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This time last year, my best friend of around 10 years (B) started dating a new coworker (C) of ours. From an outside perspective, the relationship seemed somewhat broken --- My friend B was really into him, and even though C seemed to be really into her, he never seemed like he wanted to commit to anything serious. Over the course of about six months they broke up once or twice, until eventually C ended it, because he just didn't think B was 'the one'.

About two months ago, two things happened. The first, a mutual friend of ours (D) went out for a drink with C, which caused the two of them to stop being friends. I asked D what had happened, and she said "C told me some things that made him seem really manipulative, like he was just using B for something". But she refused to tell me exactly what was said.

Secondly, I went out for a drink with C, who I was still vaguely friendly with, and he asked me out of the blue if I would consider a relationship with him. I told him no, the drinks ended shortly after, and I never mentioned it to anybody. Maybe this is me jumping to conclusions, but the way I understood things after that point, C was never fully committed to B because he was after me instead (we both met C at the same time), and this was the essence of what he had said to D.

I was hoping that I could just pretend none of this had ever happened and forget about C altogether, until two weeks ago, B told me that C had suggested they should get back together. I told B that it was a terrible idea, that she should just move on from him. I told her that C had already made his commitment to her clear in the first six months of their relationship, and that she deserved somebody who actually loved her.

B ignored my advice and decided to get back together with C.


How can I protect my best friend from being hurt any more in this situation? I feel as though she is walking back into a relationship without knowing some damning and important things about the man she loves, but at the same time, I feel that telling her those things would do even more damage.

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    What if C took your rejection at face value and afterwards realised they did in fact want to continue on with B? – AsheraH Jan 3 at 14:24
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    To clarify, the "damning and important information" is that C was not "fully committed" to B and wanted to explore other options? And you suspect that B isn't aware of that despite them breaking up and getting back together multiple times? Roughly how old are the people involved? – Ruther Rendommeleigh Jan 3 at 16:45
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    To me "I want to explore other options" is very different to "I secretly want to get with your best friend". Don't know about you. – fpc Jan 3 at 17:28
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    @fpc Are you assuming that C was using B to get to you just based on C asking you out several months after C and B broke up? Or are there other events that make you think this is the case? – DaveG Jan 3 at 21:46
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    @fpc I am currently going out with my wife's best friend, with her knowledge and consent. So, no, not much of a difference from my perspective. Dating etiquette can vary wildly :) Now, I don't doubt that you know your friend's views in that regard, but does C as well? – Ruther Rendommeleigh Jan 6 at 8:45
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I have found in my personal experience that you will likely do more harm to your friendship than help to your friend, in this case. No matter how good a friend you think B is, you should not intervene unless you think she is in some kind of danger.

It is more likely B will believe whatever C says anyway - because people in love tend to do that in my experience - and you will lose a friend.

It happened to me with someone I was friends with since we were children. I have seen it happen to many other friends as well.

The best thing to do in these cases, I have found, is to do nothing about your dislike of C and continue to be a good friend to B. If/when this relationship comes to an end, B will still have you.

  • Another thing to keep in mind is that you should not put yourself in the situation of "warning" B about C. The danger in this is if/when the relationship ends badly, B may blame you, or at least when she is looking for outlets for her unhappiness you may become a target. I've seen this happen before, we used to call it the Bad Boyfriend phenomenon. A parent who tries to break up their child's bad relationship can damage relationship with said child because of the blame game. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Jan 3 at 16:28
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I strongly disagree with the accepted answer. I have a few friends who tend to get involved with "bad" people. This is how I handle it.

If they are not together:

I address my concerns. In your case I would have said something like:

Dear B, from my perspective it seems like getting together with C might not be a good idea. I think this because he recently asked me if I wanted to be in a relationship with him. This could indicate that he takes the commitment not as seriously as you do. You could also talk to our other friend D, I don't know what happened but C is no longer friends with D.

I think it is important to make clear that this is your personal opinion and you can not be sure if your assumptions are true. Of course my friends almost never follow my advice and get involved with them anyway. This is not a problem for me. I accept that everyone has their own way of dealing with things. I am honest to them, but I also don't judge them and accept whatever decision they make.

If they are together:

I try to accept this fact and support my friend and the relationship. Of course I point massive red flags out. If I really think the partner is the worst, I try to not communicate this every time. But when asked, I will not hold back.

I think the duty of a real friend is giving honest feedback. Whether the friend listens to it or not does not matter. I have never lost a friend because of this.

  • For what it's worth, I have lost a friend over doing this approach, but I've lost a friend with the other approach, too. Both options involve some risk. As such, it's really about what the right answer is. – Ed Grimm Jan 13 at 1:00

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