When a friend starts engaging in behavior that you do not agree with, it can hit your relationship like a ton of bricks. Sometimes a friend will get into a toxic relationship that is so clearly bad for her. Maybe she’ll get into a line of work that goes against your values, or even just brings out the worst in your friend. Maybe she just befriends a new person you don’t like one bit. There are a lot of decisions friends can make that let us down, but we have to remember that as long as they continue to be loyal friends to us, we don’t have to burn that bridge. In fact, if you’re like me, you may have already learned that ending friendships with every person who makes some choices you don’t support will leave you with very few companions. We can’t expect a lifetime of perfection from people. Even our favorites will mess up occasionally.
You can still find yourself in a tough position if you decide to keep a friend around who is doing things you don’t agree with. How do you remain a supportive presence in her life when you don’t support her choices? We’ll use the example of a friend being in a toxic relationship here, but you can easily see how each tip translates to having a friend who gets into even more complicated situations. These tips are to be used after you’ve spoken your piece and told her you don’t agree with what she’s doing. If she continues with it anyways, then you’ll have to learn to be there for her in a way that works for you.
Limit how much you hear
You are allowed to set some boundaries surrounding how much you’ll hear about this bad choice. Again, we’ll use the toxic relationship example. Hearing about some things, like all the emotionally abusive behavior and manipulative tendencies, can be triggering for you. It can impact your moods and your mental health. And just because your friend has decided that she is willing to engage in something that damages her mental health doesn’t mean that you have to go along for the ride. You can say, “I love you. But you know I don’t agree with this. It hurts me to listen to it, so if you choose to stay in that relationship, I’d prefer if you don’t share much about it with me.”