How to Help a Friend Get Out of a Bad Relationship

Is your sister or friend going out with the wrong guy? Here are five ways to help a friend get out of a bad relationship.

How to Help a Friend Get Out of a Bad RelationshipWhen you want to help someone, you need to make sure you’re not enabling or overstepping your boundaries. Reading books like The Enabler: When Helping Harms will help you set boundaries – and see the difference between being available to help someone and trying to control their lives.

Here’s a reader’s dilemma: “My sister started dating this guy, and he constantly texts her and if she doesn’t answer back within about 5 seconds he calls her,” says S. on 10 Signs of a Bad Relationship. “After going out for less than a week, they were already saying I love you and having sex. He buys her a lot of things. She won’t listen to me or our other sister – we think he is only using her.”

That said, however, there are times that you need to help a loved one who is with the wrong guy or in an unhealthy relationship…

If you’re a parent with a daughter who is with the wrong guy, you may find When Our Grown Kids Disappoint Us: Letting Go of Their Problems, Loving Them Anyway, and Getting on with Our Lives.

5 Ways to Help a Friend Get Out of a Bad Relationship

“My sister has been going out with her current boyfriend for almost three weeks now,” says S. “She is talking about moving in with him and his parents, getting married and having kids. I’m really concerned about her and so is our other sister, but she won’t listen to us. I also just got out of a bad relationship that lasted two years and I have a kid who is one. I’ve been in her shoes and I am trying to get her to see what I see. I know it’s not just me being paranoid because it happened to me. My oldest sister sees what happened to me happening to her also. Can you please give me some advice to help her?”

Remember that people need to make their own mistakes

The reason you want to help your loved one is because you’ve experienced the same thing already. You have the benefit of experience…and she doesn’t. Think back to when you were with the wrong guy in your past relationship. Could anyone have helped you leave him? Or, were you so enthralled that nobody could have said anything to help you leave? Though it’s smart and good to learn from other people’s mistakes, we tend to need to make our own. This is the best way to learn about life and become wise.

Avoid criticizing “Mr Wrong”

Whatever you say about the guy your sister or friend is seeing will become a barrier between you – even if you’re right! Don’t tell her what a jerk he is, or how he’s using her. Don’t tell her what you really think of him. If she knows you don’t like him, she’ll be less likely to come to you for help when the relationship falls apart. She’ll be embarrassed and in pain, and she won’t want to talk to you about him. Instead of criticizing the guy your sister or friend is with, stay neutral when you talk about him.

That said, however, here are a few tips from Coping Strategies for Stressful Relationships:

How to Help a Friend Get Out of a Bad Relationship

How to Help a Friend Get Out of a Bad Relationship

“You need to sit down with your friend when her boyfriend isn’t around and talk to her about it. Tell her that you are worried for her because of how you see him treat her. She probably won’t want to listen or will make up reasons why he treats her like that. Tell her that she deserves much better than the way her treats her and that you know there is someone else out there for her that will respect her. You definitely need to stick your nose in here. That what friends are for. To look out for each other.”

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If you want to help your sister or friend who is with the wrong guy, don’t tell her how you feel more than once.

Give her information to stay as healthy as possible

When I interviewed a therapist for my article on abusive relationships (Why Women Who Are Abused Can’t Walk Away – The Abuse Dynamic), she said that the best way to help women with the wrong guy is to give them information. If the time doesn’t seem right to give pamphlets or email links, save the info for the future.

If possible, email your sister or friend articles like How to Spot a Man Who Will Try to Manipulate and Control You. You don’t have to tell her what you think of the guy she’s with to give her good tips!

Remind your sister or friend that you’re available anytime

One of the best ways to help a sister or friend who is with the wrong guy is to keep telling her that you’re there for her anytime. Lend a nonjudgmental, open, supportive listening ear when she shares the best and worst of her relationship. Practice loving her even though you think she’s with the wrong guy…and even if that guy isn’t treating her well.

What do you think of these ways to help your sister or friend get out of a bad relationship? Comments welcome below…I can’t offer advice or counseling, but it may help you to write about your experience.

Laurie's "She Blossoms" Books

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Growing Forward When You Can't Go Back offers hope, encouragement, and strength for women walking through loss. My Blossom Tips are fresh and practical - they stem from my own experiences with a schizophrenic mother, foster homes, a devastating family estrangement, and infertility.

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How to Let Go of Someone You Love: Powerful Secrets (and Practical Tips!) for Healing Your Heart is filled with comforting and healthy breakup advice. The Blossom Tips will help you loosen unhealthy attachments to the past, seal your heart with peace, and move forward with joy.

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When You Miss Him Like Crazy: 25 Lessons to Move You From Broken to Blossoming After a Breakup will help you refocus your life, re-create yourself, and start living fully again! Your spirit will rise and you'll blossom into who you were created to be.


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2 thoughts on “How to Help a Friend Get Out of a Bad Relationship

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    I guess there are two different issues here. One is watching your friend struggling in a bad relationship…and the second is having to offer your should to cry on, over and over! It can get tiring to always offer sympathy and support when you know that she needs to stop dating that guy.

    Maybe the answer involves setting boundaries with your friend. Not hours of complaining and crying about her boyfriend. Find the balance – talk about other things, too. Empowering things, fun things, LIFE things!

  • Sydney

    Great advice, Laurie. Until recently, I’ve had a lot of trouble with the first tip, remembering that everybody has to make their own mistakes. I can think of two women in my life in particular who always seem to be with the wrong guys. It can be really frustrating to watch them complain and cry over the same issues over and over again. However, I finally understand that we each have our own lessons to learn and that the lessons will repeat themselves until we learn them. My life is much less stressful now that I’ve set boundaries on how much I let them vet, learning to walk the fine line between being supportive but yet not encouraging unhealthy behavior.