Don't judge me, but....
July 28, 2009 7:11 PM   Subscribe

I am the "judgmental friend." What does this mean? Should I change, and if so, how?

My best friend just told me that she has been having completely unprotected sex with this guy "whose last name she doesn't know." She prefaced the confession with: "Promise you won't judge me." She then went on to ask "Ugh, am I bad?? Should I change my life??"

How am I supposed to go about "not judging" my friend in such an instance? Sometimes I feel like "not judging" and its close friend "being supportive" are euphemisms for "saying what they want to hear." Is it judgmental to tactfully bring up the morning-after pill? Not that I would ever say so in so many words, but I do in fact think she should "change her life," or at least this aspect of it.

I'm not talking about unsolicited advice. If I think something is a bad idea, but I haven't been asked my opinion, I keep quiet.

So do I lie? Part of me thinks (knows?) that she is just looking for comforting platitudes ("Sure, it'll be totally fine if he pulled out!") or to just gloss over the "confession" ("Omg was the sex amazing or what?!?"). It makes me really uncomfortable to do this and I don't feel like I should have to -- am I being arrogant? I've known this friend for 15 years, so I'd think by now that she knows what she's getting when she asks my opinion. I just feel like the "don't judge me" disclaimer means that there's something they're missing emotionally from the type of responses I usually give. What do people mean/want when they say this?

Re: being the "judgmental friend:" I'm not mean, I don't name call, and I never say "I told you so" (usually unnecessary anyway, since the person usually remembers full well what you told them). It's never been hurled at me as an insult, and usually it seems like people treat it as one of those things that make me imperfect but still lovable (am I delusional?). But it's a running joke among us -- a friend will do something "bad" (ie, something I'd advise against or disapprove of), and will tell the other friends but say "Don't tell thebazilist!" Then a short time later, they'll "confess" to me, usually when they're ready to hear what they already know I'm going to say. We'll laugh together about it, I'll reiterate my opinion, and they'll be like "Hahaha, I know, I totally shouldn't have made that fake Facebook account to stalk his fiancée!"
posted by thebazilist to Human Relations (47 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Your friend is an idiot. You're fine.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:15 PM on July 28, 2009 [16 favorites]

Best answer: I think you should change- change friends. Not that you have to drop your old friends, just get some new friends; friends who don't regularly do things you disapprove of. Then you won't have to go through life feeling like everyone thinks you're a ninny. That's one of the healthy things about running in multiple circles- you have a chance to play different social roles. You can play Mom to your old friends, and you won't care as much about their opinion of you because you'll know it's only true in the context of that particular friendship.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:19 PM on July 28, 2009 [11 favorites]

If you're not comfortable lying, or telling the truth, the solution is to pose an innocuous question.

"Ugh, am I bad?? Should I change my life??"

I am not sure...what do you think you should do?
posted by milarepa at 7:22 PM on July 28, 2009

If someone asks "Should I change my life??" she is asking you to make a judgment. You can give an answer without seeming condescending or harsh, which is a separate matter (although truth to tell, I wouldn't bother not being harsh if I were in your shoes).
posted by adamrice at 7:25 PM on July 28, 2009

I'm reading a disconnect here...are you someone who will volunteer your judgement unprompted? Because here it appears she's asking for your judgement, which I wouldn't think is a bad thing except for your postscript.
posted by rhizome at 7:26 PM on July 28, 2009

I don't see anything wrong with advising a friend not to do something stupid. And some things are self-evidently stupid. "Let's go steal a car!" "Hey, today I thought I'd shoot this big bag of heroin into my neck!" "I like having unprotected sex with strangers!"

Um, no. Don't do those things. They End Badly.

That's not being judgmental. That's being PRACTICAL.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:26 PM on July 28, 2009 [4 favorites]

Best answer: If you're younger than 25 I say, create some distance and if she's really a friend chances are she'll grow up eventually. If you're over 25 - I think you can make much better and smarter friends. And if you truly are her friend you absolutely owe it to her to warn her about sexual diseases and insane stalker boys. It sounds to me like your friends are a lot wilder than you and feel as if they can't tell you things for fear of you "judging" them in comparison to your much more sedate life. No one wants judgmental friends, but everyone wants friends who look out for them - so I guess what I'm saying, is its your call.
posted by Unred at 7:26 PM on July 28, 2009

No, it's not judgmental to talk about safe sex with your friends, especially when they've specifically brought up the matter. In fact, it's the only responsible thing you can do in the circumstances.

She's engaging in risky behaviour that's very dangerous to her health, and she needs to know it, whether she feels judged or not.

a friend will do something "bad" (ie, something I'd advise against or disapprove of), and will tell the other friends but say "Don't tell thebazilist!" Then a short time later, they'll "confess" to me, usually when they're ready to hear what they already know I'm going to say.

Your friends obviously look up to you and value your opinion. That's good for everyone involved.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 7:26 PM on July 28, 2009 [3 favorites]

"Promise you won't judge me." She then went on to ask "Ugh, am I bad??"

These are contradictory. You can't answer the question as presented without breaking the first rule. She's asking for a judgment.

If this was a good friend of mine, I would say something like...

"I don't know if you're good or bad, but I know you're being really fucking stupid."

But I'm not great at subtlety.
posted by rokusan at 7:28 PM on July 28, 2009 [8 favorites]

I think what she meant was probably 'please don't think less of me for what I'm about to say.' Which is obviously kind of a ridiculous request, but whatever. Be a real friend and tell her the truth, tell her what you think is best for her to do.
posted by axiom at 7:30 PM on July 28, 2009

There's a difference between offering advice ("You're engaging in risky behavior and as your friend, I'm worried about your well-being") and judging ("You're engaging in risky behavior and therefore you are a bad and/or stupid person").
posted by Evangeline at 7:32 PM on July 28, 2009 [7 favorites]

Sometimes people tell you things for their own benefit, not for any response you can give them.

In other words, you're over-thinking your friend's confession.
posted by wfrgms at 7:32 PM on July 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

Just as an example: A friend of mine (say "Kate") went to visit her friend (call her "Ann") in Los Angeles. While the two of them were at a bar, Ann, who was engaged, slipped off her ring and put it in her purse, telling Kate that this way she could score free drinks. Kate was outraged by this behavior, and threatened to tell Ann's fiance (whom she didn't even know) if Ann didn't put the ring back on right away.

Now that's judgmental, in my opinion.

Needless to say, I learned right away that Kate is not the friend you want to go to if you're having relationship problems.
posted by Evangeline at 7:38 PM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Before you can decide what to say to your friend, you have to decide how you feel.

How do you feel? Are you sad, angry, perplexed? Are you worried that your friend is going to get a disease or get pregnant? Do you think she is stupid? Are you wondering why you are hanging around with someone who is acting so stupidly?

Maybe there's some mourning going on here. You say this person is your best friend, but it sounds like you're finding there are some major differences between you and her. Maybe you're sad and confused because you don't know whether you can bridge those differences, and that calls into question whether this person will, indeed, continue to be your best friend.

Once you figure out how you feel, then you can think about what to say to her and what to talk with her about. It might be about your friendship, or how much you love her, or it might be that she's an idiot for having unprotected sex, or it might be that you decide not to have any conversation at all.
posted by alms at 7:40 PM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

I disagree with some of what's been said. I don't think your friend wants your opinion. I think your friend wants a therapist to walk her through thinking about what's happened.

This opening line of dialogue is equivalent to her putting down her magazine in the waiting room and following you into the office.
posted by gnomeloaf at 7:41 PM on July 28, 2009

There are friends that value friends that are honest with them, and then there are friends that only value friends who tell them what they want to hear. I'm of the opinion that if someone really cares about their friends, they will do what you do: don't make fun of them or make them feel bad, but be honest.

Having tried to be friends with the type that just wants others to tell them what to hear, and having witnessed other friends of people like this as well, they usually end up pushing all their friends away by being unable to handle honesty. If you care for your friend, then show concern. If she can't handle it, it doesn't make you judgemental, it just makes you a better friend than she deserves.
posted by Nattie at 7:54 PM on July 28, 2009

"I dunno, that doesn't sound safe to me, but that doesn't make you a bad person for doing it. It doesn't sound like you're too comfortable with the situation, either."

Because, well, she's not a bad person. She's obviously got something going on that's not good for her, though, and the line of questioning leads me to believe that she's hinting about needing someone to talk to about it. This arrangement she's got with Mr. Bareback may not be entirely consensual-- he may be pressuring her for unsafe sex, or she may be pushing him to keep everything quasi-anonymous, who knows.

At any rate, she needs someone to talk to who can guide her to appropriate ways of taking responsibility for her health and self-esteem.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:06 PM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I just feel like the "don't judge me" disclaimer means that there's something they're missing emotionally from the type of responses I usually give. What do people mean/want when they say this?

They mean that they know they did something stupid, and that they don't wanna hear it. Except that they really do, because they value your opinion and advice. You're already doing this right.
posted by runningwithscissors at 8:22 PM on July 28, 2009 [3 favorites]

Also, tell your friend that a judgmental person from the internet said to get a pregnancy test, a full battery of STD tests, and to get on some damn birth control already. FFS.
posted by runningwithscissors at 8:23 PM on July 28, 2009 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Some people want a judgmental friend, regardless of what they say. The thing about good friends is you usually have an idea what their opinion/advice/thoughts will be when you approach them about any given scenario. If she wanted to be told what she is doing is fine, she wouldn't ask you, she would ask a friend whom she knows would say, "Of course not- I did something much worse this weekend!"

Given that she is coming to you, she wants to be told what she already knows you think. And you can definitely tell her that in a way that does not attack her or particularly make her feel bad, but instead lets her know you think she would be happier if she did X instead of Y, and that what she's doing now is not smart. And she's already thinking these things- she just wants reaffirmation.

So be yourself, and don't be cruel in your words, is my recommendation.
posted by questionsandanchors at 8:28 PM on July 28, 2009

Whatever you do, don't lie. If you lie to tell your friend what your friend wants to hear, you're hurting her by allowing her to believe that risky behavior isn't really stupid. Some people need to justify their actions by allowing themselves to believe that "everybody is doing it, so it can't really be that bad."

You know better than that, and my guess is that you ARE better than that.
posted by 2oh1 at 8:49 PM on July 28, 2009

I think your friend wanted you to let you know disapproval would be hard for her to handle even though she knew she'd done something stupid. It's fine to tell her the pros and cons of her action but she'd prefer you to leave the "how could you have been so stupid..." kind of comments out.
I think your advice for a morning after pill is great. This is the time when your friend needs to hear the truth from someone who cares about her. It's hard to get someone to help pay for an abortion or child support (depending on your choice) if you don't know their last name and they've moved somewhere else. She might get lucky this time or the next but odds are she will wind up pregnant with an barely known baby daddy eventually with maybe the bonus gift of an STD.
I'm seconding the ThePinkSuperhero's advice to find some friends who are more like you. You don't have to get rid of your old ones but life's better when your have some friends with good judgment. Everyone is going to made a bad call sometimes but if this happens a lot, you're going to spend all your time helping out friends who have taken one risk too many.
posted by stray thoughts at 8:53 PM on July 28, 2009

Best answer: My theory about this is, that in the postmodernist, mostly agnostic, if not atheist, 21st century Western world, there is an absolute dearth of agents willing and able to dispense credible moral absolution, and help people confirm their "spirituality." Look, in bygone days, 95% of Catholics who confessed to a priest, even though they frequently swore in making their acts of contrition, that they rebuked the failing they were confessing, and promised to do better in the future, only really confessed to be rid of the guilt of the past, and not to institute future changes. The fornicators, mostly, continued fornicating. The drinkers still drank, and the wife beaters did not lie down peaceably with the lambs. But they were all officially "forgiven" and returned to the fold, if only for a week or two, at the cost of 5 Hail Marys and a reasonable donation to the poor box.

Your mission, thebazilist (and all us other judgmental types), should you/(we) choose to accept it, is, as far as I can see, to act in the stead of the discredited former officiants of the Good, in service to the Eternally Weak and Willing. What's missing, I think, in your judgmental rap, is the Redemption Spiel. You've not only got to pass judgment on bad acts by your circle of penitents, you've got to creatively suggest and assign penances suitable to the stupidity. If you're not doing the latter, you're not really satisfying the spiritual needs of those who are seeking your wisdom. And frankly, I'm a little surprised if you, as a Wise Person, haven't cottoned on to this earlier.

As an example, in the case of your friend who is having unprotected whoopee, you should not only sternly express your disapproval, and cite her statistics for catching AIDS via this behavior, but you should suggest, archly, that she contribute financially to the work of Planned Parenthood in an income appropriate amount, as a means of earning your forgiveness, and being once again seen, in your eyes, as a Responsible Adult. She'll glady pay Planned Parenthood (or at least swear to you that she did), and you can pretend to her that she's forgiven, until her next "confession." Because, believe me, if the sex is as amazing as you give it credit for being, she'll be barebacking it again at the drop of a hat/skirt/t-shirt/whatever. And, so, she'll need to confess, again, pretty soon, and at that point, you can work your Redemption Spiel a little closer to causes close to your own heart, and verifiable. Have her make her checks out to the animal shelter closest to your heart (and tell her you'll mail them for her, as you scoop them up), or to the charitable trust on whose board you most publicly serve. In the end, it's all about turning the wish of miscreant and possibly habitual sinners to be good, into actual Good, that is important.

Because, you know, and I know, and she probably knows, if she could just admit it to herself, that she's going to keep this up, right up to the point she's reading a pregnancy test in her bathroom, or having an HIV result set read to her in a medical office. And she's gonna need you, her Judgmental Friend, a hundred times more, then, when the roller coaster stops. And you, her Judgemental Friend, are going to need to feel, that along the way, some good came of all this, in order to be willing to help her then.

Any way, that's my Adjustable Karma Theory, for the 21st century...
posted by paulsc at 8:59 PM on July 28, 2009 [11 favorites]

Your friend knows shes being an idiot. She's hoping you'll tell her shes not. Since you're the 'judgmental' one, if you say its alright, it must really be okay!! thebazilist said so!!

Don't lie, but use your reputation to your advantage. "You already know what I think -- do you really want me to tell you? Because I will..."
posted by cgg at 9:40 PM on July 28, 2009

She just needed someone to talk to. She's already feeling crappy about herself. She wants to know that you think she's still a worthwhile person.

You can certainly judge behavior without judging her as a person, but be careful about judging harshly- it will come back to mock you in later years, guaranteed.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:26 PM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Something to be said for tone. An old line that tact is the art of telling people to go to Hell and doing so in a way that they look forward to the trip.

I've been around people who are more along the lines of "You fucking idiot," than, "It's hard to see how anyone could look at this as a healthy, smart approach."
posted by ambient2 at 10:43 PM on July 28, 2009

Best answer: I think when she says, "Promise you won't judge me" is her way of saying, "OK I already know I effed up big time, I don't need you to yell at me because I already feel really shitty about it. HELP."

I don't think it was a personal criticism of you being a judgmental person. If she thought that, she wouldn't have come to you in the first place. The fact that she has come to you shows she values you as a friend.

Even though she has done a very stupid thing (there's no way around that and you shouldn't have to lie about it, she already knows it's stupid) go with her to get tested for everything and be there there for her and help her figure out how to get away from this harmful situation and risky behavior.

Telling her, "Don't do that anymore. Let's get you out of this mess." is not judgmental. That would be supportive without you feeling like you compromised on how you feel about her actions.
posted by like_neon at 2:22 AM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

Also, TPS is right as well. Expand your social circle so that you're not surrounded by people who keep doing things they have to confess to you. You're not their savior and you're not their mom, but somehow they are feeling compelled to ask for your input because they know you have far more sense than they do.
posted by like_neon at 2:29 AM on July 29, 2009

Best answer: Not being judgemental doesnt mean "saying what the other person wants to hear". It basically means, withholding your judgement and thoughts. As gnomeloaf said, its about approaching the situation from a therapist angle, helping your friend walk through and clear up her thoughts. In the course of which, most normal persons come to the same conclusions ("judgements"), and if they do it will probably have a bigger impact on them.

The particular situation you describe is somewhat schizophrenic though ("Dont be judgmental! Am I bad?"). And in general, if you are more of a judgemental person I dont think you should necessarily change. Nor am I sure if you could, at least according to the MBTI being judgemental is as ingrained in our characters as being introverted/extroverted, feeling vs. thinking, etc.
posted by marc34482 at 3:03 AM on July 29, 2009

As a fellow judgmental person, I just wanted to say that I have plenty of friends who will dramatically harp about their sexual behavior, particularly, not because they want advice, or because they want to vent, but because they want attention. I'm not sure that that was what was going on with your friend (though I suspect it), but the best response is no response. Something like "You're not bad, but maybe you should get a morning after pill." And then immediately change the subject.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:02 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, and my advice is more for the mutual comfort and benefit of both of you/your friendship rather than to make your friend feel at east. I've found that I get frustrated giving the same admonishments or advice over and over again--other people rarely listen, even if they seem amenable; they start feeling condescended to or lectured; the entire interchange puts a strain on the friendship. At this point in my life, I'd rather not deal with this kind of conflict, and it's worth missing out on the big gossip for. YMMV.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:09 AM on July 29, 2009

She prefaced the confession with: "Promise you won't judge me." She then went on to ask "Ugh, am I bad?? Should I change my life??"

She knows the answer, otherwise she'd never have asked it.
posted by jmmpangaea at 7:37 AM on July 29, 2009

I've had friends like this. They seem to be asking for advice but if you are honest with them, they think you're attacking them. The only thing that improves the situation is to avoid those conversations; do a lot of, "hmmm, oh, I see...hmmmm, yes, that certainly is a quandary"; or end the friendship.
posted by not that girl at 7:41 AM on July 29, 2009

Best answer: Rargh... IMO, "Don't judge me but..." is the same conversational FAIL as "no offence, but..." and "don't be mad, but..."

It's like forbidding the person on the end of it to have a rational, understandable reaction to the forthcoming statement.

It's basically "You're going to feel (a) about this, but don't, because it would be better for me if you felt (b)"...

*phew* ok rant over :]
posted by greenish at 8:17 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Sometimes, part of being a good friend is telling our friends things that they don't want to hear. Sometimes, it means having the courage to say things like "I think what you're doing is wrong."

Someone posted earlier in the thread about a woman named "Kate" who took her engaged friend to task for removing her engagement ring to get free drinks.

We could all use more people like Kate in our lives. I know I could.
posted by DWRoelands at 8:26 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

"It sounds like you're concerned about this. What do you think about it, now that you look back on it?"
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:38 AM on July 29, 2009

I can completely relate. I agree with the commenters who have said that your friends just want you to listen, but after a while you start thinking, "You know what? Some of this stuff IS wrong!"

I got to that point after a major blowup with a "friend" who had a tendency to get drunk (before, say, going to the movies with sober friends :P) and say incredibly nasty stuff about people. Another friend said, "You're just judgmental of her! Some of the choices you think are good might be bad choices for other people!" and I thought, "Wait... so staying in control of yourself and your emotions is a BAD choice?"

That's when I decided to get new friends.
posted by Madamina at 8:47 AM on July 29, 2009

I have friends that do this to me, and I stick with the same response. "You're a grown damn woman and I'm not telling you how to live. But I sure as hell will mock you when you fuck up like this and then help you clean up the mess."

Sometimes folks, good folks, make very irrational stupid decisions. We know they're bad ideas and we do it anyway. What your friends are supposed to do is remind you that yes it was stupid but you are still loved. And help out if they can.
posted by teleri025 at 8:55 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I sense that your friend knows what she is doing is risky behavior that she is not proud of. I think she told you about it so that you could be there to say something like "wow, why are you doing that, you're so much better / more worthwhile than that behavior indicates." She might also be looking for some support and someone to go with her as she tries to right the situation by going to a clinic for HIV / STD testing, pregnancy testing if necessary, obtaining morning after pills, or finding ways to meet men that she can build a real relationship with -- after finding out their last name.

I strongly suggest that you and your friend make a date of going to get an HIV / STD test. It's alot less awkward than going alone and its a good feeling for anybody to find out that they're clean, even if there is not a lot of risky behavior going on (as it sounds to be the case with you). Planned Parenthood has extremely reasonable rates for these services and they charge on a sliding scale based on your income. If you are in college, check out your school's health services - many schools offer free testing. My school had a Planned Parenthood on campus that was great for testing and woman services.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:37 AM on July 29, 2009

Someone posted earlier in the thread about a woman named "Kate" who took her engaged friend to task for removing her engagement ring to get free drinks.

We could all use more people like Kate in our lives. I know I could.

Um, no. Not only did she "take her to task," but she also threatened to tell her fiance. It was none of her damn business and she was way out of line.
posted by Evangeline at 11:38 AM on July 29, 2009

Um, no. Not only did she "take her to task," but she also threatened to tell her fiance. It was none of her damn business and she was way out of line.

QFT! I'm shocked that anyone thinks this is a reasonable role for a friend to play.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:01 PM on July 29, 2009

If the OP really thinks that's a best answer, it sounds like she goes beyond "judgement" and into meddling in other people's lives.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:03 PM on July 29, 2009

Response by poster: Wow, how often does one get advice that validates what they wanted to do already?

I said she should get a morning-after pill; she said "Nah, he pulled out." I know that she knows that pulling out is not effective. I said "Gee, if it were me I'd still be worrying until my period came;" she said "I don't think so, anyway I already got my period between unprotected-sex sessions." I think she does just want to feel that she's not a terrible person and that I don't think she's a dirty whore; I don't think she really wants concrete advice.

But I'm interpreting your answers as license to not give a shit what she wants to hear -- she is coming to me, asking me for an evaluation of the situation, and I'm going to give it.

I guess my question really was, is she really looking for my hard knocks or is she looking for validation for her behavior from someone whose judgment she trusts? And it seems like your answers say, it could be either/both, but it doesn't really matter what she wants to hear, and I should say what I feel like I need to say, as long as I'm not mean/unnecessarily harsh.

Re: walking her through the issue like a therapist -- I might try a little sprinkling of this, but overall I think I'd make a really shitty therapist. I definitely lose patience with the repeat offenders who aren't making an effort (repeat offenders who do make an effort are a different story).

Re: distancing myself/getting new friends -- this friend and I already had a hiatus after she asked me not to jugde her for trying coke. I really didn't -- we were in college, people try things, whatever. I said I thought it was dangerous "trying" things that are addictive and left it at that -- beyond the health/danger issue, I see it as a personal choice, like sleeping around. I could never muster the requisite laughs for her stories about pervy drug dealers and their psycho girlfriends, and I'm sure I had a judgmental-look-of-death on my face after one particularly unsavory night out with her, because she eventually stopped telling me about it, and since coke became her go-to recreational substance of choice, we pretty much stopped talking for a few years until she grew out of it. I'd always felt guilty that my judgmentalism (word?) had been the cause.

I'll try to lose the guilt in this area and maybe try another hiatus. Thank you, all!!
posted by thebazilist at 12:36 PM on July 29, 2009

Response by poster: Had I been "Kate," I probably would have jokingly mentioned the fiance (trying my very best to keep out all patronizing sarcasm and maybe failing slightly) just in case it hadn't occured to her how he'd feel about her taking the ring off, and left it at that. I guess I didn't read the anecdote fully -- I think I was confusing/melding it with this story that I read while pre-searching for writing this question. (Not that I would have shouted to every guy that "Laura" was married, but I would have refused to be her cheating wingwoman.)

I guess I may have skewed the repsonses I received a little bit with the black-and-white nature of my example. I would have said something to her about pregnancy/STDs regardless of whether she'd think me judgmental for it. But if it's not a health/danger issue, should I be holding my tongue, even when asked?
posted by thebazilist at 1:08 PM on July 29, 2009

You have to *listen* to what your friend is really saying:

"Promise you won't judge me." = Listen openly to me, and don't criticize my actions, or try to attack my ego in anyway. I need a guarantee that you will continue accepting me!

"Ugh, am I bad?? Should I change my life??" = I did something REALLY stupid and I know it, yet I don't want to confront it. I need someone else to tell me how I should feel about this. I know that what I did was pretty bad, but I need you to show me that you love me, regardless.

Sometimes I feel like "not judging" and its close friend "being supportive" are euphemisms for "saying what they want to hear." Most people just want to feel a little bit better about whatever it is that they did. There are many ways to accomplish this.

It is entirely possible to be honest, and yet at the same time not place value judgments on a person - she may not be good at making the best decisions in the moment, but she's not a "bad" person. She needs to know that you understand this.
posted by Locochona at 1:45 PM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

These friends just need assurance that you still think they're good people. Which certainly you do, or else you wouldn't be their friends right? This can happen with insecure people who are perhaps used to being criticized and judged by authoritarian parents. So first, re-assure your friend that you think she's awesome and remind her why she is a valuable person in your life. THEN ease into giving advice.
posted by Danila at 7:42 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

See, like I said earlier, it really doesn't have anything to do with you, it just has to do with your friend. She needs to know you have her back and care about her. The judging, you know you aren't gonna get anywhere with it, and honestly, why do you judge? We all screw up from time to time.

I have a friend Precious, and she's been off and on dating/fucking/fwb-ing this mutual friend of ours. From time to time, we hang out, she gets drunk and goes off on a tirade about how he treats her. I ask, "Do you want advice or do you want to vent?" Then I tell her that she's too pretty, too smart, and too awesome to be someone's second choice and she should bail. She agrees.

Then she gets drunker and calls him for a hookup. I usually get a shamed text from her the next day. And each time I just say, "You know how to fix it, you know what you need. You know I've got your back."

And who am I to judge her? Does she embarass the shit out of herself? Yup. Is she possibly wasting years of her young life on a guy who'll always be a shit? Yup. Have I done the same damn thing? *cough* maybe. We all fuck up, cut your friends some slack and try to understand more of the whys of what they did rather than the right and wrong of it.
posted by teleri025 at 9:56 PM on July 29, 2009 [5 favorites]

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