What To Do… When You Dont Support Your Friends Life Choices

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How many hours, ball park figure, do you think you’ve spent on the phone to your best friend as you play the role of therapist, without the extortionate price tag?

You note the slight quiver in her voice that you know so well as she pours her heart out to you about what looks like could be the demise of her relationship.  Your phone slowly decreases from 50, to 49, to 30, to 20.  Soon you’ll be nearing 10% battery life remaining and the phone which is wedged at the perfect angle between your face and shoulder is beginning to burn your cheek.  You look at the phone, 1:12:07 on the phone so far.   In that time you’ve managed to take the clean washing out of the tumble dryer  and make yourself a meal, all the while actively encouragingly her to continue on with her story. One that you’ve heard one two many times that it almost feels like deja vu. 

“He did this, I said that, then he did this and I did that. Did I tell you about the time? I just feel like I don’t even know who he is anymore.  I don’t know where this is going.   He doesn’t seem to care about my feelings at all.”

We’ve all found ourselves engaged in these conversations before. In fact, you might even be the one spilling your heart out during one of those epic run on monologues without even taking a breath, I know I have been, many times before.  When what was seemingly a solid and loving relationship begins to crumble it’s only natural that you’ll turn to your best friend to confide in .  As the best friend it can be difficult to suddenly become so aware of what’s gone on behind closed doors of someone’s life who you thought you knew like the back of your hand.

…and then within a matter of days, after all those hours on the phone, late night messages

Late night phone calls, relationship break downs and what to do when you don’t support your friends life choices

and telling her to remain strong, those crumbled walls begin to repair themselves up and just like that, the relationship is back on.  

What do you as the best friend do?  Do you disregard the conversations, tears and confessions?  Pretend you never heard them, put it all behind you and then make niceties with the guy you’ve nicknamed “the dickhead from the planet knob” over the course of your hour long phone conversations.  Your mind tells you yes,  you have to trust your friend’s life choices and hope that her instincts will guide her towards a happy and fulfilling life and even if it did turn out disastrously, those are the decisions that help us grow and develop as people.

But that’s bullshit. 

Friendship isn’t about supporting your friends at all costs and allowing them to make monumental choices when their judgement is clouded.  Supporting your friends and choosing not to say something despite knowing that the choices they are making are detrimental to their state of mind is not called friendship, it’s called being an enabler.  It’s like standing beside a drug addict as their world implodes and offering to hold the needle.   We’re happy to save our friends money by advising them against a god awful dress, an impulse purchase which will mean they can’t pay their rent for the month or tell them when they’ve got remnants of a salad between their teeth, but we’ll say nothing about a relationship with someone who does not seem to have the best of their intentions at heart.   I know from past experience that there are life situations where I would have preferred a little more honestly. I have walked into blindly because I’ve been bowled over by love and excitement without listening to the screaming alarm bells and having instead to face the consequences which have come with a lot of hurt and pain.  I wonder whether, had someone objected would I have listened and saved myself the heartbreak (and money) which ultimately comes with the separation of a relationship or would I have written off their concerns of interfering?

Concern can exist without judgement or fear of interference, as long as there’s a balance of the two.  As long as you’ve done your duty as a friend, had their interests at heart and be there should it all come crashing down.  Even if it’s just to say “I told you so” as you hand them a G&T.

In the long run, I’m sure we’d all like to think that if someone we called a close friend were to see us hurtling towards a disaster at great speed, they’d be quite prepared to slam the breaks on or at least talk you into slamming the breaks on for yourself.   Sometimes we need someone to take the wheel for us and to guide us when we’re not quite able to do so for ourselves.

  • Lynn Lemon Fancy

    Good subject!
    We can all be an ear for a friend and sympathise and console etc etc BUT NOBODY knows what is happening except those within the situation, we hear our friend’s view and opinions but nobody ever tells the 100% truth – so yes very hard. I would hope my friends would stop me if I was being a complete idiot and I know a couple definitely would (well I hope so!).