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My friend can't stop pining for the wrong guy

The question

My friend has been pining over a guy who is stringing her along. It's been over a year now. How do I convince her it's time to move on?

The answer

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Unfortunately, when it comes to matters of the heart, there is very little if anything that any of us can do to "convince" someone to feel (or not feel) a certain way.

That said, watching someone you love and care about be in a relationship with someone who is not treating them well, or where they are not getting what they deserve, can be nerve-wracking and frustrating.

Remember that your primary role as a friend is to love and unconditionally support her and her decisions. At the same time, be honest about how you feel. You don't have to pretend that you like the guy she is interested in.

If you haven't already done so, let your friend know that you love her. Describe the type of person you would like to see her with, and communicate why that is important to you (e.g., "you are such a kind and caring person, you deserve to be with a guy who is there for you when you are having a bad day, not someone who takes a week to get back to you").

Let her know that you are there for her and will always support her decisions, but that as her friend you want to also be honest about how you feel. You can be specific about the types of behaviours you see this guy engaging in that worry or concern you.

Convey that you understand she cares for this guy. Try not to be overly critical, as bad-mouthing him may alienate your friend, or lead to her feeling that you are criticizing her.

Try to understand what it is that is keeping her hooked with this guy: attempt to genuinely understand things from her perspective. Be open to the fact that there are elements of the 'relationship' that are working well for her. Ask if she is happy and okay with the situation.

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If the answer is yes, your job as a friend may be to simply accept her decisions and not judge.

If the answer is no, try to understand what is keeping her engaged. Does she feel like she doesn't deserve any better? Is she insecure? Is she having a hard time meeting other people? If so you may want to try to focus on talking about these things with her, and being a supportive friend that helps her to problem-solve ways to overcome the barriers that keep her in this relationship.

Ultimately, though, remember that it remains her decision, and that your role is to support and accept (not necessarily agree with) your friend's decisions.

Send psychologist Joti Samra your questions at She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

Read more Q&As from Dr. Samra.

Click here to see Q&As from all of our health experts.

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The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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