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Lost my best friend to an abusive relationship


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Hi everyone.

Last time I asked for advice here I got solid opinions and I have been happier for it, so here I go again.

I am male and I had a female best friend, let's call her Tay. Tay and I never had anything physical, we were always just buddies and would hang out regularly. I never had romantic interest in her and she never had romantic interest in me. I am mentioning this to paint the actual scenario, since this is not a matter of friendzoning or repressed feelings.

Some four years ago she met a guy, John, on vacation abroad. It looked like one of those usual holiday flirts, but they kept in touch, and I was frankly happy for her because she had always had rotten luck with boys.

Thing is, as it sometimes happens, the charming John met abroad and the everyday John were very different. As soon as they got in a relationship he became nothing short of an abusive monster. Constantly berating her for things she didn't do, never doing anything to improve his own life/work conditions (he has poor health solely as a consequence of his own actions), never being able to hold a job or to pursue a specific career. He is a tad older than her, not by much, they are both adults, but he is constantly patronizing her to win discussions. He would tell Tay things like "You have that opinion because you are too young and you don't know better" and stop listening to her. Note that his life experiences amounted only to questionable choices that led him into debt, into ruining his relationship with his own family, and in having a kid with a woman that left John. So I have no idea who he thinks he is.

The problem is that Tay cannot leave him. She clings to the guy she met instead of the abomination he really was. She has almsot stopped studying, she has no dreams anymore, she spends her time waiting for him at home. They do go on vacations together, but he complains all the time and blames her for his poor health. I know all of this because I saw their exchanges via message - he does not want me to meet her, because he is sure I would try to seduce her or something, never mind I never did in 10 years. Also she cannot see her homosexual friend, yes, John is that jealous.

In the course of these years I talked to her about this. Told her she should do what makes her happy. We organized holidays together, we planned to go places, to no avail, because everything had to be done without John knowing, otherwise they would argue yet again.

I don't know what drives her to stay. Her main excuse is that she is afraid she won't find another man, but I believe it would be better to be single than to be this miserable. I cannot recognize her anymore.

Her change for the worse hurt me as well during this dumpster fire of a relationship. But it's been 4 years of me essentially being her psychologist, after all this time with her saying that she should leave him without even trying. The closest she has done was planning to put the relationship on pause so she could finish some university exams without being stressed all the time. I said "planning" because she never even did that.

I am writing this mostly because I am done. I cannot bring myself to care anymore. She quite literally chose to be a walking shell of her former self and I have honestly never seen someone hurt him/herself so much without a real reason. This is basically the short version of the whole story, so if you guys have any opinion or experience on the matter, feel free to comment. I guess I am just looking for closure because I really cared about our relationship. She used to be so happy and carefree and now she will not reply if he is around because he gets angry if he sees another man's name on her phone. The only violence he hasn't yet used is the physical one, but at this point I am almost sure she would excuse that too.

What do you think? How would you handle something like that?

 

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Tough, but quite common.

I would suggest letting her know how you feel and that you would support her should she wish to free herself and leave. Until then, you can't see her getting hurt and lose herself as her friend. It's too painful. Tell her that you believe in her and you will be there for her when needed. Say that to her face to face.

And then slowly distance yourself. If you hang out and she talks too much about the bf then change the topic. She might or might not come to the point of breakthrough, but until then you be a good distant friend. It's all you can do.

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 All you can do is tell her that you disagree with her relationship and he's abusing her and let her know you'll be there as a friend should she decide to leave him. 

Otherwise, step back and be less involved. You have other things going on with yourself I presume so try your best to stay focused on your own life. You're doing the right thing distancing yourself. It doesn't mean not caring but it does mean having healthier boundaries.

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10 minutes ago, WandererBoy said:

I am writing this mostly because I am done. She used to be so happy and carefree and now she will not reply if he is around because he gets angry if he sees another man's name on her phone.

It's best to step far away from this. You are putting her at risk buzzing around and looking to hang out, go on vacations, etc. For whatever reason, she is choosing to stay with him. How old is she? Does she have friends/family she can talk to? 

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I agree with the advice as to how to distance yourself.  I've been in similar situations and it's clear you are platonically involved only.  You've done all you can. Take care of you.  I'm sorry.

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58 minutes ago, WandererBoy said:

I don't know what drives her to stay. Her main excuse is that she is afraid she won't find another man, but I believe it would be better to be single than to be this miserable. I cannot recognize her anymore.

 

One of the main signs of abusive relationships is the feeling of entrapment. Its not that she wont find somebody else, but her psyche is damaged due to abuse to the point she thinks she cant do better. Him isolating her from the friends is another sign of that. He is all her world as she is like a cattle inside the barn. Its very difficult to escape as she doesnt see the world outside, the way out of barn, nore wants to go.

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do. We are the products of our own choices. And she made hers. Nothing you say or do would convince her otherwise. You cant help people who dont want your help. So leave it be and step away from this.

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Thank you for all the replies!

My thoughts were pretty much confirmed. Nothing one can do, unless she decides to escape the situation. It's painful to watch it unfold... it went from "perhaps it will get better if we meet more often", to "perhaps it will get better if he visits a lot", to finally "perhaps our relationship will be fixed if we move in together". I tried and tried, but she only has two retorts: "I will not find anyone better" for the mid-dialogue, and "let's wait and see" for when she wants to talk about something else (something to which I happily oblige as you can imagine).

Since someone asked, she is around 26 and he is around 36. The gap is there, but it's not really that relevant in my opinion, because she has accomplished more in 26 years than he has despite his so called "maturity and experience".

I suppose the only thing I can do is turn away from the situation and let her know that I am there if she wants to talk, but nothing else until she drags herself out of the swamp she sank in. I have been meaning to put this into words, but I always hesitated, knowing she isn't, of course, in the best of places mentally.

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If you can, continue to remind her she is a complete, autonomous individual with agency and the ability to make good decisions for herself. He will have been undermining her faith in her ability to make good decisions for many many years and if people around remind her I think that can be helpful 

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