Auntie SparkNotes: Should I Try to Help This Toxic Guy?
I have been missing a guy I met some months ago, let's call him J. I started talking to J because I had a strong crush on him and things were going fine, at least I managed to have a cool friendship with him. The problem was that he has some kind of double personality. He is a really damaged person and I understand his attitude because, from what he told me, his parents try to make him feel horribly guilty just for being gay and I think they have never been exactly good parents.
He has developed an amazingly toxic attitude and it's shocking to see that because he used to be so sweet when talking to me, but an authentic a**hole if you give him a mean look (it's not an exaggeration, it really happened.)
So, I decided to put distance between us. I didn't need that kind of negativity in my life.
A few weeks ago, my best friend (they go to the same school) told me that J had a really strong fight with his parents; they found out that he has a boyfriend and they kicked him out. As far as I know, J is looking for a room to rent and found a job in a grocery store (with horrible pay, of course; he's only 17 and he has no experience) and I worry about his situation.
His boyfriend doesn't care about him at all (in fact, J needs to beg him for everything; even his boyfriend has told him to prepare for a cheat or a break-up). Also J doesn't have a lot of friends (mostly because of his nasty attitude) and is only relying on my friend. I know it stopped being my business when I decided to stop talking to him, but it breaks my heart that I'm aware of the suffering he is going through, but he is stubborn AF and he would rather die before accepting my help.
Should I at least give it a try or it will be best for me if I leave him with his life?
Let me put it this way, Sparkler: Remember that moment, several months ago, when you observed that J's toxic negativity was having a not-so-great impact on your life, and you made a decision to distance yourself? That was the relationship equivalent of being inside a building, smelling smoke, and heading for the exits without further ado.
Whereas what you're considering now is the relationship equivalent of re-entering that same building, which is now fully engulfed in flames that you have absolutely no means of putting out, for no other reason than that it was making you feel bad to watch it burn.
All of which is to say, you have a really golden opportunity here to remain uninvolved with a guy you identified early on, with good reason, as someone with whom involvement would be unhealthy. Please take it.
And while you're at it, please let this be a valuable lesson in the limits of your control when it comes to saving other people from themselves. It's not that you can't feel bad for this guy; it's normal and natural that you do, especially when you once had tender feelings toward the better self lurking somewhere underneath all his asshat behavior. But if you weren't in a position then to rescue him from his self-sabotaging tendencies, you're in even less of one now. Like the song says, he's just somebody that you used to know—and it should tell you something about your place in all this that you're only hearing about his sad situation in the form of secondhand gossip from your friend.
Oh, and speaking of your friend? If you want to direct your concerned energy somewhere appropriate and appreciated, I'd like to suggest you direct it toward him. Let yourself be an ear if he needs someone to talk to, and let yourself be the person who gives him a gentle reality check, if he needs it, about not getting so invested in caring for J that he stops taking care of himself. Supportive people need support, too. And considering that your best friend is currently playing therapist to an angry, needy, damaged guy in a continual state of crisis, he could probably use his own somebody to lean on… and maybe a pizza.
Got something to say? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.
Want more info about how this column works? Check out the Auntie SparkNotes FAQ.