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Advice - I think my friend is being gaslighted, she needs some strong feminists :-)

(50 Posts)
LRDTheFeministDragon Tue 27-Sep-11 11:44:26


Not for me, but so I can help my friend. I want good one-liners or short soundbites about what women deserve in relationships, and about how the 'men just struggle to communicate' thing is really not good enough! My lovely mate has a boyfriend. He is not a horrible person but his attitude worries me. I'll just quote one thing, which was that she made what she thought was a very loving gesture (I won't go into detail as it's identifying, but it was just a romantic thing to do, a pretty common one). He told her she 'crossed a line', but of course, she doesn't know what the 'line' is - and he can't or won't tell her.

Any good one-liners about this, as obviously it set my alarm bells ringing. What other things do you watch out for?

Thanks all!

solidgoldbrass Tue 27-Sep-11 11:47:52

TBH it's a little difficult to advise without some idea of why he might have reacted like this. Because what she did might have been something that some people would find romantic but others would find intrusive or offensive. I appreciate that you might not want to give details, but (for instance) did she do something that was very romantic in public? Is the relationship fairly new with no agreed commitment?

What is his attitude like otherwise, though? that's more important than one single incident - is he generally reliable, kind, good company, respectful? Or is she making a lot of excuses for his behaviour?

theothersparticus Tue 27-Sep-11 11:50:41

It sounds as if this isn't the only thing that bothers you about him. I don't have any good advice other than asking your friend to prompt him into finding out where this 'line' is. His reaction to a common romantic guesture may have some reason behind it, but he could just be a knob.

LRDTheFeministDragon Tue 27-Sep-11 11:56:51

SGB - no, not in public. It is about 9 months they've been going out.

I will post it, actually - no chance of her seeing when I think about it. He wanted to talk about the future, and she was off on holiday out of the country so instead of phoning/emailing, she decided to handwrite a letter on posh paper and send it to him.

I just feel very concerned that his reaction is not to say 'I hate handwritten letters' or 'c'mon, don't leave me waiting, I'd rather have a long phone chat', but 'you've crossed a line'.

ecclesvet Tue 27-Sep-11 11:59:22

I think it really dependson this gesture. If he's making a fuss over being given flowers - knob. If he's kicking off about her breaking in to his house and covering the place in candles and rose petals... well, he may have a point.

ecclesvet Tue 27-Sep-11 12:00:07

Oops, x-post. Knob it is, then!

LRDTheFeministDragon Tue 27-Sep-11 12:00:28

theother - yeah, that's the thing that bothers me, that she (after being upset) isn't really pushing him about what the line is.

I just really want to know what things you'd say to yourself to remind you what's important in a relationship, so I can pass them on to her. Eg., for me, I remind myself that no-one deserves to be told they're stupid, because for me that's one of the big issues that I need to remember, or I end up believing people when they say it.

ecclesvet Tue 27-Sep-11 12:00:57

Was his objection to the letter itself, or the contents of the letter?

LRDTheFeministDragon Tue 27-Sep-11 12:02:16

I may think he's a knob (I don't, but I think it's a bizarre response). I'd just like some snappy mantras to help her realize that/keep her self-esteem up.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KRITIQ Tue 27-Sep-11 12:04:58

Alarm bells would be ringing. It sounds like he feels he has the right to dictate the terms of communication in the relationship - never good. As you say, if he'd explained that there is a reason he doesn't like handwritten letters - dunno, remind him of something an unpleasant relative used to do, that would be different. I would be furious if someone in a relationship told me I'd "crossed the line," particularly if they didn't provide copious information on the context.

I can't actually think of any "one liners" she could use. That sounds a bit like game playing. Perhaps being straight and saying, "I felt you were trying to control what I can and can't say and how I can say it in this relationship, and that's not acceptable," or some such.

LRDTheFeministDragon Tue 27-Sep-11 12:06:42

The letter itself, eccle - she emailed to tell him it was in the post so he knew to expect it. It may be that was part of the issue too.

I kept trying to say the right thing and feeling as if I wasn't saying it very well, and it seemed to me it was such an obviously feminist-y problem, that she thought she had to do all the work of communicating and he had power of veto. I dunno. I could as easily have posted in relationships but I quite want to get her into some feminist thoughts as I think it would be the most helpful.

LRDTheFeministDragon Tue 27-Sep-11 12:08:37

Cross-posted. That's great UPT - exactly the sort of stuff I was wanting!

KRI - nope, that works too. I don't want game playing, I just wanted short stuff I could pass on to her and your point about dictating the terms of communication is spot on.

sunshineandbooks Tue 27-Sep-11 12:09:56

I'd just tell him that if he won''t tell me what the line is then he'll have to accept that I'll keep crossing it. With a nice passive-aggressive smile while she's at it for good measure.

I detest game-playing and 'rules' you're supposed to know through psychic ability.

My main concern is why did he want to talk about the future while she's on holiday? Why couldn't he wait until she was back? It's like she's not allowed to enjoy physical time away from him without him still dominating her thoughts. It's as if his bug bear is the fact that she didn't interrupt her holiday to call him/email (i.e. on his terms, with an immediate response) instead of writing (i.e. on her terms, at a time she felt ready and could fit in her holiday).

LRDTheFeministDragon Tue 27-Sep-11 12:13:30

That's a really good point sunshine about her time - thanks!

My feeling is, she is being caught up in these social expectations of how women will behave, and how they're meant to be adapting to men all the time. I know in my own mind it's rubbish but just plunging in there saying 'you're not respecting yourself' isn't going to get me far! grin

solidgoldbrass Tue 27-Sep-11 12:15:39

They both sound a bit odd, TBH. If someone emailed me to say they were sending me a speshul letter in their best handwriting I would be freaked out. Sending a letter is a very one-sided way of having a discussion, why didn't she just email him back with 'OK, we'll go out for dinner/to the pub and have a good talk when I get home.'?

Though as a general rule, keep reminding her that couple relationships are not compulsory and if you are having one it should make your life better not be something you have to 'work at' and stress over, because a woman without a man is a PROBLEM. Remind her that being single is fine.

LRDTheFeministDragon Tue 27-Sep-11 12:20:33

Thanks SGB - I'd not thought of it that way. She says she's not very eloquent speaking (I think she is fine!), so thought putting it on paper would be better. But I'm interested to know some people wouldn't like it (seems very standard as a romantic thing to me - love letters - but maybe not).

I will keep teh 'it's ok to be single' in mind. smile

SardineQueen Tue 27-Sep-11 12:45:25

It's a bit strange to write a nice letter, and then email to say it's on its way. Doesn't that kind of negate the point of doing it in the first place?

Just a general thought!

The "crossed the line" business is not good. I don't know how I'd react if a bloke told me I'd just crossed "a line", but refused to tell me how. I think, for me, that would be him crossing a line!

SardineQueen Tue 27-Sep-11 12:46:13

She needs to think what her lines are, and if he crosses them then notice, rather than worrying about where his lines are.

LRDTheFeministDragon Tue 27-Sep-11 12:48:32

SQ - I think she wanted to let him know she was replying. He had said she was welcome to email instead of phoning (it's very expensive), so I think she just reckoned he'd wonder about the delay. I don't know if that was the 'line' though.

That response 'she needs to think' is perfect though. I think it's almost as if she doesn't think it would be reasonable to have 'lines'!

Good point SQ. That will also her help keep control of her thoughts/feelings/part in the relationship instead of just reacting to him - something as women we are quite conditioned to do.

swallowedAfly Tue 27-Sep-11 12:58:47

how about when people punish you without explaining what you've even done it is dodgy to say the least.

sorry can't think of a snappy one liner - but that kind of i'm annoyed with you and you must make it up to me but i'm not going to tell you what you've done shite is just training you to be paranoid, scared and ready to take the blame and feel bad at the drop of a hat.

wamster Tue 27-Sep-11 13:06:39

Your friend doesn't need a snappy one-liner; she just needs to ask herself what she is doing with somebody who takes offence at receiving a letter. confused.

It's been established that it is not the contents of the letter that has offended him, just the letter itself. What the f* is his problem? Getting into such a tizz about a letter?

It's weird to get upset about receiving a letter. It's, at worst, a nice, romantic gesture to be treasured. I kick myself for throwing out mine.

Forget the snappy one-liners or feminist ripostes, it's time-wasting playing games with somebody who obviously isn't all there (the boyfriend, that is) Who objects to receiving a letter fgs?

dreamingbohemian Tue 27-Sep-11 13:11:36

'Crossed the line' is a very strange thing to say. But I have to say, i don't think what your friend did is romantic at all! If I got an email saying, oh I wrote a letter saying how I feel about you and our future so you'll have an answer whenever it gets there... wow, i would be pretty upset.

I don't think this is a feminist issue. People should treat each other respectfully in a relationship, and if they don't, move on.

My mantra is 'Life is too short for drama'.

In my 20s I used to fight to the death to save a relationship, if my boyfriend was acting peculiar I just had to know why and find a solution.
By my 30s I was over it, if a guy started acting strange, ach, move on.
I knew my DH was the right guy for me because there was no drama, just happiness.

There is nothing feminist about that but it works quite well for me.

Ephiny Tue 27-Sep-11 13:13:40

The letter/email thing sounds a slightly odd way of communicating. Still I don't understand his reaction, what is the 'line' that she crossed? What other 'lines' might there be that he hasn't told her about?

I couldn't be bothered with this sort of game-playing in a relationship myself. I agree with 'it's OK to be single'!

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