Author Topic: Stop bad-mouthing my friend. S/O cut direct from half of couple  (Read 3741 times)

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Klea

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Stop bad-mouthing my friend. S/O cut direct from half of couple
« on: October 12, 2013, 06:11:49 PM »
BG: Friend Anne, her husband Bob and I all attend high school together. Anne & I used to be close friends but life and distance (I live in another state) has changed that. Also, I have significantly 'cooled' the friendship after incidents that occurred surrounding their wedding last year (I was a bridesmaid). I have never liked Bob. He is an unnecessarily competitive person ('anything you have done, I have done better') and often exhibits controlling behaviour over Anne that I don't approve of (think: always having to accompany her to events - even her bachelorette party!, monitoring her choices & activities). Others have expressed a similar dislike for Bob, so I don't think it is just me.

My best friend Cathy (mutual friends with Anne & Bob, was also a bridesmaid & attended our high school) went through a rough patch several years ago that involved some wild & emotional behaviour. This period did not last long, her actions hurt few people (Anne & Bob were never personally affected) and she has since apologised. Although Bob has had little interaction with Cathy in years he seems to have taken an issue with her and will use any opportunity to make snide remarks about her. /BG

I recently visited home-town and caught up with Anne & Bob over dinner at their home. Bob started up with his usual braggart behaviour but as always I ignored it. After dinner, Anne & I were having a conversation about a weekend I had spent with Cathy when Bob interrupted to make a disparaging remark about Cathy. I quickly disputed his assertion, bean-dipped and soon after made my excuses and left.

Frankly, I am sick of his attitude and hearing him speak badly about Cathy nearly every time I see him. Visiting my friend is no longer enjoyable but tedious. It is awkward as I am torn between wanting to be a good friend and defend Cathy but also do not want to start an argument with my friend's husband in front of her. I usually end up briefly expressing firm disagreement and bean-dipping (Bob either hasn't gotten the point after all this time or doesn't care). But I am growing tired of this tactic and avoiding him is rarely an option (wherever Anne is, Bob is sure to follow even if you planned to meet her alone). I think that next time he starts bad-mouthing Cathy I should (politely) speak my mind but I know if I don't plan a response I will end up being not-so-polite. I was thinking:

Bob, you often seem to have something negative to say about Cathy and I am not sure why. I don't think it is fair to say things behind her back and as she is one of my best friends, it really bothers me to hear you speak about her that way. Please stop.

Thoughts? Should I just keep bean-dipping as I have been? Or should I just give Bob the cut-direct and accept that probably means I will lose Anne as well? (I do enjoy Anne's company but we are no longer close and her husband makes interactions uncomfortable). I will be back in home-town for Christmas and more than likely will see the couple.
 

jmarvellous

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Re: Stop bad-mouthing my friend. S/O cut direct from half of couple
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2013, 06:24:55 PM »
I think it's just fine to say to Bob, "Look, I know you don't really like Cathy, but that's not that relevant here. As I was saying ..." And escalate from there if he has more to say, from "Let's not go there!" all the way to, "I don't appreciate your comments. Cathy is my friend, and I don't think we have to have the same opinion about her, but I won't sit here while you badmouth her, either."

From what you've said, it doesn't sound like a cut-direct situation (and if it is and you do decide to go there, realize there's not really going to be any contact between you and Anne anymore, either).

Also, it's probably smart just to not bring up Cathy at all around Anne and/or Bob. That might solve this particular problem, even if it won't make Bob suddenly be someone you like.

AvidReader

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Re: Stop bad-mouthing my friend. S/O cut direct from half of couple
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2013, 06:47:10 PM »
You could try to put it back on Bob.  "Bob, how would you feel if you had an acquaintance, who every time you saw him, badmouthed Anne?  Wouldn't you want to shut him down?  I feel that way when you talk like that about Cathy.  Please stop doing that in my presence."   If Bob has a shred of decency, he'll shut up.  If he doesn't, well, then he's a first-class boor, and the less of him the better, but I'm feeling sorry for poor Anne.

*inviteseller

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Re: Stop bad-mouthing my friend. S/O cut direct from half of couple
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2013, 08:34:33 PM »
Tell Ann straight off how uncomfortable you are when her DH shows up at girls only events or interrupts your conversations.  If you end up giving the cut, she has been forewarned.  As for Bob, I would tell him you heard his opinions on Cathy already, it is time to move on.

AnnaJ

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Re: Stop bad-mouthing my friend. S/O cut direct from half of couple
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2013, 11:34:48 PM »
If you're at the point that losing Anne as a friend is acceptable (not desirable, but acceptable) then you might consider just being honest and tell her what you've told us - that you want to remain friends with her, but don't want to spend time with Bob.  If she says they are a package deal all of the time, then it's time to take a break from the friendship.

I do not think there is anything you can do to stop Bob's behavior, and it will continue to impact your friendship with Anne if you continue to see him.  In some cases - family and work comes to mind - it's necessary to suck it up, but for a friendship that is already on the edge, it may not be worth it.

Sharnita

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Re: Stop bad-mouthing my friend. S/O cut direct from half of couple
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2013, 11:36:18 PM »
It sounds like you do know.why he says these things, you just fisagree that what she reviousy did merits this behavior from him.
I think you could point out that you know about what happened, what he is talking about is old news.

girlysprite

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Re: Stop bad-mouthing my friend. S/O cut direct from half of couple
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2013, 05:03:34 AM »
I recognise this so much. At this moment, I'm struggling with an old friend who often slips in one or two badmouthing comments about how my mom and how she chose to raise me. A few days ago i emailed her that I enjoyed our times together, but that those comments cast a dark shadow over it, and made me very uncomfortable. I also added that I had a great childhood so that her comments were incorrect.

If it would help you, I can post the entire email.

StarDrifter

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Re: Stop bad-mouthing my friend. S/O cut direct from half of couple
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2013, 06:42:42 AM »
I hate to jump to it but this sounds (the way Bob is always there, always following Anne and badmouthing her friends to her other friends, isolating her) like the beginnings of an abusive relationship.

isolating her from her friends
controlling everything she does
never letting her be alone with her friends/family - classic red flags for an abuser who will convince her that he's the only thing that matters - look! nobody else will talk to you (because I'm such a jerk to them) so clearly I'm the only one who really loves you.

Personally I'd keep up with the bean-dip and ignoring his comments about Cathy, just to keep the door of your friendship with Anne open. Any time he mentions Cathy or says something nasty about her just look at him, bored, don't even actually acknowledge the comment, and continue your conversation with Anne as if he hadn't interrupted.

And keep lines of communication with Anne open. Let her know that you're still there for her even if her boor of a partner has chased everyone else off.
... it might frighten them.
Victoria,

Queen of Clubs

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Re: Stop bad-mouthing my friend. S/O cut direct from half of couple
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2013, 09:34:15 AM »
I hate to jump to it but this sounds (the way Bob is always there, always following Anne and badmouthing her friends to her other friends, isolating her) like the beginnings of an abusive relationship.

isolating her from her friends
controlling everything she does
never letting her be alone with her friends/family - classic red flags for an abuser who will convince her that he's the only thing that matters - look! nobody else will talk to you (because I'm such a jerk to them) so clearly I'm the only one who really loves you.

Personally I'd keep up with the bean-dip and ignoring his comments about Cathy, just to keep the door of your friendship with Anne open. Any time he mentions Cathy or says something nasty about her just look at him, bored, don't even actually acknowledge the comment, and continue your conversation with Anne as if he hadn't interrupted.

And keep lines of communication with Anne open. Let her know that you're still there for her even if her boor of a partner has chased everyone else off.

That's where my mind was going too. :(

OP, as other posters have suggested, I'd totally ignore him if he starts in on Cathy.  I'd also try to avoid mentioning Cathy so he has no excuse to start in on her.

flickan

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Re: Stop bad-mouthing my friend. S/O cut direct from half of couple
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2013, 12:03:13 PM »
Also, it's probably smart just to not bring up Cathy at all around Anne and/or Bob. That might solve this particular problem, even if it won't make Bob suddenly be someone you like.

I think this is the best solution.

Yes, it's unfair the way he's badmouthing a friend of yours but changing this behavior with a comment (no matter how true and well considered) seems impossible.

If the subject comes up of it's own accord, then you could say, "I don't really want to talk about that."  But I think bringing her up is inviting disagreement.   If this were just some random person you could avoid it would be different but it's your friend's husband and if you want to have a good relationship with her keep in mind that he will be in the picture, no matter how much you dislike him.

perpetua

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Re: Stop bad-mouthing my friend. S/O cut direct from half of couple
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2013, 02:00:33 PM »
From the other side of the coin, Cathy obviously did something to offend Bob (and perhaps Anne too), so I think it's partially your responsibility not to bring her up in front of him. If someone I socialised with was always talking about someone I had an issue with, I might get a bit annoyed too. However, the correct response from him would be to ask you not to discuss Cathy, not to badmouth her.

As for your proposed wording, I don't think you can ask him not to say things about her at all, but you can ask him not to do it in front of you.

Lynn2000

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Re: Stop bad-mouthing my friend. S/O cut direct from half of couple
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2013, 04:02:59 PM »
I think your response depends on how much you want to keep the friendship with Anne. If you really want to see Anne and can mostly put up with Bob being there, I think your best bet is to avoid mentioning Cathy. Don't talk about anything related to her and/or claim your stories happened with a different person that Anne doesn't know, "Debbie." Yes, an outright lie is rather extreme, I think, but if this would solve your immediate problem, you should at least consider whether it's worth it. Otherwise, I think you'll just have to keep doing what you've been doing--disagreeing with Bob, then changing the subject.

If neither of those is palatable to you, I would next suggest contacting Anne and putting the problem to her, perhaps to her personal email. "Anne, I would love to get together with you and catch up, but I'm afraid I really don't see eye to eye with Bob on many subjects, for example his views on Cathy. I would really like to have lunch with just you on Thursday, without Bob. Please let me know if you can make it." If she agrees and indeed shows up alone, great, you can talk about Cathy and all the rest with her.

If she refuses, or if it seems like Bob won't let her/intercepts the email, or if he shows up anyway, perhaps it would be easiest to decide that the friendship is no longer worth the trouble, and just stop seeing either of them. A "cut direct" is, I believe, a very extreme thing involving pretending that the person no longer exists, to the point of walking by them on the street without acknowledging them; that may be more than you feel is necessary here. If you just stopped initiating contact, and were regretfully busy when they suggested getting together (in a small group, at least), the friendship as you describe it would probably fall away quickly. Then you wouldn't have to hear Bob talk about anything at all, including Cathy.

To me, this just sounds like the combination of personality and situation where there's not going to be any magic phrase that will shut him down. As a counter-example, I've had the experience of someone starting to badmouth a third party to me, and I say coolly, "Oh? He didn't mention anything about that to me when I had lunch with him last week," and generally they shut up, realizing I'm still friends with the person. But if this sort of technique worked on Bob, you probably wouldn't be posting here. I get the feeling he doesn't really care if you're offended, so likely nothing you can say to him will have an impact.
~Lynn2000

Klea

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Re: Stop bad-mouthing my friend. S/O cut direct from half of couple
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2013, 08:35:50 PM »
Thanks everyone for your replies. I will try some of your suggestions before deciding whether to cut Bob out (there are other circumstances that make me consider this as an option), but I really would prefer to remain on friendly terms with Anne.

From the other side of the coin, Cathy obviously did something to offend Bob (and perhaps Anne too), so I think it's partially your responsibility not to bring her up in front of him. If someone I socialised with was always talking about someone I had an issue with, I might get a bit annoyed too.

I already rarely bring up Cathy in front of Bob. Sometimes Anne (who is friends with Cathy) will start a friendly conversation and then Bob chimes in with the negativity (even if he wasn't part of the conversation) - but I will make more of an effort to shut down these conversations, even with Anne.
At other times we will be talking about something completely unrelated (e.g. work) and Bob will use it as an opportunity to bad-mouth Cathy without any provocation or mention of her name, or will swing a conversation so that he can bring her up without warning. It is hard to avoid this when you don't know it is coming.

It sounds like you do know.why he says these things, you just fisagree that what she reviousy did merits this behavior from him.
I think you could point out that you know about what happened, what he is talking about is old news.

I can only assume he has judged her based on these events (even though they affected him in no way) and continues to hold a grudge. The thing is, he doesn't draw on what happened when he is bad-mouthing Cathy, so I can't point out it is 'old news' as he is always inventing some new complaint (e.g. Cathy is dumb because she studies 'the arts'). They are completely irrelevant/unrelated to her past and are based on finding something current to use as an attack on her.

I hate to jump to it but this sounds (the way Bob is always there, always following Anne and badmouthing her friends to her other friends, isolating her) like the beginnings of an abusive relationship.

I have been concerned about this myself but I do not know there personal home life and do not see them very often any more. Anne doesn't seem to be completely isolated from all friends & family but I am sure Bob vetoes any 'undesirable' activities or relationships and slowly weeds them out (perhaps this is what he is working on with Cathy, by talking badly about Anne's friend in front of her). For her part, Anne seems happy with their co-dependency or at least does not seem to view it as a cause for concern (but I am also aware that victims of abuse are adept at hiding it).

flickan

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Re: Stop bad-mouthing my friend. S/O cut direct from half of couple
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2013, 08:42:22 PM »

I hate to jump to it but this sounds (the way Bob is always there, always following Anne and badmouthing her friends to her other friends, isolating her) like the beginnings of an abusive relationship.

I have been concerned about this myself but I do not know there personal home life and do not see them very often any more. Anne doesn't seem to be completely isolated from all friends & family but I am sure Bob vetoes any 'undesirable' activities or relationships and slowly weeds them out (perhaps this is what he is working on with Cathy, by talking badly about Anne's friend in front of her). For her part, Anne seems happy with their co-dependency or at least does not seem to view it as a cause for concern (but I am also aware that victims of abuse are adept at hiding it).

Bob sounds like a real piece of work from what you've described.  However, I think one of the hardest things to accept is that some people desire relationships, and even co-dependant relationships that we might consider unhealthy, with people we don't approve of.  I don't respect everyone my friends are married to but I do respect the marriages themselves.  So long as Anne give no sign that she's being treated in a way she does not like there's really nothing at all to do.  You may lose the friendship and I'm very truly sorry for that.

kayesse

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Re: Stop bad-mouthing my friend. S/O cut direct from half of couple
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2013, 08:42:57 PM »
If he is bad mouthing Cathy when she is not there, what is he saying about you when you aren't there?