Great friends are rare.
When you find someone you consider to be a "true friend" it's important to reciprocate their kindness. A very particular situation (one I never thought I would find myself in), led me to this important realisation.
I had been seeing, well dating, if we can even call it that, someone who I'd met a few months after breaking up with the guy I'd dated for over two years.
Naturally, fresh out of a relationship that I didn't necessarily want to see end, I was vulnerable. I wanted something, or someone to help me forget about him, the person I consider "the one that got away".
Instead of finding a hobby like cooking or running, which I should have done, I got involved with the guy I met. Let's call him Dylan.
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Dylan was nothing like my darling ex, who by the way, only ended the relationship because he was moving to another country for over three years. By nothing like my ex I mean, his idea of romance was him playing Fifa for hours while I prepared him a meal.
There were no longer cute date nights, romantic dinners or dog walking in the park. Just watching a lot of soccer, playing actual soccer and video games.
Because I wanted to give this "relationship" a fair chance, I tried my best not to compare the two men. And so whenever a red flag reared its ugly head, I disregarded it and continued trying to get the best out of our relationship.
Also, I've never liked the idea of being alone so I'd always find myself sticking around in relationships long after I should've left.
Before long I became very unhappy in the relationship after it started to seem like things weren't going to change, and so as friends do, I constantly complained about Dylan to my friend, who consistently advised me to just stop holding on to the relationship and spend some time finding myself.
After all, I had been in a two-year-long relationship and then jumped straight into the next one without taking a break.
A few months passed until one day, when after enjoying some wine with my friend who is a serious feminist and an anti-bs advocate, I asked Dylan if it was okay for me to come over as it had gotten really late and dangerous for me to travel all the way home.
He responded no, without offering an explanation or concern for his girlfriend who could be in a potentially dangerous situation.
After I'd told this to my concerned friend, she seemed like she had had enough. I left to the bathroom for a quick bathroom break and came back to find her ferociously typing on my cellphone.
I immediately knew what was happening. She was texting Dylan.
At this point I didn't mind because I was very upset with him for not caring enough about my safety that evening, and so I let her go ahead. What I didn't expect, was her breaking up with him on my behalf.
When she handed my phone back, with a text from Dylan saying that he didn't want anything to do with me any longer, I must admit, I was taken aback and a little upset with my friend for being so extreme.
While I didn't exactly become angry at her, I unconsciously resented her for what I considered at the time "sabotaging" my relationship.
Fast forward to about two weeks later, I got invited to a birthday by a mutual friend Dylan and I shared.
Dylan was there too, except, he wasn't alone. Latched tightly on to his arm was another young woman.
I found out on that evening, that she had been seeing Dylan for over six months. That's how long we'd been seeing each other.
At that exact moment I realised that my friend had actually done me the biggest favour on the planet, and so I had a new found love for her no-nonsense personality and just general existence in my life.
Her act of standing up for me when I couldn't do it for myself reminds me of an article I read recently about a woman who had thrown hot water at her best friend's abusive husband and it had me thinking, exactly how involved a friend is allowed to get in your life after she sees the toxicity that you don't?
Pouring boiling water is definitely too far for very obvious reasons, but how else can you help? Psychologist Dr David Wilson shares advice for friends who feel obliged to intervene in their friends lives during toxic situations.
"The level you're allowed to get involved depends a lot on how long you've been friends. If it hasn't been very long, or long enough, your friend may not appreciate you getting involved so before you do, always consider this.
Another thing to keep in mind, is that your friend may not immediately see your good intentions, in fact she may never see it, so before you get involved or do anything drastic, consider the fact that you may lose your friendship.
If you think that helping your friend regardless of the fact that it may cost you the relationship with him/her, then you can go ahead. A few steps to help your friend who is facing a difficult situation are:
1. First talk to the person about the situation. Expect them to become defensive, but make sure you get your point across without sounding judgmental or overbearing.
2. Secondly, make sure this person knows they have your unconditional love and support, and that you're only looking out for their best interest.
3. Thirdly, avoid at all cost criticising them. This will only make them shut you out and leave them feeling isolated, resulting in your plan to help back firing.
4. Lastly, set limits to how much you involve yourself. If your friends problems start giving you sleepless nights, anxiety, stress, then you're probably too involved. Although you'd do anything to help your friend, it's important to consider your own well being.
There's only so much you can do."