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How to Keep Your Friends and Your Bad Relationship

by Jessamyn Cuneo (writer), Los Angeles, January 08, 2007

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Bad relationships are like bad habits: So enticing and thrilling in the beginning. So addictive, you’re hardly aware of the dangerously-building momentum. Next thing you know, you’re hooked. There are no visible exits. You think you’re “in love,” but only because you seem to have lost your mind, and you’ve always heard that that’s what love is supposed to be like.

The usual reaction to this situation is to talk to your friends and family members. Filling them in on some of the details makes you feel more in control. Alas, all your friends seem able to do is offer the advice to “wake up and bail ship.”

You argue that they don’t understand, that this person is really special, says really sweet things from time to time, etc. You tell them you think you can change him or her for the better. Even if you don’t say that, you’re implying it by staying in the relationship in the first place.

Talking to your friends becomes what I like to call the “balance drug.” The “upper” you use to take the edge off the “downer.” However, all drugs have their limits. Without really realizing it, you’re sucking your friends dry.

This continues on, until the day your bad relationship inevitably comes to what first appears as a split, but is actually a pause. These pauses are the periods when you pretend that you’ve found the strength to move on, or the (in)significant other has vocalized their need for space, usually to do shady things.

You tell all your friends it’s over. They’re all thrilled, of course. After crying a bit (or a lot) you make promises that you don’t really realize you’ll be breaking in a matter of days.

As with all addictions, relapse catalysts are like returned run-away dogs; they linger, hungry and barking, at the door. And sadly enough, all of us “ex”-addicts can’t seem to turn away from their old beloved pets. They’re just so familiar and they need us, right? And so, we inevitably become dog food.

Here’s where things get even more complicated. As soon as you get back together with the dreaded him/her, you are usually scolded and/or abandoned by all but the best of your friends. They tell you they can’t stand to see you get hurt again, you deserve better…etc.

The second round usually ends sooner than the first. You cry on your two remaining friends’ shoulders. Then, the evil he/she wants one last chance. He/she even brings you flowers, or some other useless item that sparks a completely irrational shred of hope in you.

Before you know it, you’re back where you began.

Except this time, you find yourself with no remaining friends. Your family can’t manage to have a normal conversation with you. No one answers your calls.

Sound familiar?

Don’t give up hope, yet. Things don’t have to be this way; the next time around, you can end this ugly cycle. You can keep your friends during your next bad relationship, using my easy two-step plan. All it takes is a little restraint on your part, and a touch of false imagery. Nothing you haven’t already had experience with, living with your parents as a teenager.

Step One: When you first realize you’re about to embark on another sour affair, you need to consider all of your friends. Which are the most important to keep? Which have you secretly been hoping would fade away? When you settle upon one or two friends in the “to spare” category, you are ready for the next step.

Step Two: Withhold all negative information about your significantly-bad other from the friends you want to remain close with. Retain a beautiful, romanticized façade. Only disclose to them the brightest words that escape from your beloved’s lips. Share with them the highest of the high moments.

You’ll be elated when your friends continue to call you. They may even invite you out on double-dates. If your unhealthy man/woman is charming in public, it is safe to accept these invitations. However, if your partner’s not so socially inclined, it’s best to use excuses like, “Oh, we’re supposed to have dinner with his mom that night,” or, “Sorry, we’re going hiking with her brother that Saturday.” (It’s always a safe bet to include a member of his/her family in the plans; that way, your friends won’t invite themselves along.)

Meanwhile, you can call your one (or two or three) designated “spare” friends all you want, giving them earfuls of the loony details of your private life. They might, at first, be into your choice to exclusively dish to them (you will swear them to secrecy), but after a while, they’ll probably start withdrawing from the friendship. Some will bow out earlier than others, which is why it’s good to have more than one “spare” friend. The really stellar spares will stick it out, making you aware of what a jerk you were for underestimating their value as friends.

However, if (and when) they disappear, there’s no need to worry. You’ll still have a bunch of untapped friends and family members remaining, regardless of the status of your relationship!


About the Writer

Jessamyn Cuneo is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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2 comments on How to Keep Your Friends and Your Bad Relationship

Log In To Vote   Score: 1
By Steven Lane on January 08, 2007 at 07:43 pm
I remember a quote, I don't know who said it, but I have found it to be totally true. "No reason to stay is a good reason to go."
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Log In To Vote   Score: 1
By V on January 08, 2007 at 08:06 pm
Yes, I like that quote Steve! And pretty good plan you've got there Jessamyn!
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