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Watching my friend's terrible love life

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  September 23, 2011 08:51 AM

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Q: Dear Meredith,

A friend of mine -- who I used to like a lot -- has been exhibiting a lot of risky behavior. I don't usually interfere in another adult's risky behavior, but this situation has me concerned. Since I have known her, she has made a name for herself among our social group for hitting on, making out with, and throwing herself (literally) at any man she sees when she has been drinking -- as a married woman. Her marriage recently ended and she almost immediately began dating a man who used to be her boss. She has continued with her drunken antics with other men while she has been dating him.

Why do I care? He has children. They are planning a future together. I am having a hard time standing by and watching her behave recklessly in yet another relationship, and this one with higher stakes. What should I do? Tell him? Give her a stern talking to? Stop being her friend (which will likely happen anyway)?

– Friend of Out of Control Woman, Boston


A: FOOOCW, your question isn't a traditional Love Letters query, but I get so many "How can I stop my friend from being a jerk in his/her love life?" questions that I try to answer a few.

Most of the time, I tell letter writers like you to box up your judgment and ask questions. Because we can't control what our friends do, and often, we don't really know what’s best for them. But in your case, it's impossible not to judge, and your friend's actions are affecting you. That means you have to protect yourself.

I'd tell her that you're worried. I'd tell her that you're having a tough time watching all of this. I'd tell her that the stress of keeping secrets on her behalf makes you not want to be around her. I'd tell her that you don't know what to do and that you need guidance from her.

See what she has to say and then set boundaries. We don't have to support our friends' love lives if their relationships force us to lie. We certainly don't have to support anyone who puts us in unsafe situations.

I don't recommend telling anyone about her cheats. It's just not worth it. Focus on yourself, and if it seems like the right thing to do, walk away.

Readers? Should the LW tell the new guy about the bar antics? Should the LW walk away from the friend? Would a "talking to" really help the friend? What is the LW's role here? Help.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

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.

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