If a dear friend of yours is involved in a toxic relationship, it can be hard for you to just stand by and watch the emotional carnage. However, it can be just as difficult to know exactly what to say to her and when. Don’t be judgmental and critical, but do be tenderly honest. No one, especially your good friends who want and deserve your unconditional love, likes to feel judged or have their decisions and actions questioned. 

If your friend is indeed in a toxic relationship, look for opportunities to say something gentle but cautionary. For instance, if she asks you directly, “So what do you think of Larry?” this is your opening to be honest but also gentle. It also helps to use specific examples that illustrate precisely what is worrying you. You could say something like, “To be truthful, I sometimes worry about the way he treats you. For example, last week, he told you he’d call on Tuesday, but you didn’t hear from him until Friday, and I feel you deserve to be treated with more respect than that.”

 If his behavior seems to be affecting her self-esteem or behavior, you can also point this out, albeit gently. For instance, if he likes to control what she wears, you can ask, “Whatever happened to that pink outfit you loved so much.” If she admits that he has forced her to stop wearing it because he fears that other men will flirt with her when she wears it, gently remind her that as an adult, only she gets to decide what she wears on any given day. Some women who seem to gravitate toward toxic relationships 

When you are close friends with someone, you want to protect them from toxic relationships and other negative experiences. At the same time, you want to respect their feelings. It can be tough to navigate these situations, so use your best judgment, follow your instincts, and always be on the lookout for those conversational cues and openings when you your advice is genuinely being sought, so that you can seize those opportunities to express your views about her toxic relationship directly but tenderly. 

Remember your role in your friend’s life. You are not her superego or her conscience, nor are you her parent. You are simply her friend. You can offer your thoughts and your advice about toxic relationships in general (and her toxic relationship in particular). You can even suggest books and articles on the subject if the moment feels right. But always remember that she is an adult who is in charge of making her own decisions, and you cannot live your life for her or force her to abide by your point of view.