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Supporting your friends through bad decisions

Drunk friends

You have a lovely group of friends and you adore each and every single one of them. There’s the funny friend, the spontaneous friend, the one you can trust your deepest and darkest secrets with, what an assortment! Then of course, there’s that friend who makes bad decisions. This is the friend that looks to you to have his or her back no matter the occasion, win or fail. We all have a friend who has made a bad choice whether they were aware or not. We also know you’ve probably struggled with how the heck to support a friend who is making a decision that you know as their friend is not so bright.

First off all, GenTwenty commends you for being such a caring buddy. A friend who commits to their part of the friendship vow and sticks around through thick and thin is hard to come by these days. We want you to be a good friend, but we don’t want you to be a habitual enabler of bad behavior. Hopefully my tips will help you in being the best friend that you can be without feeling as if you’re crossing a personal boundary of your own.

Be a good listener.

If your friend is confiding in you, chances are that they trust you and want your advice. Sometimes our pals don’t realize that they are making bad decisions. Try to steer clear from jumping to conclusions before you know the whole story. Be mindful of your body language and your face. Can you think of a time when you were telling someone a story and they gave you a crazy face? Yeah, don’t make your friend feel foolish for opening up. Compose yourself!

Express your feelings.

Give your comrade some feedback. If you support your friend’s endeavor, let them know. If you don’t, let them know that too. Sometimes we get so blinded by the things that we want that we may not realize that we might be doing something unhealthy for ourselves. Your friend may be totally unaware and you might be the one breaking the news to her. Be honest. A friend is supposed to be a person who has your best interest at heart. Talk to your pal from a loving but concerned place.

Be a helper.

If there is a possibility that your friend may be in trouble, move quickly to get an action plan together. Safety is always the first priority. There are resources and hotlines out there to help with all sorts of issues like domestic violence, suicidal thoughts, assault or abuse, substance abuse, and eating disorders. If your friend needs professional help, try to assist them in getting connected. It’s as easy as calling your local 2-1-1, a free information and referral hotline. They are able to tell what local resources are available and can provide information for national hotlines.

Examine your point of view.

Before you decide that your friend is making a bad decision, take an objective look at the situation. Is your friend really making a bad choice or is there something going on with you that’s causing you to feel this way like jealousy or resentment? Be honest with yourself as well.

Yes, your friends need you but you also have your own morals and values. No one will fault you for putting some space in between you and a friend who is doing something dangerous or morally intolerable in your opinion. Be as open-minded as you can, but don’t disregard your beliefs. You can still provide your friend support from afar without directly involving yourself in the issue. Even though you want to be a good friend, when all is said and done you have to do what’s best for yourself as well.

About the Author

Geralyn Dexter

Geralyn holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Florida and a MS in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University. She is currently working on a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology. She enjoys reading, yoga and art. Within the next three years, she hopes to complete her doctorate and transition from practicing therapy in a community setting to having her own private practice.