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Friend living with and being manipulated by controling ex

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  • #728150 Reply
    Kyle Fenlason

    Dear Wendy,

    So I met my friend (let’s call him Greg) at work this summer and we get close and became practically brothers. I learned he was living with his ex and sister and how horrible it was so I proposed he move out and we could be roommates as I was looking to move in the war future.

    However, Greg later told me him and his ex (calling her Amy) got back together, I was surprised, until he said they have been dating off and on for the past 6-8 years.

    Around this time Is when Greg and I grew really close however we could never even be seen with each other outside of work. This is because Amy would get jealous everytime that Greg was hanging out with me rather than her. And we understand her need for attention in a relationship, but it’s no matter what he does, if he ever leaves the house she threatens to cut herself or kill herself if he doesn’t come back and stay. And because Greg has a long history with her and still cares about her, he doesn’t want her to get hurt, so he reluctantly obliges. This is obviously a bad situation and I have told Greg that he needs to not let her control him with manipulation and blackmail like that but he is afraid she will make good on her threats, as she has had a suicidal past and has hurt herself before.

    I tie into this because Greg is one of the closest friends I have ever had and mostly want to help free him from this hurtful relationship. I also want to be able to simply be able to pick him up and go get a coffee or lunch without her freaking out and threatening suicide. I am at a loss and don’t know what to do.

    P.S. Amy also apparently has personal problems with me, because I try to be friends with Greg. And she continually tells him to choose between home and her.

    #728165 Reply

    Him being with someone who is making him choose between a friend and her isn’t healthy. He isn’t ready to “break free” of this relationship yet because it keeps going back. Sadly, I’d distance myself and find new friends. It’s hard to do, I get it. I tried to save a friend before, we don’t speak anymore.

    #728166 Reply

    Basically, unless he’s in some kind of physical danger, stay out of it. He’s making his own choices. This is a good opportunity to learn to set boundaries in your friendships. Scale down your investment in this friendship. If he wants to socialize, do so on your terms, but don’t expect much from him and don’t become emotionally invested.

    #728168 Reply

    The best advice to give Greg —

    Anytime Amy threatens to harm himself, he should take her seriously, and he should call 911.

    In terms of your friendship with Greg, I agree with others that you should distance yourself from him.

    #728171 Reply

    He’s been in this situation on and off for 8 years. You’ve known him 4-5 months. This was a pre-existing issue, and unfortunately it’s his situation. Don’t get involved and try to fix his relationship problems. Better to distance yourself and spend time with other friends. It doesn’t sound super healthy to feel like you’re “brothers” with someone within such a short period of time.

    #728182 Reply

    Your friend is an emotionally abusive relationship ( yep an ex atm, but that changes regularly). Biggest red flad is the threats of suicide. But you can’t do anything about it. Also its been going on way before you came along. You could point him the direct of the links below, and tell him if he ever decides to get out you’ll help him. But be aware he’s very likely to go back as he’s been manipulated/trained by nearly a decade of this. So your best bet is to downgrade the friendship & when/if you do see him talk/do of other things that aren’t about his relationship( though it’s better to tell him that your time together is about just being friends & carving out good times- rather then abruptly forcing silence on the subject ). She’s isolating him on purpose, so don’t actually antagonise her( be polite etc) if you meet her. He’s going to need therapy to undo the harm. All of this advice is if you do decide to maintain the friendship, but you actually don’t have a long term friendship so unsure if it’s worth continuing to invest in this one? You can’t truely help unless asked and even then, there is no guaranteeing it will work. It is very emotionally grueling for the friends/family of those in relationship like this and violence ones.

    #728297 Reply

    All I can tell you is what women with female friends in abusive relationships are told – you can’t save them. They have to want to to get out the abusive relationship, and it doesn’t sound like that is the case with Greg. And the GF certainly sounds like a serial abuser. All you can do is keep the lines of communication open to make sure Greg knows that if he ever wants to escape, you will be there to support him. But, yes, for your own emotional sanity, you may get to a point where have to cool down the friendship somewhat.

    The exceptions to the above build on what @therascal said – if the GF ever threatens suicide in your presence, take her at her word and call 911; if she is truly suicidal, she needs the help – and if she’s not, she needs to be called on her BS and experience real consequences. Also if she is physically abusive and a true danger to him in your presence, call the cops.

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