Our friends are more like family to us Black women. They are there to celebrate the beautiful and the ugly, the triumphs and the failures, the drunk days and the sober nights. We spend so much time and life together that it’s completely reasonable that you could find yourself emotionally attached to her life decisions–particularly her dating ones.
When our bestie is going through a break up, so are we. Many of us are empaths, and we feel the pain and twinges of fear in our own bodies as we hold our friend in our lap as she sobs.
Seeing your loved one’s heart broken over and over year after year suddenly becomes your own pain and burden as you help each other through each cycle of healing. As nurturing as these connections are, they can quickly become unhealthy when you find yourself way too emotionally invested in how she chooses to live her life out of fear she will get hurt again.
Suddenly you find your jaw tight as she decides to go on a second date with the dude who you “totally got bad vibes from.” You find yourself distressed when she takes her cheating boyfriend back for the Nth time. You start getting into arguments because she never “takes your advice anyway.” At this point the friendship isn’t a safe haven for either of you anymore, and it’s time for a disconnect.
I learned of compassionate detachment from coaching and personal development guru Helen Abbott. She explains that the goal of compassionate detachment is to relate to others in a way that allows them to “deal with their own problems and become responsible for their own issues, while I express a loving concern for the nature of their current predicament, and simultaneously stay detached from the outcome.”
You can express empathy while simultaneously removing your attachment from how it all turns out. It may sound cold at first, but it’s actually loving to allow your best friend the space to live the life she pleases without an element of control or judgement.
Of course, speak up if she is an actual physical danger or harm. But even in those cases, therapists advise that you can intervene and seek professional assistance, but the ultimate choice to leave is left up to the one in the relationship, not you.
At the end of the day, you don’t have to lay next to you best friend’s man in bed every night. You aren’t sharing meals with him. You aren’t creating a life with him.
Remembering these facts can keep you from getting too caught up in their drama, and losing your friendship in the crossfires.