Two months ago, at an event my boyfriend and I invited her to, she hooked up with a man 25 years her junior, and they’ve been inseparable ever since. As in: he spent the night at her place the night they hooked up and simply never went back to his (sketchy) home. It very quickly became “So & So and I” and “I’ll see what So & So” thinks when talking about issues going on in her own apartment. I think how quickly he swooped in on her (cooking, flowers, lots of big gestures but then a total drop-off in sex after the first few weeks) is a big red flag, and he “lost” his bank card a month ago and can’t seem to get a replacement or money, so she’s paying for everything. He drinks a lot. When I’m around, he leads conversations in a sexual direction and pretty much fixates on me to the exclusion of my friends, while declaring that he “loves” me and that I’m his favorite of my friend’s girlfriends. I feel as if I’m being manipulated. He was supposed to leave for a job at the beginning of this month, and then the date was pushed out a few weeks, and today I found out that now he’s not leaving for another month. (My boyfriend predicted he’d do that.)
My friend IS suspicious of the money thing, but she’s very happy and says he treats her really well, gives her lots of physical affection, is really nice to her and takes her on adventures she wouldn’t otherwise go on. I’ve seen those things in their relationship, but I don’t trust him and don’t want to hang out with him because his comments are so stupid and I hate fending them off. They keep asking to do things all together, but my boyfriend doesn’t want to hang out with the new guy, and in the meantime I’m really worried that my friend is being taken advantage of. I’m worried that if I say something negative about him, that she’ll tell him and he’ll find a way to get me cut out of her life. — Not Into Her New Man
So, your friend, who is with a man 25 years your friend’s junior, is very happy, is being treated well, gets lots of physical attention, and is going on adventures she wouldn’t otherwise go on? Hmm, well, call me crazy but that doesn’t to me AT ALL that she is being taken advantage of. It sounds like she knows exactly what she’s dealing with and she’s fine with it. It also sounds to me like you might be a little … jealous?
Regardless what your feelings are about this man, your friend sounds happy. If she’s being taken for a ride, you need to trust that she’s a grown adult (at least in her mid-40s, I’m assuming), who has been down this road before and knows the deal. Let her have her fun. So what if having the fun is costing her money. So what if this guy is “using” her? If she’s getting something out of it — fun, companionship, physical intimacy, adventures she wouldn’t otherwise get — then it sounds like a mutually beneficial arrangement. And who knows — maybe there’s genuine respect and fondness, if not true love.
If you don’t like the guy, limit your time with him. If you’re invited on double dates or whatever, make up some excuse about having plans. In group settings, avoid being alone with the boyfriend, and, if he continues to make inappropriate comments, tell him you’re uncomfortable and ask him to stop. If you’re seriously concerned that your friend — your friend who is not some inexperienced 20-something — is so malleable that she can be manipulated by this new boyfriend to stop being friends with you just because he has decided he doesn’t like you, then perhaps your friendship isn’t as strong as you thought. Or maybe you are underestimating your friend. Or maybe you’re just looking for a reason not to like this guy.
At any rate, try to do more with your friend one-on-one instead of with significant others. And if your friend isn’t available as much anymore because she’s busy enjoying the company of her young suitor, suck it up. Such is life. Friends often disappear in the early months of a new romance and then they reappear once the couple bubble pops a bit.
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