- Hello, I was hoping I could get some advice on how to help a friend. She’s had low self-esteem for a while and got her heart broken last year and I think that’s why now she’s made it a hobby of hers to lead guys on. She doesn’t flirt with them, but guys easily take an interest in her because of how extra nice and innocent she acts with them and because she comes off as ‘easily persuaded’. Because of that, she has multiple guys asking her out on dates all the time. It’s not that she’s oblivious, she knows that they like her, and she never feels the same way, but she never tells them that. She just makes up excuses as to why she can’t go out with them ‘this time’ all the time. She tells them that she’ll go out with them ‘next time’ over and over, discouraging them from moving on. I don’t understand her but I’m trying not to judge. I’ve asked her over and over why she does this and she just tells me that she doesn’t want to hurt them (by turning them down outright) but it doesn’t make sense to me because she’s bound to hurt them worse by making them believe they have a chance. I tell her this, and then she tells me she’ll tell them the truth ‘soon’. It never happens. She also told me that she does it because she likes feeling like a lot of people want to talk to her. I felt too sad hearing her say that because I know most of these boys aren’t even interested in HER. They’re interested in a quick one-night stand while their girlfriends are out of town. We both know that.
I feel like part of the reason she’s gotten used to doing this is because I treat her ventures like ‘hot gossip’ and act excited sometimes to find out what’s happened with Guy A or Guy B because it seems to be the only part of her life that she feels is ‘exciting’ and I don’t want to her to feel like I’m bored with her. Maybe that encourages her. I’m scared that if I start acting dismissive of her boy drama, she’ll think that I’ve stopped caring about her (since I know all of this stems from her low self-esteem.) I don’t know what to do. I’ve suggested counselling for her low self-esteem but she doesn’t listen to me. It’s like she’s in denial that this is all caused by her insecurities. It doesn’t help that her other best friend acts like all of this is just ‘a normal part of being a fresher’ and tells me I’m exaggerating things.
- It sounds like you really care about your friend and want to find a way to be helpful to her. Good friends who are a positive, supportive influence are important for developing positive self esteem. You can be a positive influence on her life by being there for her and encouraging positive thoughts and behaviors. Encourage her to accept that no one is perfect. Point out her accomplishments and strengths when she says negative things about herself. Building self esteem takes time and practice by getting rid of negative thoughts about yourself and replacing those with positive, affirming thoughts. Surrounding yourself with positive friends goes a long way to help, so she is fortunate to have a friend like you who is there to help.
- You don’t need to worry about your friend thinking that you are ever bored with her. There will always be plenty of things to talk about besides her boy drama. You also shouldn’t be afraid to gently and respectfully let her know your true opinions about this, but always be respectful of her right to make her own life decisions. You might want to keep in mind that she will make her own choices in life, no matter what you think about those choices. What matters more is that you will remain her friend and be there for her even if you don’t approve, and that you will still treat her with respect. Sometimes friends just have to do things their own way, even if we don’t like what we see. She may even see a better example in you and model your behavior.
- Suggesting that your friend gets counseling is an excellent idea. Low self-esteem can lead to bad life choices, abusive partners, and depression. Exercise helps build confidence and is a great cure for depression! Why not offer to be fitness gym buddies, or go on bike rides, or take long walks together?
- What could you do or say to your friend to help her love her flaws and appreciate her accomplishments and good qualities?
- Can you think of a way to ignore her behavior around boys and focus on other more positive things about her in conversations?
- What are things that the two of you have in common that you could use as a way to get exercise, or share a fun activity together
- Helping others is a great way to boost self confidence. In what way could your friend be of help to you in your life?