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Every time I call my friend he puts me on speaker. I don't know why but I know his girlfriend is controlling and is always in his life 24/7. How do I get a private conversation without sounding like I'm being sketchy?

Additional Info:

  • Phone calls, she's always there.
  • Meet ups, she's always invited.
  • She is the abusive type: Childish threats to leave him and slapping
  • I'm a guy
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    Phone calls she's always there, when we go out she always has to come along. The only time I could think of is before and after he commutes to work but that's not a reasonable window of time to work around. – LampPost Sep 6 '18 at 11:31
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    Have you tried a simple: Look, this is kind of private, can you please not put me on speaker? – user6109 Sep 6 '18 at 11:44
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    All of this info you are adding in comments is relevant to the question. Could you please edit the question to include these details? Could you also add something about whether your friend thinks his girlfriend's presence '24/7' or other aspects of her behaviour is a problem? As the question stands it can be read as you being jealous of the GF and competing for control of your friend. – Spagirl Sep 6 '18 at 12:14
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    Are you a man or a woman? If you're a woman, the girlfriend might very well see you as a potential threat to their relationship. – Jay Sep 6 '18 at 15:40
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    The question's title seems confusing to me. Should it perhaps say "Friend's controlling girlfriend" rather than "Controlling friend's girlfriend"? – Raimund Krämer Sep 12 '18 at 7:51
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There are some broader issues to consider (described in other answers and comments), but a couple of ideas to address the specific question as asked:

1. Request to not be on speaker phone (and don't mention the girlfriend)

I've heard versions of this request before. Speakers and microphones vary in quality, and it's not unusual for the speakerphone to be less than ideal. Maybe it's hard for you to hear the other person with the microphone so far away from their mouth and ambient noises in between, or maybe there is an odd echo that you find irritating or distracting.

You can gesture towards an issue like this and ask (or at least express a strong preference) for not being put on the speaker when you talk. Not everyone will accommodate you, and not in every situation (I know my mom dislikes when I use the speakerphone, but if I'm cooking and she wants to talk right then that's her only option).

2. Invite your friend to events with no option to bring another person

If you buy two tickets to a show that you think will sell out, and then invite your friend once it has sold out, there's no opportunity for him to bring her along. There are plenty of situations where it is plausible that tickets could be hard to come by or available in only limited quantities for people to buy. This won't help if he refuses to attend events without her though, and it sounds as if that is a possibility.

3. A regular "friends' night" based around an activity the girlfriend does not like

This may or may not work out, but if you and your friend really like to do something that the girlfriend does not, you can try organizing get-togethers around that thing. The girlfriend may or may not tag along, but if she does sometimes she can observe for herself that:

  • You and your friend are genuinely engaging in the activity (i.e., it's not just a cover for some nefarious purpose)
  • She is free to come along but may not have a good time (because she's not into the activity herself).

As other people have noted, you can't make your friend engage with you in private. If he consistently chooses to accommodate his girlfriend's desire to monitor these aspects of his life you'll just have to choose between interacting with both or interacting with neither.

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I´d try to catch a private moment with him. Maybe when you go out and she uses the restroom? And then simply be honest and ask:

Hey, sometimes I really miss having a private 1-on-1 conversation with you. Seems to me your girlfriend is really around any minute. What about that?

Then listen what he has to say. If he thinks this is nothing to worry about or is unwilling to change that, I´m afraid you´ll have to deal with it and maybe find somebody else for your 4-eye talks, at least for now. It´s not really your place to get between them.

If he signals this is a concern for him also, you can suggest the two of you should have private times. How he breaks that to his partner is really his problem - maybe the topic of another question here.


A general remark: As a friend you always have the option to take a step back and wait - and then be there to support him when his relationship finally breaks apart. I had lots of Friends the I kind of "lost" when they where in an intense relationship, but that came back afterwards.

You should also make room for the possibility that he likes it that way. In that case this can last a bit longer.

Anyway, there is nothing you can really do to push him, only lend him a hand if he decides this is not right for him.

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Try telling him that you won't be calling him if his girlfriend demands that. Try to convince him that her attitude isn't healthy. If he tries to rebut or calls you sketchy, tell him it's not normal for every phone call to be shared. You could also try telling him that if he wants her to be in his life 24/7, that's fine but you don't want her in your life.

Is he desperate and willing to put up with anything for his relationship? Does he just not care?

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    I´s be cautions with that. Goes a little bit in the direction of "It´s either her or me!". – user6109 Sep 6 '18 at 11:58
  • @Greg She is kind of abusive to the point of childish threats to end the relationship and slapping. – LampPost Sep 6 '18 at 12:01
  • Only you can make this judgement but maybe it's best for him to cut ties. Is he the kind of person who isn't great with girls and will cling to any possible relationship he can get or has to be in a relationship all the time whether it's good or bad? Can you convice him that it's neither healthy nor normal? @Daniel, I see and maybe lowkey suggest that but of course not that extreme. But what I meant was as far as phone calls, either stop the speakerphone or OP won't call. That doesn't mean he won't hang out. – Greg Sep 6 '18 at 12:05
  • @Greg Unfortunately since she has come along, I don't think saying I won't call would have any effect. He kind of let her become his life. – LampPost Sep 6 '18 at 12:18
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    In that case, maybe distance yourself from him. Not saying you have to stop being friends but perhaps he will realize you guys don't talk as much. When he asks why, tell him because his girlfriend is omnipresent and controlling. If you can get other people to support you, that may be helpful as i bet he will attempt to defend her actions. – Greg Sep 6 '18 at 12:20
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What you can do, and what i've seen working almost every time:

Tell his Girlfriend you would like to talk to your friend in private. There is a high chance, she does not see herself as abusive, maybe a bit overprotecting, but in a good way ( probably based on bad experience ). Your point is to not appear as threat to her.

It is crucial to not blame her or even mention her being always involved

His relationship is not going to end well, you already guess that and he will probably realize that he does not want to live like this forever.

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