I love my friend. But this guy she’s with is bad bad news. Her whole family and all of her friends have told her. It seems like every time we do it we’re just pushing her closer to him and she even gets angry at us! He’s into drugs and his friends aren’t nice people. I’m really worried I’m going to lose her as a friend in more way than one. Is there a way to approach her and get her to really listen?
Let me begin by thanking you for loving your friend enough to risk her being angry with you. Far too few people will do things like that, as was evidenced by The Milgram Experiment. We are too timid as people —too unwilling to act on our true feelings. And then we wonder why things aren’t happening for us….
Now, none of this is to say that even when people do speak up that they will naturally use the best choice of language when getting their point across. But even if everyone was graceful and eloquent, there’s still chance she wouldn’t listen. But that’s her road. It doesn’t mean you guys didn’t plant a seed. Just don’t expect to eat the fruit the same day. Let it percolate.
The reason she’s upset makes perfect sense. There’s a saying in parts of Japan, “Do not give people what they do not want.” And it’s applicable here because this is a great example of people trying to reconcile realities, and therefore it’s an excellent opportunity for us to discuss separate realities.
Your friend gets angry because she’s in love. Real love. Not fake love. She looks at him and thinks thoughts that incite the same sort of chemistry you feel when you think loving, appreciative thoughts. It feels awesome. So anyone trying to coax you away from where you think that feeling is coming from means you’ll be upset with the coaxer.
She’s obviously appreciating his qualities and not carefully weighing his deficits. But after you’ve said your truth you can just make your own choice to continue to either spend time with her or not. And I would suggest the loving friend thing to do would be to endure some of him as an expression of your love for her. She doesn’t need to make her decisions in any specific timeframe.
Now the universe works in interesting ways. So imagine this: Imagine you respect her love for him. And you express your happiness that she is currently very happy. No more resistance. But you’re a dear friend —you represent what her life and world are like. So she’ll want you around.
If you accept him as who she’s chosen, then you can still find it hard to connect with him, but you’ll stop asking her to change. But if you do that, there’s a good chance that he won’t like you for the past resistance. So he’ll be inclined to be generally negative towards you.
Maybe he makes fun of your ‘uptightness,’ or he openly hates you for stealing any attention from him. But your friend would witness those acts. So then those would be her experiences of seeing him the way you do. But your problem right now is that you can’t see him the way she does, which is why your loving comments are falling on deaf ears. You’re talking about the wrong guy.
You did the right thing in speaking up. The fact that you’ll sidle in and rejoin her life with him is living proof of your love for her. Maybe you can’t stand it. Maybe he can’t. Maybe she sees the light, maybe she doesn’t. But you can’t live your life based on outcomes. You cannot be attached to a specific result. You simply act as yourself, truthfully and lovingly, and then let the chips fall where they may.
Accept that this may end the friendship. Those things do happen. Hopefully not in this case. But if so, you’ll survive and she’s very likely to as well. But no one can make the things they want to happen, happen, except novelists, screenwriters and playwrights. So surrender into the reality of things.
We can only have our objectives, and then after that we can only act as who we are in those moments. If we’re prepared to live with the consequences of both enjoyable and unenjoyable experiences, then we are free to create a life made of success, failure, breaking even, and everything else. And like in a novel, that mix of experiences is what constitutes a rich and rewarding life.
Good luck with your friend. I hope, and strongly suspect, it will all work out for everyone. But either way, the most loving thing you can do for anyone is honour how they want to live their live even if you disagree with it. That is what unconditional love is.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.