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Does this relationship sound a bit unhealthy?

(15 Posts)
Blup Sat 10-Sep-16 09:13:31

I have a friend, A, who has been in a relationship with a guy, B, for several years now. He was her teacher in school (although the relationship didn't start until a few years after she'd left), and is about 12 years older than her. I don't really like B, so that might be clouding my judgement, but I'm just a bit concerned that he's using A and that this relationship isn't good for her. I'm not sure whether to say anything to her.

Some examples:

A was injured in work. Not seriously, but she has ongoing problems with her shoulder. She was given compensation by her workplace, and received physio on the NHS for some time. B used her compensation to pay for equipment for his hobby. When I asked A about it, she said "well, that's what you do for someone you love", which seemed a bit naïve. She could do with ongoing physio, but the NHS sessions have ended and she can't afford to go private. The compensation would have allowed her to do that.

They were going on holiday, when A's mum took ill. They weren't sure she'd pull through (she did, thankfully), and A wanted to stay at home. B basically refused to consider cancelling the holiday and they ended up going anyway. Again, she said something like "That's what you do when you love someone, you put them first", many that B's wishes trumped hers.

A has a ongoing illness, which B seems entirely unsupportive of. Any time I've asked B his A is doing, he says "fine" and changes the subject. Often I then find out that A has had a flare-up. One particular day, A was quite unwell but had to go to work (A is self-employed). B decide to invite his family round for a barbecue. They were still there when A came home, and it sounded like he basically expected her to help with entertaining then, even though she really needed to rest.

B has now come home and announced that he's been accepted on a teacher exchange programme, which involves them relocating to Hong Kong (I think) for a year. A will have to leave her business and family behind; she doesn't want to go, but feels she has to. Work-wise, he seems to expect her to pick up some work over there, but really it doesn't sound like he's consulted her much at all. He doesn't seem to have given any thought to how her health condition will be managed over there.

The thing is, A says she's really happy with him, loves him etc. But it sounds like a horrible relationship, and I worry that he's using her and she just doesn't see it. I'm concerned that moving away from friends and family will be very hard for her and wedding do her mental health any good (she's prone to depression, which again her GP keeps a good eye on). I don't know whether to raise my concerns with her, or say nothing and hope it works out.

Any thoughts?

Claramarion Sat 10-Sep-16 09:19:15

This person was in a position of power as a teacher and it sounds as though this has continued in the relationship.

Even if it was after a few years if he was a teacher her could still loose his job surely.

This relationship sounds very one sided and his position and age means that the power is at one side and he is exploring you're friend.

How old is she ?

Blup Sat 10-Sep-16 09:21:36

That's what it seems like, Clara. She is now late 20's. He's early 40's.

Claramarion Sat 10-Sep-16 09:27:26

Your issues is that if she thinks she's in love then she won't listen. Try to speak to her but not directly about her relationship give examples of others to programmes or books you've read or ask her how she feels she he does something, or just common I wonder why he did that? Don't slag him off the idea is to make him think ?

Iwasjustabouttosaythat Sat 10-Sep-16 09:31:17

Ugh, anyone who would date an ex high school student is a creep. The rest is not surprising. Still, sounds like she was seeking an authoritative person. I don't think it's healthy at all. Not much you can do though? Maybe anonymously send her a quiz about controlling behavior? Talk to her family? Sounds like he trumps family though. Just take it easy yourself. If you go in too hard she might push you away and lose some very important support.

Blup Sat 10-Sep-16 09:33:20

That's what I'm thinking. I don't want to push her away. Her family don't seem bothered - in fact, we have a few mutual friends, and none of them seem to think it's a huge issue either. But then, I don't know how much she's told them.

MrsHathaway Sat 10-Sep-16 09:34:50

"That's what you do when you love someone, you put them first"

Agreed, but B never does this. Does that mean he doesn't love her? Yes. It certainly shows he doesn't respect her.

I know a couple who used to be pupil and teacher (when he was maybe 26). They met again as adults when she was NQT. Marriage of equals in that case and not remotely creepy.

Blup Sat 10-Sep-16 09:35:21

I think the idea of giving examples of controlling behaviour is maybe the way to go. I guess even talking about stuff on tv would be a start. True that she seems to be looking for an authority figure.

Blup Sat 10-Sep-16 09:37:28

That's the thing, MrsHathaway, I don't see him showing her any respect, and she's the one who always has to compromise.

I also wonder how they suddenly got "back in touch" several years after she left school. That part of the story has never been mentioned. I suspect they never lost touch in the first place.

doji Sat 10-Sep-16 09:39:26

Maybe approach it suggesting that she not go abroad with him as it's only for a year. She can stay behind and work on her business which will be good for 'their' future, and he can focus on his new role out there, while they still have lovely holidays together. Once apart the scales may fall from her eyes, and at least she won't be even further removed from all her support.

liane77 Sat 10-Sep-16 09:40:33

I too have friends who were pupil teacher and later married. Been happily married for over 10 yrs now and mutually responsible within the relationship. Age gap of 13 yrs but intellectually equal and def not creepy in any way.

MrsHathaway Sat 10-Sep-16 09:42:09

Does she listen to the Archers? That started mildly.

0dfod Sat 10-Sep-16 09:46:09

Oh Blup I am sad on your behalf, not pleasant is it to see someone being abusive to friend.

Sadly there is not much you can do about it apart from being there for her should she want to leave her relationship.

I would be very tempted to say 'no actually that is not what someone does when someone is demonstrating love' that goes both ways A'. But I would be fearful of challenging her belief in what a relationship/partnership should look like if it is healthy, she may stop contacting you.

The other thing is that she seems to want an authority figure, who are we to 'judge' as it were. Their relationship 'obviously' works for them???

doji Sat 10-Sep-16 09:47:14

My response wasn't very clear in retrospect - but yes this dynamic seems at the very least unhealthy, in that it's all one way (his). She doesn't sound receptive to criticism of him at the moment though, hence approaching it from a position that is seemingly supportive of their future, whilst not letting her be isolated and rediscovering some of her independence.

Blup Sat 10-Sep-16 13:16:47

I'm not saying a relationship can never work just because it's teacher/ex-pupil. But I think there can be an imbalance, and this seems like an example of that.

Thanks for the advice so far. Doji, that's an idea about her staying behind. Being self-employed, she could probably take off a little bit of extra time to fly out, and if his holidays are like ours (I've no idea about schools in other countries) then presumably he'd have time to fly back a bit, as long as it's not too expensive. No idea whether she'd go for it, but it could be worth suggesting. She's done a lot of work to build up her business, and it'd be a shame to see her have to give it up for a year - she'd almost be starting from scratch again when she came back.

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