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My Friend Is Dating a Felon


Published June 11, 2014 at 10:00 a.m.

Dear Athena,

One of my dearest friends has recently gotten back together with her ex-boyfriend, and I'm having a hard time accepting it. This dude isn't just lazy or a cheat — he's a felon. Like, the kind of felon who gets arrested at the airport when he's going on vacation (true story). Normally I would think this was none of my business as long as my friend is happy. But he lied to her and hurt her so much that I'm dreading having to hang out with him. I'm considering telling her how I feel, but I've noticed a pattern. When other friends have expressed their feelings or put up boundaries around the guy, it seems to drive her closer to him. What is this all about, and what do you think I should do?


Hex on the Ex

Dear Hex,

Red Alert! This is a tough situation. This guy has got to go, and you need to help her see the light. Problem is, nobody wants to hear disapproval from a friend, whether it's about an outfit or a lover.

Your other friends who confronted her may have gone about it wrong. If she felt judged or attacked, it makes sense why she rejected them and clung closer to him. If forced to confront a painful truth, we can avoid it or move toward it. Maybe your friend is afraid of being alone. Or maybe admitting her man is a bad egg makes her feel like something's wrong with her, too. Even if he's a total sleaze, she might feel safe sticking with what she knows.

My advice? Approach her with kindness. Tell her she's not the woman you remember and that you miss the old her — who wasn't getting hurt by this guy. Be gentle but honest. Encourage her to understand that she can do better, because she is better. And remind her that it's not safe being with him. Tell her that if you were in this situation, you would want her to protect you.

Your friend likely knows deep down that this guy is no good, but getting her to admit that may be a tall order. And telling her how you feel may challenge your relationship with her. But a true friendship can surpass this kind of thing, even if it requires taking a little hiatus.

Your only other option is to stay silent. But what kind of friend would you be if you pretended you were comfortable with this man when you're not? You may push her closer to him, and she may reject you, but there is just no room for dishonesty. It's your responsibility to tell the truth. Chances are that she will soon see him for what he really is and appreciate that you are trying to look out for her.