Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I have a longtime friend who’s engaged to a glassbowl of epic proportions. She’s 51, never married, and I suspect she feels he’s her “last chance,” so she hangs in there, despite the fact that he doesn’t support her emotionally or financially. I know it’s impossible and not my place to try to talk her out of marrying him, as I’ve tried asking questions (“It’s nice you try so hard to make HIM happy, how about YOUR hopes and dreams?”), which results in an answer that always circles back to making him happy … arrrrggggh.
I’ve begun pulling away from the friendship because she wants me and my husband to get together as couples, and we find him really unpleasant to be around, not to mention it’s hard to watch her working so hard to please him. So far, I’ve limited my contact to lunches or drinks out with her, but I’m running out of excuses. Should I tell her the real reason we don’t socialize as couples, or just pray the scales drop from her eyes eventually? I’ve noticed other friends are also limiting their exposure to him.
Love Her, Not Her Fiance
Please take a hard look at the gray in what you’ve laid out as a pretty black-and-white question. She’s a longtime friend, yay … but doing the math as 51 + never married + jerk fiance = HOLY DESPERATION BATMAN is actually quite condescending. You really have to be careful in drawing conclusions, especially about an adult and friend you presumably respect.
One way to show that care is to flip your strategy on its head. You want to talk her out of the guy, you know it’s not your place to, so you’re trying to ask questions that will lead her to talking herself out of this guy. I get it, and have both advised it and done it myself. But the first step should be allowing her to talk you into the guy. Ask her what specifically she loves about him so you can see it too and be a better friend to her — even admitting that you and he didn’t exactly click. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)
See what I’m getting at? It’s the first line of support when someone you love falls in love with someone you dislike (but who isn’t abusive). While it might not work, since some people just seem designed to get under our skin, we owe it to the people we love to try to see things through their eyes.
This effort will give you much better standing if you decide you need to distance yourself. If that happens, be specific: Admit you object to his doing X, Y and Z, and though you care about her, you prefer not to socialize with him.
Do consider remaining in as close touch as you can stand. If this guy is not just unpleasant, but is also controlling and/or abusive, then your friend will need the lifeline of your friendship, especially with her other friends already falling away.
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