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Speaking up on someone else’s relationship?

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  • #890409 Reply

    I’m afraid one of my close friends is emotionally abusing her boyfriend and i’m not sure what to do. We are all in our early 20’s, and both my friend (lets call her R) and her boyfriend (lets call him P) are new to serious relationships. This is the first time either of them have ever lived with their partner and talk about finances seriously. I am, to an extent, involved in their relationship because R tells me every detail about it.

    Pervious to R dating P, I knew she had a controlling nature. Whenever I would help her clean her apartment she would get frustrated because things weren’t being done right or she wasn’t getting to look at everything i was picking up. So it was no surprise to me when R told me P hates helping her clean up and organize the apartment.

    Things are stressful right now for everyone. R works in a field with direct contact to Covid-19, P just started a new job, and they are planning on moving into a townhouse in the middle of July. Any time i bring up R’s toxic behavior towards P, her excuses range from “covid prevents me from seeking therapy” to “packing has me stressed out and if he would just help it wouldn’t be this bad”. I believe she is under the impression that as soon as they move into this new townhouse everything will be better and the fighting will stop.

    Around the 6 month mark is when R and P began to argue. Mostly about minor things like P leaving his clothes about or not picking up his trash. Around the start of quarantine here is when things really escalated. P began staying with R because her apartment was closer to his work and it got him out of his mom’s house. Their fighting stopped for maybe a week or two once he moved in, but then picked back up in a more intense way. I will clarify, i have never seen R scream at P, but there have been at least 10 instances in the past 3 months where she has told me she yelled at for 30 minutes to an hour. She can recognize that this screaming is inappropriate, but R says that if P would just talk to her instead of shutting down she wouldn’t get that way. I have also watched her throw things at him on two separate instances. For one P had thrown something (jokingly) at R first so she responded by throwing the same object back at his head. For the second she threw another object at him to get his attention while they were arguing because P was on his phone. One both occasions P got up and left and i explained to R that her actions were unacceptable, but she explains it as “i threw something near him, not at him. It just happened to hit him.” I try to point out when her behavior is toxic towards P, but im also afraid of being caught in the middle or taking sides.

    My main issue is i know P wont stand up for himself/say anything to R. In the beginning of their relationship, R told P he was never allowed to yell/raise his voice at her. I pointed out to her that this was contradictory because she yells at him often, but she tends to shift blame. R also talks to P as if he is a child. She has done this to me as well, but i point out that she is doing it. They will often argue in front of me, and while awkward in person, makes me more concerned as to what is happening behind the scenes. R hardly asks P to do anything, instead she tells him to do things one at a time, supposedly to keep him from forgetting what he needs to do. I try to explain to her that it is unfair to him to treat him that way, but her explanation is usually along the lines of “i shouldn’t have to ask, he should just do it.” The biggest of all the issues, besides the throwing things, is R (i feel) invalidates P’s feelings. She has, on more than one occasion, said that “if im not upset about it anymore, you cant be upset either”. She allows herself to scream, yell, and cry, but as soon as P begins to show frustration or upset she is either pestering him “trying to be funny” or she tells him to get over it. She can go from scolding P for making a mistake while washing dishes one minute, to throwing herself all over him and trying to be playful the next.

    With all that said, I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. While i want to be their for R and provide an ear to listen, im also concerned for P because its clear he is living in a hostile environment constantly. When i point out how R’s behavior is toxic, it is often met with shifting blame or her saying she is “trying to get better”. P is unlikely to speak up against R because it both not her personality, and R makes it clear she doesn’t really account for P’s feelings. I have also suggested counseling, both individual and group, as well as therapy. Also both in person and online counseling has been suggested.

    Is there anything i can do for them? Either jointly or individually. Or do i just stay out of it? am i crossing a line by even talking about their relationship to R in private? Any advice is much appreciated, thank you!

    #890410 Reply

    You really can’t do anything (and shouldn’t!) besides telling them their arguing in front of you makes you uncomfortable. You’re not crossing a line by listening to R talk about her relationship and making some suggestions, but beyond making the suggestions you’ve already made, you’d be overstepping. They’re adults with life lessons to learn.

    #890411 Reply

    Honestly, I didn’t read everything – way too long. My impression: you are way too involved here and it doesn’t help them at all. Why do you play this role? Let them deal with their common life. If your female friend wants to talk to you about her boyfriend, just tell her that you get tired of hearing all of this, this is their relationship, and for them to solve it. If you attend directly a fight, just say: “this is so unwelcome to attend, please do respect and listen to each other” and leave the house.

    #890412 Reply

    Yikes. If you hadn’t mentioned that they were young, I would have thought you were talking about a former friend of mine.

    P’s going to have to figure this out for himself. He will, eventually, get sick of this inexcusable treatment and run for the hills.

    I have to say, though, watching my friend treat her husband that way killed my friendship with her. It really opened my eyes as to what kind of person she was. And eventually, she started treating other people in the same over-the-top abusive way she treated him. I was not the only friend to leave.

    #890424 Reply

    That sounds like it must be awful for P and awful for you to witness. One the one hand I can see why you might just want to disengage from the entire scenario but on the other hand it sounds like P is being quite seriously abused and things might escalate. Hopefully P will just leave.I hope you manage to get R to get some professional help as it really sounds like the only option. They are plainly very unsuited to be in a relationship.

    #890426 Reply

    Unless you think that P is in physical danger, there’s nothing to do. I would definitely stop being friends with R. You are to some extent validating her behavior by keeping her in your life.

    #890427 Reply

    Yeah, you are way too invested in another couple’s relationship. It sucks, sure, but it’s not your business. They need to figure this out for themselves. This sounds like a messy break-up waiting to happen, but both will hopefully come out the other side having learned some lessons the hard way and able to be better partners to their next SOs.

    I don’t think it’s crossing a line to listen to your friend speaking about her relationship in private but at this point, why do you want to? It’s clearly impacting you negatively.

    Maybe five years ago a good friend of mine at the time had an on/off tumultuous relationship. They were a terrible match but held it together for an entire year. They’d fight publicly and each was nasty to the other in their own way. I did eventually tell her quite bluntly that I didn’t want to spend time with the two of them anymore because it was uncomfortable and that I could no longer listen to her complain about her relationship because I was exhausted from having the same conversations about her relationship over and over again. She actually understood.

    So my advice is to detach a bit here. This isn’t your relationship to fix. Decide your boundaries then enforce them.

    #890438 Reply

    Why on earth are you “close friends” with someone who treats their boyfriend so badly? You should take a break from being bffs with someone who assaults others. You are subtly enabling her to behave this way. Sure, you tell her that her behavior is unacceptable- but you DO accept it. You stick around even when she is terrible.

    Give yourself some serious distance from her. If she asks, tell her seeing her THROW THINGS AT HIS HEAD (more than once, apparently) has turned you off of being friends with her and that you don’t want to talk until she’s actually seeking help.

    And if you do see the bf, tell him she is an abusive asshole and he should leave and seek his own therapy.

    Imagine the roles were reversed and he was being physically abusive to her. Would you sit idly by and verbally acknowledge how bad he is, but still be friendly to him? I doubt that.

    It’s just common decency to not hurt the people you supposedly care about.

    Being neutral or silent, not “choosing a side,” is actually choosing her side. She is violently hurting him. That’s something you pick a side over.

    #890515 Reply

    Yikes! Your friend is one deranged, abusive, batshit crazy brat. Next time her anecdotes prove as much —- Tell her that her behavior towards her boyfriend disgusts you and that you have simply had enough.

    If you are at lunch —- storm off dramatically and stick her with the check.

    Then block her number and never speak to her again. She is garbage. Aim higher.

    Reach out to him later and say, “Hey, wake the fuck up. This won’t get better. You deserve better than this.”

    #890531 Reply

    I’m of two minds.

    The sympathetic part of me says to stay out of it – it is a weird time for relationships right now and tensions are running high everywhere.

    On the other hand, your friend is toxic and abusive to her boyfriend. Is this really the kind of person you want to be friends with?

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