Author Topic: Polite response to life decisions you don't support?  (Read 3119 times)

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Goosey

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Re: Polite response to life decisions you don't support?
« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2013, 04:46:32 PM »
And, frankly, some women love a guy who is a little controlling and jealous (ever read 50 Shades of Grey? For some reason, it's considered a turn on for a lot of people). Not my cup of tea, but again - a reason not to jump to "abuse!"

50 Shades is considered by a lot of people who are into and knowledgeable about that sort of thing to be a horrible distortion of their lifestyle, and, yes a portrayal of an unhealthy, abusive relationship. Not a good example.

Oh, trust me, I know. It's a horrendous distortion. But I was referring to how popular it is and how tittilated many people found the concept of a controlling relationship. The sexual aspect of that relationship and the relationship between those two individuals were horrible - with one using emotional abuse as leverage to get this control. But that's not the aspect I was refering to and not the point I was making.

EllenS

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Re: Polite response to life decisions you don't support?
« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2013, 04:55:14 PM »
I think your best bet in this scenario, assuming you don't want to avoid speaking to her altogether, is just "active listening".  There's really no reason why you have to comment at all.  If she wants to gush, let her.  You don't have to join in or egg her on.

I didn't get the impression from your OP that you are extremely close friends.  That is the only situation where I would think it appropriate to issue warnings.  And then, I think it would only be appropriate in a very private conversation, certainly not as a passing comment at party. That is just going to sound snarky.

If she's not a close enough friend that you can call her up and meet for coffee to talk about how concerned you are for her, then her decision is off the table for party talk.

LadyL

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Re: Polite response to life decisions you don't support?
« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2013, 05:02:46 PM »

If she's not a close enough friend that you can call her up and meet for coffee to talk about how concerned you are for her, then her decision is off the table for party talk.

We were on our way to being the kind of friends where I could do this. We bonded over some pretty personal stuff.  But I have admittedly been distant for a while so at this point, it would be overstepping.

Thankfully, for now, I don't think there is physical abuse happening. The relationship is probably somewhere in between "toxic" and "abusive" but again I'm not privy to enough details to tell.

EllenS

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Re: Polite response to life decisions you don't support?
« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2013, 05:16:00 PM »

We were on our way to being the kind of friends where I could do this. We bonded over some pretty personal stuff.  But I have admittedly been distant for a while so at this point, it would be overstepping.


I don't see any reason why you couldn't reach out and invest in the friendship, if you want to.  Spend some more time together, and if you get your friendship on a stronger footing, and still think the situation is concerning, then you would have the credibility to speak to her about it.

Nothing wrong with "hey, I kind of fell of the map, sorry, but I'd love to get together"

Twik

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Re: Polite response to life decisions you don't support?
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2013, 05:16:49 PM »
I once got the "privilege" of overhearing one man, who was clearly absolutely despicable, describing his relationship with his ex to another co-worker, who apparently had the same opinion of first man as I did.

As First Man ranted about his treatment of his ex (which was appalling), the other man would simply, whenever First Man stopped for comment, say "Mmmhmmm." It gives no connotation of approval one way or another.
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Raintree

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Re: Polite response to life decisions you don't support?
« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2013, 06:16:23 PM »
It's kind of why I don't talk about problems in my relationships with my friends. Not in any great detail, anyway. It's because I've learned that sometimes problems can be worked out, and when you get back together, suddenly it's apparent that you've made the initial problems sound much worse than they actually were, and everyone now actively dislikes your partner because you've shared too much of the negative.

I would say, have your opinion, but refrain from expressing it. She is in loooooove and won't listen to anything that challenges her feelings for this man. No expression of disapproval from you is going to stop her from marrying him. You may be absolutely correct in your assessment of this man/the situation, but it's her mistake to make and showing your disapproval will just alienate her from you, and other people she may actually need down the road when it doesn't work out. I think if this happens she may need people who haven't expressed any judgement of her choices. Let's say if he does turn out abusive, she may refrain from seeking help if she feels she is going to get an "I told you so."

You don't have to partake in gushing about her wedding dress etc etc though. I'd just nod and smile politely and say it's nice, then bean dip.

bah12

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Re: Polite response to life decisions you don't support?
« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2013, 07:02:15 PM »
You either feel that you can be frank with her and tell her your concerns or you don't and refrain from passing any kind of judgement on her relationship.

If you love talking about weddings, then talk about weddings.  It doesn't mean you are giving her your blessing.  And is she even asking for you to gush about how great Matt is or just wants someone that she can talk about weddings about?

If this were my best friend, I'd be frank.  If it were an acquaintence I wanted to keep in my circles, I'd talk weddings if I it was a subject I was interested in.  If I didn't care about the bride at all, I'd ignore her.

esposita

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Re: Polite response to life decisions you don't support?
« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2013, 09:00:01 PM »
If you are really truly concerned for her safety, the absolute best way to ever be in a position to help her at this moment in time is by being very very interested in her wedding. VERY interested. Talk about wedding stuff, be there to commiserate when a vendor does something wrong, do a happy clap when you hear that the seating arrangements finally worked themselves out.

She'll have memories of those conversations, of you being in her corner, if and when anything goes south.

She is marrying him, you're not going to stop that by beandipping or avoiding or even straight up asking her anything. If you want to help, be the reliable, just married, loves to talk about weddings person that you are.

Allyson

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Re: Polite response to life decisions you don't support?
« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2013, 11:00:26 PM »
When a friend is in a relationship with someone I think is toxic, possibly abusive etc, I ask myself first if they have all the information that I do. So, if I were to know that the person had a past arrest record they hadn't disclosed, or had been cheating, then that would be one thing. But, if it was just relationship dynamics I didn't like, I'd be more hesitant. I would also think, have other people mentioned they don't approve of the guy? Probably. And if so, I try to be as nonjudgmental as possible not because I approve. But I want my friend to be able to come to me if something does go awry, and feel like I'm not going to be all 'I told you so'.

People with relationships others don't approve of can often can this 'us against the world' feeling, which can stop them from talking to others. I find asking relatively neutral questions, like "and then what happened? has that happened before? are you ok with that?" can sometimes make the person re-evaluate on their own. Whereas a third party telling them their partner is a jerk can just make them defensive.

aussie_chick

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Re: Polite response to life decisions you don't support?
« Reply #24 on: December 13, 2013, 02:20:34 AM »
Tough one but I agree with others who say bean dip or superficially discuss weddings.

Something like "that all sounds nice, good luck with your planning. Have you tried the dip?"

or "sounds like you're well on your way with planning. have some dip"

I think if she asks you outright why you're not excited her for, then you have to decide what to say. But chances are she won't since it was such a huge surprise they got back together, she obviously hadn't discussed it with you or other close friends.

One question I have for everyone. If the Op gets an invite to the wedding, should they attend? Or not because of the feelings towards Matt? Of course, there actually has to be a wedding for that to happen.

Mel the Redcap

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Re: Polite response to life decisions you don't support?
« Reply #25 on: December 13, 2013, 02:24:56 AM »
When a good friend of mine was in a relationship that I really, really didn't like (bad dynamics, horrible behaviour, past cheating, she acknowledged his MANY faults but believed he was trying to change - I didn't!), I told her straight out that I didn't like him and didn't want him at my house, but I respected her wish to give him another chance. I wasn't going to nag her about him and if he did something she needed to vent about I'd be a sympathetic ear without being nasty or "I told you so" about it. I'd be polite to and about him, and I wouldn't criticise him unless she asked me for my unvarnished opinion of something he did, but if she asked she was getting it warts and all.

Things went south. He's no longer allowed anywhere near her, and if he ever shows up here I'm calling the cops. We're still friends... and if I'd given in to the temptation to badmouth him to her at every opportunity (and trust me, there were a LOT of opportunities!) I don't think that would be true any more. Criticising someone's SO too often comes across as criticising their taste in SOs, which becomes criticising them. "Dear Deity, he's awful and he treats you badly! Why do you still love him?!" becomes "Only an idiot would love that guy, therefore you're an idiot," in their head.

If you can do it gently and you don't think she'll react too badly, I'd let her know you're still a bit unhappy about his behaviour. Make it about things he does, not things he is - "I get really uncomfortable when he criticises you in public, it makes him sound mean," instead of "He's mean to you." Then stop. Be her friend, to the extent that you want to be her friend. Don't try to deepen the relationship past what you're comfortable with to make it easier to 'save' her - you can't. If she really needs saving, she's going to have to save herself, and that'll only happen when she's a) convinced and b) ready. If you push, she'll back away from you in defence of her shiny happy relationship, and then she won't feel she can come to you for support if/when things go badly.
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Lynn2000

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Re: Polite response to life decisions you don't support?
« Reply #26 on: December 13, 2013, 10:41:25 AM »
One question I have for everyone. If the Op gets an invite to the wedding, should they attend? Or not because of the feelings towards Matt? Of course, there actually has to be a wedding for that to happen.

Good question. For me personally, it doesn't sound like a friendship where I would put a lot of effort into attending, even if I liked the groom--just not at that level. So if the wedding was happening nearby on a weekend when I was free and some other mutual friends were going, I would probably go. But if logistically it was more challenging--an overnight stay, a busy time of year work-wise--I would politely decline, send a nice gift, and continue to be at the same level of friendly afterwards.

But it depends on the OP's goal. If she's going the route of deepening the friendship, then I think she ought to attend the wedding if at all possible. I think it would be weird not to, unless she had a super-huge (true) other commitment. Especially if her plan is NOT to question the relationship directly--the bride certainly wouldn't "get" that the OP was boycotting her actual wedding because she didn't like the groom, she would just be disappointed that a friend she was growing closer to, who had been very interested in her wedding planning, wasn't able to come to the wedding. I think I've seen the opinion on here that attending a wedding is not so much about showing approval for the union, but about showing support for one or the other of the couple (at least, it can be divided out that way if you want). And if you're worried about one of the couple, you probably want to show support for that person as often as possible.
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English1

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Re: Polite response to life decisions you don't support?
« Reply #27 on: December 13, 2013, 11:16:42 AM »
Sometimes you just have to sit back and watch the car crash and help your friend patch themselves up again afterwards. You never know, it might not be a car crash at all. And if it is, she needs to know she can come to someone non-judgemental.

And other people's relationships are often something of a mystery to even their closest friends. My best friend got married this year and while I like her husband, I really don't see how they are together or compatible. I really do think she could find someone who treats her a lot better. I see and hear so much that makes me feel  ??? ::). The fact that the are spending Christmas 200 miles away from each other this year by choice as they can't agree on what to do or find a compromise, well, that's weird to me, as their first married Christmas. But they've been together years and she's happy with him.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2013, 11:18:13 AM by English1 »