4 Jun

Dear LetterBalm: This story is so old, it has a long, gray beard. My best friend has a horrible record of relationships. She’s been with married men who lied or didn’t lie about it, hustlers who took her money, reformed and unreformed druggies, guys who cheated on her, younameit. She doesn’t break things off entirely; consequently, she continues to allow these creeps in her life and goes back to them after horrendous separations. She says she has a soft spot for rats. I say she’s soft in the head. She comes to me, her best friend, after the breakups. I’m tired of being her shoulder to cry on. I gotta get out of this position.

–Crying Game

Ah, the strong, steady friend who patiently tries to counsel someone who won’t listen, right? How many times have you tried to talk some sense into her? Unfortunately, your friend is on a well-defined self-destructive path that feels comfortable to her because it’s the only way she knows how to relate in an intimate way, and it’s symptomatic of larger psychological problems. Ms. L.B. counsels you to wait until she comes to you – again – mourning the breakup of her latest toxic relationship. Make sure you and she are alone and tell her this, calmly, once and for all:

Bonnie, I can’t sit by and watch you undervalue yourself yet again. I will not talk about this boyfriend or any other because you think all will be well and things will be good the next time. They won’t. For years, a steady stream of men has abused you, and you let them because you have such low regard for yourself. Unless you fix your problems, you’ll be in a perpetual round of bad relationships. My dear friend, please get help. I’ll stick with you through all the pain, and I know you’ll come out better and stronger, but I can’t continue to listen to you now. This is my last word on the subject. I won’t be talking about this any longer, and I won’t let you cry on my shoulder anymore.


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