One of my best friends has been unhealthily obsessed with the same guy for almost four years (we're now seniors in college). They have hooked up intermittently over this time but have never been on a date or spent any platonic time together. He has never displayed any actual interest in her or her feelings despite it being incredibly obvious that she is very attached. She refuses to show interest in any other person. My friend responds to this guy's booty call messages every single time, running over to his place even at 3am in the pouring rain. She is obsessed to the point of letting it completely control her mood. We're at a breaking point and have no idea what to do. Please help!
-A, J, and S
First of all, thanks for writing. It's very moving to hear from people who are genuinely concerned about the welfare of their friends and are willing to do anything they can to help. I want to help give you the strength to do what comes next by clarifying some things about what causes people to behave this way, in hopes that you can see your friend's situation from her perspective.
There are always two sides to every story, and in this case there's the way that you look at what is happening, and then there's the way that she looks at. You see a wonderful young woman who is wasting her time devoting herself to someone who couldn't care less about her and is just using her. She, on the other hand, may have very deep psychological reasons for doing this, and often this kind of behavior can be traced to a similar dynamic that was imprinted in early childhood.
If she has confided in one or all of you about any of the relationships she had or observed when she was growing up, for example within her family, you can look for clues there and try to spot things from that time that she might be recreating now. If she's not very forthcoming talking about these things, you might have to use gentle persuasion to get her to open up.
If and when you learn the truth about what sort of past dynamic she might be recreating, the next step is to help her see a way out of that by showing her the pattern and giving her the tools to break the cycle. There are plenty of books to be read on the subject; you can start with my own book, Hindsight: What You Need to Know Before You Drop Your Drawers.
But while books might get the message across, all the words in the world cannot make her take good advice until she is ready to wake up and start healing herself from these self-destructive and self-sabotaging patterns. It can be frustrating to you to watch as you wait for her to come to her senses, but the best you can do you is be sympathetic, empathetic, and encourage her in the right direction as much as you can without putting yourself in emotional harm. Your support can make a huge difference in helping her see the light.
If at any point you become concerned about your girlfriend's safety, or she mentions anything about harming herself, always take that seriously and find out immediately where you can get professional help on campus. You can never be too careful when someone's life is at stake.
To get an idea of a healthy, mutual respectful relationship, check out my interview on Spiritual Partnership with Gary Zukav and Linka Francis: http://www.youtube.com/maryannelive11#p/a/u/1/Fk8i9vFpuMs
by Maryanne Comaroto of Maryanne Live