Dear Ms. Peirano,

This isn’t directly about me, but about my best friend Mia. We’ve been friends since elementary school and celebrated our 25th friendship day last year 🙂 We’ve been through so much together, a lot of ups (Interrail, salsa, girls’ nights out , watching series, Pilates) and many lows (my mother’s illness and death, her motorcycle accident and of course all the men’s stories). She can be very funny and crazy.

And that brings us to the topic. I have been happily in a relationship for four years and have a small daughter. Mia often seeks out difficult men and sticks with them.

Recent relationships:

I’m very worried about Mia and would like her to take a closer look at her choice of partner. Or at least that she will break up as soon as the first red flags appear. After the breakup with Ben, all of our friends talked to Mia together and told her how bad we thought he was and how glad we were that she broke up (which took forever). And we all offered to tell her honestly what we think of her men in the future.

Then she was single for three months, blossomed – and met Jonas. That was a year ago now. When things are going well with Jonas, she invests everything in pleasing him and also neglects her own life. And when things don’t go well, she’s devastated, but doesn’t tell us friends everything, or at least that’s what we assume.

During the bad phases, I have often told her why I think it is a toxic relationship and advised her to separate. I have offered her all my support if she breaks up and she knows she can count on me. She then often, I can’t put it any other way, separated “a little bit” and didn’t contact Jonas for three days. But as soon as he took another step towards her, she got involved with him again. It’s been like this for nine months now, she’s lost a lot of weight and doesn’t sleep well. I don’t really get through to her with my words, and the same goes for the other friends. She denies the issue of domestic violence.

On the other hand, I also notice that it is very stressful for me not to be able to help her. I can’t stand Jonas’ toxic masculinity, and I can’t stand the way Mia degrades herself and puts up with it. Actually, she is also a feminist and thinks that women should be strong and independent. Only in her relationships does she do the exact opposite.

I don’t want to let Mia down, but I can’t stand watching it anymore. How can I best deal with her?

Best regards and thank you, Sophia P.

I work as a behavioral therapist and love coach in private practice in Hamburg-Blankenese and St. Pauli. During my doctorate, I researched the connection between relationship personality and happiness in love and then wrote two books about love.

Information about my therapeutic work can be found at

Do you have questions, problems or heartache? Please write to me (maximum one A4 page). I would like to point out that inquiries and answers can be published anonymously on

Dear Sophia P. I can well understand that it causes you pain when you see your beloved friend in such a long-lasting and constantly repeating relationship drama.

You know the strong and positive sides of Mia, and you have, so to speak, stored inner images of how funny, courageous and lively she can be. And then you experience how completely different images of Mia come to light in changing relationships with men: she becomes dependent, allows herself to be humiliated, is inconsistent and loses her shine. She can no longer sleep, which also indicates a loss of safety and security.

It’s probably really upsetting for you to see that! And it also makes you feel helpless because Mia won’t let you help her. She sounds a little resistant to advice, because at least she has good, caring, intelligent friends who would honestly give her an outside perspective and help her free herself from toxic relationships. But it seems that Mia follows an inner pattern of action with somnambulistic certainty and repeats her painful experiences in an endless loop, even with different men.

The essence of their relationship dramas seems to be the question: Do I matter to you? Do you respect me and pay attention to my boundaries and my wishes? Am I only lovable if I give up on myself?

It is quite possible that this insecurity is an old theme from Mia’s childhood that she had to experience and suffer with close people. For example, because there was an overbearing and indifferent father to whom she played no role and who ignored her needs. She was unable to resolve this conflict as a child, and in the sense of a compulsion to repeat it, she reenacts this struggle in her relationships and tries to resolve it there. That means she fights with Niklas, Ben and Jonas over the question of how lovable she is. These men are representatives for, for example, the father, who was actually the issue.

But what can you do as a best friend to avoid drowning in the whirlpool? I would give you the following perspectives:

Then you could talk to Mia about how you want to live your friendship, away from torturous conversations and ineffective advice about Jonas, Niklas, Ben. Maybe you can go to salsa or Pilates again? Or plan an evening together with your other friends? It is very important to continually show Mia the positive images you have of her. How brave and strong she can be, how funny, how wonderful. This is what she needs to find the strength to separate.

Of course, it’s not easy to leave your girlfriend alone with her relationship dramas for a while. But what would you do if your friend with chronic, severe toothache didn’t go to the dentist but kept complaining to you about the pain? Listening to this, how long would you think you’ll be helping her? Or would you even help your friend to be able to endure the (tooth) pain because you always comfort her? And would that be good?

I wish you a lot of courage and clarity to find a good way for yourself and also for Mia to stop suffering so much. In doing so, you would also be setting an example of how you can set yourself apart and take care of your own well-being.

Herzlich GrüßeJulia Peirano