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DearSugar Needs Your Help: My Best Friend Is a Train Wreck!

Dear Sugar and Worried Wendy need your help. Her best friend has spiraled out of control and Wendy's concerned for her future. She wants her to be happy and healthy, but doesn't know what to do in order to help her get there. Do you have any advice to offer?

Dear Sugar,

One of my absolute best friends is a major train wreck. We are the typical yin and yang: I am the nice, have-it-all-together type with a stable family, and she is the tell-it-like-itis, free spirit from a broken home. Luckily this was an amazing recipe for our friendship, and I feel extremely lucky to have such an open-minded go-to girl in my life. Unfortunately, she makes awful decisions. I have always known this but recently it's worrying me to no end. She met a guy, and within two months she was moved in and pregnant. Sometime in the following two months, she had a miscarriage, moved out, and dumped the guy — she hasn't looked back since. This was mind-blowing to me, but I was supportive the entire way through.

Due to our conflicting schedules, it's difficult for us to hang out as much as I'd like, but we never miss our daily calls to discuss life and everything going on with us. Last week, she called to tell me that she contracted an STI. To me this should be a wake-up call, but since the cure was just a quick shot and a week of no sex, she is right back in the game again. She's already slept with two guys and is seeing multiple others. This behavior is incredibly destructive. She has no structure and not a care in the world. I absolutely love her as a friend and want her to succeed in life and flourish in relationships, but she clearly doesn't want the same things. Do you think this is a typical case of her being in her mid-20s? I don't know what I can do as a friend and what my boundaries are. Is there anything I can do?


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chow chow 8 years
like everyone else has said, you cant tell her what is right for her life. you can talk to her and tell her that you're concerned about things that have been going on lately. but mostly, just continue to support her through whatever new adventures she goes through; thats all you really can do.
macchiatolove macchiatolove 8 years
I think I agree with what the others have said, particularly Karlotta. I don't think you can get her to live the life you think is 'right'. She has to make her own mistakes. She may come to the conclusion that she wants something more stable as she gets older, or she may not. That doesn't mean she's 'ruining' her life - part of being a friend, relative or parent is letting people fail on their own, so that they can learn how to fly. It's difficult but anything else will just lead to arguments and tension.
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
hithatsmybike... it's too stereotypical to be true. The use of adjectives should be the tell-tale sign. "I am the nice, have-it-all-together type with a stable family, and she is the tell-it-like-itis, free spirit from a broken home. Luckily this was an amazing recipe for our friendship, and I feel extremely lucky to have such an open-minded go-to girl in my life."
356UIK 356UIK 8 years
Yes I would say this is quite typical of her being in her mid twenties, and no I dont think there is anything you can do. Your choices are to stay as her friend and not pass judgement, or leave her if you cant bring yourself to stand by and watch.
margokhal margokhal 8 years
Ultimately it's going to be up to your friend how she proceeds in life. Even if you want her to flourish (whatever that means, it can't be flourishing in YOUR terms, but rather on HER terms), it's her life, and you can't make her do anything she doesn't want to do.
omilawd omilawd 8 years
Stop being so judgmental. She's living her life, and from experience, butting into a wild friend's business just leads to trouble and arguments. Let her reach her own goals and learn from her own mistakes.
liquidskyfire liquidskyfire 8 years
I agree partly with both sides... I think you have to make sure not to assume that your kind of lifestyle is the best kind of lifestyle. Not everyone wants a perfectly stable and organized life, which is something you have to remind yourself. But at the same time, I think you definitely have a right to be concerned about the miscarriage (which sounds like it was an unplanned pregnancy) and the STD. There's no harm in sleeping around -- unless you're not using proper protection. She was lucky this time that her STD was cureable, but it may not be next time. So I think you should sit her down and tell her simply that you are concerned that she isn't using proper protection, and worry about her health and welfare. Maybe just letting her know that you care will be a wake-up call for her, and remind her that her actions can have consequences and affect people other than just her.
hithatsmybike hithatsmybike 8 years
"Sounds like a lie and a made up 'story' to put down woman from a 'broken' home. It's usually the rich, daddy's girls who get in this kind of trouble as we all now. Nice try, many will fall for it." Mesayme wtf?!
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
well i think that the first thing for you to realize is that you can't change your friend, and that just because you have your stuff together doesn't mean that she ever will. that's kind of why you liked her in the first place. i feel like regardless of what you say to her about how she's acting it'll be like talking to a wall. it could be just a case of being in her 20's and trying to take advantage of being free while she can, but it could also be some subconscious way of calling out for love and help and all that. i think that all you can do is continue to be a good friend during your calls every day and listen to her and be supportive without being to preachy and hope that it helps at some point.
karlotta karlotta 8 years
Best friends are best friends because they can speak up in those moments and say "hey, are you sure you aren't screwing up and putting yourself in danger?" without the other feeling judged or accused. I would sit her down and let her know you are concerned for her well being. I slept around a lot and caught a couple of (treatable) STI's, (never got pregnant thank God but I suppose it could have happened), and didn't find a stable relationship until I was in my late 20s. Nothing horrible happened to me, I had my share of good times, but I also know I came out of it a bit emotionally drained and damaged. Sleeping around cheapens you in your own eyes, and it's not good for your self-esteem, despite what the initial feeling may be (wow, all these guys want to sleep with me! I must be hot shit!) So... maybe I'd have a nice deep chat with her, like only best friends can have, about how she values herself and what she wants out of life. She will probably be very defensive, so you have to make sure you are not judgmental at all, and you are only speaking up out of concern for her future mental well-being. Sex is a wonderful thing when it's shared with someone you love. When it's not, it does leave you feeling empty. And that emptiness, we try to fill with more superficial attention... it's just a vicious circle, and it sounds like she's fallen into it. Let her know how amazing and wonderful she is, and ask her if maybe she wouldn't like to share that greatness only with guys who actually fucking deserve it. Hopefully this will make her think :)
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 8 years
Just think that your friend her behavior to fix her problems, though it wont, be there for her. She's the one that will suffer the consequences of her actions. She's grown, and when you're an adult, there are no more excuses. Don't lose sleep over her.
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
*WOMEN not just the ONE.
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
Sounds like a lie and a made up 'story' to put down woman from a 'broken' home. It's usually the rich, daddy's girls who get in this kind of trouble as we all now. Nice try, many will fall for it.
CYL CYL 8 years
I agree with tlsgirl...not everyone chooses to live their life the same way. Sure she is more wild and more free than you, but in reverse when she looks at your life she might be thinking..I am glad I am not stuck in a marriage with kids and a mortagage to pay (i am not saying you are stuck in your marriage...just this might be what she thinks in comparison to your view of her 'wild' lifestyle). BEING MARRIED AND POPPING OUT KIDS DOES NOT DEFINE SUCCESS. Really everyone has a different definition of success. For some people its making lots of money and being high up in their career, for other people is travelling the world, for others its finding inner peace, for other is their relationship with their families, for others is their religion. Perhaps her defintion of what it means to be sucessful and accomplished in life is different from yours. In regards to the miscarriage and not mourning...maybe she didn't want the kid (unless its a planned pregancy..if it is I'd be more worried she didn't mourn). I am in a stable and loving relationship with my bf, but if we got pregnant we wouldn't keep it anyways (i know some sugars on here are pro-life...but I don't attack your choices so please don't attack mine), so if I miscarried I don't think I would really mourn the baby. Not everyone wants kids..not everyone wants to get married...and have the white picket fense life you know? I think the behaviour regarding the STI is a little concerning, perhaps you can chat with her about the whole issue. What did she she doing anything to change that behaviour?
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
It sounds to me like you're judging her more than you're worried for her. As for the pregnancy, not everyone sees kids and family as the be-all, end-all of their personal success story. It sounds like the pregnancy was unplanned and the guy wasn't such a winner, so maybe she's not mourning because it wasn't as sad for her as it would be for others. And yes, getting an STI isn't a good thing, but it was cureable and maybe it woke her up to using better protection. The fact that she's sleeping with more than one person and dating around doesn't mean that she's automatically going to get another one, and it's her choice what to do with her sex life. Bottom line for me is that just because your friend doesn't want the same life that you've chosen, doesn't mean that she's on a path to destroying her life. Like I said, kids, home, and husband isn't the only way to live.
hills hills 8 years
i think all you can do is be there when she's up and help her when shes down, you can't put it too her like you want her to live her life like you think it should be, i can understand you're worries but like you said if she's a tell it like it is type then she is bound to have strong opinions and maybe deffencive, if she asks your opinion about something make she you tell her what you really think, if this does happen put it to her in the nicest and simplest possible way, don't sound like you babbling because otherwise it looks like you feel guilty about what you think and you shouldn't be, u obviously just care about her....another way you could put it to her is that you ask if shes ok and if she says yes why? then you can explain that you just think shes been through a hell of alot more than most people have gone through with the break up and miscarrige and just that your always going to be there for her and you want her to be happy and think how what she's doing now will affect her future....
hithatsmybike hithatsmybike 8 years
I don't really agree with the above.. her reaction to her STD is VERY concerning. Yeah, she caught a cureable one -- this time! She might not be so lucky next time, especially engaging in such risky behavior so often! Like snowbunny, I also find it weird she didn't take any time to mourn her miscarriage (maybe she IS in her own way, hence the irresponsible sex). She has to find healthier outlets for her emotions. It's hard to risk your friendship with interference, but I think if you sit her down and explain where you're coming from in a very concerned manner, she should react defensively. She might be genuinely unaware of how worried about her you are, and letting her know could be all she needs to take a step back and tone down her wild actions. You mentioned she came from a broken home, so it's possible no one's ever worried about her well-being before -- she needs to know you love her & care about her, that might be the small thing that changes everything.
otaku otaku 8 years
i understand your concern for your friend, but you have to understand that not everyone is made for a "have it all together, stable" life. many people would be confused, bored and very depressed if they had to live a life full of structure. chances are, if your friend is from a "broken family", she's going to react to her up bringing, or lack thereof, for the rest of her life. from reading this it sounds to me that you could lose her as a friend if you tried to interfere. people just really need support from those who love them. understand that she's will always make her own choices, and consequently make her own mistakes. that is the beauty of being yourself. all you can do is smile with her when she's up, and cry with her when she's down.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
Stop being so judgy about your "free-spirit from a broken home" friend! It sounds like she could benefit from some protection, but seriously, this whole question was full of judgment. Look, getting an STI is bad, but she got it treated, and it's over, it's not like a life-time scarlet letter, some signal she is a bad person. And I am uncomfortable with the way the miscarriage was described, are you upset that she isn't mourning the loss of what seems to have been an unplanned pregnancy? That she should be doing penance for her bad behavior? I can understand it must be hard to have a friend who doesn't dwell on every mistake she's made, but I'm not sure you can just demand that your friend feel horribly for all her sins.
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