My friend is dating a guy I can't stand. And it's not like it's just a clash of personalities. He's objectively terrible. He once locked her in the bathroom because he thought she was looking at other guys at a bar. Yet he has told her that he wants to have sex with other girls if the desire strikes him because "that's how guys are". He doesn't even make pretenses towards caring about her. Yet she's utterly crazy about him. I've told her that from where I sit he doesn't seem like the ideal boyfriend. But, what can one do after stating one's opinion on such matters. Any ideas?
Wow. Sounds like someone back in the day did a real number on your friend. She has clearly been heavily conditioned to feel right at home being treated like yesterday’s worthless garbage. Bummer. And we feel for you too. It’s really freaky when a perfectly sane seeming friend suddenly falls prey to the charms of a total dickhead bastard. We know because we have both been there – in your shoes, and in hers.
There’s this adage that says: you only allow others to abuse you to the extent that you abuse your self. And it’s true. As we say in Smitten, all outer relationships are based on your inner relationship with your self. Your friend’s attraction to this douche-pipe is a symptom of something going on inside her that’s wounded, disrespected and abused – a part of her that somehow feels nourished or safe in his crushing ways. Just like the body becomes addicted to toxic drugs, or attached to bad posture that makes standing tall feel wrong, the unconscious mind craves familiar patterns of treatment, even if it’s mistreatment. These patterns will continue until we consciously do the work to shift them.
When the mind is left to its own devices, without wise assistance, there is this really twisted way it sometimes tries to heal from past abuse – it recreates it in the present and attempts to rewrite the story with a new ending (Ex: If I can get this total dirt-bag to go from shitting on my face to loving me, the pain of my father’s neglect will go away). It’s likely that your friend is picking at this scab because she wants to heal it, on some level, but doesn’t have the tools. However, this approach in such circumstances is futile because she’s not operating from a logical place. Platitudes like, “you don’t deserve this,” or “you’re worth so much more,” or “you need a guy who treats you right,” just don’t work. But by gently redirecting the responsibility back onto her while encouraging her to get help, you could be of assistance.
So next time she complains about getting locked in a broom closet by her boyfriend because she smiled at the mailman, put the onus back on her. Instead of focusing on how bad her guy is, or what a victim she is, note how interesting it is that he did the same exact thing last week and she came back for another helping of his shit right in her mouth this week. You don’t have to use those exact words, but you get the idea. Bring to light that she is choosing this. Then, in a different conversation encourage her to start participating in more self-esteem building activities: hobbies she loves, the type of exercise she’s into, travel plans to see her amazing best friend in Alaska... Encourage her to participate in the world in a way that makes her feel good about herself.
If you back off of attacking him, she won’t have the need to protect and defend her precious scum-bucket, and she’ll likely confide in you again. With an open heart hear her, hear the pain she’s in, and tell her you think this could be a beautiful time for her to find a wonderful therapist to help her sort through some of the past that might be dictating these unhappy choices. Give her a big kind hug. Take her out for a cupcake. Then let go and let God.