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Is my friend’s DP going to turn into a controlling, manipulative, abusive man?

(17 Posts)
MrSeptember Thu 27-Aug-09 16:48:35

Sorry, this is long!

I have a good relationship with DH, with the normal ups and downs. Most of my friends and family are the same. But I have one friend for whom I am quite worried and I cannot work out whether I am in fact simply being paranoid. I accept that no one can see into someone else’s relationship, but this one scares me. Here’s the summary [sorry, very long]:

They have been dating for a number of years. After the first year, it turned out he had lied to her about almost everything in his life due to serious issues with his family and background. He lied about where he grew up, his relationship with his family, his work etc. It all came out and she forgave him but said he needed to see a therapist and that they needed couples counselling to deal with the issues.

They’ve been to a few sessions, and he’s been to one or two by himself but they’ve all petered out and there’s always a reason – he’s busy at work, has no money, has no time etc. When she pushes him, he breaks down and accuses her of not understanding how hard it is for him and how traumatic he finds the whole situation and then cries about how he’s so sorry and he’s so upset and he can’t manage this.

They live together but he hates clutter so they have no photographs, books, magazines etc out anywhere. They have a photograph of them in their bedroom but that’s all – no photos of family or friends anywhere and she has to get rid of any books she reads (she’s a keen reader) as soon as she’s finished it so that it doesn’t clutter up the house.

He works fewer hours than her but leaves the house earlier so likes to go to bed earlier. He insists that she go to bed at the same time as him every night – 9 pm – as he can’t sleep without her. He gets grumpy and upset if she doesn’t come home quickly enough from work because he’s been sitting at home waiting for her all night.

She moved to be with him where he lives and now, a few years later, she has almost no friends there. She has moved cities in the past and has always been good at making new friends and has a wide circle of friends around the world but somehow, she hasn’t managed it this time because her DP takes up so much of her time. He doesn’t seem to have any friends of his own either so it’s not even like they’re at least hanging out with his friends and their families. She tells me she has no good girlfriends locally, even though she’s now lived there for 3 years.

They are getting married and her father emailed to ask her about marriage contracts etc (this is a legal requirement where they are getting married). He was so “upset” that her father contacted her about it and that he wasn’t copied on the email that they had a huge fight culminating in him breaking down in tears and saying that he feels that nothing he ever does is good enough for her or her family and he’s tried so hard but no one will give him a chance. [I suspect this is him not realising it’s a legal requirement and trying to manipulate her so that she doesn’t sign anything or agree to anything].

There are more examples. But as far as I can tell, she does or says or thinks something that he doesn’t like and he immediately either picks a fight or tries to blackmail her emotionally. Do these few examples sound like a controlling man or is that just me unable to forgive him for lying to her for such a long time?

[against my instincts, I have tried to give him the benefit of the doubt re the lying and say that he obviously had problems. But… the fact that he seems unable to deal with them makes me less able to move on].

MadreInglese Thu 27-Aug-09 16:52:35

Hmmm, sounds like he has ishoooooos galore

Is your friend happy?

MrSeptember Thu 27-Aug-09 16:54:40

she's happy when he's being nice?

I don't know. i don't see her often - they live in a different country. I get the sense that she's not unhappy but that she is kind of existing? She makes comments sometimes that make me think she's waiting for things to change?

Overmydeadbody Thu 27-Aug-09 16:58:29

Well, the guy has serious ishoos that's for sure.

And yes, all the breaking down and crying sounds very manipulative to me.

Is she happy? Is she content? Do you think she's just persevering thinking he will change, or not wanting to see the relity?

Sounds like she does all the compromising in this relationship.

Overmydeadbody Thu 27-Aug-09 17:00:22

Do you think you could have an open honest conversation with her about it or do you think she will cover for him and pretend everythgin is fine?

MrSeptember Thu 27-Aug-09 17:03:42

When the whole lying thing came out, we had quite a few conversations. I was careful always not to slag him off too much, but tried to be clear to her that she needed to make sure that she was getting the truth from him.

However, 2 years later, and it's taken me all this time to get her to even talk to me about him again as she feels that all the people who know about the lying are negative towards him (surprise?!).

So I have to be very careful. I have told her that she needs to make it clear to him that they both compromise and I've tried to offer ideas on how to do that but I have to be very careful as if I say anything negative she immediately backtracks and says how wonderful he is. sad

FabBakerGirlIsBack Thu 27-Aug-09 17:05:06

Brutal but when she sends you the wedding invite could you say no to going as you can't see her make a big mistake.

She might open up to you more..

MrSeptember Thu 27-Aug-09 17:06:24

I'm also cautious because I am one of the few people she talks to at all and I don't want to alienate her as I am very worried that in a few years time, when they have children (they're planning to start trying very soon), she'll need someone and I might be the only one left.

I worry that he'll get all compulsive and ridiculous about kids and that behaviour she'll put up with for herself she won't accept for her children (I hope anyway).

ohjustgrowup Thu 27-Aug-09 17:11:42

If he can't stand clutter, then kids will be a real problem. I have to say from what you've told us there are major alarm bells going off. It doesn't sound as though he's being deliberately controlling and manipulative, but obviously has deep-seated problems. Does she know how worried you are?

MrSeptember Thu 27-Aug-09 17:16:29

She knows I'm worried, yes, but doesn't fully understand why and as I've said, it's hard to really go great guns on this.

The clutter thing and children is exactly my point - that's why I worry. With the kids, one of my other concerns is that she has a much better job than him that pays better, but he would never consider being a SAHD. Which is fine. however, I worry that financially she'll be in trouble because at the moment, it's definitely kept seperate and I get the sense he's a) secretive about his money and b) very opinionated on what she spends hers on - last time I saw her she spent money on all kinds of things and told me she wasn't telling him!

Oh god. It's a nightmare.

dizietsma Thu 27-Aug-09 17:24:41

Whoa.... He is extremely controlling of her, in an unreasonable and unacceptable way. I have absolutely no qualms about labelling his behaviour as abusive. In isolation I would not see the lying in itself as abuse, in context with the other behaviour it is a ver Bad Sign.

He has isolated her from friends and family. He is dehumanising her by not allowing her to keep personal possesions or personalise her home.
He demands she curtail any social life by insisting she come home by a curfew as if she were a teenager, not a grown adult.

He is already seriously emotionally abusing her, at this point it is only a matter of time before he physically abuses her, if he hasn't already.

ohjustgrowup Thu 27-Aug-09 17:26:26

This is really hard. I think the problem is that she seems to have already given in to him and she's obviously got her head firmly in the sand to be planning to marry him and have his children.

As you say, you have to tiptoe around it a bit because there's a lot of pressure on you as the only friend she has been able to hold on to. I can only say that you will have to just be there for her because it sounds as though it will almost certainly end in tears.

I really don't know what else you can do. It does sound awful, but you can't talk her out of it, so you'll just have to support her and hope that: a) your fears are unfounded and things work out well or, failing that b) she realises sooner rather than later that this is a bad situation and gets out of it.

Sorry - not a lot of help sad

MrSeptember Thu 27-Aug-09 17:27:50

sad. That's what I'm afraid of dizietsma. I've been hoping I'm being paranoid.

I didn't mention it here because it was a once off and happened a long time ago and I'm not even fully sure I understood what happened but there was one incident that I know about when they first got together that was mildly concerning and it freaks me out.

dizietsma Thu 27-Aug-09 17:31:28

Here's a link to a website with guidelines on how best to support a friend suffering abuse. It also has a page on warning signs of abuse.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 27-Aug-09 17:38:31

Mr September

You have every right to feel concerned, you are not being paranoid at all.

I would say your friend has her head firmly in the sand and will be sliding headlong into an abusive marriage the way things are going. It was not good to start with (this situation was abusive from the beginning to my mind) and over time he has exerted more and more control over her. She is in a cage of his own making and he will not let his victim go easily either.

I would also go as far to say that she was deliberately targetted by this guy. These men have inbuilt radar for emotionally vulnerable women and/or those with low self esteem or worth and I daresay she met him at a low point in her life.

She may be able to break free eventually but in the meantime all you can do is support her and keep the lines of communication open.

You may want to read Lundy Bancroft's book called "Why does he do that?" and talk to her about its contents. He writes at some length about these men and how they operate.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 27-Aug-09 17:42:09

She made a grave error by suggesting couples counselling to him as well. No counsellor worth their salt would have counselled the two of them together. He would have steamrollered her completely in such a situation. It can also justify the abusive behaviour further in his own mind.

Am not surprised either that he stopped attending counselling sessions. They often do.

MrSeptember Thu 27-Aug-09 17:56:45

Attila - that's a bit scary. They met online. And he was very forceful with her in the beginning which I couldn't understand. I am not the type to believe in conspiracy theories or that people are bad, but the point that he may have targetted her freaks me out a bit.

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