Friendships have no terms, conditions

Written By Dara Collins, Editor-Elect

I want you to think of your best friend.

How long have you known each other? How did you meet? How do you spend a typical Saturday night together?

What would you do without them? What would you do if they stopped being your friend because they did not support a decision you made?

I hope you don’t have to answer the last two questions like I have.

I experienced a traumatic event some time ago that has thrown me in the front car of a roller coaster ever since – but that’s not what I want to talk about.

What I want to talk about concerns a tweet that relates to my situation and may very well relate to someone reading this. The tweet read, “Hey. Idk who needs to hear this but – Stop abandoning friends because they keep going back to abusive significant others!! I know it’s hard to see them go through that but it’s going to be even harder when they realize they want out and feel like they have no one to turn to!!!”

If I could scream this to the world’s population from the top of Mount Everest, I absolutely would.

Leaving an abusive relationship, emotional or physical, is difficult as it is. Now add every negative comment from family, friends and even the peanut gallery, and the difficulty continues to rise. The situation is confusing, draining and it hurts emotionally, physically and mentally.

The last thing an individual wants to feel in this type of situation is alone.

The moment this individual feels like they will lose their friends and family, they will panic. They may already feel as though they have disappointed their partner, and that is the cause of the strain in the relationship, and when disappointment to friends and family joins the equation, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Whether the individual wants to admit it or not, they need you. I want every single person reading this who has had a friend in the midst of a difficult situation to know that they need you.

Now, you might argue that the relationship, while it may not be yours, is becoming detrimental to you in some way. I do not disagree this can occur, but how can you completely withdraw from someone you call a friend?

You do not have to be their shoulder to cry on 24/7, and you are certainly not obligated to listen to the individual rant about their partner only to turn around and invite them over later that day. However, the moment you become absolutely unapproachable, you are no longer a friend.

The moment you become cold and present the individual with a choice between their friends and the relationship, you should have never been considered a friend in the first place.

Now, let’s discuss another argument. You could genuinely fear for the individual’s safety.

Alina Sheykhet, a 20-year-old University of Pittsburgh student, was found dead in her off-campus apartment on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. Sheykhet had filed a Protection From Abuse (PFA) form after ex-boyfriend Matthew Darby broke into her home a couple weeks prior to the murder.

From 2008 to 2017, more than 1,200 women, men, children and law enforcement died as a result of domestic violence, according to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

I understand the concern for a friend’s safety. You have every right to care for their well being, and the statistics certainly back up the concern.

Unfortunately, the individual will not always listen to your concern. Clouded judgement is the result of a troubled relationship. Ultimately, it is your friend’s choice.

There are arguments to both sides, and I completely understand both sides as I have been on both sides of the spectrum. I hope if anyone takes anything away from this it is to be a friend above all else.

Friends will voice opinions that an individual in a bad relationship will not like. Friends will urge an individual to hang out in a group to avoid one-on-one interaction with someone who may cause them harm. Friends may even offer to watch a date from afar or third-wheel. This is all okay.

What’s not okay is calling someone a friend only to leave them when they need you most.

A signature at the bottom of a terms and conditions section does not and should not determine a friendship, so let’s not act like it does.