Dear Sue: “Angered Al”
One of my good friends recently broke up with their significant other of over 2 years. They had a rough patch last year, but stuck it out, and now have just called it quits. It has only been a little over 2 weeks, but my friend has already started seeing someone else. This other person is, to put it nicely, rude, and I am afraid that this will affect their other friendships (most of our friends do not get along with this other person). This is clearly a rebound, correct? How do I tell my friend that this other person is not good for them, and that they should just take some time off from the dating life and re-evaluate?
It is a dangerous game to talk to your friends about their relationships, especially if they are in denial about whom they are dating/hanging out with. But it is often worth it to gently bring up the subject with your friend and just listen. Maybe he/she will magically talk it all out of their system, realize their circular thinking about this person is wrong, and end it right there. Most likely, though, this is not going to be the case.
Let’s take this step by step. Considering your friend has only waited about two weeks to start dating or seeing someone new, it is most likely a rebound. If you had said they waited a month or two we would be having a different conversation. A common trait for rebounding is picking someone they wouldn’t normally go for. When telling your friend, I’m not sure you want to go straight for the “we hate him/her” approach. Meddling in your friends’ relationship is a slippery slope. Although you have the best intentions, you have to be ready to accept the consequences of losing a friend if the conversation takes a horrible turn. Maybe start with subtly making your disapproval known. Leave the room if this new person comes in and sits down to stay. This might lead to a confrontation by your friend and give you a chance to discuss your feelings. Give them a reason as to why this person is bad for them, or try to open up their eyes to the fact that this probably is a rebound. The most common thing to happen is for them to get defensive, and that is okay. Let your friend talk and be defensive, don’t interrupt, and then continue the conversation. Perhaps your friend’s personality has changed; point that out. Maybe discuss specifically why you don’t like this new person, and at least maybe then your friend will hang out with them elsewhere.
All in all, rebounds are likely to run their course, and unless it is life-threatening, maybe the best option is to not tell your friend face to face and just let it happen. Your friend is looking for happiness and he/she is going to take it in any form it comes, no matter who it is. Maybe your concern should be for the poor fool who is falling for your friend.
Sue Z. Maroon