Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Dating => Topic started by: Fleur on December 18, 2012, 04:32:08 AM

Title: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Fleur on December 18, 2012, 04:32:08 AM


Hey all,

I'm in a bit of a bind here. The other day, I asked a friend of mine how her on/off boyfriend was doing. She said she hadn't seen, spoken to or heard from him in six weeks. I sort of raised my eyebrows, as a way of indicating I was happy to hear more. She told me more, and HOO BOY! This guy is a prize.

1) He has serious commitment issues. He had a seven year infatuation for a woman in his early twenties (he is now 40) which ended in heartbreak. According to him, his next two long term relationships were devoid of any feeling on his part. He feels that he missed out on dating, so he regularly goes out on the prowl to pick up women, who he then dates briefly, all the while crying to my friend that he can't stand these women.

2) He tells my friend that 'The woman I date must be strong in herself and not rely on alcohol'. He refuses to go on 'conventional' dates with her, ie. dinner or drinks. Instead, he prefers to take her walking, which she does enjoy. But she would also enjoy the odd night with drinks and dinner. No, nada, no luck. Perhaps he's afraid that he'll bump into one of his other women ::)

3) This one is perhaps the worst for me. He chased her cat! Her cat does act up sometimes, but the poor creature is now afraid of him. I was very angry when I heard that one.

I asked her what she saw in him. Her response upset me, she said that she felt very loved by him, and understood. That she had never felt so loved by anyone, and that she was not willing to give up on him easily. She sort of 'bragged' that he had been on eighty dates (speed dates) in two years, followed up on maybe thirty of them, and that she was the only one who had formed any lasting connection with him. I pointed out, as gently as I could, that while he might love her, that he was not in a place to show it or express it right now, and that he surely needed counselling to deal with his 'commitment issues'. That is not what I wanted to say, and this is where I come to my question. Is it acceptable by etiquette to say more. Frankly, I think this man is a (redacted). I don't think he needs counselling, I think he needs a swift boot up the you know where. I actually think my friend is the one who needs counselling to work out why she feels so strongly about someone who treats her so badly. She kept on saying that 'he has feelings for me, he is just afraid of them'. I wanted to refer her to a book which she alreadly has, which is Greg Berendht's 'He's just not that into you'. What do I say to her?
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Luci on December 18, 2012, 04:41:02 AM
You can't say anything unless she specifically asks for advice.

Well you can, but it won't do any good, and she may resent you so much she won't let you be there for her when she realizes this is not a good relationship.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Venus193 on December 18, 2012, 04:41:02 AM
I think you either need to be direct or you need to suggest that she look at a balance sheet of pros and cons. 

However, it may not do much good because if she ignores the fact that he chases her cat and has made him fear him she is capable of ignoring the ill treatment he dishes out to her.  It doesn't sound like she thinks she's worthy of someone who treats her well.

Anyone who mistreats an animal in my presence gets his walking papers.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Fleur on December 18, 2012, 04:50:10 AM
I think you either need to be direct or you need to suggest that she look at a balance sheet of pros and cons. 

However, it may not do much good because if she ignores the fact that he chases her cat and has made him fear him she is capable of ignoring the ill treatment he dishes out to her.  It doesn't sound like she thinks she's worthy of someone who treats her well.

Anyone who mistreats an animal in my presence gets his walking papers.

To the bolded: absolutely! I was shocked by his chasing the cat. I see what you mean about the balance sheet. But yes, I can't believe that she is so blind to how he really is. I haven't even met him, and it is clear that he is a disaster. I suppose I'll just have to not say a lot. There is really nothing to be said.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Venus193 on December 18, 2012, 05:45:44 AM
BTDT, and wore out several T-shirts.

A friend of mine once re-connected with an ex through Facebook and they had a telephone relationship that got pretty sick before she finally woke up to the fact that he was a user of other people.  However, she was in heavy denial for a while, stopped talking about him to me and to a mutual friend because she couldn't handle the truth, and eventually realized we were right when she foolishly sent him something on loan that he not only never returned but possibly disposed of. 

To this day she still hasn't learned that being a doormat is of no benefit to her life.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: rashea on December 18, 2012, 07:55:59 AM
I think you can suggest that the two of them see a counselor.

Let's just say that everything he says is true. He's a wounded bird who just needs to be loved so he can heal. He has all these emotions that are just too scary.

Fine. But, is he ready to actually fix those, or does he want to stay the way he is? If he wants to fix that, what's he willing to do? Is he willing to go to counseling? Because if not, then he's not willing to put in the work on the relationship. My guess is that he's happy staying the "wounded bird" as long as he can string her along. If forced to actually get better, he'll run away. But, maybe I'm wrong, and with help he'll turn out to be a better person.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: TurtleDove on December 18, 2012, 09:31:25 AM
I'm in a bit of a bind here. The other day, I asked a friend of mine how her on/off boyfriend was doing. She said she hadn't seen, spoken to or heard from him in six weeks.

This person isn't your friend's boyfriend.  She is deluding herself if she thinks he is.  I would point this out to her, gently, and ask her how she can feel loved and understood by someone who is completely absent from her life.  That alone, without touching the "toxic" stuff, is reason for her to move on.  What is she thinking?
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: ilrag on December 18, 2012, 10:07:29 AM
This is just one of those conversations where polite goes out the window. If you feel the need to speak up because you care about  your friend, by all means do so.  Don't worry about if it's a proper conversation, part of friendship is having conversations that aren't part of polite company.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Deetee on December 18, 2012, 10:14:06 AM
You can say something, but from everything you've said it will do no good at all. Everything he is doing is out in the open and she is aware of it.

It's sad but "there are none so blind as will not see" and she is firmly and strongly accepting his behaviour.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Yvaine on December 18, 2012, 10:15:38 AM
2) He tells my friend that 'The woman I date must be strong in herself and not rely on alcohol'. He refuses to go on 'conventional' dates with her, ie. dinner or drinks. Instead, he prefers to take her walking, which she does enjoy. But she would also enjoy the odd night with drinks and dinner. No, nada, no luck. Perhaps he's afraid that he'll bump into one of his other women ::)

Yup, this is exactly it. This is't about "not relying on alcohol," it's about treating her like a dirty little secret.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: TurtleDove on December 18, 2012, 10:39:39 AM
it's about treating her like a dirty little secret.

He isn't treating her like anything if he has not had any contact with her in six weeks!  He's made it clear he is not her BF so why she thinks he is baffles me. She isn't even one of many at this point.  She is nothing to him.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: DavidH on December 18, 2012, 12:00:13 PM
I'm not sure there's a polite way to say to someone you're boyfriend is toxic, since the message just isn't all that polite. 

In this case, I'm not sure you need to, first off, no contact in 6-weeks seems like it's over anyway.  She seems to have all the information you do, it's not like he's cheating on her behind her back, since he complains about the women to her.  She certainly knows the type of dates they have or don't have.    Chasing the cat, she presumably saw that, so again, it's not news.   I'm not so sure that is such a horrible thing, I chase my dog and she seems to enjoy the game, but it does depend on the animal and the circumstances. 

If she brings up the relationship, probably the most polite option would be to say that you don't quite understand what she sees in him.  Another way to put it would be that he wouldn't be someone you'd date, or that you'd really want a closer relationship than they seem to have. 
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Venus193 on December 18, 2012, 12:09:25 PM
The cat is afraid of him.  I don't need to hear more than that.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Fleur on December 18, 2012, 12:18:59 PM

To everyone who says 'he isn't her boyfriend', believe me, I agree! Last night, she kept on about 'the relationship' and I had to bite my tongue from saying 'what relationship!?' She keeps on and on about the fact that he isn't seeing her because he puts her in a special category, that he has feelings for her so strong that he is afraid of them. To me this is sheer delusion, but I don't want to straight out say so because I think it would be unkind and counterproductive. She is upset because he is thinking of moving away to the States (I'm in the UK) and she kept saying 'I have to at least try to make it work before he moves half a world away'. To be honest, I really hope he does move away. But I am very sorry for her at the same time, if she truly thinks he is the best that she can do.

As for the cat thing, yeah, no. For a start, not his cat. For a second, the kitty was frightened, she is a nervous rescue cat and it was agressive chasing, not a friendly game. I might possibly engage in a little gentle roughousing with my own cats, if I was 100% sure it was a delighful game and not something that scared them even slightly. But I would never do that with someone else's animal. To me that just underscores his fundamental lack of respect for any being other than himself.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: TurtleDove on December 18, 2012, 12:23:29 PM
' She keeps on and on about the fact that he isn't seeing her because he puts her in a special category, that he has feelings for her so strong that he is afraid of them. To me this is sheer delusion, but I don't want to straight out say so because I think it would be unkind and counterproductive.

I don't know your friend, but at some point I think it is more unkind to allow her to continue to believe her delusions.  This whole situation makes me so sad for her. 
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Fleur on December 18, 2012, 12:44:16 PM
' She keeps on and on about the fact that he isn't seeing her because he puts her in a special category, that he has feelings for her so strong that he is afraid of them. To me this is sheer delusion, but I don't want to straight out say so because I think it would be unkind and counterproductive.

I don't know your friend, but at some point I think it is more unkind to allow her to continue to believe her delusions.  This whole situation makes me so sad for her.

Yes, you are right. I actually did try to say to her that I didn't think this was going anywhere, but she kept shutting me down and making excuses for him. To be honest, it is a situation of 'none so deaf as won't hear'. And yes, I am very sad for her. I was utterly shocked when she said that this was the closest she had felt to anyone, and that no man had made her feel like that or more that he was worth pursuing. The thing is, as well, is that she is a highly successful professional. If someone was treating her in an equivalently poor way at work, she would have no problem is shutting them down. I actually used to work for her, which is how I know this. (I suppose also that our old dynamic of employer/employee does somewhat hang over our friendship, which perhaps makes me more circumspect in expressing my opinions than I would usually be. She is almost twenty years older than I am.)
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: DavidH on December 18, 2012, 12:47:05 PM
I take your point about the cat.

I think the challenge is that everything you describe is something she knows about first hand, so it's not like you have any new information to offer her.  If you had additional information, then it would be a kindness to tell her, but it's hard to politely say that your interpretation of it is any better than hers, even though I think you're right. 

I think the most you could do if she brings this up is to ask her if he is so afraid of his feelings that he's pushing her away, what is he doing to resolve this.  If the answer is nothing, then you could maybe ask how does she see it resolving.  Kind of lead her to think it through better. 

Another thing to consider is that maybe this type of relationship makes her comfortable too.  She can indulge in the fantasy of having a relationship, without having to deal with the reality of someone who's around.  It's sad, but not unheard of.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Fleur on December 18, 2012, 12:54:06 PM


^^^

Those are all good points, DavidH. I hadn't thought of the last one, but it is a possibility. Up until she started dating him, she was very attatched to her independence, although I think that she also had a lot of insecurity issues. She had struggled with weight and self image in the past-she went through a phase of trying a new diet every week, and getting really discouraged when they didn't work. She seems to have very clear goals in what she wants in a relationship, but to have no idea that this man is in no place to provide anything near what she wants. As PPs have said, he doesn't even seem to pretend to care for her, and yet she sees all this care and love. Of course, I'm not privy to their actual conversations, so I don't know what he says to her. The whole situation is just very sad.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Just Lori on December 18, 2012, 12:56:19 PM
There's an art to asking leading questions that encourage someone to come to their own conclusions.  I am not particularly adept at this art, but it goes like this:

Are you comfortable being treated as you are?
Do you want more?
How did you feel when he chased your cat?
If he were dating your best friend or someone else you loved, what advice do you think you'd give?
What kind of boyfriend do you think you deserve?
Do you think one day he will wake up and appreciate you?  How long are you willing to wait?  What do you gain and lose by waiting for that day?

I wish we lived in a world where we could just tell our loved ones what to do, and they'd see the wisdom of our ways.  As the mother of teen-aged girls, I've completely given up on that concept.  The leading questions method works well with my girls, as it helps them learn how to draw their own conlusions and make their own decisions. Maybe it will work for your friend.

It is so hard to watch someone you love going down such a heartbreaking path.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: TurtleDove on December 18, 2012, 12:57:04 PM
Of course, I'm not privy to their actual conversations, so I don't know what he says to her. The whole situation is just very sad.
If she hasn't heard from him in six weeks, he is saying nothing to her. :-(
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: onyonryngs on December 18, 2012, 01:00:17 PM
Of course, I'm not privy to their actual conversations, so I don't know what he says to her. The whole situation is just very sad.
If she hasn't heard from him in six weeks, he is saying nothing to her. :-(

I would tell her that to most people, when you haven't talked with your BF in 6 weeks, it means you aren't dating anymore and he's dumped you.  In his view, they are not dating.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Fleur on December 18, 2012, 02:32:36 PM


Sadly, I don't think that she will take the six weeks of silence for the clear sign that it is. They have gone through 'gaps' in the past, though I'm not sure that they have ever been quite this long. She just harps on the idea that he is afraid of the strength of his feeling for her.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: TurtleDove on December 18, 2012, 02:51:53 PM
She just harps on the idea that he is afraid of the strength of his feeling for her.

I feel so sorry for her.  I would perhaps tell her once that she is deluding herself and deserves better and then refuse to discuss him at all.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Deetee on December 18, 2012, 02:52:16 PM
' She keeps on and on about the fact that he isn't seeing her because he puts her in a special category, that he has feelings for her so strong that he is afraid of them. To me this is sheer delusion, but I don't want to straight out say so because I think it would be unkind and counterproductive.

I don't know your friend, but at some point I think it is more unkind to allow her to continue to believe her delusions.  This whole situation makes me so sad for her.

Re:the bolded. I thought she sounded delusional before but now it's ridiculous. "Staying away due to fear of the emotions" just doesn't happen. He's staying away because he doesn't care enough to want to see her.

Say what you want, but she's beyond wishful thinking and into straight out crazytown.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: bah12 on December 18, 2012, 03:20:08 PM
Honestly, as much of a pill as he seems to be, if he hasn't talked to her in six weeks, I wouldn't bother with trying to make her see anything.  He's already staying away.  What better outcome could you hope for?

Now, if she all of sudden starts planning a wedding, when they aren't even seeing each other, I would understand interfering.  But right now, there's just no point.  She's not asking for advice, you have no information other than what she offered you, and she hasn't seen nor heard from in in six weeks. There isn't a problem that you need to fix, IMO.

The only thing that I might say something about is the cat and you can definitely say something like "wow!  Your cat is frightened of him.  How do you make a dating relationship work with someone that cannot get along with your family and/or pets?  Are you ok with him chasing kitty to the point that she's scared of him?"
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: angilamae on December 18, 2012, 06:03:02 PM
Honestly, I have been in some messed up relationships but this is far beyond that.  I agree, there is nothing you can say to make her "see the light".  She either will see it or she won't.

Is she trying to contact the guy during this 6 week hiatus or is it just radio silence?  if she is, I think the only thing you can do is to urge her to stop doing that.  Otherwise, you just have to be patient.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: sweetonsno on December 18, 2012, 11:33:14 PM
I've been that woman. No, he didn't mistreat my cat or refuse to take me out anywhere, but he was clearly not as dialed in as I was and I made excuses for it. It hurt. A lot. I know that I was prolonging my agony, sort of, but I didn't know how to let go of my feelings. It didn't help to be told that I deserved better. It didn't help to be told that he was a jerk. It didn't help to be told that I was deluding myself. Rationally, I knew that he wasn't into me. I think your friend knows that too. Emotionally, I didn't want to accept it. (I suspect this is where your friend is as well.)

What did help was honesty mixed in with a huge dose of compassion. One of my friends said something very wise: "Knowing that he isn't worth your time doesn't make it any easier to stop wishing that he were." Oh so true. It's likely that she knows the guy's a loser. That is a painful fact. She's trying to talk herself out of that knowledge with some very faulty logic. She's going through a loss. It's not just the guy (who is really no prize), but her idealized version of him and the future she hoped they would have together. She's grieving the loss of feeling like she was the one who changed him (or who could have). She is probably seeing this as her failure and not his.

I don't think you should focus on trying to make her see how awful he is, because that isn't going to help. It's still a loss. Instead, I think you should focus on comforting her for her loss. Tell her that you will be there for her, and then be there for her. Take her out so she doesn't sit around stewing. If she starts talking about him, then acknowledge her feelings, express sympathy, and move on. If she seems really depressed, then you can remind her that while yes, this relationship is over and done, there will be others. This guy not working out does not mean that she will be alone forever. It does not mean that she will never have a wedding, or bear children, or any of that. It's just not going to happen with him.

He sounds like a butt.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: cicero on December 19, 2012, 03:50:37 AM

She keeps on and on about the fact that he isn't seeing her because he puts her in a special category, that he has feelings for her so strong that he is afraid of them.

oh, one of those.

what he said: you are special, I don't want to do the regular things with you.
what he means (and does): i can do whatever i want with other women and it doesn't even count as cheating because I'm not seeing you...

I had a friend who had a "boyfriend" like this. she was madly in love. he wouldn't touch her because she was "special" and he didn't want to "ruin" what they had. so it was OK for him to "do stuff" with other women, becuase that didn't *ruin* what they had. took my friend a long time to get over him. of course, her excuse was that she was in high school when they met. for your friend, i'm not sure if anything will help, but I wouldn't be able to hold myself back from saying "what relationship???"
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Fleur on December 19, 2012, 04:44:58 AM

She keeps on and on about the fact that he isn't seeing her because he puts her in a special category, that he has feelings for her so strong that he is afraid of them.

oh, one of those.

what he said: you are special, I don't want to do the regular things with you.
what he means (and does): i can do whatever i want with other women and it doesn't even count as cheating because I'm not seeing you...

I had a friend who had a "boyfriend" like this. she was madly in love. he wouldn't touch her because she was "special" and he didn't want to "ruin" what they had. so it was OK for him to "do stuff" with other women, becuase that didn't *ruin* what they had. took my friend a long time to get over him. of course, her excuse was that she was in high school when they met. for your friend, i'm not sure if anything will help, but I wouldn't be able to hold myself back from saying "what relationship???"

No kidding! Yes, what really gets me about this whole sorry situation is my friend's age and that of her 'boyfriend'. They are both in their early forties! Also, another detail that I had forgotten is that he owes her getting on for 500! For that reason alone, she should really chase him down, as he shows no signs of feeling obliged to pay. Really he is a prize all around. I hope he does move away, but not before he pays her what he owes.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Twik on December 19, 2012, 08:40:12 AM
He's not going to pay her what he owes.

The heart makes us do stupid things, and all the good advice in the world won't work, until she's ready to hear it. That doesn't mean you have to encourage her in her dreams, but don't expect that she'll immediately absorb what you say. It'll take a while until she can see clearly again.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: artk2002 on December 19, 2012, 12:42:01 PM


Sadly, I don't think that she will take the six weeks of silence for the clear sign that it is. They have gone through 'gaps' in the past, though I'm not sure that they have ever been quite this long. She just harps on the idea that he is afraid of the strength of his feeling for her.

A very sad situation. The bold is such a deep pile of excrement that hip waders are necessary to get through it. Unfortunately, this plays directly to her desire to be wanted. Sadly, this is one of those lessons that she will have to learn on her own. There's nothing you can say that can divert her.

Also, another detail that I had forgotten is that he owes her getting on for 500!

Color me unsurprised.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Fleur on December 19, 2012, 01:02:12 PM


Sadly, I don't think that she will take the six weeks of silence for the clear sign that it is. They have gone through 'gaps' in the past, though I'm not sure that they have ever been quite this long. She just harps on the idea that he is afraid of the strength of his feeling for her.

A very sad situation. The bold is such a deep pile of excrement that hip waders are necessary to get through it. Unfortunately, this plays directly to her desire to be wanted. Sadly, this is one of those lessons that she will have to learn on her own. There's nothing you can say that can divert her.

Also, another detail that I had forgotten is that he owes her getting on for 500!

Color me unsurprised.

Sadly, I fear you are quite right, especially about her desire to be wanted. When she told me all about his alleged fear of his feelings for her, I just wanted to groan out loud. It is as you say utter bull waste, but it is astonishing how many otherwise brilliant people, both male and female, fall for such lines.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Deetee on December 19, 2012, 01:05:17 PM
She is not getting that money back.

People who care about someone do not show it by  borrowing large sums of money, not seeing them and dating other people. That is about the oppisite of caring about someone that I can imagine.

There may be a polite way to tell her stuff, but she is not listening.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Drawberry on December 19, 2012, 02:43:57 PM
Your friend needs help because she's in an emotionally abusive relationship. As far as I am concerned it's no long 'etiquette' but a deep relationship issue. This is a man who's openly discussed using women, having issues of his own in forming lasting connections, and is plying on your friends insecurities as a way into her life.

When people are in a relationship like that they become too delusioned by the 'sales pitch' these people put forward that they cannot possibly imagine them any way else. They're too insecure to want to stand up for themselves and very likely never will without serious help.

I do not know what you could personally do for your friend because she needs help beyond what you can provide and I am very sure she's unwilling to speak with a counselor. This situation seems to be beyond your scope of control or help and may be simply out of your hands.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: TurtleDove on December 19, 2012, 02:52:31 PM
Your friend needs help because she's in an emotionally abusive relationship.

I don't think she is in any relationship at all!  She is emotionally abusing herself.  The man is certainly not leading her on or trying to get into her life.  He has made it clear he is not interested in her.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Amara on December 19, 2012, 03:03:13 PM
She seems to be using him to beat herself up, and he is using her to prop himself up.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Venus193 on December 19, 2012, 03:08:05 PM
The friend needs to read this discussion:

http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=16099.0
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Just Lori on December 19, 2012, 04:30:35 PM
I'm sure I'm not the only one who has a similar story.  Tom* (not his real name) and I dated for a couple of months before he had to leave town for a work assignment. During his absence, he'd occasionally call and drop the "love" word.  When he returned, we saw each other once and he disappeared.  A few months went by and he'd show up again, oozing with charm.  This went on for a few years.

I remember when his grandfather died and he asked me to come over and spend the evening.  His father and brother were there as well and his dad made a remark about how, "But even with all the girls he sees, you're the one he always goes back to, and you're the one he calls when something like this happens."

Those are not good words for a lovesick, stupid young woman.

It took me another couple of years to realize that even if that were true (and I think in a way, he loved me as much as he was capable of loving anyone at the time), it was still not enough.   Life isn't what it's like in love songs, movies and romance novels. 

Boy, that was cathartic.  :)
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: blarg314 on December 19, 2012, 09:08:53 PM
The problem is that she's constructed a story in her head, and no matter what he does, she'll interpret his behaviour to match her story.

The story is that he loves her, and is so in love with her that the strength of his feelings scares him.

So he doesn't call for six weeks?  He's scared of the depth of his love and needs space.  He won't be seen in public with her?  She's special, and he wants to keep her from the threat of alcohol. He's actively dating multiple women?  She's special - none of those women mean anything, he's just trying to recapture experiences he missed in his youth. He owes her money?  He's in a tough spot right now, and will pay her back as soon as he can.

He could send her to the hospital with multiple contusions, and she'd still find a way to justify it.

You, me and the rest of the board know very well that he's using her, and his main emotion is probably "Woo-hoo!  I can sleep around on her, ignore her for weeks on end, borrow money from her and not pay it back, and refuse to bee seen with her in public, and she'll not only put up with it, she'll make the excuses up for me!"

Unfortunately, as the friend there's not much you can do about it. You can try leading questions and comments, but it sounds like she's ignoring those nicely. You could try being blunt about it *once* to see if it gets through to her. You can refuse to listen to her talk about her pseudo-boyfriend.

But nothing you can do will make her break up with the jerk until she wants to. When/if she reaches that point, you can be there to help her pick up the pieces.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: nonesuch4 on December 19, 2012, 09:48:29 PM
She kept on saying that 'he has feelings for me, he is just afraid of them'.

My stepdaughter once whinged about a boy friend who seemed unable to make a commitment.  I said,"He may never be ready.  That is a problem, but it doesn't have to be your problem.  Move on".

I never was real popular with the stepdaughter.

Anyway,  "chasing the cat" would be a deal-breaker.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: LeveeWoman on December 19, 2012, 09:58:31 PM
Am I the only one thinking he might be married?
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Calypso on December 19, 2012, 11:48:04 PM
I think she has delusions of Bella-dom.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: rashea on December 20, 2012, 09:26:42 AM
The problem is that she's constructed a story in her head, and no matter what he does, she'll interpret his behaviour to match her story.

The story is that he loves her, and is so in love with her that the strength of his feelings scares him.

So he doesn't call for six weeks?  He's scared of the depth of his love and needs space.  He won't be seen in public with her?  She's special, and he wants to keep her from the threat of alcohol. He's actively dating multiple women?  She's special - none of those women mean anything, he's just trying to recapture experiences he missed in his youth. He owes her money?  He's in a tough spot right now, and will pay her back as soon as he can.

That's why I recommend not trying to challenge her beliefs, yet. Find a restaurant that doesn't have a liquor licence, and remove that excuse. Decide that if he's that afraid of his "love" then going to counseling would be good for him.

If you go with the delusion for a while, and see what you can do to "problem solve" then after a while the delusion starts to break down.

It also works if for some reason he really is just that screwed up and needs help. I won't get rid of a relationship because the other person has issues, but I will if they refuse to work on those issues. That's my dealbreaker. It maybe that the friend can handle that.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Emmy on December 20, 2012, 11:41:37 AM
It's hard when friends are so caught up in delusions that they can't see the truth when it punches them in the face.  A friend of mine was deciding whether to break up with her boyfriend and made a pros and cons list.  The cons list was 3 times longer than the pros.  The sad things was the pros were just what you would expect from a normal person, such as 'not losing his temper in public'.  If you have to stretch that far for a pro, the relationship is in a sad state.

You can't change somebody's mind and part of the reason your friend may believe this guy is 'the one' is she may feel she doesn't deserve or can't get anybody better (or is so afraid of being along that anybody will do).  You can tell her that her boyfriend is using her, that she deserves better, ect., but as plain as the facts are, she won't see them if she doesn't want to do so.  I don't think it would be polite to keep harping on her about the relationship unless she brings it up, then you can give your opinion.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Bethalize on December 20, 2012, 11:56:32 AM
My most effective way of dealing with people like this woman is to say nothing (do not engage in sympathy) but stick to the line that you choose this, this is your lot. For ever and ever. That's your choice. It doesn't bother me but I'm not going to help you manage it or cope with it because you should be able to do that one your own. With your choice comes these advantages and disadvantages. You chose them all when you choose this. It's good that you like this because it's not going to change.

Eventually I'll suggest that perhaps it's time they took a long hard look at what they are getting out of this relationship. What is about them that makes them up for this? Therapy might help...

Worst case scenario, I don't have to hear the moaning any more.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Petticoats on December 20, 2012, 12:59:39 PM
No kidding! Yes, what really gets me about this whole sorry situation is my friend's age and that of her 'boyfriend'. They are both in their early forties! Also, another detail that I had forgotten is that he owes her getting on for 500! For that reason alone, she should really chase him down, as he shows no signs of feeling obliged to pay. Really he is a prize all around. I hope he does move away, but not before he pays her what he owes.

No, actually, that makes perfect sense to me. I'm the same age, and it can be a bleak place to be as a single woman in search of love. The odds are against us. She actually may not have any better prospects than this piece of work. Not because of any shortcoming in her, but because the dating field doesn't favor us. She may know on some level that this is the best she's likely to find, as rotten as he is, so she can choose whether to be lonely in this "relationship" <cough> or lonely by herself.

That said, I very much like a PP's earlier suggestion of asking her questions to help her get some perspective. "If this is all that's ever going to be between you, is it enough? If you had a friend who was in a relationship like this, what would you think?"
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Fleur on December 20, 2012, 01:11:36 PM
No kidding! Yes, what really gets me about this whole sorry situation is my friend's age and that of her 'boyfriend'. They are both in their early forties! Also, another detail that I had forgotten is that he owes her getting on for 500! For that reason alone, she should really chase him down, as he shows no signs of feeling obliged to pay. Really he is a prize all around. I hope he does move away, but not before he pays her what he owes.

No, actually, that makes perfect sense to me. I'm the same age, and it can be a bleak place to be as a single woman in search of love. The odds are against us. She actually may not have any better prospects than this piece of work. Not because of any shortcoming in her, but because the dating field doesn't favor us. She may know on some level that this is the best she's likely to find, as rotten as he is, so she can choose whether to be lonely in this "relationship" <cough> or lonely by herself.

That said, I very much like a PP's earlier suggestion of asking her questions to help her get some perspective. "If this is all that's ever going to be between you, is it enough? If you had a friend who was in a relationship like this, what would you think?"

Wow, that is really bleak  :(I'm sorry, I hope my comment didn't offend you, I actually hadn't thought of it that way. I meant more that her take on things seemed a bit highschoolish, if that makes sense. Plus his behaviour is just really immature.  A depressing situation all around.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: TurtleDove on December 20, 2012, 01:23:14 PM
She may know on some level that this is the best she's likely to find, as rotten as he is, so she can choose whether to be lonely in this "relationship" <cough> or lonely by herself.

Being in this "relationship" is keeping her from finding a real one.  She has a third option of finding a real relationship.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Petticoats on December 20, 2012, 02:51:22 PM
No kidding! Yes, what really gets me about this whole sorry situation is my friend's age and that of her 'boyfriend'. They are both in their early forties! Also, another detail that I had forgotten is that he owes her getting on for 500! For that reason alone, she should really chase him down, as he shows no signs of feeling obliged to pay. Really he is a prize all around. I hope he does move away, but not before he pays her what he owes.

No, actually, that makes perfect sense to me. I'm the same age, and it can be a bleak place to be as a single woman in search of love. The odds are against us. She actually may not have any better prospects than this piece of work. Not because of any shortcoming in her, but because the dating field doesn't favor us. She may know on some level that this is the best she's likely to find, as rotten as he is, so she can choose whether to be lonely in this "relationship" <cough> or lonely by herself.

That said, I very much like a PP's earlier suggestion of asking her questions to help her get some perspective. "If this is all that's ever going to be between you, is it enough? If you had a friend who was in a relationship like this, what would you think?"

Wow, that is really bleak  :(I'm sorry, I hope my comment didn't offend you, I actually hadn't thought of it that way. I meant more that her take on things seemed a bit highschoolish, if that makes sense. Plus his behaviour is just really immature.  A depressing situation all around.

Please don't worry, I didn't see anything offensive about your comment--I was just trying to shed some light on why what can seem like an immature perspective may be in place even at an age when one might think a woman would have learned better sense. (Did that sentence make sense?)

She may know on some level that this is the best she's likely to find, as rotten as he is, so she can choose whether to be lonely in this "relationship" <cough> or lonely by herself.

Being in this "relationship" is keeping her from finding a real one.  She has a third option of finding a real relationship.

She may not believe that option is available to her. And maybe it isn't.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: TurtleDove on December 20, 2012, 03:03:16 PM
She may not believe that option is available to her. And maybe it isn't.
The "current" BF isn't an option either, and is preventing her from finding out!  I guess I agree with the posters who say focus on the fact the friend is choosing this.  No sympathy, no advice, just statements of, "It must make you happy since you are continuing to be in the relationship."
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: onyonryngs on December 20, 2012, 03:19:12 PM
She may not believe that option is available to her. And maybe it isn't.
The "current" BF isn't an option either, and is preventing her from finding out!  I guess I agree with the posters who say focus on the fact the friend is choosing this.  No sympathy, no advice, just statements of, "It must make you happy since you are continuing to be in the relationship."

I get what Petticoats is saying.  In order to get out of the current relationship you do have to be be willing to be "lonely by yourself."  Unless you have another guy already lined up before you jump ship, you're going to be alone for at least a little while.  The friend has to make the decision - you can't guarantee she's going to find someone else.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: TurtleDove on December 20, 2012, 03:35:41 PM
I get what Petticoats is saying.  In order to get out of the current relationship you do have to be be willing to be "lonely by yourself."  Unless you have another guy already lined up before you jump ship, you're going to be alone for at least a little while.  The friend has to make the decision - you can't guarantee she's going to find someone else.

If an actual relationship existed, I would understand.  Here, she hasn't seen or even heard from her "boyfriend" in SIX WEEKS!  She IS by herself!
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: onyonryngs on December 20, 2012, 03:37:00 PM
I get what Petticoats is saying.  In order to get out of the current relationship you do have to be be willing to be "lonely by yourself."  Unless you have another guy already lined up before you jump ship, you're going to be alone for at least a little while.  The friend has to make the decision - you can't guarantee she's going to find someone else.

If an actual relationship existed, I would understand.  Here, she hasn't seen or even heard from her "boyfriend" in SIX WEEKS!  She IS by herself!

Would you prefer if I worded it "In order to let go of what she thinks is her current relationship"?  Until she is willing to be alone, she's not going to let this go.  It's not any healthier to need to jump immediately into a new relationship right after the last one ends.  You should be comfortable with yourself.  She doesn't need to jump into anything new for awhile, she has issues to work out first.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Fleur on December 20, 2012, 04:12:42 PM
No kidding! Yes, what really gets me about this whole sorry situation is my friend's age and that of her 'boyfriend'. They are both in their early forties! Also, another detail that I had forgotten is that he owes her getting on for 500! For that reason alone, she should really chase him down, as he shows no signs of feeling obliged to pay. Really he is a prize all around. I hope he does move away, but not before he pays her what he owes.

No, actually, that makes perfect sense to me. I'm the same age, and it can be a bleak place to be as a single woman in search of love. The odds are against us. She actually may not have any better prospects than this piece of work. Not because of any shortcoming in her, but because the dating field doesn't favor us. She may know on some level that this is the best she's likely to find, as rotten as he is, so she can choose whether to be lonely in this "relationship" <cough> or lonely by herself.

That said, I very much like a PP's earlier suggestion of asking her questions to help her get some perspective. "If this is all that's ever going to be between you, is it enough? If you had a friend who was in a relationship like this, what would you think?"

Wow, that is really bleak  :(I'm sorry, I hope my comment didn't offend you, I actually hadn't thought of it that way. I meant more that her take on things seemed a bit highschoolish, if that makes sense. Plus his behaviour is just really immature.  A depressing situation all around.

Please don't worry, I didn't see anything offensive about your comment--I was just trying to shed some light on why what can seem like an immature perspective may be in place even at an age when one might think a woman would have learned better sense. (Did that sentence make sense?)

She may know on some level that this is the best she's likely to find, as rotten as he is, so she can choose whether to be lonely in this "relationship" <cough> or lonely by herself.

Being in this "relationship" is keeping her from finding a real one.  She has a third option of finding a real relationship.

She may not believe that option is available to her. And maybe it isn't.

Oh, yes, that sentence made perfect sense! And I see what you mean. I hope that nobody thinks that I am judging my friend, I am just really sorry for her. He sounds awful, though I do take TurtleDove's point, of course. That said, she really doesn't see his being out of contact for the sign that it is-she honestly that his being apart from her speaks to his tortured love. I was very taken aback when she said it had been six weeks, and yet she was still cooking up plans to stop him moving away. I just hope he doesn't move without paying her, although I am sure that he will.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Petticoats on December 20, 2012, 05:38:02 PM

Oh, yes, that sentence made perfect sense! And I see what you mean. I hope that nobody thinks that I am judging my friend, I am just really sorry for her. He sounds awful, though I do take TurtleDove's point, of course. That said, she really doesn't see his being out of contact for the sign that it is-she honestly that his being apart from her speaks to his tortured love. I was very taken aback when she said it had been six weeks, and yet she was still cooking up plans to stop him moving away. I just hope he doesn't move without paying her, although I am sure that he will.

I feel sorry for her too, and it must be really hard for you to watch her throw herself away on this sham. I hope that she's able to get enough perspective to see that this guy's no good to her (or anybody, sounds like) and that it's in her best interests to move on. Fingers crossed.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: baglady on December 20, 2012, 06:23:56 PM
She won't hear you. She simply won't. I have been in her shoes, and nobody could tell me that there was *anything* wrong with Dr. Evil.

He had loads of charisma and did the "love bombing" thing at the beginning. Everything I said was brilliant. Everything about me was fascinating. I was totally convinced we were meant to be, and when he dropped me, I spent almost two years trying to find that magic key that would reawaken those feelings he had for me at the beginning. Eventually I snapped out of it, but it took me a few more years to realize that he never had any such feelings -- he was lying the whole time.

Here's the kicker: Not only was I in my 40s when this happened -- I was *in a relationship*. I was only interested in being friends with Dr. Evil. But he came on with the whole "I can't possibly be just friends with you -- what we have is too special!" that I came thisclose to leaving Bagman for that rhymes-with-plastered.

The evidence was all there, but I could not see it when I was in the depths of my obsession.

I wish I could give you some magic words to snap your friend out of it, but as long as she's infatuated/obsessed with the idealized relationship he planted in her head (because that's what narcissists, sociopaths and narcissistic sociopaths do), she will not hear them. The "magic words" that finally snapped me out of it were a variation on "he doesn't deserve you," but I had to hit bottom before I could hear them and take them to heart.

I feel your pain ... and hers.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: blarg314 on December 20, 2012, 09:14:59 PM

Please don't worry, I didn't see anything offensive about your comment--I was just trying to shed some light on why what can seem like an immature perspective may be in place even at an age when one might think a woman would have learned better sense. (Did that sentence make sense?)


I definitely agree that dating in your early forties can be a lonely and depressing place. There are a lot fewer single people than there were when you were younger. Many of those single people have kids from prior relationship (which may not be what you want, and definitely complicates things).

And for women, there's the fact that a lot of the men your age are actively looking for younger women, particularly if they want to have children themselves.  So you find that the guys in their early forties aren't even seeing you on dating sites (they've set the filter to 39 and under) and you're getting responses from guys in their mid to late fifties.

If the OP's friend has been on 80 speed dates in two years, 30 of which turned into further contact, and this loser is the best thing that's come out of that - that's pretty depressing, and I can see how that could really skew her perspective.

What she's doing is still really counterproductive, though, unless she genuinely is happier with what she's got than she would be alone.

Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: TurtleDove on December 20, 2012, 09:34:32 PM
Since she is fabricating this "relationship," why doesn't she just fabricate a better one?
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: MariaE on December 21, 2012, 03:06:31 AM
I get what Petticoats is saying.  In order to get out of the current relationship you do have to be be willing to be "lonely by yourself."  Unless you have another guy already lined up before you jump ship, you're going to be alone for at least a little while.  The friend has to make the decision - you can't guarantee she's going to find someone else.

If an actual relationship existed, I would understand.  Here, she hasn't seen or even heard from her "boyfriend" in SIX WEEKS!  She IS by herself!

I'm reminded of a quote from "Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat" by Vicki Myron:
"Everone has a pain thermometer that goes from zero to ten. No one will make a change until they reach ten. Nine won't do it. At nine you are still afraid. Only ten will move you, and when you're there, you'll know. No one can make that decision for you."

I think that's very apt in this situation. The OP's friend isn't at 10 yet. And nobody else can tell her she should be - she has to realize it for herself.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Emmy on December 21, 2012, 07:03:28 AM
I get what Petticoats is saying.  In order to get out of the current relationship you do have to be be willing to be "lonely by yourself."  Unless you have another guy already lined up before you jump ship, you're going to be alone for at least a little while.  The friend has to make the decision - you can't guarantee she's going to find someone else.

If an actual relationship existed, I would understand.  Here, she hasn't seen or even heard from her "boyfriend" in SIX WEEKS!  She IS by herself!

I'm reminded of a quote from "Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat" by Vicki Myron:
"Everone has a pain thermometer that goes from zero to ten. No one will make a change until they reach ten. Nine won't do it. At nine you are still afraid. Only ten will move you, and when you're there, you'll know. No one can make that decision for you."

I think that's very apt in this situation. The OP's friend isn't at 10 yet. And nobody else can tell her she should be - she has to realize it for herself.

That's a good way of putting it.  I think the afraid of being alone factor has a lot to do with the bad relationship.  People will put up with a lot from another person rather than being alone.  At age 21, I learned a similar lesson.  The guy who seemed crazy about me turned cold and I really wanted to rekindle how things were.  I tried way longer than I should to resuscitate what I thought we had.  Thankfully after several lies and being ignored the semester ended and I decided to never call him again and got over him.  My pain thermometer was readjusted because of that and I grew a little more jaded and careful with my heart.  I still made mistakes after that, but I was able to cut losses much easier.

I can't speak for dating our 40's, but some women I know in their 20's settled for the bottom of the barrel.  These were the women who feared being alone as the worst possible thing.  After my loser, I decided that I would rather be lonely while alone and have the hope of meeting somebody special than being lonely because I settled for a loser.  I can see how being at an age where there are fewer available partners can heighten the sense that somebody has to hang on to what they have (or think they have).

If your friend met a guy who seemed nice, do you think she would be interested in getting to know him or turn him away because she has a 'boyfriend'?  Maybe she is convinced this guy is special and her reason for not leaving does not involve her being alone.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Bethalize on December 21, 2012, 07:22:50 AM
I'm reminded of a quote from "Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat" by Vicki Myron:
"Everone has a pain thermometer that goes from zero to ten. No one will make a change until they reach ten. Nine won't do it. At nine you are still afraid. Only ten will move you, and when you're there, you'll know. No one can make that decision for you."

I think that's very apt in this situation. The OP's friend isn't at 10 yet. And nobody else can tell her she should be - she has to realize it for herself.

Marvellous concept! Thank you for sharing. This ties in nicely with my attitude of not enabling, facilitating or helping cope with a terrible relationship.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: siamesecat2965 on January 03, 2013, 11:56:50 AM
That's a good way of putting it.  I think the afraid of being alone factor has a lot to do with the bad relationship.  People will put up with a lot from another person rather than being alone.   

I can't speak for dating our 40's, but some women I know in their 20's settled for the bottom of the barrel.  These were the women who feared being alone as the worst possible thing...I can see how being at an age where there are fewer available partners can heighten the sense that somebody has to hang on to what they have (or think they have).

 

I totally agree. As someone on the other side of 45, and single, and has been that way since I turned 30, I am thankful that I don't fall into this category.  I d@ted one guy for most of my 20's after graduating college, and am thankful today that we broke it off, and kick myself for not doing it sooner!  Hindsight is everything! 

Now, I'm generally happy with my solitary life, most of the time. I will never, ever settle, and if I never meet someone and get married, so be it. If I do, great, but it will defitneily have to be "the" one. In all respects.

I have any number of friends who simply cannot bear the thought of being alone, so they'll d@te or settle for anyone, even if they aren't right for them.  I have a CW who's my age, twice divorced, with two kids.  She's currently seeing someone she met on a religious d@ting site, but a. she's an oversharer so I know that she's not happy with certain aspects, including the scrabble aspect, and b. he's had very little d@ting experience since his divorce about 4-5 years ago.  Knowing her, and having met him, and hearing about him from her, I just don't get how they can be compatible, and I honestly think they are together rather than each being alone. Which is sad, since if it goes to the next level, it will be settling.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Cat-Fu on January 03, 2013, 12:28:30 PM
Ugh, an advice blogger I enjoy (Captain Awkward) calls these types of guys Darth Vader boyfriends. ("There is still good in him! I felt it!") There really isn't a way to say, "Wow, that guy sucks" without making your friend defensive. The best thing to do is 1) don't feed into the drama that makes the relationship so exciting (lots of non-judgmental hmmms and ohs) 2) ask leading questions ("wow, how did that make you feel?") in hopes that she will come to the conclusion that he isn't really that great of a catch on her own. It stinks, but there's not really a way to stop someone from deluding themselves.  :(
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Lillie82 on January 16, 2013, 11:25:16 AM
I'm in a bit of a bind here. The other day, I asked a friend of mine how her on/off boyfriend was doing. She said she hadn't seen, spoken to or heard from him in six weeks.

This person isn't your friend's boyfriend.  She is deluding herself if she thinks he is.  I would point this out to her, gently, and ask her how she can feel loved and understood by someone who is completely absent from her life.  That alone, without touching the "toxic" stuff, is reason for her to move on.  What is she thinking?

By "toxic," you mean that he manipulates her, treats her badly while giving her just enough attention (or whatever) to keep her dangling so she doesn't move on and she is there if he does need something.

And if you say he's doing that, I'll take your word for it. But it actually sounds like she would be capable of deluding herself without much intentional manipulation or encouragement on his part.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: squashedfrog on January 16, 2013, 11:33:48 AM
Ugh, an advice blogger I enjoy (Captain Awkward) calls these types of guys Darth Vader boyfriends. ("There is still good in him! I felt it!") There really isn't a way to say, "Wow, that guy sucks" without making your friend defensive. The best thing to do is 1) don't feed into the drama that makes the relationship so exciting (lots of non-judgmental hmmms and ohs) 2) ask leading questions ("wow, how did that make you feel?") in hopes that she will come to the conclusion that he isn't really that great of a catch on her own. It stinks, but there's not really a way to stop someone from deluding themselves.  :(

I think Darth Vader boyfriend is one of the best descriptions Ive heard in a while!   Im defo going to use that!
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Elegiac on January 22, 2013, 12:06:40 PM
*Hugs* to your friend.

When I was in my 20s, I was a lot like your friend. I believed that my boyfriend hid the fact that we were dating cause he was shy or something, and that he was always broke cause he had other priorities. Oh, he had other priorities all right - and I was not one of them.

Now that I'm in my 30s, I've learned from my experience, and I am currently with a man who treats me like a princess, is loving, respecting, and whom my friends and family adore as well. This is what I deserved to have in my life all along. Your friend owes it to herself to find someone who will treat her with respect and dignity. A relationship should never be hidden - if he isn't comfortable taking her out, then he ought to be ashamed of himself. Your friend can do better, and will do better. As a side note - anyone who chased my animals would be chased out the door by me, and never welcome back in my home.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: peach2play on February 06, 2013, 01:41:08 PM
POD to those who said you can't tell her anything against him right now because she won't hear you.  What you can do is modify your behavior.  Here's what I did in a very similar situation with my bff (the situation was bf would break up with his current gf on Thursday to go out with my bff on Fri - Sun, then return to other gf.  It ended in almost a huge legal mess but thankfully my bff escaped unscathed and a little wiser):

The first four weeks I was supportive and caring and let her cry on my shoulder.  After the 4th week of that nonsense, and the drama escalating and her needing more and more support, I couldn't take it any more so when she started talking about it, I would answer, "Ok, you've said that, now what are you going to do about it?  That which can not be changed must be endured." and then change the subject.  She would of course bring it right back around to him and I would answer the exact same way. 

After the 12th week of this, I told her she was no longer allowed to mention his name to me or talk to me about it because made, bed, lie.  When she stopped getting her emotional needs met by me, she quickly realized that he was really bad for her.  It ended soon after and really started her on a road to emotional recovery and discovery. 

Good luck and polish your shiney spine.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Cami on February 27, 2013, 02:24:08 PM
POD to those who said you can't tell her anything against him right now because she won't hear you.  What you can do is modify your behavior.  Here's what I did in a very similar situation with my bff (the situation was bf would break up with his current gf on Thursday to go out with my bff on Fri - Sun, then return to other gf.  It ended in almost a huge legal mess but thankfully my bff escaped unscathed and a little wiser):

The first four weeks I was supportive and caring and let her cry on my shoulder.  After the 4th week of that nonsense, and the drama escalating and her needing more and more support, I couldn't take it any more so when she started talking about it, I would answer, "Ok, you've said that, now what are you going to do about it?  That which can not be changed must be endured." and then change the subject.  She would of course bring it right back around to him and I would answer the exact same way. 

After the 12th week of this, I told her she was no longer allowed to mention his name to me or talk to me about it because made, bed, lie.  When she stopped getting her emotional needs met by me, she quickly realized that he was really bad for her.  It ended soon after and really started her on a road to emotional recovery and discovery. 
Good luck and polish your shiney spine.
I bolded that section above about withdrawing support because in my experience that is often the very best strategy to helping someone detach from their toxic SO.  I've found that when you provide a sounding board and support, that very assistance becomes a crutch to the dysfunctional relationship. Often, when the crutch is pulled away, the person falls on their face and sees the truth.

I learned this lesson with a friend who had an abusive husband. Over time, our relationship became solely about me providing support for her. Which, in times of crisis, is not inappropriate. But I had a lightbulb moment one day. She had called me at zero dark thirty in a panic due to his latest (daily) abusive behavior, I talk to her, calm her down, etc. I am a wreck after this. I call her about 9am to make sure she's okay and she's...Miss Sprightly. Mary Poppins couldn't have been more perky and positive. Meanwhile, I'm an emotional wreck from worrying about her.  Lightbulb -- she was able to transfer all of her worries and fears to me. This shedding allowed her to go back to him each night. I called a halt to it. I told her that I was no longer willing to  listen to her, pick her up at the hospital, etc. In very short order, she had left him. I then went with her to a therapy session and therapist told me that what I'd done is often the catalyst for an abused person or someone in a toxic relationshp to get out of that relationship because, as I'd surmised, by providing what I thought was support to her, i was actually supporting the toxic relationship.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
Post by: Lillie82 on May 25, 2013, 03:34:39 PM
Just a thought, assuming we haven't beaten this to death, but, is it possible that the OP's friend could have gotten the whole "His feelings for me are so strong that he's afraid of them and that's why he avoids me," idea from movies / TV / romance novels?

I'm not an expert in the genres, but one example that jumps to mind is Lois and Clark, where Lois is very afraid of her feelings for Clark, and asks Perry to assign her to another partner after their first official date goes well.

And there's a classic (well, it's 30 years old now) novel about two high-school-age lesbi@ns, Annie on My Mind: College freshman Liza reminisces about her senior-year romance with Annie and the grief they got from authority figures and classmates who basically thought g@y = mentally ill. But now the two girls are at different colleges and although Annie has written Liza, Liza hasn't answered her or called her all semester. It's supposed to be because she's still working through her feelings about being g@y, but I can't believe it wouldn't have something to do with just adjusting to college, life being different, and the two being far apart. I was reminded of some of the discussions we've had here about how "Several months of no contact = He or She Is Just Not That Into You" (or has dumped you.) Most columns, etc that give advice about rel@tionships say the same. When they do get back in contact, it's not said this way, but it seems like the message, "Our love is so powerful even not being in contact with each other can't stop it."

While the girls both lived in the same city, they didn't exactly avoid each other for any long period of time but went through a stage of fighting a lot about trivial things because of fear of their feelings.