We've all been there. Your friend is dating or married to a guy who, frankly, she doesn't seem to like very much. So she calls you up every time there's draaaamaaa. Or you go out for a lunch just to catch up and it becomes all about their draaaaamaaa. Maybe he won't marry her. Maybe he did marry her. Maybe they don't have sex. Maybe they have too much sex. Whatever it is, you're sick to death of hearing about it, and your friend doesn't listen to whatever you say about it anyway. So what to do?
If you're journalist Samantha Brick, who's famous for thinking women hate her because she's too beautiful, then you tell your friends the brutal truth. You tell her her guy is a jerk whose never gonna commit or help with childcare or remain faithful or get a job or whatever it is she's complaining about. In fact, Samantha has adopted a "truth only" policy with her friends -- even if the truth is harsh. Does she have a point?
Women tend to talk a lot, and we tend to overanalyze relationships. We also tend to be "caregivers" -- and that doesn't mean just physically. We're emotional caregivers. So when our friends are in distress, we're the ones who stay on the phone for three hours, listening to every single thing That Stupid Jerk ever did to our friend.
We might just want to scream, "Then shut up and leave him already!!!!" But we usually don't. Should we? That's what Samantha would do. What should we less beautiful people do?
By the time a woman is sharing a litany of complaints with you about her man, she already knows her relationship is in trouble. She usually isn't telling you these things so that you can say, "leave him." She's probably already thinking about it, but just doesn't know how to do that -- or how to improve things. In other words, she's venting.
It's NOT your responsibility to figure out your friend's relationship, or to tell her to leave. But it's also not your responsibility to "caregive" her through her tumultuous relationship. This can lead to "caregiver fatigue" -- to the point where you yourself are stressed, losing sleep, or feel angry or sad all the time. Which is bogus because it's not your bad relationship.
Still, you want to help. Here are some things you can say to try and gently but firmly nudge your friend out of her cycle of complaining:
-You sound like you could use someone well-versed in this area to speak with. Have you thought about a therapist?
-It seems like we've discussed this many times before and things aren't changing. I'm not sure these discussions are helping. What can you do to get help?
-I love you, but I'm beginning to feel stressed out from all this talk about your relationship. I want to support any positive or scary changes you make, but I can't keep discussing the relationship. Let's talk when you have a plan.
-Where do you see yourself in one year? Maybe a plan of action will help you get there. Have you read any books on this?
After saying something like the above, your friend might begin to realize that constant rehashing isn't going to change anything. If you say any of the above and your friend still doesn't get the point, you are now free to block her phone number.
Have you ever told a friend the truth about their man? What happened?
Image via Gareth Williams/Flickr