I Helped My Friend Recover From A Toxic Relationship And Then She Went Back To The A**hole

When one of my oldest friends started dating this douchebag we went to school with, I knew right away it was going to be a disaster. He was arrogant, disrespectful, and borderline abusive with a love of gaslighting and negging. She assured me that he was totally different behind closed doors and like a good friend, I zipped my lips and said nothing. When she finally came to her senses and realized what a mistake she’d made, I was the one who was there to help my friend leave her toxic relationship. Things were going so well… and then she went back to him.

  1. He treated her like garbage. I can’t even tell you how many times she’d call me crying about something awful he said to her/about her, how she’d discovered him cheating on her yet again, etc. He literally treated her like scum on the bottom of his shoe and while she knew she needed to get away from him, she was loathe to leave him. He’d somehow manipulated her into moving in with him and that was a major barrier to my friend deciding to help herself by cutting the cord on her toxic relationship for so long.
  2. I supported her until she found the strength to leave. I was always reminding her of her worth, telling her that she deserved better than the hell this guy put her through, and assuring her that I was there for her and she could always talk to me. All of this seemed to help my friend gather her strength and leave her toxic relationship eventually. She told him she was done with him, that she wasn’t going to put up with being treated that way anymore, and it was over. I was so proud of her, I can’t even tell you.
  3. I let her stay with me after they broke up. I’d told her all along that if she wanted to leave him but couldn’t find another place quickly, she could stay with me. That’s exactly what she did. She moved into my place and slept on the couch for a few weeks and it was actually a lot of fun. We lived together in college and it reminded me of old times. We’d stay up late, watch movies while eating pizza, and she’d look at all the guys I matched with on dating apps with me. It was really great and I was glad to have my friend back.
  4. I helped her get back on her feet. While she was staying with me, she started looking for a new apartment since she gave hers up to move in with her loser ex about a year prior. She eventually found a great place and I helped her move on, drove her to Ikea to get loads of stuff for her new place (and some meatballs, obviously), and came over regularly to help her paint and decorate. I really wanted to help my friend celebrate her new life after leaving such a toxic relationship and it seemed to be going well.
  5. I was her shoulder to cry on as she unloaded her baggage. The true aftermath of the breakup seemed to take a while to hit her, and she’d been in her new place for about six weeks when the PTSD seemed to hit her. She was an absolute wreck of emotions, and I was there for her the whole time, acting as a sounding board and someone to give her a hug and hold her hand as she worked through her feelings and rebuilt herself without him. That’s what a good friend does, right?
  6. It was amazing to see her happy again finally. Eventually, she enrolled in therapy and started really working through the issues that the relationship had left her with and I started to see a whole new side of my friend. She was so much happier, brighter, full of life. I actually felt honored that I was able to help my friend leave her toxic relationship because of where she was now. It was like a night and day difference.
  1. I was excited when she started dating again. She eventually decided that she might be ready to dip her toes into the dating pool again and I was thrilled! We both thought it was a good idea that she take it slowly and really vet any guys she agreed to meet up with. She was hesitant in case she repeated old patterns, but I had a lot of confidence in the work she’d done on herself and faith that she’d find someone great.
  2. Then her ex came back into the picture… It was like this guy had some kind of bizarre sonar that told him she was in a really good place and had moved on from him completely and he had to come in and destroy it. My friend knew that their relationship was toxic, but she couldn’t help but “give him a chance to explain himself” after he badgered her repeatedly for weeks. He claimed that he’d changed, that he knew what he’d done wrong and he was so sorry and his life just wasn’t the same without her in it. And, god damn it, she started listening to him!
  3. I warned her against going back to him but she didn’t listen. I reminded her how far she’d come since leaving him and how much work it took to get back into a good place thanks to the damage he’d caused, but she wasn’t having it. It was like she’d left planet earth and entered some bizarre alternate dimension where she could only hear the bullsh-t that was coming out of his mouth. I was absolutely furious and actually stopped talking to her for a few weeks when I found out they were dating again (which she tried to hide from me, I should add).
  4. Now the same things are happening yet again. Because a tiger doesn’t change its stripes, I doubt anyone would be surprised to know that all the help I gave my friend to get out of her toxic relationship was an absolute waste of time. He hadn’t changed at all. He’s the same vindictive, manipulative, unfaithful jerk he always was and she’s beside herself. She’s still making excuses for his behavior, but I can see her waver a bit, like she knows what she’s saying is ridiculous and even she doesn’t believe it. And yet, she hasn’t broken up with him yet. At least she was sensible enough not to move in with him again… yet.
  5. I’m over it… but I can’t abandon her. As furious as I am at her and the situation, at the end of the day, she’s one of my best friends. Leaving her now to deal with things on her own wouldn’t make me feel better about the situation. I’m always going to be there for her, I just hope there’s not as much of a mess to pick up when it all falls apart this time.
Bolde has been a source of dating and relationship advice for single women around the world since 2014. We combine scientific data, experiential wisdom, and personal anecdotes to provide help and encouragement to those frustrated by the journey to find love. Follow us on Instagram @bolde_media or on Facebook @BoldeMedia