Author Topic: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic  (Read 18368 times)

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Fleur

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Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
« on: December 18, 2012, 05:32:08 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?

Luci

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Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2012, 05:41:02 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.

Venus193

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Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2012, 05:41:02 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.

Fleur

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Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2012, 05:50:10 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.

Venus193

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Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2012, 06:45:44 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.

rashea

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Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2012, 08:55:59 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.
"Manners change, principles don't. It's about treating people with consideration, respect and honesty." Peter Post

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TurtleDove

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Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2012, 10:31:25 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?

ilrag

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Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2012, 11:07:29 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.

Deetee

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Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2012, 11:14:06 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.

Yvaine

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Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2012, 11:15:38 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.

TurtleDove

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Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2012, 11:39:39 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.

DavidH

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Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2012, 01:00:13 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. 

Venus193

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Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2012, 01:09:25 PM »
The cat is afraid of him.  I don't need to hear more than that.

Fleur

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Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2012, 01:18:59 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.

TurtleDove

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Re: Polite way to tell a friend: your boyfriend is toxic
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2012, 01:23:29 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.