Monday 9 December 2019

50 ways to leave your love: Declan Lynch's tales of addiction

 

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Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

When people start to notice that someone close to them might be developing an addiction, suddenly it is not just the addict who has a problem.

It is a horribly difficult situation all round, one which can be compared to the realisation that your best friend is in a relationship with someone who is obviously bad for them.

Think about that for a while… what do you do?

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The first instinct is that it's not really your business, is it? I mean, you can't just be going around telling people how to live their lives, and who they should be with, and who they shouldn't be with.

It's not like your own life choices are impeccably well-judged, is it? So who are you to be making "interventions" and generally trying to rearrange other people's affairs to your satisfaction?

Anyway, how do you know what is really going on there? One of the few things we know for sure in this world, is that the only people who really understand a relationship are the two people in it, and even they may have wildly different interpretations - so the chances of some outsider figuring out that mystery are pretty remote, on the face of it.

So why bother, then?

You'll probably just get it wrong and cause all sorts of offence, and maybe even lose your best friend. Just because you couldn't stop imposing your own solutions on them and on this partner of theirs, with whom they seem happy some of the time. In their own way…

Some of the time, of course, it's not so good. In fact, it seems to be very bad.

You hate the way your friend is being damaged, at least you think you're seeing signs of damage, and you just want it to stop.

Mutual friends will be seeing it too, which will obviously give you a bit more confidence in your own analysis of the situation, but then that can take a while too - after all, you might be reluctant to bring up the subject with them, for roughly the same reasons that you are reluctant to bring it up at all.

And if there is some broad agreement that something must be done, it's unlikely that everyone is going to arrive at this conclusion on the same day, at the same time. There is, shall we say, a process…

And meanwhile for your friend, things are not getting any better…

While you're pondering that one, I would say that you'll never find a better analogy than this, for the predicament that faces people when they are trying to organise an "intervention".

There is a good reason why this column is called 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, and it's not just because we like Paul Simon. When a person is addicted to whatever they're addicted to, they've got the same problem as anyone who's in a love affair that has gone irredeemably wrong - and they don't know what to do about it.

Indeed, they mightn't even be aware in any normal sense that it has gone wrong - it's called denial; it happens all the time.

You, however, are aware that it has indeed gone wrong, and it is forcing you to engage with your troubled friend in a way that seems to go against one of the central tenets of the whole friendship deal, which is that you don't judge each other too harshly, and ideally you don't judge each other at all.

And you are also aware that even if you get it together to speak to your friend about their unsuitable partner, it doesn't mean that the response will go something like this : "You know what? I never saw it like that, but now that you've pointed it out to me of course I will address the problem and thank you, by the way, for caring."

No, it probably won't go like that.

Not at the start…

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