Friends Don't Let Friends . . . 

Dear Dategirl,

I have a friend who is very smart and attractive but just can't seem to get rid of her good-for-nothing, cheating, loser boyfriend. He has hurt her so badly in so many ways, yet she just can't seem to gather the inner strength to end it. I know it's hard, because I've been there, but how can I help her?

When I was going through this, even in the company of friends, I felt completely alone and isolated, thinking only of him. And what is with the cheating thing, anyway? He actually took the little hussy (my ex did the same thing) to all their favorite hangouts and expensive restaurants, buying his little temptress expensive gifts, when he's never bought my friend a thing and even argued with her over 50 cents over a purchase they were splitting! It's obvious to everyone what a loser this guy is, but she just can't seem to break free from the mess.Furious on Her Behalf

Ugh. I hate it when my friends hook up with scoundrels. Sounds like your pal's abusive shitheel of a boyfriend is pulling the most tired, tried-and-true, weasel move of all time: behaving so horrendously she's forced to dump him because he's not man enough to pull the trigger himself. Unfortunately, he's paired up with someone with a seemingly limitless tolerance for pain and abuse. What a horrifying combination.

Like you, I've been on both sides of the craptastic-partner equation. Several years back when I was dating one particularly repugnant fella, a friend accidentally sent me an e-mail she'd meant to send to a mutual pal, basically poking fun at me and my lame excuse for a relationship. I knew she—and anyone else I'd introduced him to—hated his guts (and rightly so), but finding out my friends were snickering behind my back depressed me more than I care to admit. Their words weren't as hurtful as what my fecal-smear of a boyfriend was putting me through on a regular basis, but the whole thing was still utterly humiliating and had the added bonus of making me feel completely alone.

Naturally, I've also watched my friends make hideous choices and understand that it's a very difficult position to be in. If you're a hothead such as myself, your first impulse is probably to hurl a heavy object at the offender's head, but you're (hopefully) also sensible enough to resist the urge. I'm betting you're also feeling a powerful urge to shake her and shriek that she's too good to waste another second on such a miserable, two-timing chump. It's a fine line to tread because if you give her too much shit, she'll clam up and resent you. If you say nothing at all, it's like giving your tacit approval.

Which is why—though it will require near-superwoman strength—you should refrain from losing your temper with her. I'm sure she's well-aware that her boyfriend is beneath contempt, so instead of wasting your breath tearing him down, work on building her confidence up. Point out all her gazillion good qualities and tell her she deserves better than some sadistic, penny-pinching, philandering fuckstick. Make sure she gets out of the house and doesn't isolate herself, but at the same time, don't let yourself get too mired in her situation.

Because the bottom line is, you can't force your friend to ditch the bitch, so you need to set some boundaries. Otherwise, you'll keep ripping your own hair out over a situation you have absolutely no control over. She is (hopefully) a grown-up, and if she wants to stay with this guy, there's nothing you can do about it but preserve your own sanity and let her know you're there for her. Make it clear that you love her but hate him, and that in the interest of maintaining your friendship, he's no longer a viable topic of conversation for the two of you. Well, at least until she gets rid of his sorry ass. If you happen to run into him, there's not a reason in the world you have to bother being polite, but put down the cinder block and walk away. Remember that this is her battle to fight.

Though a few dozen unsolicited pizza deliveries never hurt anyone.

Dating dilemmas? Write Dategirl at or c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.

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