I don’t know how to be a good friend to my best friend, who I will call Belinda, right now. Basically, she is living with a friend and Belinda has been flirting with / sexting with this friend’s, who I will call Tabitha, husband behind Tabitha’s back. Tabitha just told Belinda – via email – that Belinda needs to find a new place to live. According to Belinda – Tabitha feels threatened by Belinda’s presence in the house. When Belinda told me about the flirting / sexting a month or so ago I warned her to be careful because I sort of knew this was going to happen. Belinda is (usually) a very good person, but has been put in a very shitty situation due to her (soon to be) ex-husband springing divorce on her suddenly.
I understand her need for compassion, and empathy right now, but I really want to tell her that losing her housing situation is completely her fault, and that I really don’t want to hear about it. This is the second time she’s had to move because of sexual reasons. Belinda was living with a family member, and Belinda dated this family member’s spouse years ago. The spouse apparently hadn’t moved on from his feelings and made things awkward for Belinda and her family member. Belinda moved in with Tabitha, and now all of this is going down.
I don’t know what to say to Belinda. I want to be friendly as I love her dearly, and I KNOW she is a good person. BUT I will not make excuses to her or blow smoke up her butt. I don’t want to be that kind of friend. I don’t want to lose her friendship, but I also don’t want to ignore the messages she’s sending me. I don’t know what to do. Please help.
Don’t Want to Say I Told You So
Dear Don’t Want To Say I Told You So:
Your most diplomatic script for Belinda is probably some version of “It sucks that you’re scrambling for housing right now. What’s your plan?“”That sounds really hard/annoying/painful/sad/awkward. How are you going to handle it?” or “What do you want to do now?”
Is Belinda initiating and encouraging the ickiness with the dudes, or are they seeing a vulnerable, recently-separated woman in their house and being creepers? From your letter, it feels like the first situation was her being perved on by someone with poor boundaries, and the most recent thing is something she’s been more actively participating in (with someone with poor boundaries). I’m not sure the two situations are exactly analogous, especially if she’s a victim of an opportunist creep in the first situation.
Sometimes you just gotta level with people. “I love you. I do not understand your choices right now.” “I want to be supportive, but WTF, friend?” “I don’t follow; how is Tabitha wrong, exactly? (Tabitha seems maybe good at boundaries?)” “Why do you think this is happening?” “I know you are hurting, but from your stories you’ve told me you are not acting like the good person I know you to be right now. Are you ok? What’s going on with you?” “You already know what I’m going to say. Do you want to hear it out loud or are we good?” “Everybody makes mistakes sometimes. Good job being really ambitious about it, buddy!”
You can be a loving friend without being the “I cheerlead your bad decisions!” friend.