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 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 to me. 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.
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. You’re a dear friend—you represent what her life and world are like. So imagine you get to know him, and his reaction is what you might guess it would be, which would be some form of negativity. So maybe he makes fun of your “straightness,” or he openly hates you. Now those are her experiences and she gets to see him the way you do. But right now you can’t see him the way she does, which is why your loving comments are falling on deaf ears.
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 simple act as yourself, truthfully and lovingly, and then let the chips fall where they may. And accept that they may end the friendship. Those things do happen. Hopefully not here. But if so, you’ll survive and hopefully she will too. But no one can make the things they want happen except novelists, screenwriters and playwrights. So surrender into the reality of things. We cannot make things happen, we can only be ourselves and then live with the consequences both enjoyable and otherwise. And that constitutes a much richer and more rewarding life than it might seem when looking at it from the outside.
Good luck with your friend. I hope it all works out for everyone. And either way, love whoever you’re with and you’ll be fine.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.