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What can I do? Worried for my friend.(18 Posts)
Am trying to put this calmly and be factual - sorry it is bloody long!
Friend is in a relationship of 3 years. Both full time working professionals in their mid-20s.
He owns a house, lives there and lets out the other rooms.After a year ish of seeing each other a housemate left and she moved into the empty room. He was always "not very emotionally articulate, can only think about one thing at a time, doesn't put things very well" (her words). She hoped that living together would make things easier- she was often upset by his unthinking behaviour. He wouldn't come over to her house much (as his PC was at his.)
When she moved in there was no celebration - he told her "just because we live together doesn't mean we'll be spending any more time together". He has mentioned his "mad, clingy exs" and so she is at pains to prove she is independent, not needy etc.
Recently she was using his PC and when searching for something else the history revealed he had been looking at porn - something that is not illegal but which she found upsetting and disturbing.
She spoke to him about it and explained her feelings- that she found the material disturbing and that it felt insulting to her as she has been making an effort re sex and he has been disinterested. He said "I didn't look at what the film was called- it's just bums and boobs".
Any further upset on her part he deals with by saying " I can't handle all this emotion over nothing."
He spends several hours on his PC with headphones on playing games online. She is not to interrupt him- he tuts at her.
Recently she suggested doing something together that evening- he said "but I spent all weekend with you"
When living separately she suggested seeing each other on an extra night as they were both unexpectedly free - he said "but I don't need to see you tonight- I saw you on Sunday".
She was very upset one evening after work- she has a very intense job- and called him to ask if he could come home- she needed a hug and a chat. He was with friends playing a board game. He said "no- this evening has been planned for ages and we're in the middle of the game" She was in bits. But still said " well I understand he didn't want to let everyone else down- they can't play without him".
She said that he is a nice person:
"he plays squash with me sometimes,even though I'm not as good as him" (she actually took up squash to spend more time with him as non of his arrangements are negotiable).
"He cooks for me sometimes- though he does really like cooking"
"He just doesn't put things very well/ has the emotional range of a teaspoon"
These are just a few examples.
She has been to counselling - and keeps saying how relationships need compromise (very true!) and that she needs to change too. Though sometimes she says if she changes anymore she won't be her
Her DM and aunt say "he's a nice lad, it's just how he is, he doesn't mean it." Her DM is desperate for GC too... They like to brush difficult things aside and this makes me doubt my feelings on it- hence MN...
I feel so sad for her. She is clever, pretty, sporty, generous, caring... I try to listen and not get over involved, not have a go at him- she loves him and I don't want to make her feel bad for that.
I have said that he isn't going to change as a person, and is this what she is prepared to settle for?
Every time she goes back, has a chat about "the change needed" and then it's fine for a while, then straight back again. She seems to be trapped by her low self esteem.
IMO he has a tenant who can be his girlfriend when it suits him. He never has to say no to anything he wants to do, never does anything he doesn't want to. If she objects she is needy, and he says "we're not like other couples"- too right - there's a reason for that!
What can i say/ do/ be?
I don't think you can. I would ask her to think about the future, what kind of father he would make, whether she wants to spend the rest of her life hoping he'll have time to fit her in and ignoring her own needs because they don't mesh with his.
I had a boyfriend like this. With hindsight, I'd eat my hat if he didn't have ASD. He certainly found it hard to be emotionally responsive, or change his plans.
He is who he is, she can't change him. She needs to think about whether this will be enough for her.
Thanks- have started to wonder whether I have been in freakishly unusually happy relationships as she seems to think this is 'normal'. Obviously everyone's normal is different but I always thought the basics were:
Your DP doesn't make you feel sad ( most of the time) and
They are there for you when you need them (usually)
Poor woman. What a miserable 'relationship' she's in, although it doesn't sound like much of a relationship. He sounds like Sheldon from TBBT, tbh.
Tell her relationships are about give and take, and she's supposed to be happy most of the time, not sad.
I would strongly suggest she move out and move on.
Is it fear of moving out and finding a home? Are you able to say 'Move in mine for a couple off months while you sort a place of your own out?' as that might be a life line that makes it easier for her to step away...
She is house hunting for herself ATM, and I really hope that will give her some headspace and clarity. She knows she can come here too. Thanks for your replies, glad to hear this is not normal! I just feel so helpless watching her go round and round, but I know it's only her that can change the situation. Her DM piling on the pressure for GC is not helpful! It just sends the message that this is ok. I hope no-one ever tells my DC that this is good enough.
I think she maybe feels she needs a "good enough" reason to leave? Am trying to say that not wanting to be there anymore is plenty good enough.
Have you had a, not harsh but bluntish conversation, along the lines of 'Christ, are you happy to look back at your life in twenty years and it's been like this?' or 'If you have dcs would you want your daughter to grow up and think this is how she should be treated?'
Joyce I think that may have to be my next step- she was upset last time she was here so tried gentler hinting but I feel like someone has to say something, even if she chooses to ignore it. At least she will have a different perspective to consider.
I try not to cross over into interfering/bossy, but would rather say when something seems wrong than keep quiet.
It's crap but look back and be ableto say you did your best whatever choice she makes... my friend married an absolute knob...we all kept sayng she could back out but she was in la la land... even on her weddingday one friend kept asking if she was doing the right thing! It was knowing how happy she had made her parents that kept the wheels rolling
Can you google 'Cassandra Syndrome'? It is a bit controversial, sometimes seen as disablist. Basically, unrecognised ASD can be really hard on partners. They do not get emotional support and validation from their ASD person and can't work out why. It is not the fault of either person, but is damaging if the dynamic isn't recognised and acted on. She may want you to support her in building a relationship with him. It may help her be less sad and satay with him. It may help her realise that he isn't going to change and evaluate if she can hack it long term.
He sounds like he is definitely on the autistic spectrum - maybe Asperger's? It could be be DS2 you're talking about in terms of " But I saw you on Sunday." Very black and white, finds relationships very difficult, absolutely can't put himself in someone's shoes - he's almost 20. Yet, he wants to have friends - just can't do it. I'm not sure he'll ever have a relationship with anyone and that makes me very sad.
I don't think your friend's boyfriend is a knob or a twat - I think he's trying to have something that's incredibly hard for him to do. In no way am I saying that your friend has to stay in the relationship - but she won't be able to do it alone. If he is on the spectrum the Autistic Society among other charities will be able to help.
I spent 10 years with someone like this, but substitute computer games for a different hobby (a bit outing to say).
I wish i'd left him earlier. There was nothing in the relationship for me and I went from being outgoing and confident to an anxious timid thing. I didn't realise how bad it was until I 'found myself' again after I'd left him.
All I can say is be there to support her, which it sounds like you are. She'll have to make the decision to leave herself, sadly.
She needs to know that this is the nicest he is able to be. Most people get lazier and more thoughtless as time goes by. If this is the best version of him then God help her.
Tell her straight. Offer to help her is you are able to in terms of moving out/ on but she's already tried to tell you things aren't right. Hard conversation to have but I think you need to. He sounds absolutely horrible.
He has normal, functional relationships with friends and work colleagues, which makes me doubt ASD is the whole reason. Though many people are on the spectrum in some areas of their lives I'm sure! Thanks for confirming it's not over the top to want more for her.
Why oh why does rude, thoughtless, inconsiderate behaviour have to be distilled into aspergers/autistic spectrum bla bla excuses these fuckn days? Get your nice mate away from the insensitive, underserving twat.
Lara2 my cousin has aspergers. It is rubbish sometimes. He can be the sweetest person- it is learnt though, rather than natural, so sometimes absent.
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