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Is there a tendency on MN, in Relationships in particular, to assume the absolute worst scenario?

(50 Posts)
Fluxedo Tue 02-Apr-13 13:58:25

i.e. that the DP is having an affair, or being abusive? I don't mean from all posters, but there almost always seems to be a suggestion at some point that an affair is being had or abuse is taking place.

Feel free to flame me if I'm wrong! Maybe it doesn't matter too much if some posters do always assume the worst, but I wonder if it doesn't make some OPs unnecessarily paranoid and lead to further problems in the relationship.

forgetmenots Tue 02-Apr-13 14:03:07

On the one hand, yes. That's because people don't tend to post here unless there's a) a huge back story b) serious cause for doubt or c) more to it than they're letting on. On the (one, I think) occasion I started a thread here (about my ILs) I was genuinely at the end of my rope and didn't know if I was in the right, wrong or anything.

People assume perhaps less favourably than they would because it's unlikely someone who was genuinely just annoyed about their husband leaving the loo seat up etc. would post in what is quite a serious forum with regular posters suffering from emotional, physical and sexual abuse. The other part of it is that the assumptions are very often correct.

NomNomDePlum Tue 02-Apr-13 14:06:00

i don't know about other posters, but almost invariably when i read a relationships thread, i am gobsmacked by the way people's partners treat them, or speak to them. and i think if someone is saying horrible things to you, that is abusive, or at least a strong sign that that person does not care for you, which pretty much leads me automatically to ltb. i know there are people who think this is an over the top response, but i think life's too short to spend any of it being torn down by those who should be building you up. (not to mention the terrible model this is for children).

Fluxedo Tue 02-Apr-13 14:07:41

Yes, I appreciate that people usually only post when something bad is going on. And good point re trying to read the subtext of an OP...but it does still seem a bit of a leap sometimes from the OPs problem to 'affair/abuse'. There's a whole spectrum of bad but sortable crap that could be going on before the worst happens.

FucktidiaBollockberry Tue 02-Apr-13 14:08:51

Yes and justifiably.

As forgetmenots suggests, by the time anyone posts here, they're desperate.

Also the rest of the world is probably telling them they're over-reacting and worrying about nothing.

I think it's perfectly valid to point out that something might be abusive or that someone might be having an affair. Sometimes that's wrong, but if it is, I don't believe it would cause further problems in the relationship - it will just cause temporary irritation and frustration on the internet. Whereas not pointing out abuse, or not mentioning what might be the elephant in the room, may well result in the continuation of a really shit relationship that needs to be re-negotiated (or sometimes ended). And that's not v supportive IMO - people can get vague platitudes from their friends in RL who don't want to overstep marks. MN is useful for getting the unthinkable and unacknowledgable thought and acknowledged.

tessa6 Tue 02-Apr-13 14:09:13

I'd be interested how many threads you can find where a poster posted fearing infidelity and it was found not to be the case. I think the vast, vast proportion are from people who cannot find any reasonable explanation for what's going on and need outside support to probe further.

Bear in mind that the vast proportion of infidelity is never discovered. So if someone has strong suspicions and is a well-balanced individual and looks into it and finds some evidence, how likely do you think it is their partner has been unfaithful.

Fluxedo Tue 02-Apr-13 14:09:31

To be fair NomNom I am generally with you on thinking 'leave the bastard' if he/she's making your life significantly worse by just generally being a dick.

Fluxedo Tue 02-Apr-13 14:12:39

I'm not sure I agree Fucktidia that by the time anyone posts here they're desperate - surely a lot of OPs are started by people just having a bad day or feeling annoyed with their DP for some reason and wanting to ask about a specific behaviour, which then gets gets extrapolated by the end of the thread to be a sign of infidelity.

BUT then the statistics on infidelity aren't good are they, so maybe I'm just foolishly optimistic!

Lueji Tue 02-Apr-13 14:15:30

On the other hand, in many threads, the OP starts with something that doesn't seem that bad and further probing uncovers deep, serious issues.
It's about red flags.
They rarely come alone.

forgetmenots Tue 02-Apr-13 14:16:43

'To be fair NomNom I am generally with you on thinking 'leave the bastard' if he/she's making your life significantly worse by just generally being a dick.'


'I think it's perfectly valid to point out that something might be abusive or that someone might be having an affair. Sometimes that's wrong, but if it is, I don't believe it would cause further problems in the relationship - it will just cause temporary irritation and frustration on the internet.'

And this.

There have been the odd threads where things have been happily and respectfully resolved, but sadly they're few and far between. OP either disappears only to pop up six months later with another example of partner being a dick or there is more to the story which unfolds over the discussion on the thread.

Can understand why you're asking the question though Fluxedo. I kind of thought that at first when I joined, but after being on a few threads, that left me.

Lueji Tue 02-Apr-13 14:18:23

And sometimes the poster is being a twat unreasonable and is told exactly that. smile

Thurlow Tue 02-Apr-13 14:21:41

I agree to an extent. I do think the people who reply to many posts in Relationships have sadly had experiences of abuse or infidelity and that can sometimes taint their responses.

But after spending time on MN I've come to see that people who post on the Relationships board generally do it because they are desperate, and things have got into a very bad state. That's almost the unwritten message behind their posts. So often there is a problem, one that other posters spot.

I think when those opinions slip in to threads on AIBU/Chat then it is a little frustrating. There are a tiny minority of posters who believe that any man who doesn't come home one night, for example, are having an affair, even when the OP is convinced that they have just got too drunk and fallen asleep on a mate's sofa.

NotTreadingGrapes Tue 02-Apr-13 14:21:49

There is a tendency on relationships for wise posters to tell ops that the fact it's walking like a duck and talking like a duck means it's unlikely to be the zebra the op is still desperately hoping it to be.

MadBraLady Tue 02-Apr-13 14:22:44

I think it has to be balanced against the tendency In Real Life to assume the best case scenario (in my experience). Probably the average "truth" is somewhere in the middle. I've seen friends excuse shocking behaviour from men to each other, mothers encouraging daughters to appease and put up with stuff - and I'm talking about people who really care for each other and truly think they are giving the best advice. Generally there is a lot of messaging around that if something is wrong in a relationship it is a woman's job to either "work on it" or "give it time". So I think the odd group of voices suggesting maybe there are other potential reasons why a relationship could be going wrong is no bad thing.

And they're often right, of course, for all the reasons forgetmenots says. People usually post here when they're really in trouble.

Fluxedo Tue 02-Apr-13 14:25:26

Ok forgetmenots I guess I haven't read that many relationship or aibu threads from start to finish yet (I find it too depressing to be honest!) And I am no expert in red flags or relationships in general I suppose.

Also, my argument that the suggestion of an affair could make an OP unnecessarily paranoid and thereby make the relationship worse is bollocks - if an internet thread causes that much insecurity, then there is clearly a problem of some kind...

I'll get my coat grin

Welovegrapes Tue 02-Apr-13 14:26:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Fluxedo Tue 02-Apr-13 14:28:06

Thank you for your nice responses by the way smile

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 02-Apr-13 14:28:20

I find that posters often start with a fairly sanitised version of events and that there will be little 'clues' in the way they express themselves that later get developed. You get to recognise these things.... e.g. someone starts with 'things have been up and down' or 'he's been bad tempered' and, in fairly short order, you discover that it's actually a lot more serious.

Similarly with the 'affair' stuff. The partner has been distant, acting out of character, getting bad-tempered, avoiding sex... and it's so common that this behaviour accompanies an affair or porn use that some members will cut to the chase and accuse. My favourite is 'he goes to the gym for three hours a night so I don't know when he'd have time for an affair'.

MadBraLady Tue 02-Apr-13 14:31:35

I like the Relationships Lite idea. grin I suppose that's what AIBU is a lot of the time.

MorrisZapp Tue 02-Apr-13 14:31:51

I agree about relationships lite. I'd be there all the time!

DP is fab, but sometimes he does my head in. Would be great to have a safe space to moan about it without being told to leave, get counselling etc.

This is where MN differs from real life. In real life, women can bond over a drink and a gossip about their DPs latest exploits, with humour, understanding and no pressure.

On here there isn't really a space for that.

Fluxedo Tue 02-Apr-13 14:35:02

I don't know though, a lot of people might post in Relationships Lite and then need to have it moved to the LTB board once enough digging has been done!

FucktidiaBollockberry Tue 02-Apr-13 14:40:16

LOL at relationships lite board.

I think part of the problem is that (as has already been said) someone can post something she thinks is "lite" - just one of those little niggles - and without a back story, other posters can look at it and see that on its own, it's no big deal, it belongs in lite. When the OP adds further details however, the thread would have to be moved to "relationships heavy". grin

The problem with abuse being that it can often only be recognised as such, as part of a series of behaviours. So often it goes unrecognised and so I think that people always have a weather-eye on it precisely because they know it goes unrecognised in RL.

I can understand that this may come across as obsessive, but it's not that people are obsessed, it's just that they're so aware that the likelihood is that if abuse is present, it will go unnoticed unless they point it out.

And if they flag it up, then at least the OP can go away and mull over it. If they don't flag it up because it may not be, they may be missing a chance to help someone. The risk is you get labelled as obsessive, one track pony etc., but that's just something you have to accept.

FucktidiaBollockberry Tue 02-Apr-13 14:40:45

Sorry cross posted

Welovegrapes Tue 02-Apr-13 14:43:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lueji Tue 02-Apr-13 14:49:53

I like the Relationships Lite idea. I suppose that's what AIBU is a lot of the time.

And sometimes some threads get moved because the OP's OH turned out to be an abuser. sad

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