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Amie Warwick

 

Helping Without Butting In

Posted On:01-Aug-2019/7:17 pm

Sometimes our friends and family members can find themselves in some trouble. And, of course, we all want to help when our loved ones are stuck in a difficult situation, but don’t want to intrude on their personal lives. This can be especially difficult when it involves relationships and partners. When we see our friends in a difficult situation with their partner, how do we help without butting in?

At the start of the year, one of my close friends started a new relationship with a girl he met at a party. He would tell me how much fun they were having together, and I was ecstatic for him. But, recently, he seems to be depressed and has expressed some difficulties with his relationship. It seems that his girlfriend doesn’t listen to him when he has a problem and likes to pick fights when bored.

A few months ago, they visited, and I was able to see some of her unsavory behavior in person. While going out to dinner with my partner and the two of them, I noticed that she didn’t talk to him all night. She would stay on her phone and not join in on the conversation. In fact, the only time I saw her even acknowledge him was to complain about the food she had ordered. Seeing my friend in a situation like this is difficult -- he is clearly upset with her behavior and seems to be unhappy with their relationship. But how can I help?

This is where the barrier between friendships can get muddy. As his close friend, I feel obliged to help when I see him in an unhappy situation, but it is not my place to get involved in his romantic relationships.

This issue becomes even more difficult due to gender. For example, my concern about his relationship might come off as jealousy, because I am his female friend. His girlfriend might assume that I am interested in him, thus causing even more issues in their relationship. The politics of relationships never really end; even in adulthood, we find ourselves in situations like these all the time.

My advice, and what I eventually did, is to simply talk to your friend. I made it very clear that I was not trying to intrude on his relationship and only had his happiness at heart. I explained that I was worried about their relationship and that I didn’t like how she treated him. Thankfully, he handled it well. He told me he appreciated me looking out for him, but that it was just a “one-time thing”. So, no, my conversation didn’t help, but it didn’t hurt. When helping a friend, it’s just best to be open and honest and to reassure them that you’re concerned as a friend. Unfortunately, we can’t help everybody. Sometimes, it’s just too hard to listen to what you need to hear. However, while it may be a difficult conversation to have, it could help them for the future.

Takeaways:

1 : first, only speak to the person in the relationship who you know (your friend).

2 : second, make it clear that you are not trying to intrude on their relationship.

3 : third, simply be honest and tell your friend how you feel. In the long run, your friend will thank you.

Category:  Relationships / Subcategory:  Not Butting In

Tags: friends, family, family members, partners, romantic relationship, honesty, advice

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Lisa Steffler

04-Aug-2019

Amie, DC, S. Jakes, and Adaego, I think the best approach here is to give your friends and family members permission to tell you if they see anything untoward in your relationship. Sometimes, when you are in a relationship you cannot see the forest for the trees, and it is nice to get another point of view. You know your friends and family members so you will know if you should take what they say seriously or with a grain of salt. Awesome article Amie.

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Adaego M. Azi

03-Aug-2019

Amie – another good article. Guys, I also agree. Helping a friend without butting in can be very difficult :) :) That is why I try to keep my nose out of other people's business.

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S. Jakes

03-Aug-2019

Amie, I totally get what you are saying. But here is the experience I had. A couple years ago, my boyfriend’s best friend was this girl who I barely knew. Every time him and I had a problem with our relationship he would go running to her and told her everything – he was always asking for her advice. I got super annoyed with him, I felt like she was a third person in our relationship. Many of the fights him and me had was about her. Our relationship ended and one of the reasons was because of her. I think that sometimes friends and family should completely butt out of other people’s relationships, because it could cause all sorts of problems. But I do see what you are saying.

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D. C. Lawrence

02-Aug-2019

Amie – this topic of not “butting in” is an interesting one. I am thinking of one friend in particular - he started dating this woman, and based on her initial behaviors, I told him very candidly that “she was going to break his heart”. He didn’t want to hear anything I had to say, and in fact, he started speaking to me very sparingly – I really didn’t see him until after the breakup. When some people are “in love”, they do not want to hear anything negative about their relationship (even if they are miserable) – however, they are “all ears”, after it has ended. Amie, you are right, trying to help can be a bit touch-and-go. Thanks much.