What to do when your friend is dating a fool

By Kara Byers May 2, 2016
When your friend is dating an idiot

Your best friend is dating a douchebag/loser/Grade-A idiot, but what can you do about it? 

These are the species of jerks your mate might fall for and psychologist Leanne Hall’s advice on the best way to deal with each.

The narcissist

Him: He loves to talk, but only about himself.

How to deal: According to Hall, if you put him down you’ll only spark a row with your friend. Instead, strategically highlight the power imbalance.

What to say: “But surely your beau thinks you’re great at that too?” and she’ll have to say “Actually, no”, Hall suggests. “You’re being a bit clever about it rather than hitting her in the face with it.” Remember, it’s your job to be there for her. “You have to be there to pick up the pieces when it falls apart, because a relationship with a narcissist never lasts”.

How to deal when your friend is dating a narcissist

The critic

Him: He’s known for telling her she’s stupid, not funny and could do with dropping a few kilos.

How to deal: This guy’s insecurities run deep. Hall explains, “The more he puts his partner down, the better he feels about himself.” What a douche. Your job as her best mate is to build her waning confidence back up.

What to say: “'Actually, I think you’re awesome at that’ and ‘He might think that but I think you look really hot in that dress,’” says Hall. “Instead of directly calling him out you’re showing her a different perspective, and hopefully that will win in the end.”

What to do when your friend is dating a critic

The sleaze

Him: Aside from the full-on creepy vibe he emits, he also visibly checks out other women.

How to deal: Firstly, make sure that whenever possible, you’re never alone with him. Secondly, draw her attention to his behaviour without making accusations. “Give her specific examples,” suggests Hall. “Try, ‘I saw the way he was looking at Sarah. How does it make you feel when he does that?’” Don’t make it about you, your mate might accuse you of jealousy. 

What to say: “'If I was going out with a guy who was doing that, what advice would you be giving me?’” Hall says. “That may help jolt things a bit for her.”

How to deal with your friend's sleazy boyfriend

The user

Him: He’s always ‘borrowing’ money off her, hardly ever replies to texts and drops off the radar for sometimes weeks at a time.

How to deal: Hall believes this comes down to your friend’s failure to set boundaries. Break out your best armchair psychologist bit and help her think about her bad romance – without judgement.  “In this situation the question you’d be asking your mate, ‘What are you getting out of this relationship?’” Hall advises.

What to say: “What are you afraid of by saying no to him?” Hall advises. “And she’ll probably reply ‘That he’ll leave me.’ That’s your opportunity to bounce back with, ‘Do you think that’s healthy? Do you think that it’s OK that you have to let him use you?”

What to do when your friend is dating a user

The controller

Him: He tells your friend what to wear, what to buy and who she can socialize with.

How to deal: She’s going to need you so don’t cut her out. “The more you can do for her without expecting anything in return, the better the chances are of her coming to you when she’s ready,” says Hall. “If your friend feels you’re being negative or judgemental she won’t open up.” This is a tricky situation, Hall warns, as controlling behavior can escalate into abuse. “If your girlfriend has become withdrawn or her behavior has changed dramatically, you need to say something”.

What to say: “’I’m worried about you, this isn’t healthy’. Make sure you give her the opportunity to talk,” Hall says.

Is your friend dating a controller? How to deal with it

Worried about someone who’s in a relationship that compromises their safety? Call 1800 RESPECT, the National Sexual Assault, Family and Domestic Violence Counselling Line, for advice. 

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