DAME’s Friendkeeper helps one woman steer her friend clear of an unhealthy ex, and another who doesn’t want to see the light.
This one’s a doozy. My friend…Natalie…finally got out of a pretty terrible relationship about six months ago. Her ex wasn’t physically abusive, but there was definitely some unsavory emotional power plays going on, stuff she put up with for years. And it wasn’t all him, she could be pretty terrible too—they were just a volatile match. We were all pleased when she finally told him to move out. But after some unsuccessful forays into the dating world, she told me she’s wondering if she made a mistake and is considering getting back together with her ex (they co-parent their dog and still see each other semi-regularly). I want to scream at her that this is the worst idea she’s ever had, but so far I’ve held my tongue. Do I have to let her figure that out on her own? What if I tell her what I really think and then she gets back together with him anyway, then what? But on the other hand, do I have to stand by and watch her make what I think is a huge mistake? Please help!
You’re in a tricky spot. You’ve got to speak up, but don’t necessarily tell her what a dumbass she is. Recognize that what she’s going through is the very definition of uncomfortable. It’s why people stay in shitty jobs and cruddy relationships—because getting out of them and finding new ones is living in an empty space of the unknown and no one likes that! There may be an initial relief that you’re not in the bad job/relationship anymore, but then you start to wonder if That Was As Good As It Gets and that can lead you to wonder if you made a mistake. Don’t be angry with your friend. Talk to her. Start by asking her to list the reasons they split up. Ask her if she has reason to believe that any of those things have changed. What does she think would be different now? As far as wanting to tell her what you really think and worrying they’ll get back together, just say what you observed in their relationship: “From what I saw, you guys did not seem to bring out the best in each other.” You don’t have to say he’s an asshole with weirdly tiny hands. Especially since you believe that she was not just a victim here. Tell her you understand her feelings and help her fill empty space with other fun activities. Also, try and get her to make her joint custody of the dog switch-offs quicker. She just needs to grab the leash and go.
I have a friend who recently “found God.” I feel kind of bad putting it in quotes, but I suppose that’s a pretty good indicator of what I think about it. I wouldn’t consider myself an atheist, but I haven’t been to Mass since my mom made me go as a kid, and I’d be just as happy celebrating the Winter Equinox as I would be Christmas. This is how my friend was as well…until she wasn’t. I’m not exactly sure how it happened but what began as casual church going on a Sunday here and there has become a full-blown weekly ritual for her, one she doesn’t mention often, but when she does it hangs in the air between us like a gigantic cross-covered elephant. When we were out to dinner last week talking about a tiff she had with her boss, she mentioned, half-jokingly, that she would just leave it up to God and see what happened. I know she’s the same person I was friends with before her newfound interest in religion, but it’s hard for me not to get a little weird and judgey, it’s just a thing I totally don’t understand. What can I do?
Eat, Pray, LOL
Dear E, P, L
I’ve always been sort of an outsider with religion—I’m Jewish-o-rama (that’s more than just regular Jewish) but cultural more than religious. I mean I don’t go to a synagogue unless my niece is being bat mitzvahed, but when I do, I can sing a couple of the songs. We went to temple when we were kids until my brothers were bar mitzvahed and then sort of stopped. What I’m trying to say is that I can relate to where you’re coming from. Though I’d never say I was an atheist because I firmly believe that Someone would not like that kind of talk and if there’s a chance that Someone could help me out—say when I pray for a check to come, or a parking space, or my friend’s medical test to be okay—I want to make sure any possible entities are on my side. In fact, I’m reminded that my Sainted Grandma Pearlie who was a real Jew of the Kosher variety would be very happy when she flew on a plane with a nun because then “their” God would be looking out for the plane, too. ANYWHO, there are many events in people’s lives that cause them to take a second look at religion—and sometimes it’s a matter of being closer to the people who brought it to them in the first place. So I think if your friend feels like she needs a little old time religion you should let her be with it. As far as her comment about leaving it up to God, I would press that one. I’m no Reverend Al Green but I do think that as far as daily workings of life, “leaving up to God” is sort of like bowing out of the work. But maybe she’s saying that just to see your response. I think you should be supportive as long as she’s not trying to convert you. If she finds comfort or answers to her questions, then more power to her.
Got a platonic problem of your own that could use the Friendkeeper’s advice? Fire away: [email protected]. No situation is too uncomfortable or too small and all details are kept confidential.
AN INDEPENDENT FREE PRESS HAS
NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT.
Your financial support helps DAME continue to cover the critical policies, politics and social changes impacting woman and their allies.