Friend having relationships with homeless clients.
September 4, 2011 12:35 PM Subscribe
My friend works with the homeless and keeps having relationships with her clients. What can I do, or should I not do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My friend of many years works re-housing homeless people, and often works with single guys.
She had a relationship with one of them earlier this year when she had just closed the case. I didn't think it was that cool, but tried to refrain from judging. I met him, he was nice, and they did seem into each other. However, he was still involved (more or less by proxy only) in crime and the drug scene, and I worried a lot for them both and their safety. They broke up after a few months - I don't think he was right for her but he also was pretty heavily dependent on her - as you might expect as she was the first person to show him love since he'd been in prison. It left him really down and he threatened suicide, although I think that was a heat of the moment type thing.
Anyway, I thought that would be the end of it and she'd be well warned off client relationships, but a month later and she's in another one, this time with a client who she is still supposed to be supporting professionally. This one also has kids, from a previous relationship.
The thing is, I've watched her struggle with various destructive tendencies before - drink, drugs, promiscuity (as well as dabbled in them myself so I'm not some sort of paragon, but she tends to go further than me by quite some way). I tend to try and have a word if she asks for my opinion, but mostly stand back and try to be there for her when she needs help pulling herself back together again. I love her dearly and we've both supported each other a lot with all kinds of things over the years.
However, this time she's involving other people in her shit. Vulnerable people, who don't need the added complication of a relationship with someone who seems destined to enjoy it for a while then move on. I feel like she's taking advantage of the fact that they are in thrall to her, and using them for their affection, not to mention getting a thrill from the taboo of seeing a client.
So first of all - tell me if I need to chill out and let her get on with it. I do worry about her too much sometimes. I may just be projecting my own shit onto her relationships. Maybe this is just like any relationship, the statistics say it will probably fail, but it's worth a chance.
If not though... how do I talk to her about what she's doing? To herself, and to her clients?
Sorry for length, and thanks to any who took the time to read this far.