What to do when your friend is caught in a toxic relationship?

Someone left a comment asking me what to do when a friend is caught in a toxic relationship (e.g., f*ck buddies when feelings are involved, dating a married man, etc.). One of my posts caught interest especially since I was once in a (few) toxic relationships and somehow managed to get out of it luckily none too worse for wear and for the better.

Almost everyone I know had once been or is still is in a toxic relationship.

You know, the relationship that started so happily in the beginning and for some reason, morphed into something so terrible that you find yourself hating yourself, loving him/her, and then hating him/her and then what the hell… you don’t know what to do anymore but you can’t bear to leave.

I was very lucky.

My friends-plus ended up with us being officially together, lasting a whole year because I couldn’t bear to break up without trying harder. In the end, we broke it off on our anniversary because we’ve tried our very best and for goodness sakes, couldn’t work it out given the many cultural issues, long distance, and the lack of love from his part. As they said, it took two people to tango and he just wasn’t dancing.

My second relationship started well, but after the break-up, we continued to see each other in a non-boyfriend/girlfriend capacity. That of course, didn’t turn out so well as there were some crying fits from my end, him feeling more like shit because he truly wasn’t a jerk, and finally, we just stopped seeing each other and being friends.


Because it was hypocritical, we knew we couldn’t be together and for goodness sakes, don’t be friends if you still have feelings cause damnit, it’ll just hurt more. Fortunately, he was kind enough to just stop calling me. I was too proud to call back.

And then, we just… stopped.

My last failed relationship was *gasp* with someone who was already attached. He wasn’t too honest and upfront about it when he first asked me out, but on our third date, he told me he was attached but it was ending. Foolish me, I thought it would really end and so a romance blossomed.

Bad move. 

Of course, he wouldn’t leave her. He had many other baggages to settle and heck, what would people say when they found out about “us?”

Fortunately, my self-esteem was a lot stronger by that time, and even though I knew the cycle can go on and on (for example, a friend of mine is still the mistress after a decade, pining over a man who promised he would leave his wife, and found out that he couldn’t leave his wife since she’s pregnant, but hey, he still loves her), I tearfully stopped it just right there.

At that point in time, Trader was already interested in me, and me… I was starting to get interested with Trader. But the crux is, here was this man who sincerely loved and cared for me, and promised that I will be his one and only. So how stupid would I be to choose someone who for many reasons, can never be truly mine?

Letting my third many go was a difficult decision.

I cried hard.

Really hard.

However, that’s life. We let go of shit so we can get something better. How can I expect Trader to love me for me if I was still pining over of third ex-boyfriend? He deserves better than that. 

I deserved better than that.

And though it was hard, I let third ex- go, chose to be with Trader. And guess what?

I no longer harbour any feelings for third ex at this point. 🙂

Six months into the relationship to the day (yes, Trader and I celebrate our sixth month anniversary today), I am truly happy with the man who loves me for me, and really doesn’t treat me like shit like all the other guys did.

So the question is this, as a friend – how can you counsel your friend to be strong and get rid of those shitty people they’re currently dating.

You know, that gold-digging girlfriend who’s only after your friend’s money and heck, he deserves so much better?

That boyfriend of hers, who is cheating behind of her back, or is using her just to get off?

That guy she’s somewhat dating but cannot commit?

I’ve had friends like these too. They’re hurting just like your friend. And what do I do?

I don’t tell off their hateful boyfriends/girlfriends. We’re no longer 12. We’re already adults. Your friend can make up their own minds.

However, as a friend, the best thing I can do is: 1) counsel them and make sure that they get into these toxic relationships with eyes wide open, and 2) be for them when shit truly hits the fan, they’re lying on the floor and crying and need your comfort.

This advice I give because I was that woman crying before as well after an ex-boyfriend’s shitty fit. I knew what the hell I was getting myself into. I knew how terrible he was, and how he was treating me.

But the problem is this — though it’s clearly stupid, I just couldn’t let go because I loved him so so much even though he clearly didn’t deserve it.

We’ve been there. We’ve all been there.

There’s no reason why and it’s clear our feelings aren’t really reciprocated and our self-esteem’s already down in the dust, but we cannot escape because we’re madly in love with the other, we would rather die than let go.

It’s hard to let go.

Some people never do.

You yourself may have not been able to as well. So why expect others to naturally let go when they clearly can’t? Maybe it’s their lack of self-esteem or their multitude of love for the other, but who are we to tell what other people need to do when we in fact know how hard it is to make that decision ourselves?

I don’t want to be self-righteous.

I’ve been there.

I’ve been weak.

And the best thing that my best friends did?

They told me what an asshole he was.

Moaned and groaned yet understood when I still went back to him for the nth time.

Listened to my broken record of the many times he’s broken my heart.

And was still be there for me to hug me and comfort me.

To boost my self-esteem up when it’s so low down in the ground that it’s no longer funny.

And though it was tough to let go, they were instrumental in making me strong enough that one day I truly let him go.

Sure, it took time.

The first took a year, the second took 6 months while the last took a quarter.

Guess my self-esteem got stronger as I got older but found it easier to dump men who are unhealthy for me as I grew my confidence.

However, as a friend, you cannot force somebody else to make the decision.

The best is just to tell them a spade for a spade (e.g., don’t allow them to dillude themselves further), be there for them and pray that she gets hurt really really bad to wake up.

My wake up call came when the pain just got too bad to bear.

It was so so bad that I decided it really wasn’t worth it despite my love for it.

And it really wasn’t.

But I had to reach that lowest point in my love life before realizing it, and gathering the strength to finally let go.

My friend, it will still get worse.

However, the decision doesn’t lie in our hands.

It’s in the other.

The best way is to just pray the damage ain’t that bad, and just be a real friend.

An honest friend who’ll be there through thick and thin, and heck, will sermon you when things get bad but will still be there for you.

I’ve been the victim and had also be that friend.

Things happen for a reason.

Trust that God will offer protection and we’re old enough to fend for ourselves.

Peace and comment on your thoughts!

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2 thoughts on “What to do when your friend is caught in a toxic relationship?

  1. !!!

    You guys went to Japan? Wow!! How was it? I would love to go there, but it’s expensive right?

    .. :P, will there be a travel post? 😉

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