i have a friend with a habit of ignoring when people she is around are being horrible to others. she remains friends with people who say derogatory slurs about minorities, have abused people, have called her own friends (including me) bad things, and are overall bad people, and just makes excuses for them. she stays stuff like "i wont believe it until i see it" if anyone tells her about stuff they have said, and then brushes it off, and makes it pretty clear she doesn't believe us. she refuses to confront people and if she ever does she wont push them to change their behavior, and gives up quickly. i don't want to stop her from having friends, but i know these bad people aren't her only friends, and she just actively chooses to talk to them out of everyone she could hang out with. its starting to seriously bother me, but i don't know how to tell her i'm not comfortable being her friend if she keeps associating with these people. we've been friend for 6 years so the idea of cutting her off entirely really hurts, but her behavior is really getting to me.
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It sounds like your friend is not being a good friend to you. I think she’s telling you that the approval of these bad people is more important than her friendship with you because she won’t stop hanging out with them.
She certainly sounds like she has a hard time maintaining boundaries here. I think, deep down, she knows that if she calls out these folks on their bad behavior, they’ll turn on her and she’ll lose them. For some reason, their approval is just that important. Does she fear losing friends? Does she struggle with choosing good friends/partners?
Your friend sounds like an enabler and a doormat. This is someone who makes it easier for another person to continue to engage in problematic behavior. Those folks likely keep her around because she doesn’t challenge them on their behavior. She won’t stop hanging out with them and she’ll stick her head in the sand when other people speak up.
What your friend has to realize is that this either makes her seem that self-centered or that she condones their behavior. When she says “I won’t believe it until I see it,” what I hear is, “I don’t care that they do this as long as it doesn’t affect me” or “I condone it.” Either way, your friend enables these folks’ behaviors by hanging out with them and by flat-out denying said behavior to your face. She isn’t going to be able to keep all of her friends like this.
She struggles with striking the balance between enabling people and empowering them. This article explains much more about this:
I think part of the reason why you’re struggling to let this friendship go is because you recognize that she deserves better than to hang out with such problematic people. You know she can do better. She might be struggling with the sunk cost fallacy and you might be, too. This is what happens when we continue to do something simply because we have already invested so much into it- despite the fact that the situation at hand will not change.
These articles explain more about this fallacy:
It’s hard to let go of relationships, people, etc. that we spent a lot of time on, but we have to realize that it’s okay to let go no matter what. People drag out dead relationships and stay in environments that are toxic because they feel like leaving means they have to admit they made a bad choice. They feel like if they struggle some more, it’ll be worth it in the end. They feel it’s a waste, otherwise. The problem with this attitude is people trap themselves without realizing it. I think your friend feels trapped and doesn’t know what to do; that thin veneer of denial is what allows her to keep making the same bad decisions.
You are allowed to decide whether this friendship is worth preserving or letting go. Do what is best for you. Should you decide to salvage your friendship with her, here are some great articles on boundaries:
They can be as simple as:
-Don’t talk about the people you don’t like when you hang out together.
-Hang out just the two of you or only with people you both like.
-Hang out in places where you won’t run into the people you don’t like.
-No ditching each other or hanging out with others at the expense of the other.
I have a feeling that watching you maintain these boundaries with you (and getting to spend drama-free time with you) can get the gears turning in her head. If she refuses to respect these boundaries, then you know where her priorities lie and can decide accordingly. If she respects those boundaries, then you’ve saved a friendship!
Here’s to hoping your friend comes to her senses and learns to choose her friends wisely.
Hey, Kolya! I see you have quite a predicament to deal with. You've come to the right place. A Peer Counselor is going to help you with some guidance from the point of view of a psychologist or psychiatrist. A lot of your predicament has to do with how old you and your friends are. With me (I'm much, much older than you), I would not have anything to do with a person like that, but, because of your age, somehow I think you're going to have a long conversation with your friend and offer some constructive criticism. My gut feeling is that your friend is insecure about being part of a group and goes along with what other people say or do to stay in the group. I'm guessing that the idea of being alone, for your friend, is something that really upsets her. Good luck to you!
Hi, @Kolya ! Thank you so much for reaching out to Asking Jude. One of our peer counsellors, Angelica, will be answering your submission within the next 48 hours. That being said, if you need it answered sooner, respond to this thread, and we will happily accommodate.
Until then, stay strong.