too busy for your friend. You have given her plenty of your time, but it’s important to react with sensitivity here.

She’s your friend and you want the best for her, but as long as she remains in this destructive relationship, there’s only so much you can do.

One of my friends and I both have boyfriends and now we don’t have as much time to see our best friend who is single. She is mad that the first friend and I have gotten closer because we understand each other about the boyfriend thing and relationships, and we don’t want her to feel left out. What can we do to fix this?
-Three’s a crowd

Dear TAC,

It sounds like you guys have already picked sides here: the boyfriended versus the bofriendless.

This has nothing to do with understanding the importance of a relationship with a boyfriend — it has to do with an understanding of a relationship with friends.

It’s your understanding that single friends are somehow different from coupled friends and that’s something that’s entirely untrue. While being in a relationship might mean less visits to Chippendale’s, it does not translate to leaving your single friends in the dust.

It’s clear that your single friend feels left out, and that’s a result of the adjustment in shifting from this single lifestyle to the one dealing with relationships. There’s also the possibility that you are spending all of your time with your boyfriend, leaving no time for your friend.

While your perspective might be that your friend is being needy, her perspective is that her two best friends have left her behind. She needs to know that even though things have changed after you’ve paired up, you’ll still be there for her.

You don’t need to hit the bars to keep up with each other. Scheduling coffee or dinners once a week (yes, you need to make time for your best friend at least once a week) with the three of you is perfectly OK.

It’s the time you two spend with your friend, not the venue that matters. You are all going to be growing in very different directions and, while your relationships and occupations will change, your friendship doesn’t have to.

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