Here's a listener question I received.
Dear Maryanne, One of my best friends has been unhealthily obsessed with the same guy for almost four years (we're now seniors in college). They have hooked up intermittently over this time but have never been on a date or spent any platonic time together. He has never displayed any actual interest in her or her feelings despite it being incredibly obvious that she is very attached. She refuses to show interest in any other person. My friend responds to this guy's booty call messages every time, running over to his place even at 3am in the pouring rain. He is unbelievably inconsiderate, refusing to walk her home after said hookups and only contacting her when he's drunk and horny. She is obsessed to the point of letting it completely control her mood. When she is happy it is because she may have sat next to him in class, or because he waved to her. She spends hours getting ready on days she thinks she may see him. On the other hand, she will lock herself in her room, play depressing music and cry if she hears about him hooking up with some other girl.
We are all worried that she is wasting her college life and will really regret this in the future. She has never been on a date or had a relationship, thanks to this. We've tried everything to help her out--talking her through it, attempting to set her up on dates, even ignoring any mention of him for a period of time. We're at a breaking point and have no idea what to do. Please help! -A, J, and S
Ladies, I am so moved by your letter and how sincerely concerned you all are about your girlfriend’s well-being. She is fortunate to have friends like you. Let’s see if I can help empower you by shedding some light and by offering you a shift in perspective of your friend’s situation: First, if your girlfriend has mentioned harming herself in anyway (suicidal threats, etc.) I implore you to seek professional help on campus. You can never be too careful here.
Next, If this isn’t the case and your girlfriend’s behavior is a steady diet of booty call and crying jags, I recommend you consider the following carefully: there is how you see your g-friend’s situation and then, ultimately, the way she sees it. The way I see it, getting her to see things your way is one of the biggest obstacles you have. For example; you see she is wasting her college life, vs., perhaps she sees that if she is more tolerant, accommodating, and available she will be ultimately rewarded and loved. Which for her may be more important than anything in the world right now, including “her college life.” Trying to get someone to love you to the point of breaking, or trying to get someone to love themselves, are both indicators of being out of balance and, on some level, two sides of the same coin. This is difficult to see, as one seems self-destructive and the other virtuous.
So the first thing I would ask you consider is dropping any judgment you have either way, as it is not helpful when trying to see the truth or ultimately what is needed. Next, I would ask that you consider attending to your own imbalance first. You cannot give what you do not have, and you can model healthy, self-loving behavior for your friend. I have created a CD on self-inquiry, which is how I helped heal myself of both these issues over time.