Dear Margo: Old Story: Same Song, Second Verse

How do I make my friend see that her current romantic relationship is unhealthy and potentially dangerous?

Old Story: Same Song, Second Verse

Dear Margo: One of my best friends is dating this complete jerk. He is manipulative, condescending, emotionally abusive, and let’s not skip over the time he told me to bleep-off, unprovoked and without an apology afterward. I feel like my friend is brainwashed. She used to be so confident, and now she has changed the way she acts and even eats! He’s told her she’s gained weight, guilted her about cheeseburgers and scolded her for her spending habits.

We’re in our early 20s, so naturally, we like to hit up the bars every now and then and get a little tipsy. We’re young! It’s allowed. If she gets drunk with her girlfriends, he gets mad. Then he says, “It’s not that I don’t trust you; it’s that I don’t trust other people. I don’t want anyone taking advantage of you.” Then she tells me, “I understand why he’s upset.”

Am I nuts, or does this sound like the precursor to “I understand why he beats me”? When I first met him, I did not get good vibes, and every time I’ve gotten bad vibes from someone, I’ve been right. (Call it a gift.) What can I do to help her realize this guy is bad for her? She knows he is a jerk. She’s even said it. But then she says she “loves him” and wants to marry him. She deserves much better. — Worried Best Friend

Dear Wor: Your friend sounds desperate and masochistic in the bargain. The only thing I can say for this chap is that his unhappiness with his girlfriend getting smashed is understandable. (Some people find drunks loathsome, and I am one of them.) The rest of it doesn’t sound good — especially her making excuses for him and subjecting herself to his remodeling program. From what you report, he is a controlling hothead, but as is usually the case, your friend will have to arrive at that realization herself. Stop trying to change her mind — because you can’t. These situations are do-it-yourself projects. And I suspect your record for being right about bad vibes will remain unblemished. — Margo, historically

People Tend To Do What They Want To Do

Dear Margo: My son was married four years ago and was fortunate enough to have a beautiful wedding. They received many lovely gifts. Well, now he is marrying again, this time to a gal who has never been married before. My question is: How do I handle the gift situation with my friends who already gave him gifts the first time around? Do I handwrite on the invitations that go to my friends “no gifts please”? — Wanting To Be Correct

Dear Want: You are nice to try to spare your friends a second trip to Crate and Barrel, but I am never in favor of gift instructions on wedding invitations, unless they are to contribute to a charity of the couple’s choosing (which is happening more and more with the previously married). And I will tell you something else. Some of your friends will want to send a little something in honor of your son’s new marriage. (And the ones who feel once is enough will act accordingly.)

I still remember with fondness three couples of my parents’ friends who sent me wedding gifts three times! The Humphreys, the Heinemans and the Levys. How sweet is that? And because my wonderful No. 4 and I did it very quietly, there was no chance to break what is surely a world’s record. — Margo, graciously

***

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to dearmargo@creators.com. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.

COPYRIGHT 2010 MARGO HOWARD
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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49 comments so far.

  1. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#1:  Some women are just bad *pickers* of men.  Sadly, bad men seem to sense this and hone in on them.   I don’t really think it is a bad sign if he objects to her going out drinking with her girlfriends and coming home drunk if it happens 3 or 4 times a month.  If he objects to her going to lunch with her girlfriends or calls her 3 times while she is there that is a problem.  The *diet* issue is also a problem.  Sadly, all you can do is keep the lines open and be there when this falls apart.   Which may be in a few months, a few years or 20.

    LW#2, I can understand your embarassment at appearing to go to the trough of your friends for yet another wedding gift but Margo is right.  

    I may not have Miss Manners reasoning down exactly right about this but as I recall, she believed that the invitor should not invite with the expectation of gifts but because the invitor desired the presence of the invitee at a special occasion.  Therefore, to suggest, even by saying *no gifts* that the invitor expected a gift was presumptuous.   So..gifts should not be mentioned at all.   I’m thinking that there will be some on your guest list who may not have the inclination or means to give a second gift a and that they will decline and send a nice card.  But…allow those who have the means and the generosity, to show their affection to you and your son by giving the new couple a gift and make sure the new bride sends those thank you notes out promptly! 
     

    • avatar Katharine Gray says:

      What an idiot I am!  I should have said ….make sure your SON sends out those thank you notes promptly.  

      • avatar Shana LeBeau says:

        Nice save but I’ll go with “Gentle reminder to the *couple* to send those “Thank You’s”. (I’ve always urged my friends to split them up so that HE sends the notes thanking HER side and vice versa)

  2. avatar Adam Corder says:

    LW#1 – This guy sounds like the classic manipulative abuser. It’s a twisted game of control and if he can isolate her and break her spirit, he wins. This is not going to end up anywhere good. Remaining friends with this young woman is going to be more and more difficult as time goes by and one of these days, when he feels he has enough control, chances are good the abuse will become physical. Some day she will sit down with anyone who will listen and say, “I can’t believe it has gotten to this point.”

    To be friends with someone who allows this is to live in mounting horror of what the friend has become and what she is continuing to become. To the writer I submit that the boldest statement you can make is to end your friendship and make it very clear why. Let her know, very bluntly, that you are watching her circle the drain and since you don’t see her making any effort to stop it, you aren’t going to stand by and watch. Otherwise, you are in for a ringside seat at a slow-motion train wreck that is going to take an emotional toll on you for years to come. It’s possible, though not likely, that she might take it as a wakeup call.

    I know that sounds harsh, but I’ve seen it a few times and I wish I had checked out of the spectacle early on.

    • avatar CanGal says:

      That is the very definition of fairweather friend.  Glad I’m not your friend

      • avatar Deborah Key says:

        Agreed.

      • avatar John Lee says:

        I definitely can see your point CanGal, but what Adam says does have some amount of validity to it.

        A bad abusive relationship is simliar to a bad abusive drug habit.  Say you have a friend who gets abused verbally and physically, but will never call the police (or if someone does call, will deny and never file charges).  She keeps making excuses for her abuser and never changes.  She does go to you for help whenever the pain is too much.  Sometimes, by alwaying being there to lend a hand, it ENABLES the person to continue being abused.

        Like a drug habit.  Say a friend is always abusing drugs.  Ever so often, she needs to be bailed out of jail.  You help her right?  Or even so often she needs a place to crash because she’s out of money.  She never quits and always makes excuses.  If you are always there to help, you would be enabling as well.

        It’s not an easy answer to either question.

        If the abused continues to deny the abuse and take it, while taking your help whenever it gets too bad, but returns to the abuser.  Is that how you’re going to handle it, by not being a fairweather friend?

      • avatar moonrevenge says:

        My concern with cutting ties is that I’ve read abusers like to isolate their victims. While I can understand a person distancing him- or herself because it’s too heartbreaking to watch a friend spiral, it sounds rather self-righteous to back away because the friend isn’t behaving the way I (or the “friend”) thinks she should.

    • avatar Sweet Dream says:

      I have to comment on this. I was living the life of LW1′s friend a few years back. My ex was exactly like you friend’s boyfriend. And it did escalate into physical abuse. When he found out I was pregnant he hit me on the belly and told me to miscarry. The only little different was that he was very sweet to me in public and since I was new to the area I didn’t have any friends yet. So everyone thought we were so in love. After he hit me the second time, I told him that the next time he hit me he will be spending the night in jail. So he stopped but the verbal abuse got worse. By the way he was also good at picking fights with others. All our neighbors hated us. So when I decided to leave nobody believed me. At least people who considered themselves as his friends. So please LW1 don’t abandon your friend. You don’t have to be involve in every detail of her day to day life, but let her know that you’ll be there for her no matter what. I needed a friend like you at the time.

      • avatar krista griffin says:

        Sweet,
        What a nightmare!! I’m so glad to hear you found the strength to leave. I do hope you have found peace in your life since then.

      • avatar Sweet Dream says:

        Krista, I found my peace. I used to have horrible nightmares, but they stopped as soon as I left him. Now I only have sweet dreams.

      • avatar Miss Lee says:

        How I can relate!  My second husband appeared to be a jewel to everyone else.  His first wife told me days before the wedding that he was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde and I had only met Dr Jekyll.  A week after we were married I met Mr Hyde.  I count that as the day I died and started a new life.  He never actually touched me but I ended up in the middle of a cal king bed, cowering and silently saying goodbye to my mother.  After I escaped, 5 months later, I called his ex-wife and she said “Well now someone else believes me”.  The wife of his best friend called me about a year later to say that he was getting remarried.  I said that perhaps now, he would quit following me.  She didn’t know what to say but two years after that, she called to say that his new wife was divorcing him and telling the same kind of stories I had.  She apologised to me saying that she hadn’t believed me but now she did.  He will continue to leave carnage in his wake until the day he is underground because he is so good at it.  Don’t leave your friend.  She may well need somewhere to disappear to and someone to help.  If my friends hadn’t been willing to act on a moments notice, when he left town for the weekend, I may be dead now.

      • avatar A K says:

        Congratulations on having the strength and courage to escape!  And gratitude to everyone loving enough to help.

        My boyfriend asked me to have his baby and I was thrilled he was ready to commit and start a family.  We were living in a cabin miles from the nearest phone or neighbors and I was so isolated, I didn’t have any close friends.  When I was 8 months pregnant, he beat and suffocated me. 

        Please, everyone, stay in touch and let your friend know you’re there for her.  The worst time in my life was when I realized I had absolutely nobody to turn to and nowhere to go. It was winter and I considered leaving in the snow and hitchhiking out of there, but didn’t have money for food or anywhere to stay.  Now, there are shelters and help available, but it’s still loving friends and family that really make the  difference.

      • avatar chuck alien says:

        “After he hit me the second time, I told him that the next time he hit me he will be spending the night in jail.”
        this is genius.
        “and after the SEVENTEENTH time i told him the next time i’d call the cops… so he promised to only hit me at half-strength from now on. Oh, how I love that man!”

    • avatar D C says:

      Adam… are you the LW#1 Boyfriend???

    • avatar Katy Dias says:

      Adam-wow harsh doesn’t even begin to describe your response. You do realize that that’s what abusive, controlling spouses (or boyfriends, etc) aim for right?? Is complete isolation from friends and family???? So all of her friends are as horrid as you and leave her in the dust, then she really has no one to lean on and really stands no chance of getting out. Situations like these are sad all around, but to suggest she dump her friend is the lowest of lows.

      • avatar moonrevenge says:

        Not just that, but if all of your “friends” are abandoning you, it could be construed that what the abusive partner is speaking the truth: nobody else will put up with you but me! Nobody else will want you but me! You’re lucky I keep you around!

    • avatar Ashton Warnick says:

      Adam,

      You make an excellent point.

      This is a tough call for me. I was the friend LW1 described. He managed to completely isolate me from my friends (who, like you suggested, isolated themselves from me) and kept exposure to my family minimal. No one had any idea what was going on and those that did did nothing.

      Was it my fault for staying? Absolutely. I wish I’d had a voice of reason though, someone to encourage me the many times I did try to leave. I didn’t need someone to run to, someone to hold my hand. I just needed someone to listen.

      I agree with John, enabling the behavior will get LW1′s friend no where. But to completely cut herself off only enables the boyfriend’s abusive, controlling behavior.

      Strangely enough, when I finally got the nerve to leave, it was a male friend that supported and encouraged me. He watched from the side lines, let me make my mistakes and never told me what to do.

      I can only hope you would do the same for a friend. No one deserves to be treated like that. And as hard as it may be to understand, it is very difficult to leave someone like that.

    • avatar D L says:

      Adam – I do hear what you’re saying but its the worst thing you could do to someone in that situation. The abusive BF wants the GF to be alone, he wants her dependent on him for everything, he wants total control. To me, enabling would be advising her friend that the BF really is a good guy.

      I think someone mentioned it here. The friend doesn’t have to be involved in everything. I’m sure there will be times where she’s so fed up with her friend and the BF that she can’t see straight. At that point, she may want to back out of daily interactions with her friend but she should let her friend know that she will be there for her in the end.

    • avatar Shana LeBeau says:

      Abusers are well known for isolating their victim- it’s a big part of how they manage to gain so much control in a relationship- so, following your “tough love” approach would be playing right into his hands.

  3. avatar Elaine Watkins says:

    What the LW needs to understand is that not only does her friend not see the guy for the controlling jerk he is, but she also does not see herself as the 20-something grown woman that she is.  She still sees herself as a little girl living at home with Mommy and Daddy, two people who have always commented on what she eats, where she goes, and who she hangs out with “because they care.”  She hasn’t made the transition yet.  If LW is to have a conversation with her, it should be along the lines of asking what were her dreams as a child?  Did she imagine being an independent person who goes out into the world and makes discoveries?   Or did she always dream about a safe, cozy home full of people who cared about each other?  If it’s the first, LW can maybe help her to see how that image doesn’t quite match up with what she’s got now, and get her to think about why.  If it’s the latter, she can still think about what type of wife and mom she wants to be — the doormat who cringes when Daddy walks in the door, or the decision-maker who is an equal partner in managing a household? There are many models of a strong woman.  But she needs to get into an emotional time machine and bring herself forward a few years.  If she can do that, she’ll get out from under the guy’s thumb.  If not, as has already been said, LW needs to wish the best for her friend and then back away.

  4. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: Abuser. Already trying to socially isolate her, and otherwise control her (especially as food goes). What was her father like? Margo’s correct; she’ll probably (unfortunately) have to learn the hard way. A couple of emotionally-wrought and wasted years from now. :-( Hopefully no children will come of this. I’d try to have one last REAL heart-to-heart with her. Then let it go (and she might let *you* go as a friend). But it’d be worth a try to get her to see the light.
    L #2: I’d just send out the invitations and let the chips fall as they will. It’d be unfair to your new-to-be daughter in law (her 1st marriage) to deliberately try and discourage others from gifting them.

    • avatar Anais P says:

      Good addenda to Margo’s advice. I like the idea of LW1 having a heart-to-heart with her masochistic friend. And you point out the key issue with LW2′s son’s situation: the bride is entering HER first marriage, so it would be unfair to penalize her because her son is entering his second marriage. People will give what they will. BTW, I love that Margo mentioned by name the three couples who faithfully gave her presents on the occasion of each of her marriages — and that four was the charm for her!

  5. avatar Jamie Lynn says:

    LW2-Are you my mother-in-law?!  I am newly married (for the first time) to a man who was already married and divorced within a few years. Some of the people who were at his first wedding were invited to our own.  They all brought gifts.  As my husband’s best friend pointed out, it is a completely new marriage and she didn’t think I should have to miss out on any fun wedding stuff just because my husband had already been married.  One of my husband’s aunts said she was glad to help us out with a gift, since she knew my husband ended up with nothing after the divorce.  People give gifts because they care, it isn’t up to anyone else to tell them whether or not they should.

    Anyway, as someone else already said, the proper ettiquette is never to mention gifts on an invitation.  If your friends ask, you can tell them you don’t expect anything, but that’s it.

  6. avatar Drew Smith says:

    I’ve seen this kind of manipulation play out too many times and, no, a good friend cannot sit idly by. This is a situation of tough love, but one that has to be done delicately.

    For example, do not condone bad behavior with silence. But don’t meet bad behavior with equally bad behavior.

    If you are having a private conversation with your friend, you can invite introspection, “so, how did you feel when [insert name] yelled at me, I felt bad for you.”

    Finally, do all those things together that help build character, that doesn’t mean drinking together, join a class, athletic activity and similar social activities that will give your friend the opportunity to meet other people and build self-confidence.

    It’s not a magic wand, but it can help.

  7. avatar susan whitley-clark says:

    LW#1: I certainly understand your situation and how hard it must be to watch a dear friend make a horrible mistake.  Just let her know that no matter what she can always count on you for help, and if she needs you, you will be there for her.  She’ll tuck that in the back of her mind and if times get tough and she has the strength to leave, you’re offer of help will be just the thing she needs to get out of the situation.

  8. avatar Jan Hall says:

    Some women just don’t want to see what their partners are really like.  Several years ago I stayed with a woman who’s been my friend for about 35 years.  This was the first time I had ever been around her husband for more than just a few minutes (we live on different coasts), and he was extremely verbally abusive to her whenever he opened his mouth.  At dinner one evening we got into a discussion where I gave an opinion he didn’t like, and called me an “stupid f*ing menopausal bitch.”  When I told him I expected an apology, he stormed away.  That’s when the wife explained to me he always talked like that because he was once the CEO of a major corporation and he doesn’t expect people to disagree with him.  I was shocked, and got into my car and left.  I spoke to him once since then when he called me to tell me not to buy the house I was thinking of buying – - as if he also controlled my life.

    I remember her telling me when she married him that she was getting the financial security she always wanted.  What a price to pay!

    • avatar John Lee says:

      Marrying for money is a hard way to earn a living.

    • avatar chuck alien says:

      though really, it is sort of hilarious that he insulted you, and you then “demand an apology”
      does that ever work? does the person ever immediately, sincerely say “i deeply apologize for calling you a stupid freaking menopausal…”?
      it doesn’t seem like that would work too often. i just don’t see you getting the response you are looking for.  like, ever.
      it seems like a very… odd reaction to being insulted. why not slap him with a glove and demand satisfaction? or stamp your foot and pout?
       

  9. avatar Sarah Fisher says:

    Regarding LW2, if both parties had been married before that might be different, but it seems cruel to treat the first-time bride as a second-time anything. This is her first (and hopefully only) wedding – there’s no need to treat her like second best.

  10. avatar D L says:

    LW#1 – unfortunately, Margo is right in that you won’t be able to change your friend’s mind. I used to be your friend many years ago. My ex was manipulative, controlling, possessive, insanely jealous as well as emotionally abusive (the physical abuse started towards the end of our relationship ~ thank God too b/c that’s what finally woke me up!). At the time, all my friends and family tried to warn me that he was no good but I wouldn’t hear of it. I defended him constantly, even though we fought like cats and dogs. Like your friend, I knew he was a jerk but I thought I knew the real him and could change him, or at least that’s what I was led to believe. Over time, he wore my self-esteem down so much that I could barely make a move without consulting him first. This added to the isolation that he helped create. I no longer had friends b/c they were “bad influences” and my family was constantly bad-mouthed by him for “being in our business”. I was so alone that I thought, through his encouragement, that he was all I had.

    The reason why your friend can’t see this is b/c, at least for me, it happens so gradually. I too got the line, I trust you, I just don’t trust other people. I also got the, I’m just trying to help you. Plus, everything was my fault. If you’re constantly being told that you’re at fault, you begin to question your own judgment which adds to the erosion of your self-esteem. I was constantly told how no one would love me as much as him or that I would be nothing without him. I was dependent on him for everything and he made damn sure of it too. I assume that the same is true for your friend.

    All you can do is be there for your friend. The more you try to convince her what a jerk he is, the more she will pull away. It could even destroy your friendship (I know it did in my case). I don’t know how long they’ve been dating but, based on what you’ve said here, it will only get worse. If she does isolate herself, keep trying to talk to her, not about how bad he is but how good of a person she is. Hopefully it will remind her of the person she used to be and perhaps help her to finally see him for what he is.

    One note: if their relationship does become physical, IMO you have every right to try and help your friend get out of the relationship. It could very well save her life. I hope it never comes to that.

    LW#2 – why should the new bride be slighted b/c your son has already walked down the aisle? This is her first (and hopefully only) wedding and she shouldn’t have to worry about not receiving any gifts simply b/c your son has been there, done that. I say leave it up to the guests to decide whether they want to send another gift.

    • avatar Ashton Warnick says:

      Well said and excellent advice. Isn’t it unbelievable to look back on that person you were and wonder what you were thinking? I no longer live with my experience as a regret but more as a learning experience. It made me a better person. I do have days where I want to go back and smack “her”.

  11. avatar Deeliteful says:

    Ashton:

    I had to laugh when I read you comment about going back to smack “her” somedays.  I went thru a bad 2nd marriage and most of my friends and family refer to that time as the “years I had lost my mind”.  If I ever try to re-marry, my family has my permission to have me committed for psychiactric evaluation before I walk down the aisle.  If I’m deemed mentally competent, they will seek a 2nd opinion.

    I am by no means making light of LW1′s friend’s situation.  Some of us have to learn the hard way and if we are lucky, we will have family and friends waiting to help us when we realize and are willing to admit we made a horrible mistake.

  12. avatar julia smith says:

    I spent 15 years being abused by my well-beloved charming, handsome doctor husband.  I cried to my friends until finally one of them made me realize the venting enabled me to go back for more.  She said she’d be there for me, but would no longer listen to my complaints if I did nothing about it.  She was a true friend and kicked me out of my cycle.  Adam’s advice is not bad, he just states it more baldly (maybe from the male “fix it or shut up” point of view) than my friend did. 

    • avatar StepD says:

      Julia, I was just about to post something similar as I have been there, done that. Adam’s advice was coldly done, but when I was the abused friend in Letter #1, my friend did something just like that. We had been friends for years and she had always been there when I came to complain about how “the love of me life” treated me although he didn’t mean to do it. She listened, sympathised, let me cry and back I went for more abuse. One day she lost it, yelled at me and said she was not going to listen to me anymore if I was willing to allow anyone to devalue me and treat me like garbage. She got in my face and said some very harsh words, words that I needed to hear. It was a wake up call for me. I know each situation is different of course, but  it snapped me out of my stupor and helped me really look at myself for the first time in a long time. I still thank her every day.

      • avatar chuck alien says:

        the crucial distinction being that you’re not cutting the friend off completely… you’re just not accepting certain kinds of behavior.
         
        lets you tell her off, but still doesn’t isolate her further, which is what he wants.
         
        good work, friend! :)

  13. avatar Suzanne Burk says:

    If I were LW#1′s good or best friend, I would want to be with her even more!!  I would be her voice when needed.  I would be her protector, her defender and whatever else I saw that was needed.  Here’s the thing – she loves the BF, you don’t have to.  You can see through him where she is blinded by love.  Therefore, like a guardian angel, you need to be there for her.  And like a best friend, you have to let her make her own mistakes and let her know you will be there for her….. if you really care for her – stay by her side, give good advice and words of encouragement and love, and always be there when she needs you – because she will need you one day.

  14. avatar John Hlavaty says:

    I’m not so sure the bf in LW1′s letter really is an abuser. Before I am torn apart for that statement, I want to emphasize that if there is any emotional, verbal or physical abuse in the relationship, the I pray the LW’s friend runs from her bf.  However, from what was in the letter, it seems that the advice may be too harsh.  The LW makes him come across as this monster, but talking about weight gain or how money is spent are very common in most relationships.  And having a partner come home drunk can also be disruptive.  If a woman wrote that her bf was coming home drunk, you’d probably all tell her to dump him.  But when she does it, suddenly the guy is a controlling jerk.  Also, when the LW’s friend says, “I understand why he’s upset” she’s NOT saying “I know why he beat me.”  She’s simply stating that after talking with her bf, she knows why he’s upset with her for coming home drunk.   If the LW’s friend feels that this binge drinking (with the LW using the excuse of “hey, we’re young” as justification) is not right, then perhaps the bf has a point.  And that may account for why the friend is not the same “fun” person she was.  It’s not the bf tearing her down; rather, it’s the friend outgrowing the LW.  Also, we aren’t hearing the bf’s views.  The LW may feel she’s losing a friend and spins the situation to make him look bad (is this perhaps why the bf said “bleep you” to her??).  But in reality, the bf is right – cut back on the cheeseburgers and alcohol, and close the wallet.  None of this is bad advice and certainly should be addressed now before marriage.  The only concern I have is the LW’s friend’s apparent shift in confidence.  This could be due to the bf, but may also be attributed to other items or may simply be incorrect.   

  15. avatar John Hlavaty says:

    P.S. I should add that nowhere in LW1′s letter does it say that the bf is trying to isolate his gf.  He just doesn’t want her to come home drunk.  And while we all get tipsy now and then, if this is a semi-frequent event, he has a right to say something. 

  16. avatar wowmargo says:

    LW#1 – just going through this with a close friend.  She insists that “all men are alcoholics” so she needs to change her own values to live with “her man.”  Almost monthly they have fights and he moves out.  She called me the other day saying that he’s out for good.  Yeah-right! (with sarcasm)  Within 5 days, he was back.  I just saw a book “How to Break Your Addiction to a Person” – sounds interesting – I may get a copy so I know how to deal with it next time.

  17. avatar huskernubian says:

    I am always suspicious of letters like #1.  The only real example she provided is that the guy doesn’t like when his girlfriend goes out and gets drunk.  ”Tipsy”.  And he called LW#1 a bad name once.  Unprovoked, according to her.
    I doubt it was entirely unprovoked, given her obvious animosity toward him.
    The other examples are very subjective coming from someone on the outside of the relationship.  People in relationships often work on aspects of their relationships.  I doubt many readers here found their significant others to be “perfect” and suggested a few areas in which improvement might be welcomed.  Friends tend to view these suggestions as being manipulative or bitchy or whatever, particularly when the suggestions include things that relate to the pre-existing friendship.  Some people simply can’t deal with their friends changing and growing and moving forward in life.
    This sounds like a classic case of someone who is jealous of a relationship her best friend is in because the relationship is given precedence over her own friendship.
    I would give more credence to this letter if it came from the friend who is in the “abusive” relationship, or if she were able to provide clear examples of his manipulative and controlling behavior.  LW#1 simply doesn’t have much credibility to me.  I suspect her version of “tipsy” is more like getting staggering drunk.  It was great in college, wasn’t it?  Now we are growing up and maturing and being a drunk is not an attractive attribute for anyone in an adult relationship.

    • avatar chuck alien says:

      “I suspect her version of “tipsy” is more like getting staggering drunk.”
       
      oh those youngsters!  always with the lying and drinking.
       
      glad to hear you’re maturing, though.

    • avatar Lisa D says:

      I admit I had the same view as huskernubian. Think about it — those who have said the LW should call out her friend for her bad choice in men – is that really different from a bf calling out a gf who spends beyond her income, gets staggering drunk, and stuffs her face with greasy fast food?  Am I exaggerating? Yeah – but most of the responses here have the guy beating his gf silly. That’s not in the letter. All we know is that the LW hates the bf. Period. And she does sound snarky.  Maybe the boyfriend just likes to hang out with grown ups.

      • avatar Lisa D says:

        I just wanted to add that, unfortunately, I’ve been in abusive relationships. I’m very aware of the issues that others have mentioned  – and I’ve lived through the isolation techniques. The bf may very well be horrible. But based on what I read, all my red flags are going up around the LW.

  18. avatar Caramia says:

    Sometimes men can be pretty nasty to their significant others.  There is a book titled “Men Who Hate Women and The Women Who Love Them.” written by Dr. Susan Forward.  A female relative bought it, read it, and I have it now.  It helped her situation immeasurably.  It’s an old book and may even be out of print now.

    • avatar Shana LeBeau says:

      No, it is still widely available and an excellent companion to a newer book, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft.

      Both books are likely to open the eyes of those in abusive situations simply because reading that the situation is not unique but is, in fact, almost cliche tends to break the spell of oddly mixed shame and pride (“He wouldn’t act like this if he did not love me soooooo much)

  19. avatar Legal Eagle says:

    As a woman who has been married twice and a divorce lawyer to boot, I can speak to LW#2′s letter. The writer is being terribly unfair to her new daughter-in-law. Regardless of how many times a person has been married, it’s still acceptable to send a gift if the invitee chooses to do so. Nothing should be said on the invitation about gifts (that is tacky in and of itself). Consider the fact that, even if BOTH parties in the new couple have been married, they may have been left with nothing from their previous marriages in that the ex-spouse may have gotten the contents of the house in the divorce.
     
    And, even if they do still have some of their old things, most couples like to begin their lives together with things that are THEIRS, not things representative of an old and dead marriage. LW#1 – let go of your embarrassment. If your friends wish to give a gift to your son and his new wife, let them do so. If they don’t want to, they won’t. If they are the type to talk about the situation in a negative way, that is “Oh, how tacky and selfish of so and so to ask for gifts AGAIN…” then perhaps you need a new circle of friends.

  20. avatar Sarah Trachsel says:

    Regarding LW2, it seems that second marriages, like second babies, are OBVIOUSLY just a secret plot to extract more presents from loved ones.
    I think it is tacky and presumptuous for this mother to even be thinking in terms of “handling” the gift situation with her friends.  I also think it’s tacky not to mention hurtful not to send at least a token gift as acknowledgment of the happy occasion, as if it is somehow less happy than the first.  You don’t even have to spend any money, because it is, in fact, the thought that counts.