Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Toughest Job

When I was in high school, a good friend started dating a guy who we'd all known for a couple of years. At first, she would talk to us when she was unhappy. But over time, we started to judge her boyfriend. We were trying to be supportive, but it came out as criticism. Gradually, she stopped talking to us about him - and eventually, she stopped talking to us at all.

Do you need help? Me too.
Fast forward 20 years - and clearly, not everyone has learned this lesson.

Sometimes, your friends just want to vent. They just need to say something out loud, so they can hear it for themselves. Or maybe so they don't say it to someone else, while they're angry or upset. They don't need advice, or input, or validation. They just need a sounding board.

In my friend's case, it was not a good relationship (hindsight is 20/20). In other cases, it might just be a friend having a bad day. Maybe something happened at work and now she's upset about everything. Maybe she's got some things from past relationships that she needs to work through, without affecting a current relationship. Heck - maybe she's just hormonal. 

Whatever the reason - it is hard to see your friend upset. Most of us want to jump to her defense, or make her problems go away. But you can't. That's not your job as a friend. Some lessons have to be learned, and sometimes we all need to make our mistakes and then find our way back.

The toughest job as a friend? Knowing when it's time to let a friend make her mistakes, and when it's time to help her pick up the pieces and start over.

1 comment:

  1. My grandfather used to say: "It you don't listen then you will feel".

    Truer words were never spoken. But nobody can protect someone else from making their own mistakes. It's part of life. An unpleasant part, to be sure, but part nonetheless.

    Tough love. Hard to implement but necessary.