The Relationship Judge – I Can’t Stand My Friend’s Significant Other – Entry #4

This week’s Relationship Judge blog post concerns “Trisha” from Arizona, writing in after another very frustrating evening out with her best friend “Kayla” and Kayla’s boyfriend.    In a nutshell – she doesn’t like the guy.  He’s crass, he’s rude and the worst part – he’d driving a wedge into the strong friendship between Trisha and Kayla.   Have any of your friends dated a jerk? Someone who rubbed you the wrong way? Someone you couldn’t bare to spend time with or made you cringe every time you opened your mouth?  That’s what it sounds like Trisha is dealing with.  Let’s see if we can help her.

The Facts: Trisha and Kayla are both 28 years old, grew up together, went to the same state university, lived nearby each other after college in the Scottsdale area and have always been extremely close.   About 7 months ago, Kayla met “Ted,” through mutual friends.  For the first couple of months, Ted treated Kayla poorly.  He would contact her only when he wanted “some action,” usually after 11 PM and when inebriated.  They’d have a sleep-over and hook up, afterwhich Kayla wouldn’t hear from him for a couple weeks.  Trisha advised Kayla to stop seeing him, not to return his advances and basically forget about him.  She thought Kayla had finally ended all ties to Ted.  Then suddenly Kayla confessed about 3 months ago that things had changed and Ted was now her boyfriend.   Wanting Ted to be accepted by Trisha, Kayla organized a couple of dinners and casual get-togethers at her home, but each time, Ted seemed completely disinterested in getting to know Trisha.  When he did ask her any questions, it was about her bra size or her last sexual encounter.  He found it particularly amusing to make fun of her clothing.  He also mentioned that he didn’t like when Kayla spent weekends with Trisha as that was “couple time.” Kayla’s take on this behavior was that Ted was just really sarcastic and that Trisha needed to “lighten up” a bit.  Still, months have passed and Trisha feels more uncomfortable than ever around Ted.  She has started to make up excuses to avoid plans with them.  She’s worried that her friendship has suffered and isn’t quite sure what to do.

The Question: What should Trisha do about her best friend’s obnoxious, rude and less than ideal boyfriend?

The Relationship Judge Says: Oy, Trisha.  Tough spot to be in.  I’m sure just want to shake Kayla’s shoulders and scream into face that she’s dating a psychopath that will just make her miserable.   How could such a stand-up gal like your BFF Kayla end up with such a schmuck?  The answer: it happens and there may not be much you can do about it.   There are, however, several options you may choose to pursue here:  (1)  If you think Kayla is the kind of person who will listen to advice, you may want to arrange to hang out with her one on one and simply tell her your concerns about him.  You don’t have  to go adjective crazy, but you can just say that he makes you feel uncomfortable and guarded.  Try to give some specific examples of his controlling behavior.  This is actually a really tough conversation to have because nobody wants to hear that the guy they have fallen for is a complete loser.  Be prepared for her to get defensive.  She may claim that she’s very happy with him.  That he’s “different” with her.  If that’s truly the case, you may just need to find ways to spend time with Kayla apart from Ted – or perhaps just accompany them to the movies so you don’t have to have much interaction.    You can try talking to a close family member of hers to get their take on Kayla’s relationship.  But be forewarned that teaming up on Kayla to end things with Ted may set her off and next thing you know, she’ll be engaged to him.   Still, if it’s really a problem, an honest conversation can at least put the idea in her head and make her think twice about Ted’s personality traits.

Another option is wait out the relationship until Ted shows his true colors enough that Kayla comes to her senses or the relationship runs its course.  During this time, you can continue to make up excuses as to why you’re busy every single day for the next 8 months, but lying to a close friend is not a habit you should get into.   Your best option is to only make plans with Kayla on her own.  Suggest things he wouldn’t come to like a “Girls Night Out,” and “Sex and the City trivia night” – or find out what his schedule is and try to aim for the nights you know he’s traveling or busy.

No matter what you decide, until Ted mends his ways or Kayla breaks up with him, you’ve got a difficult situation on your hands.  I’d use this time to start branching out and meeting new people.  Join some local organizations in your city.  A sports league for adults.  Volunteer somewhere. Reconnect with old friends who live in the area.   Because if Kayla and Ted get married, it unfortunately sounds like you’re going to need some new friends to hang out with – at least until the divorce.  I know this is a sad notion to face – losing a best friend to a bad boyfriend.  But have faith that she’ll come to her senses, or nudge her a bit in that direction.  Best of luck and please keep us posted!

Your Turn: What should Kayla do? Have you faced this problem before?  What did you do? How did it work out?  Please judge here!

If YOU have a problem for The Relationship Judge, please email me at staceyb@officestace.com with the subject line “The Relationship Judge.”  Instructions for what to submit can be found here.

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  1. SusieQ from Philly says:

    I had the same problem with MY best friend – who did marry the jerk. She gave no signals that she wanted to know anything about what others thought of him – probably a signal in itself. It took her four years, three of which were spent in couples therapy, to finally leave this abusive person.

    Over the years, I have thought about how her friends, myself included, could have handled things differently. One possible tact might be to ask the friend the “hypothetical” question as “I have a friend who…and I don’t know what to say to her that she might be able to hear…”

    I don’t know if that would work AT THIS TIME, but it certainly could be asked and not be threatening.

    How sad that women feel so poorly about themselves that they do not realize that they SHOULD be treated as a very special person.

    I agree with you, Stacey, that Trisha should get out and start to reconnect with old friends and make new ones and, hopefully, be open to having Kayla join them when she finally sees the light.

  2. This is not an uncommon problem of low self-esteem and thirst for affection. She probably doesn’t even notice his abuse.
    It is possible to use someone else as an example, telling her «I’ve got a friend who has decided she deserves to be treated better, … .» However, she knows you don’t like her boyfriend. In my opinion:
    – It is very important to «sow the seeds» of how much she deserves someone who is truly worthy of her. She may not agree with you now but the thoughts will be planted. That doesn’t mean to debase or degrade him. It means you need to build her up. It can even be in other areas. Help her to recognize her self-worth.
    – Bring his abuse to her attention. Use specific examples, or even better, say something just immediately after he’s said (or done) something inconsiderate or abusive towards her. Don’t be in a hurry to speak until you’ve got that (those) concrete example(s). Take mental notes on his specific words or actions that reflect his lack of respect for her.
    – Admit his qualities, but let her see you are truly shocked at *his behaviour* (Not at her attachment for him). Be careful in your choice of words so that she can see herself in that positive light. He isn’t good enough for her! Encourage her «not to settle for 2nd best».
    This is a deep-rooted problem, but she *can* be made aware of it.
    – Find a book on relationships. This means taking time to read the book BEFORE you give it to her. It must be a truly good, insightful book into self esteem and choosing a partner.
    She alone can decide she deserves better, and refuse an abusive relationship. It may be too hard for her right now. She may be afraid no one will ever come along. Maybe she’s biding her time, unfortunately she may have to pay the consequences.
    There are surely a million little things about him that make her feel secure (for the time being). Is he like her father? or an old flame? Does she enjoy mothering him? Catering to him? Often we recreate the schema (gestalt is a better term) of what we’ve known growing up. Breaking this cycle can be frightening or overwhelming.
    – So be patient. Be forthright, entreating and kind. Assure her of your friendship. However, if you don’t enjoy his company then don’t force yourself. Reassure her that someone much better is out there for her. If you find him lascivious and vulgar, then don’t pretend. She may think you are giving your approbation if you force yourself to act like you are enjoying his company. Sow the seeds of encouragement and water them occasionally. Trust that she will learn life’s lessons, and hopefully soon.

    FOR TRISHA:
    Build a new support network for yourself. Maybe this is just the opportunity to discover new people and places! Look forward to new friendships and not to regretting those of the past. When she see’s you moving on she may want to imitate your example!

    PS Our college librarian was an «old maid». Until one day (just hitting 70) she met a widower and fell in love. She retired from the library (finally) and was married! It is *never* to late for love!!!

  3. graciesmom says:

    Trisha! We all feel your pain! Any of us who has had a gal pal for a number of years has been through something like this – even if it wasn’t a bad boyfriend, it’s something you see that you know is NOT good for your friend. And that’s where I might start…..if you and Kayla have been friends since childhood, you’ve seen each other through many ups and downs. What happens in the boyfriend situation is that people become love struck and logic goes out the window (even if the guy is a douchebag!). This is what you are competing with….the drunken state of love – not an easy or even fair fight! However, you have something that Ted does not have…a long standing relationship with Kayla that dates back to childhood. Therefore capitalize on that by letting her know that you love her no matter what, that you want her to be happy and that you miss the times that the two of you used to spend together. See if she’ll commit to a girls only something or another and then focus on having fun, enjoying each others’ company and even reminiscing about a past situation where one of you may have “saved” the other one from a bad decision or circumstance. This may snap Kayla back into reality even if it’s just to pause and consider her current situation. You likely know Kayla better than anyone and certainly better than Ted! Which means you can utilize your knowledge well and to the advantage of the friendship.

    What can also be helpful is writing someone a heartfelt letter or card, keeping it focused more on missing the girl time that the two of you normally share versus bringing attention to the relationship with Ted. Sit down, pour your heart out first on paper, then edit to a more palatable version for your friend. Good luck!

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