Note: Mumsnetters don't necessarily have the qualifications or experience to offer relationships counselling or to provide help in cases of domestic violence. Mumsnet can't be held responsible for any advice given on the site. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
What am I watching unfold here?(122 Posts)
Please excuse me if this is too long. I'm offloading some worries, that I know I can't do anything about. Here goes:
In late January, my bff went to a dinner party, and met someone. They went for drinks, got on really well, and met again for the following few evenings before he had to leave (he was in the process of relocating, but at that stage was only in the country for a few days). They began texting, Skyping, phoning, for hours every day. He was generous with compliments, telling her she's 'stunning' etc, very polite and chivalrous to the point of being a bit old-fashioned (opening car doors etc). She noticed he seemed "quite anxious and over-thinking" at times, but on the other hand - they seemed to have an amazing amount in common.
He even mentioned liking a favourite song of hers, that she had posted on her fb wall a few months back.
On the surface he seems like her absolute soulmate - more so than anyone else she's ever met. But I'm worried. What do you think:
Within the first week of meeting/Skyping, he was asking when he could he meet her little boy, who has Autism. She told me herself "He is scaring me. He has kids himself and they'll be visiting him eventually. He tells me he hasn't seen his kids for 7mths. He doesn't have custody. That is a red flag. Will need to get to the details later. Anyhoo...I think I just offended him...Will tell you when we speak."
Apparently he would get defensive, whenever she tried to dig. His backstory is that he lost a lot of money a few years ago - mainly property investments that went down in the global recession, and it destroyed his marriage. He became depressed and drank a lot, and when it came to custody, he wasn't strong enough to fight ex-wife...but has since got back on his feet, and now working his way up again. He and his kids talk regularly on the phone - they seem to get on, even though he now lives several thousand miles away from them.
Soon afterwards, bff was helping him view apartments to rent, in the same block as hers. He was asking about them since he was relocating anyway, and she couldn't exactly tell him not to move into her block.
They were also talking so often, that if she didn't reply soon enough to a couple of his texts, due to being busy - he would ring her, to ask if she was alright.
She in turn started to arrange our Skype sessions around his calls. If we were talking on Skype and he phoned, she would arrange to call me back in order to speak to him. (to be continued)
Do you think that your friend knows this new man is far from ideal but she doesn't want to go back to being on her own again (at least not yet) ans she feels confident that she can handle the situation. Or do you feel that she just can't see the red flags waving in every direction and thinks he is her knight in shining armour?
I echo what others have said earlier - you are a very good friend.
Highjinx (finally spells name right! ) Thanks, I hope so - not that it seems to help.
Hmmm...it's a bit of both I reckon. She knows he has a drink issue, and is 'flawed' - but thinks it's no wonder because he's "been through so much. He's lost everything...he's lost his kids, his house, his marriage..." so the fact that he seems a bit lost, a bit emotionally battered, makes him a kindred spirit. He has told her the wife is the one who wanted out. She kept the house, kids - he still pays for everything and bff has seen the emails from his ex demanding money each week for one thing after another - and he apparently just sends her money for everything she asks. Also compared to the loneliness of before - now is infinitely better, he cooks, does the dishes, is great company - it's "really lovely".
Knight in shining armour? She's said before it's not what she wants at all. In fact it makes her shudder.
Yet she told me today that her pc broke down - and nm has offered to see if he can fix it. He is also helping her to finally tread her way through the divorce process. Previously she had been burying her head in the sand and not dealing with it whilst exh dictated terms. Now nm is helping her compose 'more assertive' emails. They're thinking of going away for a short break as well - her, nm and ds. My cynical self is thinking now nm is going to find a way to go through her emails, divorce docs, etc - and spend time with her ds!
She skyped me from his apartment today - great. She went to a separate room but I doubt it's that secure. Sigh.
She said "he's really scared of you now." Yeah right! Apparently he was asking who she was calling and when she said "who do you think?" he went "Ooooh..." I said "Well IF he is a narcissist he'll be subtlety trying to create a distance between us now." I don't care if she repeats that back to him!
And we talked more about him going awol the other weekend. Bff said he had a works bbq on the sunday - she didn't really want him to go as she knew he'd drink too much. He said he had to make an appearance but wouldn't stay, asked bff to call him after 10-15mins so he could make excuses and leave. This is when she ended up looking like an idiot, as first time he didn't answer, second time, he got his boss to. His story is it was snatched by his boss. He texted her late afternoon, 4ish saying he was in a cab on his way back, did she want to go out for dinner later? Then - nothing for hrs. She called and left message - no reply. 11pm that night he texted "Hi" no apology or explanation. She was furious - plus, she said she is beginning to feel like his 'booty call', after a drinking session, so ignored it. The next morning he texted asking what happened, claimed he'd passed out - no memory etc. So she didn't speak to him for a couple of days, but then bumped into him - he was very apologetic and said it wouldn't happen again. Since then he's been on his 'best behaviour'.
He is also covered in bruises from his awol night - elbows, arm, shoulder, arse. She says one bruised bit on his arm looks like finger marks. He says he did go home in the cab, passed out, security had to help him in. But he ended up gate crashing a party downstairs and doesn't remember what happened - says he fell in his apartment as he woke up on the tiled floor.
Talk about spinning a yarn! He's not even a very good liar! Luckily for him bff "doesn't fully believe him", but is overlooking it because she genuinely thinks they're good for each other. He drinks less since he met her, and she loves the domestic bliss moments.
Oh and now that they've made up - she says he keeps bringing the subject of their falling out up. "So how mad were you?" etc.
She had deleted a photo that she posted on fb, that he was in. He found out and was "really hurt". He said to her "don't ever shut me out like that again ok?" She told me this in a 'isn't he sweet/funny' tone. Why can't she see???? I know why - she doesn't want to. He is adamant he's never lied to her, and if she doesn't believe he did go home in a cab that night - why not ask security as it will be on their cameras. She won't take him up on it because it would seem silly. Plus if she finds out he lied - I think, she would turn a blind eye anyway and so she would rather not know.
Hah - he may be moving out soon. He has been having lots of problems in his flat including strange sewage type smells. Bff says it stinks - but only at certain times - she can smell it too. Weird as he's quite high up in the block. He's had people in looking at the pipes etc but can't find the cause. Neighbours flats are ok.
So whatever - he's thinking of leaving his apartment soon. Which bff said would be "very inconvenient". When she told me I just thought I wonder if it's some very, very, calculated, seemingly innocent way of upping the ante. Next thing she'll be offering him to move in with her and ds.
You couldn't make this stuff up could you - it's like reading a film script! Except I seem to be seeing a psychological horror and she's seeing Disney?!
Anyway it helps me to vent...
Door I think your last post hit the nail on the head, I suspect him even moving into the block in the first place was a very calculated ploy to move in with your friend, the smells are probably his own doing too.
I've had a few exes like this in my time, but the last one mentioned above was off the scale ,the sort of stuff you read about in magazines & think unbelievable, no one is that stupid - he did almost exactly the same thing, - culminating in him trying to sell MY home for cash - I kid you not - he was a real mental case.
You can get over it though, you can see why you attract them & change that relationship pattern - did, though I do think in someways all people, men & women have it in them to be controlling, if you have it in you to allow it & it is your norm due to parental issues - your boundaries are skewed & you let things go that you shouldn't - though my last XDP was another story, serious personality disorder stuff
my DH is a very strong minded person, very masculine & he could if let away with it also be bossy & controlling, the difference being that I put him straight, my boundaries are set in stone these days & I taje no crap, he knows that & respects me more for it, consequently we have a fantastic relationship.
Your friend is very lucky to have you looking out for her
Interesting to hear that he sends his ex money every time she asks. I wonder what the real story there is. Does he love being in control of his ex and so rather than just sending her an amount each month that she can live on, she has to ask for every loaf of bread or tin of beans?
Very strange that he is covered in bruises. And very worrying too. I do wonder what really happened there as well. I am beginning to suspect he may have (or be getting) a reputation locally.
And now the whole thing with him moving out of his apartment so soon. I suppose
i am at it gets to the point with someone like him where you think nothing is as it seems and everything has an ulterior motive, but that does strike me as odd. No idea which country they are in but most places I have been you are tied to a lease for months.
Has your friend ever had counselling? Sorry if you've covered that already and I've missed it. Certainly it sounds like she could benefit from finding out why she is attracted to men like this.
rockinhippy that is an interesting point that everyone has it in them to be controlling.
I would totally agree. In my experience this is ok as long as it is balanced with self awareness and respect for others. It's when those other traits are missing that it becomes dangerous.
culminating in him trying to sell MY home for cash So glad to hear your DH is fantastic.
The "covered in bruises" thing could well be a result of his drinking. My alcoholic ex has caused some quite appalling injuries as a result of falling down stairs while drunk, to the extent of a fractured skull on one memorable occasion. Or he might've ended up in a fight of course.
The relationship between him and your BFF is a very new one. They're still in the honeymoon period and he's going all-out to impress her. Yet his drinking is already at an extent he's blowing off plans, going incommunicado, getting black-out drunk and suffering injuries he has no recollection of receiving.
I absolutely agree with everyone here that there are lots of massive red flags about his behaviour entirely aside from his drinking. But it might be worth thinking about, if you're going to talk to your BFF about him, concentrating on his alcohol abuse as that's something relatively concrete.
How creepy it is that he moved into your BFF's apartment building so soon is a difficult thing to get across to someone who's infatuated. Pointing out that he freely admits he got so pissed at a work event that he couldn't walk into the building unaided and then gate-crashed a party to continue drinking, that is something that might make her stop and think.
rockinhippy I've had a few exes like this in my time, but the last one mentioned above was off the scale ,the sort of stuff you read about in magazines & think unbelievable, no one is that stupid - he did almost exactly the same thing, - culminating in him trying to sell MY home for cash - I kid you not - he was a real mental case. Omg what a bloody nightmare! I guess that comes with thinking of others as commodities or objects, to be used or exploited for their own benefit and gratification. No real guilt, just use and abuse and move on when goodies run out!
Yes I agree everyone has it in them to be controlling too - maybe even abusive or violent. That's why bff initially got quite upset with me, when nm sent me the 'bruise joke' and I didn't immediately call her, but was asking him what happened. She thought I should have known it wasn't true, knowing her so long. But my belief is that everyone is capable of abusive behaviours given certain triggers. Maybe she'd caught him in bed with someone else and went nuts!?
I have to try and stop myself from being controlling, by telling bff what to do. (Not that she'd listen anyway! lol). I want to scream at her "Ffs, what are you thinking?! Do NOT let him, a tech geek no less, anywhere near your pc, DON'T keep telling him everything, DON'T let him have so much information about your divorce, DON'T put your small, vulnerable ds in this man's path until you know a LOT more about him!"...etc.). But it's all a smile and nod here, a gritting of teeth there, the odd 'observation' or interpretation about his behaviour, the odd suggestion to look up some terms...aaaargh.
The dangerous ones are the ones who do something abusive, but don't see a problem, or if they do, think they have no responsibility to manage or avoid what pushes their buttons. How it's always other people who are stupid or causing the problem. That's when they repeat the same abusive behaviours over and over again...time will tell with him I suppose.
HighJinx Interesting to hear that he sends his ex money every time she asks. I wonder what the real story there is. Does he love being in control of his ex and so rather than just sending her an amount each month that she can live on, she has to ask for every loaf of bread or tin of beans?
How astute of you. I never thought of it like that. Bff did mention that his ex seems to email him for "every little thing, like their ds needs a new pair of swimming trunks"...hmmm...Dunno.
His awol/bruises story doesn't add up. If he did go home at 4ish when he said he did, and texted her "I'm in the cab", asking if she wanted to go out for dinner etc...then how, during the journey home did he somehow became so incapacitated, he passed out and the taxi driver had to get security to help him in?
Then strangely, they deemed him OK enough again, to leave him to gatecrash another resident's party downstairs?
He was also awake enough to text bff "Hi" at 11pm, for what felt suspiciously like a 'booty call'.
I think, he just went on a bender, arrived back home 11pm, wanting company/sex. Texted bff "Hi" to try his luck - she didn't answer. He went out again as no bff to go to bed with, and got absolutely hammered, behaved obnoxiously - and got chucked out by bouncers. The bruises are from being restrained by his arms and shoulders, as he was dragged/frogmarched to the exit, possibly backwards. The ones on this elbows and arse are where he literally bounced off the pavement when they threw him out. (Bff found that mental image quite funny actually).
Or maybe he was chucked out of the party he gatecrashed. Maybe the 'moving out of his apartment' story might be because it's a matter of time before he is 'asked to leave'...
Bff has had a bit of counselling before, but it was very disjointed, and not specifically about her, but around her and exh's marriage. It was very rocky and more an attempt to examine what was going on (he was cheating, that's what). Then it all got shelved because they got the news that ds had autism, which had added to the stress. Exh pretty much left her to deal with the shock, as he dealt with it by worked away a lot...she was left to find therapists, find out about autism, make decisons about the next step...the counselling never got picked up again, as too much going on.
Snorbs Good point that maybe talking to her about the alcohol might be a way in - yes, I will try and focus on that.
Highjinx Certainly it sounds like she could benefit from finding out why she is attracted to men like this.
Oh I couldn't agree more.
I think bff's messed up twat radar and trouble with trust, intimacy and relationships with men, is a legacy from childhood.
When she was 18mths, her Mum sent her abroad, to live with her gran. She (bff's dm) obviously had her reasons, maybe because of domestic violence in the home from bff's Dad. I think i recall my mum (who was friends with bff's mum) mentioned bff's dm was pushed down the stairs at one point, and had a busted lip on another occasion. Or maybe it was a practical thing, to enable them to build their business etc.
So bff - as a toddler, was plucked from home, flown thousands of miles to live with her gran. I think she has happy memories though, she remembers her gran as a kind influence, "really sweet old lady", whom she absolutely loved. Then, when she got to jr school age (7) - her dm took her back, so kind of wrenched again, from settled life abroad with gran, back to parents who were virtual stangers, in a strange country again.
As mentioned before, bff's Dad had a really shit temper - she was scapegoated and could do nothing right. Trod on eggshells. I was staying with them once, we were still kids, and her Dad held a knife to her throat. While I was standing right there! We just avoided him when he was in the house. He died when she was in her late teens. She says even today, she is terrified of anyone with a temper. Yet how strange about her first bf having scary one too...
Bff has never found much emotional support from her Mum - they rub along OK, and then something flares up and it's all very painful and hurtful.
She told me fairly recently - she discovered a letter, during a visit/stay, she wrote to her gran, after she'd been taken back by her parents, tucked away in one of her Mum's drawers. It was just this letter she wrote as a kid, when she was 7yrs old - telling her gran she missed her, but settling in, how she was finding school etc. Her Mum had never fucking sent it. Oooh...<wells up> Just thinking of her gran/that little girl, always makes me cry.
So yeah - I love my friend. I'm a 'good' friend to her, but she's easy to love. She was like my big sister when I was little - I once had a big crying fit because we both had these dolls and my doll lost its eye. I was heartbroken!! lol. She just swapped them, gave me hers. Bless. (OK maybe it was to shut me up).
I know her life sounds like this massive tragedy, but you would never know just meeting her. She seems quite formidable in some ways, go-getting, assertive, beautiful etc. It's amazing she's not more screwed up than she is (though I do think she is pretty screwed up), and stayed fun, funny, got an amazing career going, achieved loads, travelled the world etc. I do admire her. If only she could just see that she doesn't need knobbish men to make her feel special - and appreciate some 'nicer' ones.
So our last conversation was a couple of days ago - when bff skyped me from new man's apartment. We agreed on a provisional day next week that would be a good time to catch-up again.
Then this morning I got a text from bff asking if I'm usually home between such and such time. I said yes. She asked how about today? I said sure. Our arrangement is, catch-up once a week, but if something comes up, then impromptu calls are fine (within reason).
So something must've come up that she wanted to sound out. When we talked, she said it's been really good. New man was very inquisitive about her call to me the other night, asking what we talk about. She told him "everything." He asked her if she'd told me about the bruises and she said yes. She said he gave her this 'look' - like he wished she hadn't, and said "I bet she thinks I'm such an idiot!" (I didn't say anything at this point, to deny or confirm). She repeated he has said that he is never, ever, going to speak to me again. I asked her if she tells him stuff that I say, in a "DoormatorDiva is so funny...she said..." and she said yes. (Good call, ladyjadie, PigsDOFlyand lots of others!)
But she hasn't told him that I think he's a narcissist. I asked her please not to, because if it does work out and they spend years and years together, he would really dislike me! She said she hasn't, so at least I'm safe on that front, so far.
The situation now is they are virtually like a live-in partnership, she and ds go up to his place in the evenings, she feeds ds, and new man cooks for himself and bff - she said "you can't imagine how nice that is", but I think I can. Then when it gets to ds's bedtime they go back to hers, and new man joins her there after ds has gone to bed. Weekends, they do family stuff. She 'needs' him to help her with dealing with the lawyers re. the divorce.
Then, it got to the nitty gritty - she and new man had a "tiff". She says new man is always very 'open' about how he feels about her, and is starting to show signs of wanting more of an emotional commitment. She can feel it hanging in the air, even though they have already used the "L-word" (yes - it's a bit telling that she can't say it in conversation).
She says she is more reticent about things, and sometimes he will come out with something, and she is still not quite ready to reciprocate, and there is a pregnant pause. He says she is being very "coy", but will "wait" etc. She said last night she suddenly had a feeling that she is going to screw this relationship up.
I asked her if she is tempted to ask him to move in with her - she said she already did, because of the problems in his flat, but he said no - as she is still not tecknically divorced yet. He is wanting a key though!
She said he was out at a works do, and it would be interesting this time, if he would give her the 'booty call' at the end of the evening, or stay out on a bender. Apparently while we were talking, he texted her and said he wouldn't be staying out, was she going to be up later? She said for a bit, but not too long. He replied if only he had a key - "I could let myself in, and give you a snuggle while you're asleep." At the moment she is not giving him a key, but I think he is going to keep on at her until she does.
I told her I don't think she is being coy at all, after all it's only been 3mths, since she first clapped eyes on him, and before then she was only just starting to come out of her shell after her marriage. Plus they're virtually living together now, and she introduced her vulnerable ds to him by their fifth meeting - that's not being coy at all, she's already been far more open with him than usual.
Oh thank you Snorbs, I pretty much paraphrased your words when I said to her "The relationship between him and you is a very new one. You're still in the honeymoon period, and he's going all-out to impress. Yet he's already been blowing off plans, going incommunicado, getting black-outs while drunk, and getting bruises that he has no recollection of. That's a real concern. Also you need to be careful, because you needs to think of your ds too.
So she was saying "Hmmm..." and sort of listening, but I think he will get a key, simply because he will be hinting, cajoling etc, until he gets one.
In her mind though, she must know it's not quite right, or she wouldn't call me to sound it out before our catch-up. She says she just doesn't trust her own judgement anymore.
We're not due to speak until next week - I'm glad for a break as I need to protect my own sanity lol.
Oh dear just read my post above - "tecknically"??? And I sound completely obsessed (wrote it in a hurry as getting ready to go out, and it turned into a 'flow of consciousness' exercise).
Right, off to get a grip. She's a grown woman and is responsible for her own decisions. I'm her friend not her saviour - and need to stop fretting over every little development!
Doormator I really agree with your last post, sorry! Not because you are not a lovely friend, you are, and there are red flags waving in the wind, but I really think from your perspective it will be better not to be too involved, otherwise you are a) going to get emotionally through the wringer yourself vicariously through her but getting none of the fun times b) she may turn on you as you know too much.
i would keep it light and breezy from now on, you have issued your warning, she is going to completely ignore it. I would perfect some non-committal phrases 'oh dear' 'mmm' 'did he?' (in an undramatic voice) which shows that whilst caring about your friend, you trust her judgment and don't want to get too involved in the drama. your friend will do what the heck she likes, and seems to like the drama, so best to stay a tiny bit distanced for your own protection.
I agree with Mumsyblouse
I can understand why you feel so invested in this and it is clear you love your friend dearly, but I think you need to take a step back. Also that is quite a lot of personal information about your friend's situation and her thoughts that you have posted (albeit anonymously) without her knowledge or permission.
FWIW the biggest red flag of all for me is this:
She says she just doesn't trust her own judgement anymore.
This is what she needs to focus on regaining so that she can make her own choices and avoid any later regret or resentment at having been 'led' where she didn't want to go.
I would be urging her to get counselling to address this regardless of how great her new man may seem. Could you suggest that she needs to address this for her son's benefit if not just for herself?
She sounds tortured as she doesn't know what to do for the best. Focus your efforts on her. The constant calls to you to discuss her relationship with him is just a symptom of her feeling she cannot trust her judgement.
In your place I would try to find out more about his ex and his relationship with her and its breakdown, without him or your friend knowing you have done this.
You do know dont you that whatever you find out about him, your friend is not going to listen to a word you say?
Thank you topsyandturvy - exactly, so not much point really. Also what am I going to do, vet every man she sees? The actions and decisions have to come from her.
Mumsyblouse and HighJinx - you're SO right. It's taken me 120 messages to finally feel I'm ready to take the advice given in the first few replies!
Still, I think I needed to offload various doubts about new man and check my instincts - which is more than done now. (Eeeeek.)
The thing that gets me, is the thought that IF in 6mths, 2yrs, 3yrs...she is in a situation where she is actually in danger, or her ds is affected in any way, or if they have to move, ds has to leave his nice school etc. - I'm afraid she will take it really badly, quite worried that she might not even be able to get through it. Knowing myself, I'll wonder if I could have said or done more, to prevent it going further right at the beginning. Perhaps she would even lash out and say "why didn't you tell me?" Perhaps I will look back at this thread and remind myself.
Right now, the reality is - I've already said enough concerns, that if she really wanted to hear, she could take steps to protect herself or at least look up signs of potentially abusive relationships, and relate it to what has gone on, for herself. The fact is, she's not ready to let him go, and will absolutely hang on until there is either a long history, or something major happens, that even she can't dismiss as "he's not perfect, but is alright really."
Anyway...he could be 'alright' - I'm looking at all the red flags and thinking of worst case scenarios, but maybe it will turn out OK after all!? I can't be worrying this much over something that might not even happen, because yes - I'm getting emotionally drawn in with none of the fun times. Got my own life to be getting on with, nice dp, dcs - don't need to be spending this much time/energy feeling sad and worried about someone else's.
I have mentioned to her about counselling - and she said she was also thinking about it, so hopefully it might happen. I am also going to try and put some boundaries in place, so I don't end up being called, over every little development in their relationship. Once a week I can cope with. I'll just say I'm busy/out other times.
Obviously I do want to 'be there' for her, but I need space from it too. I mean, going into this relationship was not MY choice, and right now I feel like the reluctant third wheel! It's not my relationship and I don't want to be a part of it.
Right so that is my last post on the matter. Thank you to everyone who has replied in this thread, it really has been very helpful, enlightening, supportive.
But, as I'm sure everyone has already realised (way before me), I can't keep posting or it will turn into a blow by blow account of "My bff's life and latest relationship" which isn't exactly nice, nor was my intention. Thank you all so much for your wisdom, and benefit of experience.
Glad to hear that you feel able to take a step back now DoormatorDiva
I'm the same I have to talk everything through, over and over until as my DH puts it 'you start to bore yourself with it'
Go and do something really fun with your DP and DCs and forget all about red flags for a bit