August 6, 2013

Teen Talk: Helping friend who is dating her ex-boyfriend can only go so far

DEAR KELLY: A few months ago, I broke up with my boyfriend of six months because he called two of my best friends fat on multiple occasions.

DEAR KELLY: A few months ago, I broke up with my boyfriend of six months because he called two of my best friends fat on multiple occasions. He was also very disrespectful of my parents, called my siblings, who are all younger than we are, hurtful names, and once he even kicked my puppy.

After he called my friends fat, one of them began to limit her eating to one meal a day. I ultimately broke up with him to keep her from being hurt more.

A month after we broke up, my friend confided in me that she liked my ex but was worried that I'd be mad at her. I told her I wasn't mad and I wanted her to be happy, but didn't think he was the right one for her. Now they're dating.

She tells me all about their "love life." The kind of stuff they do isn't exactly something that most people would tell their boyfriend's ex, and I feel uncomfortable because they seem to be on a very slippery slope toward going too far.

I've tried telling her that I'm uncomfortable and though I love her, I'm concerned about her actions. Now every time I try to talk to her about it in person, she runs away. Once she even left at 2 a.m. by herself. If I try and talk to her on the phone or Skype, she hangs up and blocks me.

I don't know what to do about her anymore. I love her and I want to be there for her, but I don't know how to help at this point.

Any advice?


DEAR STL: I would hope you broke up with him to keep yourself from being hurt more – not just to save your friend.

Anyone who is disrespectful to your parents, calls your siblings hurtful names and kicks your puppy (Gasp! Wrong on so many levels!) should have been kicked to the curb a long time ago. If you stayed with him after those things, you stayed together way too long.

Here is what you know: Your ex is now your friend's problem and for some reason she thinks you want to hear about the details of their relationship.

She wants to share the details but isn't willing to honor your level of comfortableness. She wants to share with you but runs away when you want to share concerns. Think about it. Doesn't it seem disrespectful to you?

It's time to set clear boundaries with her and hold your ground when she starts talking about their love life.

She doesn't want to hear what you have to say, probably because she knows you have legitimate concerns or he has convinced her not to listen to you.

The next time she starts to tell you how wonderful he is or the details of what happens between them, interrupt her and say, "I really don't want to hear about your relationship anymore. I care about you and think that you can do better, but I can't make decisions for you. If you choose to go out with him, please leave me out of it."

Will she be upset with this? Possibly. Should this stop you from setting the boundary? Absolutely not.

If she asks you why you feel this way, you can share with her how he treated your parents, your siblings, your puppy and your friend. You can tell her that his words were mean and you hope she doesn't allow him to do the same thing to her.

Your options are limited. Stop chasing her. She has sent you a clear message by hanging up on you and blocking your calls. Let her come to you when she is ready.

Unfortunately she has chosen to learn things the hard way and doesn't want help. Perhaps he has convinced her he has changed or what you say isn't the truth. Hopefully she wises up to the kind of person he is before she does something she will regret. Sometimes loving a friend means walking away and allowing them to figure things out.

Kelly Richardson, a Folsom therapist, works with adolescents

Write to Kelly Richardson at Teen Talk, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15880, Sacramento, CA 95852, or email

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