February 22, 2024
How can I keep her from going back to this toxic relationship?

DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend just got out of a toxic relationship, but instead of feeling free and liberated, she seems even more unhappy.

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She was so consumed by the relationship that, now that it’s over, she doesn’t know what to do with herself.

She mopes around the house, talks about him all day and night and seems completely stuck. She is drinking heavily and not going to work. When she does go, she says she is distracted.

I am worried about her. I’ve been trying to support her, but it seems like nothing is helping. My worst fear is that she’ll end up going right back to him.

Is there anything I can do as a friend to help her?

— Trying To Help

DEAR TRYING TO HELP: Some people believe that they are addicted to bad relationships and cannot find a way to extricate themselves. The energy is so strong and compelling that it can feel like a drug. This may be what your friend is feeling. She seems to be wrapped up in his energy right now. She needs something to break the bond between her and this toxic engagement.

Encourage your friend to go to a therapist. What she experienced with her partner may have destabilized her. She needs to learn ways to take care of herself and learn how to love herself again apart from him.

Disentangling from a messy relationship takes time, patience and support. Professional help may give her the tools she needs to begin to notice a partner who is a better match for her rather than slipping back into old patterns.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Every year, people remember 9/11 for the horror of the day and also the solidarity that it brought to our country. I wasn’t born until after it happened, so I only know it from reading and from my parents’ recollections. Sometimes I feel disconnected from the impact of the disaster.

My parents lost good friends in the World Trade Center, so I want to be respectful. What I normally do is just support them in whatever ways they ask. Is there something else I should do?

— Post-9/11

DEAR POST-9/11: There is no script for how to behave in the aftermath of a disaster like 9/11. Even though it occurred many years ago, its impact continues to reverberate throughout the United States and the rest of the world.

On a personal level, you can look for ways to promote peaceful engagement among people who may not share the same views. Look for organizations that focus on building relationships between people across generations, political ideologies and backgrounds. I believe that the way that we will ultimately create peace is to learn to listen to each other and respect our similarities and differences. This is much harder to do than to say out loud.

Finding ways to live side by side with respect no matter our beliefs is a big goal. Your own actions toward building relationships in your life is what you can do to honor the past and build the future.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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