Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: My best friend and I are high school seniors and I strongly dislike her boyfriend. He treats her horribly, tells her “no promises” about cheating on her when they’re arguing, entertains other girls and doesn’t shut it down and then makes jokes about it. Recently she asked who the girl he was texting was, and he said, “Oh, I don’t know. I have three.” When I told him he’s made her cry, he bragged to his friend about how cool that is. She doesn’t open up to him because she says he doesn’t care. They fight over the same things over and over. She knows she should leave, but she can’t imagine her life without him and she wants more time with him. She used to tell me that since he doesn’t cheat on her it’s fine, but now she says things like she doesn’t know if he’s cheating or not. At this point, I don’t think she’d leave him even if he did cheat. She puts up with this and I don’t know if it’s because she does love him or if it’s because he’s her first boyfriend. No matter what I do I can’t make her see that he’s not good for her and she deserves so much more. She doesn’t believe that there’s someone out there who’s going to show her what she’s been missing. I hate watching her hurt herself. I get so angry over this, I’ve even cried because she was crying over him. Do I stay out of it or do I help her? Nothing I say or do changes her mind. How can I be a better friend and help her out?

Sad Best Friend

DEAR SAD: According to the very helpful website Loveisrespect.org, about 20 percent of teens report being in a toxic or abusive dating relationship. Based on what you say, I would put your friend in this category.

Continue to support her, but understand that she may continue to stay with him, even though he is an emotionally abusive jerk. Understand that on many levels she knows this, but she is making a calculation: She would rather have stale crumbs from this guy than be on her own. You can help make sure she knows she deserves better.

She sounds vulnerable and insecure. You should continue to be her supportive friend but you can stop urging her to leave (this choice needs to come from her). Only continue saying to her, “You deserve so much better...”

Some abusive relationship patterns start with that first relationship, and, unfortunately, if she thinks this is acceptable or “normal,” she may continue to have relationships with guys who bully and treat her badly.

You cannot change this, but you should continue to be her loyal friend, even if this is incredibly frustrating and hard for you. Urge her to do some research about relationships; loveisrespect.org offers a very helpful online chat, as well as a free texting hotline: text loveis to 22522 or call 866-331-9474.

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DEAR AMY: I’m almost divorced. I’ve known my daughter’s boyfriend’s mother since we both were teenagers. She has been divorced for five years. We’ve had this unspoken thing for each other for more than 30 years. We met for drinks and hit it off, just talking about our kids. Is it wrong to take this relationship to the next level?

Wondering

DEAR WONDERING: You say: “I’m almost divorced.”

I say: On some level, all married people are almost divorced.

When you are all-the-way divorced, you should feel free to take this relationship to the next level.

DEAR AMY: In your column, you commented about the “subtle and shifting hurts” that you have experienced on Facebook. I’m a 61-year-old attorney. I’m married with three children. You would think I would be immune to the “hurt” you mentioned. I’m not. Facebook can really be a hurtful venue. And your usage of the words “subtle” and “shifting” was, in my opinion, an exact description of how it feels. I think I have learned a ton about myself and other people in the course of the past two years, as a result of that hurtfulness. Well said! Thank you.

Big Fan

DEAR FAN: Social media expands our circles, increasing the number of people who have access to us. These people can easily make (or break) our day.

Because this is a new way of interacting, we all need to arrive at new ways of coping. I’ll happily pass along suggestions from readers.