Weird adult in friend group

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waterhyacinth
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Weird adult in friend group

Unread post by waterhyacinth »

Hi scarleteen. I'm not really sure how to start this so I'm just gonna get to the point: I'm worried about a friend of mine and wondering if she might be unhealthy/creepy.

This friend (I'm gonna call her Kelly for convivence) is 35(ish?) while everyone else in our friend group is 17-19. I know that age gaps alone don't mean shes creepy, but it's always made me really uncomfortable. When I was younger (like 14) and when we first met she used to do things like call me cute and talk about me kinda sexually? like nothing bad just saying that she thought I was a bottom in bed, or calling me some kink terms that I don't really wanna repeat here. She stopped after I asked her to one day but it's still always made me pretty uncomfortable and I've never been as close with her since because of that.

She also checks off some signs of grooming that I found online, like she talks bad about the parents/family of a lot of my friends which also makes me uncomfortable, since she'll do things like call my mom a bitch even though Kelly doesn't know her. She also offered to let one of my old friends stay with her after he ran away from home when he was 17, which he told me made him uncomfortable. I really don't want to think she's a groomer but the fact that I can list these at all makes me kinda uncomfortable.

I've tried to bring this up to the friend group before (with the friend above who ran away) and the rest of the people we talked to said that she didn't make them uncomfortable, which I'm really grateful for, but it's still just nagging at me and I wanted to get an outside perspective. When she found out that people were nervous around her (she didn't know who) she got really guilty and everyone else rushed to publicly defend her, and again I'm really glad they're comfortable around her but I'm also scared to bring anything up in case I'm ostracized. I'm sorry this is so long winded but I just need to know if this is normal? Sorry if I'm overreacting, I know adults and teens can have normal friendships, but I just want advice on whether I'm overreacting or this is unsafe.
Elise
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Re: Weird adult in friend group

Unread post by Elise »

Hi there waterhyacinth, whilst I'm sorry to here that you find yourself dealing with this kind of situation, I'm glad you felt comfortable asking us about this. From what you are describing, I would say you are very very wise to be listening to your instincts here, the fact that you are able to note similarities with behaviours associated with grooming, and the inappropriate sexualised language etc. towards you is a big red flag. Even if this were genuinely a case of her not understanding what is an appropriate way to interact with someone in an age disparate relationship (and the power dynamics at play) this is a risky situation, as she would not be acting with the correct amount of responsibility.

I would say that positioning herself in a way where she is wedging herself in opposition to your friend groups' parents, and creating a situation where she would be so strongly defended in this way without question is also a sign that there is some manipulation going on.

I recall that your sister was a support to you from your prior thread, have you spoken to her about it? May I also ask the context as to how you met this person and how they became part of your friendship group? (work, school, other activity?) is there a counsellor or other trusted person who could help you with this (even just talking to them about it).
waterhyacinth
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Re: Weird adult in friend group

Unread post by waterhyacinth »

I really don't know if there's any adult irl i can talk to, my parents are talking about taking me out of therapy so I cant talk to my therapist soon, and I'm worried my parents might be mad if I tell them I'm friends with someone so old. My sister is friends with Kelly herself and close to the rest of the friend group so I'm kinda worried about bringing it up to her in case of the same ostracization.

She was a friend of a friend (I think she met a mutual friend through work, that mutual friend was part of friend group, Kelly showed up one day to hang out and just sorta became part of the group?), and that also brings up something that I forgot to mention earlier. The mutual friend who Kelly came in through (I'm gonna call him Alex) is really close with Kelly, like I know they spend a lot of one on one time together even though Alex quit the job he met her at a while ago, and Alex has told me that Kelly's one of his closest friends. I'm a little worried about their friendship (for the reasons listed originally) but I just,, don't know how to make sure Alex is safe without sounding like I'm overreacting. Kelly's also been part of the group for a few years now and I kinda feel like if she was gonna do something she would have by now, if that makes sense? I don't know how good that logic is but it's just making me extra nervous about bringing anything up.
Elise
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Re: Weird adult in friend group

Unread post by Elise »

Hi waterhyacinth, sorry to hear that you are in a position where you feel like you don't have many adults to turn to in your life right now. Do you know why your parents want to take you out of therapy? Is this something that you want/agree with, or not? Is there a counsellor or teacher at school that you could talk to? One of the important things in this case is to have an adult to speak to. I remember your sister has been supportive of you before, have you told her about the inappropriate things Kelly said to you?

Hearing what you are describing, I do think it is important to listen to your instincts about Kelly and where you are seeing red flags, and in the first instance, try and reduce your direct interactions to a minimum, so you are at least safe and comfortable. In terms of talking to him, are there ways you could casually chat to him about what they do eg. if he says he hung out with Kelly person on a day, ask casually what they do and see where the conversation goes as a start? It can help not to get accusatory or question too strongly at the beginning as people do tend to clam up a bit with direct questioning. Of course if you'd not feel comfortable/safe doing this, finding this out isn't something you need to take responsibility for.

Also regarding her tenure with the group, sadly sometimes things can happen without others in the group knowing about it, or sometimes, people don't go into a situations with plans to be a bad actor, but have a warped view that means they don't act appropriately around others and don't consider the consequences of their actions/think rules apply to them even though they have a responsibility to (that they're ignoring). Also some people may take time to establish trust with a group before trying to use that trust to their advantage.
This can mean that they can have behaviour that can escalate (from inappropriate words to actions), or it could happen later. I don't mean to alarm you, you are taking smart actions to set up boundaries and look after yourself, I say this to point out that Kelly's duration in your group without any reported bad act isn't a reliable indication that something won't happen in the future on its own; does that make sense?
waterhyacinth
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Re: Weird adult in friend group

Unread post by waterhyacinth »

My mom just thinks therapy isn't doing much for me, I don't know if I agree but I've only been in for a few sessions and I wanna give it more of a chance. If I meet with him soon though I'll bring this up. I don't really think theres anyone at school because we're out for the summer, and I feel like my counselors have better things to do than talk about my friend who might be weird? Idk how fair that is tho, I'm not really sure what the point of school counselors are. My sister is close to the group but I don't think I've ever actually told her about what she said to me, but she was there a few times when Kelly still did that? I'm still kinda hesitant to bring up something that might have been weird that happened a few years ago, it still feels like I'm overreacting.

I've been trying to talk to Alex a little more, just about basic stuff but one-on-one since we haven't been super close in the past. Even if Kelly is totally benign I still want him to feel like theres someone besides her he can talk to, y'know? I just don't really know how to bring it up.

That does make sense, yeah. I don't wanna get too heavy/deep, but I went through some old text messages between me and some of my friends in the group (minus Kelly) where I questioned her behavior and everyone else told me she was fine/brushed me off/said I was overreacting, and now I kinda feel like I'm going crazy. I'm thinking maybe I'm just looking too deep into things because my relationship with my ex bf (from my old posts) and now I'm just overly paranoid about older people around me (even though feeling weird about Kelly predates feeling weird about my ex?). I don't really know what I'm saying, I think I just need to know whether feeling weird about Kelly is fair (whether she's a good friend or not) or if this is just my projecting/overreacting based on past experiences.
Sam W
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Re: Weird adult in friend group

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi waterhyacinth,

I would push to stay in therapy a bit longer if you can; it's not an instantaneous process, and as you've probably noticed it can take a session or two to even start digging into stuff. Too, progress in therapy often looks like small changes from the outside, so if your mom is expecting you to just walk out after a session and be all better (however that would look), that's not a reasonable expectation.

I'm glad to hear you've been talking with Alex more and working to maintain that relationship. You're absolutely right that it's important for him to have multiple people he feels like he can talk to. It may be a matter of waiting until Kelly arises in conversation naturally, because then you could bring up how you've been feeling or ask him how he feels about everything.

I'm sorry that your friends brushed off your concerns, especially when it sounds like some of them know the things Kelly did in the past that made you uncomfortable and where inappropriate. For what it's worth, I don't think you're projecting or overreacting. I was very surprised to see that Kelly is spending so much time hanging out with people who are basically twenty years her junior. And, to be clear, I'm someone who believes that there can be positive, supportive relationships, or even friendships, across pretty big age gaps. But something about this feels off to me. Do you get the sense that your friend group is where Kelly puts the bulk of her social energy? And when she found out people were uncomfortable, did the guilt involved asking what she could do to help people feel comfortable or respect boundaries? Or was it more just "I feel so bad?"
waterhyacinth
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Re: Weird adult in friend group

Unread post by waterhyacinth »

I really think it is where Kelly puts a lot of her social energy, we used to do roleplay stuff on discord (nonsexual, dw) and she would be on like... most of the day? she even talked about ignoring work to talk with us sometimes which in retrospect was kinda weird. I read back over the messages after my friend came out and said he was uncomfortable and she actually didn't say much about it one way or another at first, then later on said that she wanted reassurance from everyone that she wasn't making us uncomfortable, but not really in an asking way and more if in a "tell me that I'm not making you uncomfortable way" if u know what I mean? She did say tho that if any of us were uncomfortable with her then we could tell her and she would stop/leave, which she did do when I brought the weird stuff up when I was younger so she's truthful about that at least? Some of my other friends did say during that convo that they'd stick with anyone who was being made uncomfortable over Kelly which was also nice, but doesn't really match with what they've said before when I said I was uncomfortable. I'm not even sure what I could tell them now anyways, just that she's older than us and did some stuff in the past that made me uncomfortable, then stopped. I think I'm mostly just gonna focus on staying close with Alex and limiting contact with Kelly instead of trying to reach out for now.
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Re: Weird adult in friend group

Unread post by Sofi »

Hi waterhyacinth! I've read over this thread a couple times and I've gotta say, I'm with Sam on this. I think there can be normal and healthy friendships with large age gaps, but that's usually between adults (such as, for example, a 25 year old with a 40 year old). When one of the parties is a teenager, especially as young as 14, and the age gap is that big, it does raise some suspicion. This doesn't mean that the older person has bad motives because they're friends with a teenager, but it could mean many things, especially if they're their only friends/the main place they put their social energy into. It makes me wonder why she's not friends with people closer to her age, who have adult experiences she can relate to, you know? 14 and 32 is a strange age for a friendship, ESPECIALLY if the older person is calling the younger person cute and things like that. I'm sorry your friends say they'd stick with you but then also say contradictory things that make you unsure if they would or not. I think it's a good idea to stick to Alex and limit contact with Kelly, and sort of leave it at that for now. It's good news that she did back off after you asked her to, but you're right, the way she asked for everyone's reassurance comes off a little manipulative and not genuine. It's best you keep your distance for now, in my opinion, so you're not in any uncomfortable positions again in the future. <3
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