Deciding whether to speak up or keep quiet about a friend’s relationship is a tricky line to walk, and one to be approached with careful consideration. Unless abuse is present—in which case you should seek to get your friend out immediately—there are a few important things to remember.
If you do choose to say something, licensed marriage and family therapist Tiana Leeds, M.A., LMFT, stresses that you’ll want to bring up any qualms in a “loving and objective way with clear examples.” She adds it can also be helpful to “remind your friend that only they know what’s best for them and that you will be there no matter who they date.”
And as clinical psychologist Perpetua Neo, DClinPsy, previously told mbg, try to keep the focus on your friend and how their partner’s behavior is affecting them. For example, instead of saying, I can’t believe Josh ditched you. He’s the worst, you could say, I noticed Josh didn’t make it last night. How do you feel about that?
“This invites conversation and reflection,” Neo explains, adding that from there, you can ask if they would like your opinion, and you will (or won’t be) invited to answer.
Ultimately, though, we can never understand the full picture of someone’s intimate relationship, and it’s up to your friend or family member to stay or leave. As Leeds puts it, “It’s not our job to pick our friend’s partners, but it is up to us to support them in the ups and downs of the relationship they’ve chosen.”
Check out our full guide to how to help someone in a toxic relationship for more tips.