What to Do When a Friend Won’t Change for the Better


We’ve all likely had that one friend who just seems to be going downhill and isn’t doing anything to help themselves.

It can be painful to helplessly watch someone you love screw up their life, and it can be just downright infuriating when you do everything in your power to get them back on their feet, but are too stubborn to cooperate.

Next thing you know, your friendship is on the line. So what do you do about this dear friend who refuses to change for the better?

1. Be consistent.

If there’s a specific message you’re trying to communicate to your friend, such as, “Forgiving is not for them, it’s for you,” or “You won’t get a job until you get your foot out the door,stick to that message.

Don’t change your beliefs or else it will just confuse your friend and further their ambiguity. If you stand firm in what you believe in, it can prove to your friend that you mean business and it may inspire them to finally take action.

2. Back off.

Sometimes, our efforts are in vain and we just have to step back and let them learn the hard way. Just as you have to let go of a child as you’re teaching them to ride a bike, helping out a friend might mean taking your hands off and letting them learn alone.

They will more than likely fall flat on their face, but tough love can be a powerful teacher. As long as you’re standing by to help them get back up, let them learn on their own.

3. Shut up and listen.

Perhaps all your friends wants or needs is a listening ear so they can air out their complaints and rant. It can be annoying to listen to the same sob story every time you talk, especially when your friend refuses to listen to you when you offer advice. But the ranting may help them to cool off their heads.

A quiet, supportive buddy who holds them in a tight hug while they cry, can often be more powerful than giving the wisest Dr. Phil speech of the century.

4. Influence by modeling it yourself.

We all know the phrase, “Action speaks louder than words.” If you want to influence your friend to get themselves together, then make sure you have yourself together. It’s useless to give advice when you don’t take your own advice.

Be a role model and show them how it’s done. When they see how well you’re doing because of the wise choices you’ve made, they may be inspired and motivated to change their ways and make the same choices.


The person you’re thinking of may not necessarily be a friend. It could be a sibling, a parent, or a co-worker, but the same concepts apply. More than anything, continue to love this person. They’re going through a rough time and they need it now more than ever.

Make sure to give yourself some space too, because the frustration of someone not changing can be physically draining. Always keep a hopeful outlook; no one ever stays the same, after all.

Featured Image: iStock

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