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Friends & Their Relationships
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Friends & Their Relationships
My best friend of almost 40 years has not spoken to me for almost
1 1/2 years. Her husband was being abusive. I made the mistake
of saying something, because my friend asked me about her
situation. Long story short is that I mentioned I thought some
behavior was abusive. her husband is controlling and has an
anger management problem.
Anyway, I am heartbroken. I have very few family members so this
is a huge loss for me. My best friend and I were 4 when we first
met and got along fine until the abusive situation with her
husband got out of control. I've called, sent cards,
apologized, but no calls or emails are returned. I hate the
silent treatment. I've been a very good friend over the years
and do not deserve this silent treatment.
I think her husband wants his wife to be cut off from the rest of
the world. I was the last of her friends from before the
marriage she was talking to. I blew it my mentioning I saw some
red flags of abuse. Any advice on getting my friend to talk to
me again is welcomed!
Oh, I really do feel for you. I lost my best friend exactly the
same way. We had been friends since the 7th grade until she got
involved with an abuser. He hit her twice, complete with bruising
and police reports. I begged her to get out, worried that the
next call would be her next of kin saying it was too late. She
stopped returning my calls. I emailed, sent messages through
mutual friends, etc. She even ended the relationship on her own a
year later. Never a word.
That was 9 years ago. I'm sorry I don't have a happy ending for
you. I'm still confused and it still stings to talk about. I
learned, however, that you've gotta let go at some point. Grieve
the relationship, wish her well, and move on. This takes a long
time to achieve and is easier said than done. I also have very
few friends and it was a palpable loss. I hope your story ends
better, but my advice is this: forgive yourself, forgive her, and
let go. Holding on and waiting for an answer that may never come
is too emotionally exhausting for anyone. The good news is you
will make new friends, good friends even. Tincture of time. Good
Ugh. I am so sorry. I had a very similar thing happen and it was
(and still is) awful and heartbreaking. It was probably the most
heartbreaking thing that has ever happened to me. About 8 years
ago my best friend from age 5 (I am 37) cut me off completely
after something much less serious than what you describe (I
hooked up with her cousin). She stopped talking to me
completely, told me not to contact her, made up stories about me
stalking her (I only found this part out recently)... just
totally nutso stuff. I cried for years about it and still am sad.
We had a few email back and forths over the past few years and
what I realized was how different we were. Looking back, I am
not that surprised she cut me off as I had seen her do it to
others. I had been a wonderful, wonderful friend to her and never
did anything to deserve it, but her own issues won over our
It is so hard and so heartbreaking and it is a lot like a death.
It is a total betrayal and there is no way to make it better but
It sounds like you did the exact right thing that a good friend
would do... talk to her about something so upsetting as abuse.
As with my friend, you can't fix your friend's flawed perspective
or screwed up way of getting through the day. You can only
accept that you can't change her and move on.
So, so sorry about your pain.
An abuser has more power over a woman with no friends. He may
have threatened her, so that she no longer feels safe staying in
touch with you. She probably needs a friend now more than ever,
but you can't force her to talk to you. If you have any way to
collect evidence of his abuse, that would probably be very
helpful in the long run.
Sorry to hear your best friend stopped talking to you because you
cared. This is a major loss for you. You did everything right.
You did what a best friend of 40 years would do which was to look
out for her. You've tried everything to get her to respond and
she won't so there's nothing more you can do. It's sad that she
let you down and pushed you out of her life. It wasn't right. But
you have to get beyond this and move forward with your own life.
The purpose of abuse is to make the recipient feel as wrong and
bad as the one dishing it out. That is what your friend's
husband may be doing to her if your observations were accurate -
they seem to be. And that is what your friend is doing to you.
The silent treatment is aggressive. You say she asked for your
opinion. The only thing you could have done differently is
lied, and you no doubt told her the truth because you cared
about her. Apparently losing her last and best friend did not
constitute ''bottom'' to her. She is an integral part of an
entrenched, unhealthy system. This is sad and hard for you, but
it had nothing to do with you. I don't think there's anything
more you can do. Take it as evidence of how destructive that
kind of dynamic is. In a way, she put you the position she is
in in her marriage and it seems just as pointless and damaging
for you to try to bend over backwards to keep the connection
you used to have. I'm sorry you have to feel the loss. She may
come back one day, and in any case it will dull in time. I was
in an abusive marriage once, and in another incident I had a
friend who totally cut me off, going on six years now. Good
Abusive spouses always isolate their victims to maintain control.
You did not blow it by pointing out the abuse. While you don't
deserve the silent treatment, it possible that your friend didn't
receive any of the cards or phone messages. You can assume that
all her mail, phone conversations and messages, and email are
being monitored at all times. If she did receive your overtures,
it's probable that the abuse escalated so that your friend was
too afraid to contact you, or knowing that if she did, she would
Pointing out abuse can increase fear in the victim, especially if
she is still in the denial phase. Victims of domestic violence
become traumatized to the point of incapacitating fear. They
literally become petrified.
I would suggest that you try to keep in contact with your friend.
Try to meet her alone. Speak about you love for her, not your
hurt feelings. Let her know that she is not alone, that you want
to help her in any way that she feels OK with. Keep it slow. If
you come on too strong she will bolt in fear.
been in your shoes
In my opinion, you were right to raise your concerns to your
friend, especially if she asked you.
But now, it is her decision whether or not to reply to your
communications to her. Respect her, even if you feel hurt and
scared. It is up to you and, I believe okay, to send a
nonjudgemental note now and then, but it is not your right to
get a reply or have an active friendship. She is an adult. She
can decide, even if you disagree with her decision. Respect
your former freind. Mourne the friendship and move on. She'll
know where to find you if and when she is ready.
Keep trying. Be open. It's really the only thing you can do. Eventually
you'll have to
decide if it's worth it or whether you're ready to move on. Good friends
are hard to find
(but not impossible).
Give up. It has been a year and a half. You have done your
best. She is not responding.
It is only going to continue to hurt you if you persist.
I see how heart-broken you must be. My take on it is this: you
called her on behavior that she cannot or will not yet see (the
abuse by her husband.) If she reconnects with you, she risks
seeing the truth. I would write her a letter saying something
like this: ''I know I hurt your feelings when I told you I
thought you husband was abusive. Please know that if/ when you
need me, I will be here for you.'' I would send the letter and
not contact her again. You cannot help someone who does not want
to see the truth. Get out and about and you will meet other
women who can become your friends....
Do you have a mutual friend who could ask her in confidence why
she doesn't want you in her life anymore? Maybe she just didn't
like you telling her what she should do about her husband. Or,
maybe there's a reason other than what you said about her
husband. She might talk to you if there's an urgent reason, for
example, if you need her help finding classmates for an upcoming
class reunion. Just don't mention her husband!
Otherwise, all you can do is just send her a Holiday card every
year so that she knows you're still thinking of her.
Ex-friend of Bush supporters
I have learned that a dear friend's husband is having an affair
with a woman in another city. This is not hearsay but fact--
not the stuff of rumors. My friend, meanwhile, is oblivious.
He gets away with this because he travels all the time. They
have their share of issues but stay together for the kids. I
think I would want to be told but I know people often
say ''don't tell''. I feel uncomfortable knowing so feel painted
into a corner either way. Anyone ever told a friend?
Interested to know if you would do it again or not. If she
would just pull his cell phone records it would be clear as day
but I fear that she is not even suspicious and the travelling
man will continue to play his games.
-Ms. Reveal or Conceal
It seems to me it depends on your relationship with your
friend. If it is a relationship with a close friend that is
intimate, in which you share details about your spouses, etc,
then I don't see how you can not tell. Otherwise you are being
insincere every time you talk with her (and when she finds out,
because she ultimately will, then you betrayed her trust by not
saying anything and perpetuating the betrayal). If it is an
acquaintance/friend whom you are not especially intimate with,
then I would not be the one to break this intimate news. I
might, though, talk with someone who is closest to her about how
best to let her know. Sounds like many people know what her
husband is doing, so its not a matter of ''if'' she finds out, but
rather ''when'' and ''how'' she finds out. It would be great if the
information could come to her in the most compassionate and
supportive way possible.
Hate to be in your shoes
I would say that it is better to remain silent. It is true that
your friend might be very hurt if she were to find out and then
realize that you knew all along. It might break your friendship.
At the same time, you don't want to be the one standing in the
middle of your friend's marriage crisis. Speaking from
experience, I would add that your friend might not be oblivious.
She may simply prefer to appear oblivious to her friends, in
which case you would hurt her by exposing something that she
wants to keep quiet. Because people in unhappy relationships
sometimes end up blaming outsiders for their unhappiness, she
could even question your motives for being honest with her. On
the whole, the best thing would be to stand by her if and when
she asks for your help.
Yeah, that's a dilemma alright. I'm really not sure what I'd do
in your shoes. Your friend might blame the messenger in one way
or another, but then again you must feel kinda strange with her
knowing something so intimate. But how did you find out, and are
your sure your friend's husband is having an affair? How do you
know about hi phone bill? If you do say something and you're
wrong, you'll probably lose the friend. How well do you know
your friend's husband? Do you think it would help to talk to him
directly and tell him that you know? Good luck with this.
You're in a difficult place.
ABSOLUTELY NOT! It is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! The person who she should hear it
from is her husband. What would you accomplish by telling her? And do you know for
certain that she really doesn't know about it? I mean, if they're staying together
sake of the kids, then maybe they already have an ''arrangement'' that your friend
hasn't cared to tell you about, and so she is actually choosing to be oblivious.
If not, all
this would do is make her and likely the kids, unhappy. Who does that serve?
Regardless, it's not your place to meddle. Leave it be.
Minding My Own Business
Perhaps the solution to your dilema would be to tell the husband
that you know, and wait to see his reaction. I would imagine that
he does not think that anyone knows, but if he realizes that at
least one other person knows, then it will only be a matter of
time until others, his wife???, find out as well. The issue of
infidelity is a very powerful one in relationships, and depending
on the couple they may or may not be able to survive the issue.
If you tell your friend, although you are doing so to help her it
will , or could, cause her tremendous pain. Hopefully telling the
husband will make him choose, and perhaps decide to save his
marriage, or decide to at least be honest and to disolve their
Good luck you are in a difficult position.
I was in a similar place not so long ago. It was so hard to try
to figure out what to do. In the end, I couldn't be myself around
my friend because I felt so guilty concealing this secret from
her. I felt like I was an accomplice for allowing his affair to
continue without consequence. I knew that learning this would
hurt her, but if I were in her position, I'd like to know. Not so
long before I learned about her, I was on the other side; my
partner cheated on me. I found out on my own, but I immediately
felt angry with the people I had considered friends that knew and
never even told me. I've tried to forgive them since, and it's
still a continuing process.
I also remember thinking that if she allowed her pain to break
our friendship, then that would be up to her. Regardless, your
friend will also have to deal with the pain and heartache.
Concealing information can get so complicated for everyone
involved and she cannot begin to heal until she realizes what is
going on. He is deceiving her and you cannot allow him and his
mistakes to come between your friendship.
If you do decide to tell her, make sure to reassure her that you
are there for her. She is going to need all the love and support.
If you don't tell her, know that the truth will eventually come
out about him and also about you and thus, her pain is unavoidable.
I think you should tell her. I am sure a lot of people will say
you shouldn't as it's none of your business but actually it is.
If i had a friend and she did not tell me, our friendship would
be over when i find out. Think of it this way, eveyr time you
see her, you will be basically lying to her by not sharing the
Do it in a way that makes it possible for them to work it out,
because obviously if they stay together and you said very
judgmental things, it will be over.
What would you do if she knew your husband wa shaving an affair
and did not tell you?
If it was me, I would call him (at work), tell him I know, and
tell him he has to tell his wife. The fact that you know may
mean he wants someone to find out, and get him out of telling
his wife. He needs to tell her and seek some couples counseling
for the two of them - assuming he wants to stay married.
Please tell her. I am the very unfortunate victim of my husband's
out-of-town-while-travelling affair that I discovered by
accident, and now we are on our way to divorce. The whole thing
has been absolutely devastating for me and my 2 young children. I
wish that someone had known and could have told me, so that I
could have at least taken some steps to protect myself. As women,
as friends, we need to protect and support each other.
Onward and upward
I would want to know, wouldn't you?
I would approach her saying something like this
''I have some information that could be very upsetting to you. Do
you want to hear it?'' there is a chance she DOES know and
chooses to look the other way. You also have to be aware her
response could be rage, disbelief, anger, etc and that your
friendship could end because of this. The other part is that it
may get ''out'' that you are the one who told and some people
might treat you differently due to this. There are risks
involved but I believe making the good moral decision is always
worth the consequences. let us know what you decide and how it
Oh dude. That is such a tough situation. From my experience, it
seems like the wife always knows, but either goes into denial or
just lives with it because of her own issues. (Then again, this
is the Bay area -- it might be that they have an open marriage? I
dunno, I keep meeting surprising numbers of people who do!)
The popular advice on this -- I mean in magazine articles and
such, which I've written scads of -- is to tell the HUSBAND that
you know what he's up to and that you're going to tell his wife
by a particular date, or you'll tell her yourself. That's
supposed to -- I don't know what it's frickin supposed to do, and
I can't imagine having such a conversation. But that's what the
experts seem to advise.
Either way, you're going to lose her as a friend, most likely. I
mean, whether she knows or doesn't know, she's going to feel
humiliated that YOU knew.
Oh jeez. I don't know. I would want to be told, I think! I mean,
if he's away all the time, and he'll have to pay child support
anyway, why stay with him? Ugh.
Lifetime Television for Women
Stay out of it and forget you know. It's none of your business.
There is a good chance she knows. Your friendship will be over
if you tell her - if anything she needs a friend now. I wouldn't
How about confronting the husband and telling him that he has to
come clean? Keeping a secret like this might destroy your
friendship, as she is bound to find out sooner or later. If it
were me, I would certainly want to know.. good luck
If she's a good friend, I think you've got to tell her.
Otherwise you're hiding it from her and colluding with him. It's
a sucky position to be in. Another alternative, if you have a
relationship with the husband, is to say to him, ''I know about
your affair, and you have to tell her about it, or else I will.''
There is no right or wrong answer. If your friend is not
suspecting, you telling her won't help do anything except make
her mad at you and then him. You can hint like, ''I just heard
about a woman who found out her husband was cheating after
checking his cell phone, credit card reciepts or calling him
when he was away so much on business.'' I suggest just planting
the seed and let her water it.
Given today's issues with STD's though, if you think your
friend's health is in danger, hint more strongly but don't tell
her you have direct knowledge since you don't know how she'll
take that and it may destroy your friendship.
Yes, if she is your friend, and you know, she needs to know, or
your friendship will also fail. If you know her husband well
enough, you can say that you are going to tell her tonight if he
doesn't do it himself.
-a victim of cheating whose ''friend'' knew, but didn't tell me.
Yes- you must must must Yes. I don't who these people are that
are saying to just let it go. This is something that is
happening that is wrong and you know about it and you can do
something. You might try telling the man first that he needs to
tell the woman, but if he doesn't you must. I was brought up in
a family where my father had many affairs that everyone knew
about except my mother and it was horrible. You must tell.
YES you must.
I have a dear friend who really needs to get out of her terrible,
destructive, and damaging relationship with the father of their
The thing is, sheís trapped in the pain and pessimistic outlook -
her fears of the unknown, fear of poverty, turmoil, disruption,
being alone, embarrassment, shame, things she should have done,
could have done, etc, etc.
She needs to talk to someone who has REALLY been through it,
someone who has left an emotionally abusive relationship with a
jerk, took her children and survived and THRIVED. Someone who can
listen and then tell her what to do.
I try all I can to offer support, to tell her how itís going to
be, but we both know deep down inside that Iím unlikely to ever
really be in her shoes and I really donít know what the hell Iím
talking about sometimes.
She does subscribe to this bulletin board, so I hope she reads
What IS the first step in leaving? The second? And the 100th???
What are some phone numbers, agencies, sources she can turn to?
Thank you all very much.
Want to Help SO Much
I am one of the women who is in the slow process of learning how to
support herself after years of being a stay at home mom, emotionally
detatching from her terminally promiscuous husband, and planning a life
without him to push me around. Could your friend please email me ? I have
problems that I cannot discuss with anyone I know socially, I cant go to
divorce support groups, and I can't initiate divorce for at least the next
year. She should not simply up and leave him. Please pass along my email
and I would love to make friends w her for a two person support group.
I once read something that made sense to me: you'll stay in a bad
relationship until it's worse to stay than it is to leave. I was in an
abusive relationship and it took outside intervention to get me out,
because one of the things that happens to you in a situation like that is
that you believe you can't do anything.
You lose faith in others and yourself. You don't know what you're missing,
you've forgotten what normal was, if you ever had it.
All your friend needs is the number for Cry Help or any domestic violence
hotline. You can give her more info as far as resources, but in my
experience, she has to be ready and it doesn't sound like she is. I think
all you can do is reassure her that you will be there for her. And be
patient, even ''bad'' habits are hard to break.
I would recommend her to a therapist who specializes in abuse and abuse
patterns, and relationships. One I know of is Kathryn Hirt who has offices
in SF and Oakland, and is a great therapist who I'd highly recommend. She
helped me a lot and is very real, and down to earth, and warm/
compassionate without being syrup-y or saccharine. Her contact # is
510-220-3558. And her fees are reasonable. The thing about trying to
convince her to do something as a friend is that she knows your view and a
therapist can help her to see her own sense of power and arrive to
probably the same conclusion as what you'd want for her, but from her own
sense of center and wisdom. Good luck to you and her both!
Hi, I am responding to your friend. I was in a relationship, which wasn't
overtly abusive, but felt I was living in a black hole with this very
depressed man. We were in counseling together, and I was also going alone
(I continued this after we stopped going to marriage counseling). One day
it dawned on me that that we would ALL be happier apart. I thought of my
little daughter and how she needed to see a happy mommy, and how much I
wanted to be happy. I started by picturing how things could be and
believed that it would be alright one day. That was what really triggered
the first step in leaving. Our break up wasn't that hard at first because
we both agreed that it would be for the best. There were some rocky times
and I was plunged into poverty for a while. I got some help from my
parents, got a shitty job to get something coming in. I was never sleeping
in my car or eating cat food. I was in what I call survival mode for a few
years, and had to really make a conscious eff!
ort to get out of it after things
category and she will need you lots. It's good you are there for her.
I need to know how to help my co-worker. She is in a very bad
relationship (he is verbally abusive). She isn't married to this man, but
he is the father of their 6 year old child. The relationship apparently was
good and ''healthy'' for many years, but since the birth of their
(unplanned) child, it's been rotting slowly but steadily.
She is miserable, has gained a dangerous amount of weight, has zero
self-esteem, and can't see the forest for the trees. I also suspect there is
a money issue (as in not enough to make moving out easier).
Since we have a good co-worker relationship, I have suspected there to
be a problem for awhile, but only recently did she let some key details
out, and then was very embarrassed and apologetic.
I can't sit by and pretend she's not in pain, but I don't want her to shut me
out if I insist she does something.
How can I help and what should she do first?
Very Concerned Friend
Everyone has their own feelings about giving and receiving
advice. Some people are very private. However, I've always
felt great benefits from sharing life experiences, learning from
other people's mistakes, and getting someone else's
perspective. After leaving a long, dissatisfying, emotionally
abusive relationship, I have to admit that I felt hurt that my
best friend for all those years, who was pretty familiar with
the situation, hadn't helped me to see that I was worthy of a
better relationship (or at least that I would be better off
single), or encouraged me to look at my options and help me
figure out the road blocks that had me feeling trapped. When I
finally decided to leave the relationship I asked for and
received her help figuring out IN DETAIL how to pull it off.
So, I encourage you to let your friend know that you see her
suffering and that you are there to help her figure out how to
make a major life transition. Let's remember to hold each
others' hands through life.
So Much Happier Now!
Don't insist on anything. That will just lose your friendship-
obviously your friend chooses at some level (unconcious,
unhealthy) to stay in this bad situation. Often women who stay
in those situations feel that they don't deserve something
better and have difficulty admitting that things could be
better. I'd suggest you'd be honest but supportive, direct but
not attacking or insisting. And acknowledge that she probably
has some legitimate draw to the relationship, that she'll lose
when it ends. Something more like, ''I'm really worried about
you. You deserve so much better, and you just seem so unhappy
lately. I would be too in that situation. It must be
disappointing to realize you can't get what you need from this
relationship, even though you've tried so hard. I don't want you
to lose yourself, because you're so precious to me, and your
son/daughter is so precious to me too, I don't want to see
him/her hurt the way you've been hurt. I want you to have
something better, and I really think this isn't working for you.
I realize it must be scary financially / emotionally, but I'm
sure I can help you (or help you find some help). It will likely
be very difficult for a while, but I want you to know I'm there
for you, and will be there to help you through it (if you can).
And I promise you, there's light at the end of the tunnel.''
Even better if you can offer personal examples of those
difficult times/ choices. But do not insist, and don't get
yourself trapped into thinking that you can fix the relationship
or fix her. You may have a friend who will break your heart by
not being able to take care of herself adequately, but you can't
do it for her. She has to do it herself... with support. It's
really tough. I've lost really good but unhealthy friends who
flat-out refused to admit that anything was wrong.
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