T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 101944
posted 03-26-2013 07:09 PM
My friend has left her boyfriend of seven years twice in the year that I have known her. Each time she has said she will not go back to him, is not attracted to him, but can't stand to be alone.
She has told me that she has cheated on him numerous times, and that he calls her 'bitch' and '*******' when they fight which is how she knows he's serious. She has also said that she knows he loves her, and that his level-headedness balances out her craziness. She says she's afraid nobody will ever want to go out with her. Now they are back together again, and she wants me to hang out with both of them. I have not said anything to her about my opinion of him and their relationship, but I don't want to hang out with them. I don't know how I can become friends with him knowing that she feels the way she does about him. I feel like she's not being fair to him by staying since it's only because she is afraid to be alone, and I don't know if he is treating her well, anyway. Outside of the relationship stuff she's a good friend and I don't want to stop hanging out with her completely. She's already commented on how I get quiet when she mentions her boyfriend and them getting back together. What do I say to her?
Member # 101745
posted 03-26-2013 07:30 PM
This sounds like a pretty uncomfortable situation! It's always tough to see friends in relationships that don't seem healthy or like they're a good fit. From what you say, it certainly does sound like this isn't a very healthy relationship. The sad fact is that there's just no way to make someone leave an unhealthy relationship, and sometimes being really overt in criticisms of a friend's partner means the friend feels like they have to be defensive and withdraw from you a bit, which it doesn't sound like you want. If your friend keeps asking you to hang out with both of them, I think it's fine to say "you know, I'd really rather do something one-on-one with you, how about we [fun activity] together?" Responding with a specific invitation makes it clear that you aren't trying to avoid seeing her altogether. She may ask you point-blank if you dislike her boyfriend, and how you respond there is up to you, but I'd keep it simple. You could say something like "the way he talks to you when he's upset really bothers me, and even if he doesn't do it when I'm there, it makes me uncomfortable." or "I don't know him well enough to really like or dislike him, but I know things are tumultuous between you sometimes; I'd rather just hang out with you instead." I think if she asks you specifically for an opinion about the relationship, it's ok to say that you don't think it's really healthy. But people in high-drama relationships don't always want to hear it! I have a friend who was involved in a long on-again, off-again relationship with someone who I didn't like too much; when I did finally meet him (after years of hearing other friends' stories about how he was awkward and off-putting), I decided that he was an ok guy in some ways but just wasn't a great partner for my friend at all. She was really sensitive to criticism of him because she felt that most of it was unfairly targeting his social awkwardness, but I really did think that the problems went deeper than that. So one time when they were having problems, I said "I'm going to say this one time and drop it, and I'm sorry to be so blunt, but even though I've known Robert for a few years now and don't think he's a bad guy at all, and I know you two care about each other, whenever you date him you seem to be so sad and confused all the time. I don't think the two of you have a very healthy dynamic, and I think it takes more than caring for someone to make a relationship work." And then I dropped it. I felt like I had to say something, but I didn't bring it up past that, unless she asked for my opinion. One last question. You say you aren't sure this guy is treating your friend well - are you worried that he is abusive to her in any way? Here's a good article about some of the warning signs of abuse: If you do notice anything familiar here, definitely let us know and we can address that too.
Blinders Off:Getting a Good Look at Abuse and Assault
Member # 101944
posted 03-28-2013 07:24 AM
Yeah I don't want to offer her any advice or say anything about her relationship. It seems like my feelings towards it are showing through on my face though, when she brings him up. So I guess I'm asking for help figuring out how to answer her questions about why I get all quiet and won't look at her when she mentions him. I didn't even know I was behaving so differently.
Member # 3
posted 03-28-2013 12:06 PM
Maybe in this case, given how you feel about it, the thing to say is pretty much exactly what you said at the end of your first post up top?
In other words, "I want us to keep being friends, but I just can't be on board with your relationship, so if you're not asking me for help getting and staying out of it, it's something I need you not to talk about with me. And I don't want to hang out with him, so no thank you, and please don't ask me to do that again." Or something like that. And you know, that's okay: you get to have those limits, and this is a fairly typical, I'd say, spot to wind up in with friends in dysfunctional or bad, even abusive relationships. I've been there myself. At a certain point, if you're going to remain friends, but the person isn't leaving the yuck, the only way to manage it is for their relationship to be something they understand you're to be kept out of, and you can't listen to how awful it is while they're making no effort to get out of it. [ 03-28-2013, 12:07 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]