bad advice club: I know some *concerning* things about my friend’s latest fling…should I tell her?

woo's resident agony aunt Chanté Joseph gives a reader advice on whether they should dish the dirty deets on their friend's fling

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woo's resident agony aunt Chanté Joseph gives a reader advice on whether they should dish the dirty deets on their friend's fling

By Chanté Joseph17 Aug 2023
6 mins read time
6 mins read time

I’m Chanté – writer, presenter, internet addict. I write a lot about relationships, internet trends and being the best, most delusional version of yourself. So welcome to the Bad Advice Club: I’m here to give you some loving advice on your life problems. Listen, I am by no means perfect, but I think that makes me ideal to assist you in navigating tricky issues because nine times out of 10, I’ve been there! Bad advice, bad decisions – these are the twists and turns that make life sweet. So let’s ride it out together: I have some gems to drop, so don’t be shy and send in your stories, woes, dilemmas.

My friend always falls hard, fast and for the wrong guys. Like, it is honestly a huge problem - she really should swear off dating for a while but instead she’s stuck in a loop of getting her heart broken, developing low self esteem then going on the apps and turning what should be an ill-advised rebound hookup into a full-blown relationship with the worst guy ever. At this point, I’ve given up intervening because nothing I say gets through to her, I just try to swerve her talking about it completely and put boundaries in place to make clear that I can’t help her or listen to her when this is all mostly self-inflicted. But, this time, I am pretty worried. She’s showed me the socials of a guy she’s now obsessed with and it turns out I know him! He’s the ex of my friend at work, and he really didn’t treat her well - would forget birthdays, go no contact for days and do god knows what whenever he was with the boys. Even though they’d been together for nine months, he refused to introduce her to his friends and eventually dumped her over text. Since I know this guy, I feel a duty to tell her - but I know it will do nothing, and when she’s enamoured with someone, they can do no wrong. On the flip side, he could also have changed since it was a few years ago that he dated my other friend. What is the best thing I can do as a friend right now?

This feels like a back-and-forth as old as time; I know for a fact there are so many people who can relate to both you and your friend in this situation. I am certainly not above ending up in these terrible cycles with men with red flags falling out every crevice of their bodies. I’ve embarrassingly dived head first - against my better judgement and the disapproving comments from friends - into relationships and situations that I had absolutely no business engaging with. I’ve also been the person completely exhausted by constantly needing to repeat myself to friends who have ended up in the same toxic situations I’ve constantly advised against.

Sometimes your advice, as much as it is well-intentioned and comes from a place of deep concern, isn’t helping her address the real issue. What your friend is dealing with is way more than bad decision-making and a lack of discernment. You’ve already pointed out the low self-esteem and her “self-inflicted” pain from these situations; your friend has a lot of soul-searching to do. Unfortunately, as much as we love our friends, we can’t do the work for them; we must allow them to make their own mistakes.

"It could be through a random conversation, therapy or seeing someone in your position; at some point, we all realise that we need to love ourselves more than the terrible situations we willingly put ourselves in."

I’ve let situations spiral on for too long, and at some point, it always hits me that I am continuing to entertain someone who, at every point, is showing me that they clearly do not like me. The last time this struck me so clearly, I remember leaving the club with someone I’d had a toxic on-and-off situationship with. As always, he filled my head with sweet nothings, slowly pulling down the walls I’d built during our time apart. My friends glared from across the bar, watching all of their advice evaporate from my brain; I could feel their frustration.

I headed out early the next morning for an event while he fought an awful hangover at mine. Playing house, I texted him what I had in the fridge and the cupboards to nurse himself back to optimal health - it felt like old times again, and by the time I’d got home, he was long gone. The next afternoon after hours of radio silence since the eager love-bombing, he texted me asking to “post” his hoodie he’d left behind back to him, and that was it. At that moment, it clicked for me; what on earth was I doing? Now, I’m not saying this was the correct thing to do, but the hoodie never made it to him; it instead accompanied the week's trash, and he was swiftly blocked, never to be contacted or spoken to again.

I share this to say that, as friends, we can guide and support each other through difficult moments, but we can never control or carry the weight of our questionable actions. It could be through a random conversation, therapy or seeing someone in your position; at some point, we all realise that we need to love ourselves more than the terrible situations we willingly put ourselves in. Sometimes we land in these places because our desire to experience a moment of affection - no matter how hollow or fake - is greater than how much we desire peace. We all fall short, and we all mess up, but we can always make it through; it just takes longer for some of us to get there.

"Don’t be discouraged if she starts a relationship with this person and it ends badly; hold all of the “I told you so” comments, as there is no predicting how things will turn out."

In the meantime, you can suggest books, podcasts, and interviews that could help your friend to start thinking a bit more critically about how she behaves and why she makes those choices. Some of my favourites are Arrangements in Blue by Amy Key, Facing Love Addiction by Pia Mellody, Becoming The One by Sheleana Aiyana, Codependent No More by Melodie Beattie and Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller.

As for whether you should share this partner's history with your friend - absolutely. If you’re aware of something that could lead to her being hurt, then it is always better to disclose it so she can make an informed decision. Don’t be discouraged if she starts a relationship with this person and it ends badly; hold all of the “I told you so” comments, as there is no predicting how things will turn out. It’s better to be there for your friends as they deal with these problems and share resources that can help them through when you feel like your words aren’t enough.

I have all the faith in the world your friend will get through this, even if it does take some time.