Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
How do you explain about controlling parents to friends with no experience?(22 Posts)
I find myself in the slightly embarrassing situation where a controlling relative is asking a friend of mine seemingly innocuous questions about me. It is a male friend, genuinely just a friend and no prospect of anything more. He is friendly with a relative of mine. I do not have the sort of relationship with my parents or this relative where I would discuss anything personal with them. Indeed the whole relationship seems to revolve around them checking up on me. I have already lost one newish friendship because my mother was constantly asking the person questions about my whereabouts.
I am low contact to no contact with the relatives for much of the time. My friends who have known me for a long time know my relatives do this and are very supportive (and evasive).
The issue with this friend is that I cannot ask him to lie and he is a very straightforward guy and just tells my relative the answers to her questions. I have tried to explain about how controlling they are, and how they have a history of doing this going back to when I was a teenager but he isn't able to grasp it as he comes from a functional family. I often feel that if they hadn't done all this checking up on me all my life I would have been able to confide in them when I was younger.
I now feel I will have to end this friendship as it is giving the relative a portal into my life. I would like to explain about controlling behaviour but I don't know where to start.
Just tell your friend that you can't continue like this because of the negative back history concerning your relative and the wider family.
Tell him that at the risk of sounding paranoid, you have experienced severe emotional abuse at the hands of these people who habitually seek out those who can report back to them what you are doing/where you are going and any extra details they can extract.
Explain that you cannot remain friends with someone who doesn't respect your boundaries, who willingly hands over personal details of your life to these people and who can't or won't cease and desist.
Tell him that the abuse you have suffered over the years has resulted in you going low to non contact, under advice, for the sake of your mental health.
I think he'll understand.
How close are you with this friend? Do you trust him? If you do and value the relationship I would be as honest as you can be and tell him the history, as factually as you can, giving him examples to clarify what has happened. I would be very clear that to continue having a friendship with you and your relatives then he will need to be clear with them that he will not be answering any questions about you to them. I would also send these relatives a letter, explaining that your private life is just that private! If they want to know anything then they are to ask you directly and not to put mutual friends in difficult situations by asking them for information.
Sounds like a very complex situation, your friend needs to respect your privacy and adhere to your wishes.
You shouldn't need to make him understand. He should just accept that you don't want the information shared, snd stop sharing it. You don't have to justify your reasons.
I suppose what I am concerned about is that it makes me look utterly paranoid. The questions at the moment wouldn't seem intrusive to most people. Just things like has he seen me recently. I know from experience that this will ramp up and within a matter of months they will be ringing him up asking where I am and who I am with and discussing my menstrual cycle with him. It is hard at the moment because it looks like normal chit-chat. I've been here so many times.
I feel that if I say "don't say this" and "don't say that" it makes me look as controlling as they are.
Could you explain that if you wanted your relatives to know these things you'd discuss it directly with them, that your relatives have a tendency to be over intrusive and insensitive.
That normal people dont ask relatives friends questions IF they were in contact or had normal relationship with the person.
I think it's very very difficult to email to people from normal families. It's just such an alien idea to them that they really struggle to even understand a tiny bit. You're right though to him it's all very innocent but you know exactly what the questioning is really about. Do you think he'd be able to grasp the concept of the flying monkey if you used that term?
It may be an idea to ask him to tell your relatives to come to you for the information they want. You should also make sure he understands that they are not to be told anything other than you are OK, and if they require any other information, they are to speak to yourself.
It may mean they contact you, but you can tell them politely that you will not divulge any information to them due to what happened in your past with them, and that you do not wish to be contacted again.
You may want to have a polite, but abrupt word with your friend about your boundaries and his sharing of YOUR information with your relatives.
The YouTube Channel *Understanding Narcissists* is good for explaining the dynamics of narc/abusive behaviour. Other YouTube channels worth watching to try and help your friend understand are:
*Richard Grannon: Spartan Life Coach*
Sorry OP, I put in Understanding Narcissists twice by mistake . That'll teach me to proof read before posting
Could you ask your old friends to explain to him, without you present, what the relatives are like and how to handle them?
I would ask him not to discuss you with the relative, that's fairly simple. He should be able to understand that these people haven't been nice to you so you don't want them getting info about your life (particularly since it has escalated in the past). He can just change the subject/say he feels uncomfortable talking about you whenever they bring it up.
You can always saying something along the lines of
I am very grateful that you come from a loving family so you struggle to understand. But not every mother loves their children and not every father respects them. I come from that type of family and i have spent years trying to undo the damage that comes from having a mother who's only interest in me involves how I can be used to her advantage. (Change this to your own circumstances)
You may not be able to understand it, but you need to trust me and respect that what I am saying is true. Next time they ask, tell them you have been busy and haven't seen me since the last time they asked. Then repeat.
If you can't do that then let me know so I can limit my time with you.
Hi, the fact that you are able to post on MN and get other people's opinions, would suggest to me you are not controlling. Can you start to give the friend less information? (which could be passed on) So kind of step away a little? rather than instructing what to say or what not to say.
Just tell him you are uncomfortable with him answering questions about you and to stop. As a friend, he should respect your boundaries. It isn't about him and what he thinks your boundaries should be. As a straightforward guy he should get that. If he can't respect your wish that he keeps his mouth shut, then maybe you do need to rethink the friendship.
Had a chat with him last night. I think he is starting to get it but I get the impression he is still thinking that if I stand up to them it will stop. I know it won't. He isn't passing on what most people would consider to be personal stuff. It is currently limited to whether he has seen me, but soon it will be when he has seen me and so on. That's why I need to nip this in the bud now.
Was watching some of the narcissism videos last night. Eerily accurate.
Thank you for all the replies and for accepting that this behaviour is a problem for me. So many people don't see the harm in it.
I`d be a bit annoyed with him that he doesn`t"get" it and therefore is still telling them. It doesn`t really matter what he thinks. You are his friend, you are asking him to desist, he should respect your wishes. That`s all there is to it.
He is only a relatively new friend, but he has known my family member his whole life. We are not sufficiently close that I would have gone into great detail about how my family relationships are. I have had to explain more than I would like him to know already.
I suppose that if he's known them much longer than he's known you, he may feel more loyalty to them than to you, in which case the only option open to you is to restrict his access to your world. Is it at all possible that he himself has been recruited as a flying monkey?
It can be difficult for people who have functional, 'normal' families to understand this sort of thing.
That said though, sonjadog is right. If you've asked him not to share this information and he persists in doing so, that's really not okay and perhaps he's not as much of a friend as you thought?
It's good you've had a chat with him. I would leave it for now, and when they start asking him where you are and who with and details of your last period he will get the picture.
It could be that he is unwilling or unable to stop sharing info with this relative and/or making "helpful" suggestions about how you might handle your relatives.
If that happens, then he's a "flying monkey" and to be avoided!
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.