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And good LL song of the day today.
Q: Hi Meredith,
My friends and I love your column and (usually) consider your advice to be law. I'm writing about a friend. Not quite a "love" letter. I hope it counts as one because I love my friend and I need some advice on how to pull her out of her funk.
My best friend (26) recently terminated a bad relationship. From the things that she has said about him and the times that I saw them together, I feel like she should be thrilled to be away from him. He was verbally abusive to her in front of her friends, and while she won't talk much about their actual relationship, I have some pretty serious suspicions about what went on that she is not telling me. Since breaking up, he has continued to contact her despite her changing her phone number. He always seems to find her.
It's literally all she talks about. This ex. She's morbidly convinced that he is going to continue to reach out to her and that he might be a danger. I've heard some of his messages, and while I'm unhappy he's contacting her, I think she may be overreacting.
In the past few weeks I've noticed that she's been avoiding me. When I question her she says she's fine -- but she's not fine. She hasn't been eating, she's been drinking more, her usual bouncy attitude is just not present, she's crying all the time, and she's just sort of miserable to be around. She admits that she's not her usual self but gets defensive when I say anything to her. She says she has every right to be angry, that she is talking to a professional, and that she really just wants me to back off.
So Meredith, when is a kick in the pants appropriate? I want my friend to realize how lucky she is to be away from this creep and to stop dwelling on him and what he did. I want my awesome, positive best friend back! What do I say? What do I do? How can I make her realize she's an awesome, wonderful person and that she needs to get back to normal?
– She Should Be Happy It’s Over, Brookline
A: I don't know if she needs a kick in the pants right now, SSBHIO. She needs a friend who will allow her to process what happened without telling her she should be psyched she dodged a bullet.
It's impossible for her to rally right this second. She committed herself to someone who was terrible to her. That means she's dealing with two horrors, the nature of the relationship and the break-up itself. It's a lot to deal with at once, especially when you add in her fears, irrational or not.
My advice is to listen. You said it-- she might not be telling you everything. Tell her you want to be there for her. Ask her questions. Lower your expectations for a quick recovery.
Right now, at least in your letter, your concerns sound like criticisms. I understand your point -- the less energy she spends on this guy the better. But getting over it isn't that simple. She needs to be able to wallow, express fears, talk about what happened, and even say she misses this guy without fearing she'll be judged or punished. Talking to a professional will help, but it will also put her in the middle of a lot of repressed emotions, including some that have nothing to do with the relationship. Let her deal. Be kind. No tough love yet.
Readers? Am I right? Or should the letter writer continue to tell her friend to get over it? Why isn't the friend happy she got out of a bad situation? Is she seeking unwarranted attention from the letter writer? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.