Ignore This Call?


Dear Dharma,

I’m in a pickle. I have a childhood friend that I’ve managed to stay in touch with in this busy world and we have a great relationship. However she is married to a man with a not so great one.

I’ve watched her marry him, have 2 amazing children and buy their first home. Sounds great, right?

However I’ve also watched them scream and fight, call each other horrible names, break up and get back together.  All in front of the kids btw.  They have said things to each other I could never imagine saying to anyone. Over the last several years she’s only told me she’s been truly happy maybe twice?

And then this happened…

This year she has caught him trying to have an affair. It’s a long story and we still aren’t sure if he succeeded in the past, but this particular situation she found out before it started. I feel this is probably something he’s done before…

At this point, after everything, of course it’s easy for me to say, “Run for the hills! Take your children and you will figure it out! Don’t live this rotten relationship anymore!” I know it’s not that easy… and at the moment she has decided to keep him in her life…again…

After all this and all these years I’m at a point where I can no longer give advice because there is none to give when she won’t take any of it. Which is fine, I don’t expect people to just listen and do what I say, but there is a certain point where I can only hear so much when she is just allowing it to happen.

It frustrates me to no end and I want nothing but her to be happy. But now when I see her name pop up on my phone I think, “Oh God here we go again…” Of course I want to be there for her no matter what, but this is getting a little too much and repetitive.

So my question is; in order to keep my sanity and my friendship, how do I tell her that I can’t worry about her relationship anymore and if she can’t say anything nice about her it or him…maybe it’s time not to say anything at all?

Frustrated and Frazzled

Dear F & F,

Ask her what it is she needs from you.

Next time she calls you with the latest drama update, quietly listen until she’s done – and fight every urge to interrupt with words of wisdom.

Once she is done and clearly waiting for you to say something, I would say, “So, Sally.  What is it you need from me right now?  I feel we’ve had this conversation a million times, and I’ve tried to be as helpful as I possibly can be, but to no avail.  You still continue to stay in a situation that makes you miserable, and now I’m wondering what it is you need from me.”

And then shut it.  If it’s awkward, sit through it.  Good things usually come out the other side of uncomfortable silence.

I personally think she’s going to respond with some version of a reiteration of what’s going on and why this is so difficult for her, all without answering your question.

So repeat it.

“Yes, I hear you, and I’ll ask again what it is you need from me, because you should know how upsetting it is for me to watch you live your life this way.  I recognize, however, that’s your choice, so maybe until there is something I can actually do for you, we can talk about something else.”

She won’t like that.  And that’s okay.  If she’s a decent person and a good friend, hopefully she will absorb what you’ve said and handle things differently.

Go forward in your relationship with her as you have done in the past… talk about other things, go to movies, whatever it is you do together.  That way, you’re letting her know you are still there for her, but just not willing to make the crux of your relationship the total sum of her bad relationship.




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  • Jenna says:

    OMG! I can totally relate to this! Its so frustrating! I wish I had thought of Dharma’s reaction! Instead I bluntly said, I can’t listen to you complain about this anymore and not be willing do to something to change it. As i’m sure you can imagine that went over like a lead balloon. Needless to say we barely talk anymore. Silver lining is I guess I don’t have to hear about it anymore!

  • Irene McGuinness says:

    Gosh, great advice Dharma. I’m sort of running through something similar with someone. And it’s all about boundaries as well.

    • Dharma says:

      It’s definitely frustrating watching someone stay in a situation you know is terrible for them…especially when you’re the one they turn to for “advice” they have no intention of taking…

      Thanks for your comment, Irene!

Whether you agree with Dharma or think she missed the mark on this one, leave a Comment!

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