My friend is in a relationship for app. 4 years now. she found out a year after they met that he was married , and had a kid. He promised her to divorce the wife but after 3 years he is still married and lives with his wife.

my friend left her parents and went to the city where he lives , rented an apartment and started to work as a waitress just to be close to him, he used to come and go to her house , sometimes stayed overnight and sometimes going to his wife. he treated her really bad, used to insult in front of the people in the street and not caring about her . well, he doesnt love or respect her at all!

She lied to her parents that they got married and etc. so after years the family learnt about the lies and everything but they still accepted her and tried to help. as she used to work very hard for almost no money and could not earn enough for living , her family decided to take credit from the bank and send her abroad to work. he did not even say good bye to her.he did not appear at the airport.

after a week she sends money to him and some clothes as a gift, while telling her family she is unemployed! knowing that while she is there , her boyfriend lives with his wife, but she says ” she loves him to death” and sees nothing else farther.

whatever wrong he does , she thinks thats the way it s supposed to be. she still hopes one day he s gonna divorce and marry her but HE doesnt care. He doesnt even ask how she is there. he just enjoys the money and gifts from an unemployed girl who is cleaning some toilets in a foreign country and NOT getting paid enough to buy food.

i talked to her family today, they are confused, they dont know what to do. her father , this huge strong man cried sometimes as her sister told me . please, i need some advice, is there anything we can do to make her believe that she deserves better than a man who doesn’t give a damn about her. she doesnt want to talk about it. always cutting the conversation when someone talks about her relationship. she is manipulated, with no self esteem or dignity .
What shall we do to make her see life a different way ?
Thank you in advance.

A: This is a sad, sad story. I’m deeply concerned for your friend and also for all those who love her. Unfortunately, there is really nothing you can do to make her see that she is throwing away years of her life for someone who doesn’t deserve her. She is an adult. She may be an adult who has little self-respect or self-esteem but she is nonetheless an adult who is entitled to make her own decisions. All you can all do is state your opinions calmly and then love her (love her a lot) and hope she comes to her senses.

There are names for guys like this one who take advantage of a person’s neediness and willingness to spend money she doesn’t have in order to keep him attached to her. I won’t indulge in name-calling. Suffice to say, I don’t think much of him. I suppose you could appeal to whatever sliver of character is in him and see if he will do her the favor of breaking it off but I’m not optimistic that he will cooperate.

I do wonder why the family thought sending her abroad would be helpful. I’m sure I don’t have the complete story but I suggest that you all consider whether distance is helping. Sometimes it doesn’t. When people don’t see the object of their love, they can start to fantasize that the person is much more wonderful than he or she is. It might be more helpful to bring her back home where this guy’s behavior can’t be romanticized by lack of contact. Seeing the good, mutual, positive relationships of those around her may also make this guy look worse by contrast.

I’m sure this situation is breaking the hearts of the people who care for your friend. It’s one of the hardest things in the world to watch someone you love self-destruct. As addictions counselors will tell you, sometimes a person has to really “hit bottom” before they give up something or someone that isn’t good for them. Your friend isn’t there yet. Someday she is going to appreciate how much you all have tried to help but she can’t see that yet either. I hope you can find ways to continue to offer her support but also protect yourself by detaching a bit.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Sep 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). How can I help friend who is in wrong relationship?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/09/26/how-can-i-help-friend-who-is-in-wrong-relationship/