Dating & Relationships

How do I break up a friend’s toxic relationship?

Joe_titan25 asks:

A friend of mine is a terrible boyfriend who often commits non-consensual acts against his girlfriends. How can I break up that relationship for the sake of his poor girlfriend? (And as a bonus, how could I possibly date her myself, yet respectfully?)


Demetrius says:

First, let me answer this question generally, for people who might have a friend in a toxic relationship but not one where physical or sexual violence is occurring:

How do I break up a friend’s toxic relationship?

 

Generally speaking, there aren’t any hard and fast ways to break up a toxic relationship, outside of providing someone with information they might consider worth ending a relationship over. Let’s say you knew a couple, and you knew that one of them habitually cheated on the other. You could always tell their partner about the cheating, but there is no guarantee that they would actually break up. People tend to forgive a lot of pretty unforgivable stuff in toxic relationships, that’s why they’re toxic. You can always try to break up a relationship by just sharing facts with someone, but in my experience I’ve found that most pairing where cheating is occurring, the longer they’ve been together, the less likely they are to let infidelity break them up. So there isn’t generally a way to have a toxic relationship broken up by external parties, but the only way I’ve found is cold hard truth. But it doesn’t always work.

Now that we’ve answered your question generally, let’s talk about your question specifically.

I’m all for loyalty among friends, but this guy sounds like a piece of human garbage no matter how I read this question. Saying your friend is a terrible boyfriend is one thing, but when you say that he commits “non-consensual acts”, I’m very curious and concerned about what you mean. Is he sexually assaulting his girlfriends, or is he having sex outside of the relationship without consent. Either way, he’s trash, but one has horrifying moral and legal ramifications, while the other only has moral ramifications where he’s just a dirtbag. I try not to get to heavy in my posts, but I can not avoid taking this seriously in good conscience.  Quick disclaimer here, I’m not the most knowledgable person when it comes to sexual assault, the laws governing these crimes, nor the reporting process for victims or people who care about the victims of these crimes, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least share a resource. RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and their website is full of incredibly helpful information that I think everyone would find useful. I bring this up specifically because you’re saying that your friend is committing non-consensual acts against his girlfriends, that is the very definition of sexual assault. RAINN has great resources, one of which is called Help Someone You Care About. If what you’re saying is that your friend is sexually assaulting the people he dates, I highly recommend using that resource page if you really do care about his victims. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sexual assault, I hope you know that you’re not alone, and that there are people out there who can help.

On the off-chance that you’re just really bad at phrasing, I’m really bad at reading comprehension, and what you’re really saying is that he commits indiscretions (i.e. cheats, steals, lies, etc.) without consent, let me tackle that. As I mentioned above, there isn’t a guaranteed way to break up a relationship, but your best bet will always be the truth. Share the truth with her, tell her what you think of the guy, and hope for the best.

Oh and to answer your bonus question: no,you can’t try to date her. It’s a bad idea to date someone so willing to be in a toxic relationship that in order to date her, you’d need to get her to break up with your friend. Even if you thought that was a good idea, I’m 100% certain she’ll have no interest in dating you. If you float the idea to her, she’ll assume you’re trying to break up their relationship specifically to date her. If you genuinely care about this woman, you shouldn’t be trying to date her at all, and should just be trying to help her. The best thing you can do for her is offer her help without expectations, and the best thing you can do for you is not trying to date people fresh out of toxic relationships. Be a friend to her, that’s what she needs now more than anything else.

One final thing: If either of my interpretations of your question are right, you have to ask yourself why you’re still friends with this guy. If he’s sexually assaulting his girlfriend or other women, there is no reason at all you should be this guy’s friend. If I read things wrong and he’s just a toxic dirtbag who makes you feel like you need to break up his relationship, do you really think he’s a good enough person to remain friends with? If either of these is the case, he does not deserve your friendship, and continuing to remain his friend says a hell of a lot about you.

Good Luck Out There.

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