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Friend engaged to EA partner.

(79 Posts)
Playthegameout Tue 02-Dec-14 19:58:59

I've worried about posting this just in case but I don't really know what to do anymore, so here goes. Not NC'd as I know there's been some disingenuous threads recently. Please bear with me apologies for length.

A very good friend of mine met her fiancé 13 years ago. We are part of a friendship group of over 15 years. None of her friends met him until they'd been together for around a year. In all honesty many of us were not very keen on him, as when he did finally agree to meet us, he got extremely drunk and said some not very nice things to her (he said she was stupid/a bimbo. Nothing could be further from the truth as she is a very well educated professional).

We noticed our friend stopped coming out with us. At first we accepted she was loved up etc with her partner, but over time it became clear he was telling her when she could/couldn't go out. He had also suggested she changed her appearance. She is striking and taller than him. He suggested she cut and dye her hair, only wear flat shoes, nothing fitted etc.

Another very close friend and I spoke to her as gently as possible about our concerns. She was very defensive and said she was "well aware" but that she made allowances because he had had a very difficult upbringing and had also had access to his children (from a previous relationship) denied.

After 11 years he allowed her to move into his house. She began to pay the mortgage and for most of the bills. He will not entertain adding her name to the mortgage. After she moved in he stopped going to work, she told us he was too depressed to work, but would not see his GP as he didn't trust doctors.

He has lived entirely on her salary for 2 years. He has final say on everything she does. She openly admits he calls her names, drinks heavily and has been violent. She absolutely insists she loves him and will not leave him. She has explicitly said she is happy to call time on any friendship if anyone continues to criticise him. They got engaged in summer. We have no idea what to do. The rest of us are all married and have kids, she has wanted to get married and have a family for a long time, we're all mid/late 30s and I know her age troubles Her. I got her a congratulations card but it is utterly awful trying to pretend to be happy about this.

Question is how do we/I support her? She says she wants us to be happy for her, I just can't see how. sad

Twinklestein Tue 02-Dec-14 20:24:26

You're going to have to leave her to her hair shirt.

CogitOIOIO Tue 02-Dec-14 20:27:01

There's not a lot you can usefully do with someone who is deep in an abusive relationship except keep the communication open and be ready to catch if/when they decide to jump. You can't save someone that doesn't think they have a problem and you can easily alienate them if you are too negative. As you've found

That said, I don't think you or your friends are obliged to keep trying. It can be very stressful and frustrating to watch someone make terrible choices, knowing you can do nothing about it. Stay in touch therefore but don't compromise your values

ravenAK Tue 02-Dec-14 20:35:36

I'm in a similar situation with my best friend.

I'm doing what Cogit01010 says. It's not easy.

Especially when she does massive butthurt because dh & I won't hang out with the cockwomble (one of his finer moments was messaging dh on FB & threatening me & the dc...). sad

No helpful advice, really, just didn't want to ignore your thread flowers.

WonderingHow Tue 02-Dec-14 20:53:15

Oh dear. So she's got herself an abusive leech, and is so desperate to love someone she plans to marry him.
I wish this was unusual.....

My suggestion is only to be there for her when she wakes from the dream (which is really a nightmare). She will wake, but not quickly, I fear.

In your position I could not pretend to be happy, nor support her in her choice. You risk creating distance: but if a friend wants to do something that you think will harm her, I believe you have to draw a line there, and tell her why.

LadyLuck10 Tue 02-Dec-14 20:57:39

You're going to have to leave her to find out for herself. She's 'so in love' that nothing anybody can do or say to change this. Unfortunately she will probably only wake up when her best years are behind her and he's broken her heart.

SelfLoathing Tue 02-Dec-14 21:36:05

She knows what the deal is but it is what she is choosing. She will stay in that situation until either she hits rock bottom (his abuse escalates until she literally can't take it any more) or he leaves her because he finds a "better" victim who suits his needs more (probably after she's paid off his mortgage).

If you only do one thing, repeatedly tell her she needs to get her name on the deeds to the house. Frankly, if she's paying the entirety of the mortgage and has no title to the house, he may not be far off if he's calling her a bimbo.

It's difficult but if it is as bad as you say, then I would arrange to meet her in private (ie. at your home or any where that is not a public place/in a bar) and tell her before hand you want to talk to her about something important - so there is no misunderstanding that it's just a social event.

Tell her directly but gently that you are worried about her, think he is abusing her and that you can't actually be happy for her because your overriding feeling is fear for her and concern. Keep it short, maybe three or four points, and keep it factual. Don't get into debate with her about his failings; just stick to facts and your concern.

And then tell her that you felt that you had a duty to tell her this before her marriage, you understand her point of view that she doesn't want her friends criticising him and that you will never mention it again. And that you will always be there for her.

Then after that keep channels of communication open.

It maybe that if there is a group of you, that you aren't the best person to do this, and one of the others would be a better choice.

Honestly, and speaking as someone who has been in a relationship that caused me a lot of emotional pain, when it comes to emotional relationships people are going to do what they are going to do - even if rationally they know its a bad idea. You can't stop them. Sex or hormones or whatever is going on is a powerful driver; she won't leave him on your say so.

Playthegameout Tue 02-Dec-14 21:37:32

Thank you everyone for your advice. I know we have to leave her to live her life and come to her own conclusions. It's really frustrating and upsetting as she really is a wonderful person and she was/is a really close friend. ravenAK my Dh wont tolerate the fiancé at all either, as he has seen some of his loathsome behaviour. This means important events like our dc's christening have been very strained as the fiancé would not allow friend to attend without him.

I will just try to be ready when she realises, I just hope it's soon before he can continue. I know there's not much else for it, it's just very worrying and I also miss my lovely mate sad.

SelfLoathing Tue 02-Dec-14 21:41:37

After they get married, do persist in asking to see her one-on-one - for lunch, girls shopping trip, even just a quick coffee.

That is probably the best way to maintain a friendship -but it's really hard if the Significant Other is avoided as a topic of conversation. It inevitably creates distance even with the best will in the world.

Playthegameout Tue 02-Dec-14 21:46:59

Self I'm probably the closest to her, I did have a heart to heart with her before they got engaged but she is very adamant that his behaviour is purely a result of his parents' attitude and his evil ex stopping him seeing his kids. She firmly believes she has to support him. Annoyingly she works in finance and so she understands more than most the importance of being on the mortgage, but she never pushes the idea. When I asked her about it she laughed and said he had only just let her have a key.

I know this sounds crazy, but she does respond either with flat acceptance (as if none of it's an issue) or with some weird cold, dark humour.

ravenAK Tue 02-Dec-14 22:28:57

I recognise the 'weird cold, dark humour'.

My friend cannot seem to grasp things properly where the abuser is concerned, & she does that disconnected humour thing a lot.

Her aging lothario has done stuff like falsely claiming to be having an 'inappropriate online relationship, it got out of hand' with a rather glamorous semi-public figure he'd 'liked' on FB, as a reason for my mate not to use social media to stay in touch with friends (it just causes trouble & temptation you see).

Oh, & breaking into her flat to mess with her things in order to convince her she's unsafe there.

She'll sort of agree that yeah, that was all a bit weird of him. & then next time I see her she's more-or-less convinced herself that he really was being plagued by obsessed glamour models & she was probably just imagining that her things kept wandering round the garage.

She can be surrounded by people saying 'no, wait, you know that was all him being a creep!', & she'll just affect to find it all rather amusing, good grief, what on earth are we making such a fuss about...sad

Playthegameout Wed 03-Dec-14 06:22:16

Sorry I couldn't come back dc full of a cold, so I was up with him most of the night. ravenAK my friend is the same. Her fiancé also instigated some nonsense over facebook, he also once kissed another woman in front of her and told her to fight for him. It's that behaviour, openly hurting and degrading her, that I find unforgivable. I suppose the detached humour is some form of coping mechanism? Thanks for your replies, it's such a sad situation watching someone you care for seemingly choosing to be abused.

Lovingfreedom Wed 03-Dec-14 06:44:05

On the plus side, if your friend does get married she will get an entitlement to a share of the house. If marriage is not imminent, can you encourage her on this one issue of getting the house into joint names at the least?

simontowers2 Wed 03-Dec-14 08:24:28

He sounds a bit thick to me, i'd cut my ties personally. They sound well suited to each other.

simontowers2 Wed 03-Dec-14 08:26:34

I meant she not he. But he as well, obviously. I always get baffled by threads like this. Each to their own when it comes to tastes and some women might just happen to like abusive dickheads. It might be their thing. The fact that she has threatened to jettison any friends who dare to criticise this guy suggests she cant be that much of a friend in any case.

Playthegameout Wed 03-Dec-14 09:37:47

simon I'm afraid it's you that appears to be 'a bit thick', if you feel intelligence, or lack there of, is indicative of ending up in an abusive relationship.

CogitOIOIO Wed 03-Dec-14 10:05:36

Your friend isn't stupid in the IQ sense of the word but she is taking a massive risk if she is choosing to alienate people who genuinely care simply to defend this man. There is a class of thread on this board that can be summed up as 'is this normal?' Usually goes on to describe some or other horrible behaviour and it's always clear (to me at least) that the person posing the question knows it isn't normal. They may believe they are trapped and have no choices, or they may be frightened and lack confidence, or they may have been rationalising the behaviour up to that point and realise they're running out of explanations... but they are aware that it's not right. Your friend will also know that it's not right.

Like the fat person looking in the mirror..... they know they need to lose weight but it doesn't stop them getting defensive if anyone points out they are fat.

queenoftheknight Wed 03-Dec-14 10:36:48

Wow! Thick?

Simon, maybe you should inform yourself of the dynamics of abusive relationships in generations of families. And while your at it, take a good look in the mirror.

You may shock yourself....if you have the humility to do that of course.

It is far more complex than most people realise, and this forum is one of the few places where people DO get it.

queenoftheknight Wed 03-Dec-14 10:41:33

I agree that keeping any channel of contact open is crucial if you want to help. Perhaps direct her here? There are plenty of other topics to hook her before "relationships". But this forum is excellent in terms of education and having ones eyes opened.

Phalenopsis Wed 03-Dec-14 10:47:38

The problem is Simon that abusers don't reveal their true colours straight away. I'm sure he was charm personified when they first met, fed her a sob story about his ex-wife and children and made himself out to be a victim.

Slowly but surely as the OP has described, his grip on her friend has tightened. It's the whole frog in water scenario.

OP, to echo the other posters: there is little you can do except keep lines of communication open and hope that she realises what a twat he is. Sorry.

Longtalljosie Wed 03-Dec-14 10:59:48

Fucking hell Simon. You are dangerously wrong. It's like bring programmed into a cult; the brain is less reliable than you'd hope.

As the survivor of an snudive relationship, I think you owe it to your friend to give it to her straight. Tell her all you've told us. Appeal to her pre-maternal instinct. I had lost all instincts for self-care but the thing that made me leave was he started talking about children and I thought - I'm not bringing my babies up in this!. Do all you can, tell her about women's aid, ask if he's started to be violent yet - he probably has but she won't have joined the dots to domestic violence, she'll just think, oh, he pushed me but it was my fault I was in the way - or whatever. Tell her if she has one iota of self-preservation she will not ever tell her fiancé about what you have said. Tell her you know you're likely to lose her soon - because that's what happens in abudive relationships, but you'll always be there with a car boot and a suitcase and a bed for the night when she needs to escape.

Longtalljosie Wed 03-Dec-14 11:00:11

Bloody iPhone sorry for all the typos!

LadyBlaBlah Wed 03-Dec-14 11:03:00

I have exactly the same problem OP. It is heartbreaking - the big announce on the engagement last week was just incredibly upsetting.

I unfortunately have managed to alienate myself completely. I just couldn't stand by and say it was all fine. The only reason I am vaguely OK with this (still v.upset) is because I look back at my own abusive relationship and regularly wish "someone had pointed it out".

The problem I know I have created in doing this are is she is on some mission to prove me wrong (more denial and laughing along at grotesqueness).

Funny thing is, I started to dislike her a bit. The last time I saw her and he punched the dog "for being gay", along with saying "isn't ebola great, wiping out all those n****, she laughed along and made me feel like I was over reacting by speaking up. I know this is all part of the abusive relationship but it was absolutely vile to be around. ANYONE laughing along to that sort of thing is instantly revolting to me.

So, I don't know what the answer is - there are different types of abusive men as well, and I know with this VERY OVERT one, it would be almost impossible not to say anything and say I'm happy for her.

Playthegameout Wed 03-Dec-14 11:27:13

I appreciate your responses, Lady it's extremely difficult isn't it? Talking to her is like talking to a brick wall when it comes to him. Even when they have 'broken up' she insists he is no way at fault and refuses to hear a word against him. To be honest the engagement is a shock as he has always been very reluctant to commit to her, despite her really wanting to marry him.

I do want to be available for her, I feel very strongly that we shouldn't lose our friend to this man. The last thing I'd want to happen would be for her to realise she wants to leave and find she had no one to go to.

Playthegameout Wed 03-Dec-14 11:34:40

Sorry my phone cut me off. Having said that if I keep quiet, I'm terrified something even worse will happen.
longtalljosie thank you for your post. I know she wants children but I had never thought to try to broach this from that aspect. I don't know why he can't see his children, I know it's not just the ex preventing him, he is not legally allowed to. Friend glosses over this if it's mentioned. I'm meeting her for a coffee on Thursday night so I want to say something then really. In truth I am scared of her cutting me off, but I think I need to take that risk.

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