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how to approach a friend about something her DD has said to me?

(25 Posts)
chocoreturns Sun 05-May-13 21:30:34

Long story short: I have a good friend who is a single mum, we met through (among other things) attending the Freedom course. I really like her and her DC are close to mine. We've historically spent a lot of time together. However, she met a guy 7 weeks ago, and has basically gone from nought to ninety with him since then. He has stayed every weekend at her house, with her DC around, since they began their relationship.

It's hard to summarise but there is basically a red flag waving army in front of this guy. The worst ones I can use to illustrate it are that he will not meet her friends (apparently he is shy) he expects her to sleep on the sofa or in bed with her DD because she snores (at her own house, when he has the bed!!) he has cried in front of her DC (after 4 weeks) and let her, and her DC (aged 6 and 4) comfort him... and she drives him everywhere. He hasn't got a car. She let slip to another friend this week he's asked for her ring size, and is encouraging her DD to call him daddy (WTF! SEVEN WEEKS!!) Also, he wants them all to move in with him, and she is house hunting with him in his town, about half an hours drive from where she currently lives. Right now he lives with his DM. She would have to move her DD to a new school if they go. I've obviously tried to talk to her about it, and it went down like a tonne of bricks.

Her DD confided to me yesterday that she is upset and angry because she doesn't want to move, but she thinks that there is no point saying so to her DM because she 'only cares about her DP' and she is 'the boss' anyway so won't care if her DD is sad. Her DD is 6. I feel so awful for her and I know worst of all, she's probably right.

So, I guess I am trying to think if there is anything I can do at all. Do I try and talk to her again, tell her what her DD has said for example? or accept it's a lost cause and leave it? Last time we spoke it ended rather abruptly because she said 'If my fingers get burned then so be it' and I snapped, 'what about your DC? Do theirs get burned as well then do they?' (not terribly sensitive, I know, but I'd tried to be sensitive for an hour and got nowhere). We've not talked about it really since sad I have no idea how to approach her without it seeming judgey, but I also have no idea how she can think any of what's going on between them is normal or safe, or good for her kids? So I guess I am judging. sad

Advice welcome!!

Mumsyblouse Sun 05-May-13 22:06:30

You sound like a great friend, but it is so hard watching your friend hurtling towards what sounds like a really bad news relationship, even if this guy is ok (and I agree the red flags are waving), it's all way too soon and very disruptive for the children.

But you've said your bit, your friend is not receptive, I guess all you can do is stand back and let her get on with it, and be as supportive as you can but perhaps putting yourself first (in other words if it becomes too stressful for you, you may just have to back off). Sadly, she is very unlikely to listen and seems set on the path of 'true love' when it is probably anything but. A nice guy would be concerned about the children...

Lweji Sun 05-May-13 22:14:53

Whatever happens, I'd try to leave bridges so that she can reach for help if it goes sour.

If you do want to reach to her, maybe it would work best to have an indirect approach.
What made her fall for this guy?
Was she that unhappy by herself?

VelvetSpoon Sun 05-May-13 22:21:19

This man is clearly bad news. Because no decent, worthwhile man would be inserting himself so far into her life at such an early stage, as for suggesting her DC call him Daddy, WTF?!

People who have children and behave like this seriously fuck me off tbh. A friend of a friend does this stuff, she is so focused on seeing if a man will 'fit in' to her life she thinks it's acceptable to introduce a bloke to her kids after a couple of dates (if that), moves them in after a few weeks, then it all goes tits up inevitably and she's broken hearted, then it goes on again. And again. My friend has distanced herself from this woman now because she's such a complete mug she will continue doing this selfish shit, making her DC unhappy, putting them at risk, time and time again, all in the pursuit of love hmm.

I'd be judgey here in the extreme. I'd tell her what her DD said too. It's unlikely to guilt her into changing her mind, but if there's even the smallest chance, it's worth a try. I think then all you can do is step back, and wait for it all to collapse, probably in about 6 months, and hope that she doesn't do anything even more stupid, like get pregnant.

badinage Mon 06-May-13 01:09:08

I'd be very wary of betraying the 6 year old's confidence in case the poor little girl suffers any reprisals because of speaking out.

It's fine to judge when it comes to putting children at risk of unhappiness so please don't fear having these feelings or expressing them to your friend. But as it sounds like she's disappeared up her dreary boyfriend's arse I doubt she'll listen.

Nevertheless, you can say your piece and just maybe, it will sew a seed so that the next time this emotionally incontinent leech does or says something, it will resonate.

WafflyVersatile Mon 06-May-13 01:56:12

can you print off one of those lists of red flags and shove it in front of her when you see her?

It's incredibly unfair to foist this all on her DD so quickly and if he's the right person (he blatantly isn't) then there is no need to rush as they have all the time in the world.

WafflyVersatile Mon 06-May-13 01:57:25

Is this the sort of thing the SS would be likely to get involved in if you called the DD's shool? /hopeful]

Grinkly Mon 06-May-13 04:32:01

The house move is a worry. Is she giving up her rented home or selling her home? Does he have the money to buy a house which she will move into or is she contributing.
She really shouldn't get financially entangled with someone she hardly knows especially if it leaves her in a worse state if they split up.
You could mention this or encourage her not to commit her own savings into anything.

Yogii Mon 06-May-13 05:18:39

If she moves away then you'll lose contact anyway, so give it to her straight, one more time, all guns blazing.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 06-May-13 06:47:13

Have you ever 'Googled' this guy? You're describing someone that sounds very unstable & pushy with the potential to be aggressive. He might have something more tangible to object to in his background than just 'red flags'. She doesn't sound in a mood to listen to anything sensible... just happy she's got 'a bloke' ... but Social Services might be interested if he has a police record, for example.

SacreBlue Mon 06-May-13 06:50:37

Something similar happened with a friend of mine and unfortunately, as Velvet pointed out, it was not just one but a series. I know how hard it can be to break a pattern of bad relationship decision making but on the final occasion with my F I couldn't be as blind sympathetic as she wanted me to me.

I told her I thought she was making a mistake, that the DP was being very selfish towards her and her DD and that moving in (and away too, approx 60miles so new school etc) with him was a mistake. I received a very definite, very disgusted and very angry reply.

Choco I felt very judgy, and that had led me to be sympathetic on other occasions, however I don't believe sympathy was the right response. We come on mn to ask others people's opinions and actually isn't that asking people to 'judge' our situations ie weigh up the information (not 'sentence us!' tho of course) smile

I left the door open to F in so much as I said I would be happy to be in touch and or to meet up but I would not be anywhere near this guy and neither would my son. She has since been in touch twice. Both times with huge texts all about how she felt let down by me but wanted my DS to go stay over with them hmm I feel the former is designed to guilt me into the latter but in case it's an embarrassed plea for contact I have maintained that I am happy to meet her and DD but not the P (or be near their house as willing to bet he would just 'show up' regardless)

Voice your concerns. These 'relationships' go unchallenged and people then think they are 'normal' when really, most well balanced and happy people would see that many of the behaviours are not normal.

chocoreturns Mon 06-May-13 09:15:48

I am afraid of breaking her DD's trust, and also afraid of her getting into trouble for saying something. I think I will probably say something - getting a list of red flag behaviour is a good idea, but I doubt it will make much of a difference. It just makes me really upset for her, as well as her DC, because she's had a horrible time of it before and I can see that she wants this to be the chance to 'fix' all that. However, she wants that so much she is only seeing what she wants to see. They are already having trouble (needing time out from her DC because it's all 'too much' for him, for example) so it's not even like it's a honeymoon period sad

I do think I feel that she's being very selfish, hence my judgey feelings. But on the other hand, I also think she's just incredibly naive and hopeful, bordering on a bit crazy. At the end of the day though, I don't want to unintentionally collude with the guy and isolate her even more... I will have to think carefully about it, but I know I will say something again. She's been so hard to see lately it's been v difficult to get a chance. It's been 3 weeks between our chat about giving it time before moving in. Then two days ago, she's off house hunting with him without the DC. It's moving so fast there's no chance to get her to reflect or talk about it at all!

Honestly, as an adult I feel it's a bit scary how much her life is changing to accommodate him so god knows how her DD feels. She rents, so would be giving up her home, LP benefits etc as well to move in with him. The thought of that just makes my tummy flip. But I don't think anyone will be able to stop her if her mind is made up!

SacreBlue Mon 06-May-13 09:40:47

I think the speed thing is very common. My F had known her P a long time (since he was married to her BF (hmm] when they had an affair) he moved out of wife's and in with her.

Cue lots of strife and money issues, appearance of 'possible 2 OW' (other than her)

I was sympathetic, not about the affair, but listened and was there while she was coping with being ostrasised from all her/their friends.

Then she told me she was 'only with him to get some dirt on these OW' confused a month later they were considering getting a house together in another place. I texted her a couple of weeks later to meet up and was unceremoniously told what a selfish bitch I was to text on their moving day shock

she was thinking of the move as a 'fresh start' away from people they knew (aka everyone who knew about the affair) but to me it smacked of the P trying to get F away from friends and family who might question his behaviour.

I doubt your friend will listen anymore than mine, I don't regret speaking up, in fact I only wish I had done so much earlier when I had uneasy feelings about how he was around her (man child) because she may have been more inclined to listen before she felt so invested in him.

You have my sympathy, it is horrible to see a friend go through this and to have to make the very hard choice of speaking up, what to say, or stepping back sad

Yoghurty Mon 06-May-13 09:54:35

How long ago did you finish Freedom? Could you speak to the facilitators and ask them to give her a call? (I'm thinking she might respond to them and it means you don't have to mention her DD confided in you)

Can you talk to her about how worries you are about things moving so quickly? I'm guessing you know about this relationship already before her DD told you? Ask her if she can understand why you are so concerned, considering what you learnt on the programme

Hassled Mon 06-May-13 10:01:22

The police are trialling a scheme in certain areas where you can apply to them for information about someone where you suspect "previous" - a bit like the Sarah's Law thing, but aimed at preventing DV.

I'm hoping someone can remember what it's called - and that you might be in one of the trial areas.

chocoreturns Mon 06-May-13 15:23:07

she never finished Freedom, she dropped it like a stone as soon as she met him sad after deciding he was 'the Friend' the course teaches you to look for. She literally cannot or will not see anything other than what she wants to in this guy, so it feels very final. I may talk to the facilitators though, just to see what they say. I have known about the guy since they met, it's hard not to. As soon as he appeared she disappeared - no more Sunday Church (she has to collect him) no more Freedom (she doesn't need it now she's met a 'good guy') no more socialising with the other single parents she knew (her P is 'too shy') etc etc.

I don't know his last name, only first name. He's bloody secretive around anyone she knows!! It is a horrible feeling to see someone you care about apparently sleepwalk into another abusive relationship. I truly hope he marries her and they have 40 blissful years, but it seems unlikely.

flippinada Mon 06-May-13 16:02:59

It seems your friend hasn't learned much from the Freedom course sad.

I had a friend (that I now no longer see) who started off in a relationship almost exactly like this - in fact, worryingly so (him not wanting to meet friends due to being 'shy', over-involvement very quickly, call me Daddy...uurgh). It was like a train wreck and I begged her not to cast her lot in with this man, but of course she knew best, it was true love etc.

Needless to say it all ended badly, very badly indeed with her young (pre-verbal) daughter being subject to some very nasty physical abuse and the police involved.

I would maintain contact, if only to keep an eye on what is happening

flippinada Mon 06-May-13 16:09:38

I meant to say you are clearly a great friend.

Now this will sound wtf and melodramatic to some (that's fine) but given my own experience of this situation I would suggest that you flag this relationship to child protection.

I can't emphasise strongly enough how very, very dangerous this man sounds.

He is trying to isolate her so that he can begin his abuse of her and her DDs...I do realise you know this and that's why you're concerned.

chocoreturns Mon 06-May-13 20:53:26

I am going to try and speak to her this week. I will never forgive myself if I don't even try - I think one of the hardest things I found leaving an abusive man was how many people said 'I never liked him' etc after the event, but no-one ever said anything at the time. I may be completely wrong about him. But if I'm not (and at least 4 other friends have expressed similar concerns about the whole situation) then she will at least know that someone cared enough to try and look out for her.

I'm not surprised by your experience flippinada I think that's why I feel so excruciatingly uncomfortable right now. It isn't one of those things I feel ok with gossiping about in an 'ooh blimey did you hear what X is up to these days?' kind of way. It feels scary and wrong - and moving at breakneck speed. It's only been just over a fortnight since I saw her and we had words about it, since then she's talking rings, house hunting and he's being called Daddy... God only knows what else will change over the next month!!

The other thing that makes me feel really anxious on her behalf is the fact that she's ignoring repeated contact requests from the DC's actual father because she doesn't want to deal with it. He is a vile, violent man and I don't blame her. But if he somehow manages to get in touch with his DD and finds out a new man is on the scene and being called Daddy I can imagine it's exactly the kind of thing that would precipitate some pretty horrendous backlash from him. sad

flippinada Mon 06-May-13 21:29:43

Thank you for updating choco - I was a little worried I'd scared I'd scared you off or sounded like a drama queen; I felt compelled to post as I was so struck by the frightening similarities between what you describe and what happened to my friend.

By the way, when I say similar I mean virtually identical - sorry to harp on but I think this is important to emphasise. Her evil ex also refused to meet her friends (despite repeat invitations), did not give his last name....looking back I know why, the bastard angry..It's like a script.

Oh, and also encouraged her to stop her ex seeing their DD. And did I mention she also had an abusive ex...? sad

This man sounds mentally unstable and very very frightening. The thought of your friends DDs being exposed to him is just so worrying - I really hope what you say gets through to your friend on some level. However I think all you can do at this stage is reiterate your support. And let her DD know she can talk to you too.

I'd also try and get his full name..will she give you that?

flippinada Mon 06-May-13 21:33:22

Regarding the contact...the worst outcome if she takes up with this man and they might end up with her ex; she could lose her DDs. Perhaps you could mention that to her and see if that cuts through the fog.

Dozer Mon 06-May-13 22:04:08

How awful. Poor kids.

Tbh I would forget about being friends with her - she's being willfully stupid at best - and, after having one more try at getting through to her, focus on what ( if anything) you can do to help protect the DC. Like sharing your concerns with the freedom programme people, the DCs' school (moving schools so early in a relationship could be a "flag" for them to bring in their child protection processes?) and social services. As someone said upthread, he may have a record for something.

SacreBlue Wed 08-May-13 07:21:23

Clicked 'threads I'm on' and re read this one just after reading a different one about stress and help/support.

So just wanted to post again and offer you support to, yes keep a door open and give support where you can, and keep yourself on a steady keel for yourself and your DC.

Whatever help/advice/support we want to give we can only offer it in most circumstances and hope that it is accepted. I wouldn't want you to get wound up in knots if it isn't accepted yet, make sure you have support to manage how you're feeling.

(said as I initially was v distraught re my Fs unwillingness to see her P badly I think her P treats her but eventually I had to set the boundaries that left door open for her but still protected me from getting caught up in the 'drama' and making myself ill)

It might be worthwhile talking your feelings through with the freedom programme workers when you share your concerns. The need to rescue has wider implications in the context of dv as is probably self evident but worth a mention for anyone reading and wondering why people often take firm stands on not getting personally involved.

Hope the talk goes well or at least as best can be expected x

chocoreturns Wed 08-May-13 08:38:28

I agree - I will talk through how I'm feeling with someone, and just try and let go of the anxiety as well. It's not something I can change or even have any chance of control over, it's really (in many ways) none of my business. I just struggle not to feel like it's everyone's business when children are caught up in situations, and maybe that's me being too idealistic. Thank you for all the support on this thread everyone, I do appreciate you taking the time to reply x

SacreBlue Wed 08-May-13 10:52:41

brew I know, that sickening feeling of almost watching a car crash in slow motion and wanting to pluck the kids out of it before the impact sad

I don't think it's idealistic to want to do that, standing in front of the car when you know your friend is unlikely to stop yet won't help the kids or you.

Alerting the support team, and if you think it's necessary, other authorities, is as much as you can safely do for now I think.

The ray of hope is that having been on the freedom course once, even if she didn't finish, that some of what she heard/learnt, or some of what you have said, will still be in her head and there to grasp if/when she's ready.

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