12

I'm in a long-distance relationship with Alice, and recently, her sister, Betty has started getting very serious with her boyfriend John (talking about marriage and the like). Alice has met and talked to John before on multiple occasions, but remained a less than average levels of communication, perhaps once a week messages and the like.

Recently, John has been contacting Alice more and more, talking about her visiting him (he lives a few hours by train from her town) and sending her drawings and pictures of the "type" of girls he likes. They both share an interest in yoga and stretching so they send pictures of themselves doing poses which I am largely OK with but I feel that he might be asking for them for more than research purposes. I did talk to Alice about this and she realized it too and started sending less and less pictures or trying to cut back on communications, John does not relent.

The main issue:

John has in fact asked Betty to unfriend all her male friends on FB and even made her block and delete all male contacts (including me) on her phone as he gets really jealous and controls her to an extent. I want to communicate to John that him cutting every male (except family) in Betty's life while simultaneously texting Alice and asking for pictures of her is not only unfair but also makes me feel creeped out.

The Question:

How would I effectively communicate with John that I would want him to stop but not offend him or Betty (she is very defensive of his behavior, she was, after all the one to pass John Alice's number). A bit at a loss here because I live far away and can't talk to John face to face.

Also, not to say anything but in the past when I talked to Betty (before the blocking) about John's rules, she said it was natural for men from his region to do that. Alice and Betty are from Western Europe.

37

These kinds of rules are at best childish and at worst abusive. Telling a partner who they can and can't talk to isn't as much about jealousy as it is about insecurity and control issues. Trying to control your partner so you never feel insecure isn't healthy. You trust your partner or you don't, setting rules tells them that you don't. Hate to say it, but that goes for John and yourself...

So... What should you do instead?

Let Alice decide how she wants to handle John. I'm assuming that she's every bit as capable and intelligent as you are and if she really wants to be with you, she'll turn down John's attentions if she feels they're inappropriate. Let her choose to care how you feel about the situation, and let her choose to do something about it. If Alice's choices aren't something that you can live with, be honest about it and let her go.

I realize that this may sound a little cold, but you can't make people behave the way you want them to. Chivalry isn't about chasing away other suitors, it's about respecting your partner even when it isn't easy. That means respecting their judgement with other people, and allowing them to make their own choices.

  • 8
    hmmmm, well said, if i restricted her from speaking with him by being aggressive or territorial i would be acting in a similar fashion to John. I'll have talks with Alice and try to act less like i'm "protecting" her from something she can handle on her own – SomeoneElse Dec 14 '17 at 4:54
  • 1
    @SomeoneElse probably a good plan. – apaul Dec 14 '17 at 4:56
  • 3
    I agree100% with @apaul. Making someone delete friends in this matter is sort of like you're watching a parade. Except, instead of lots of colors and floats and whatnot, everyone is just waving red flags. I'm left wondering why Alice and Betty are so damn weird, though! – A.fm. Jan 19 '18 at 11:44
18

It sounds like you have two separate issues here.

  1. Betty's partial isolation
  2. John's unrelenting texts with your GF

I'm going to only address issue 1 since that's what you included in the bold, but please comment if I'm wrong to ignore issue 2.

Betty's partial isolation

I think you have a very reasonable concern that your friend's partner is cutting her off from all her male friends -- not only are you losing your friend, but also that sort of behavior is linked with abuse.

I would recommend communicating with Alice about your concerns for her sister, and seeing what she has already done. It's possible that new information will change your opinion or influence how you deal with the situation. If you still feel concerned for Betty, you can reach out to see if she needs help.

  • hey, yeah issue 2 is something i was also asking, but thanks for the advice on the first one! – SomeoneElse Dec 14 '17 at 4:53
  • 3
    @SomeoneElse, related to the John-Betty problem. I'm not sure where from Western Europe they are. But in the Netherlands this is absolutely not 'natural to do'. This sounds very unhealthy, safe Betty from a miserable marriage where she is chained to the kitchen in social isolation. – Hans Janssen Jan 18 '18 at 10:45
  • @Geliormth Well, John isn't from western Europe. I was asked where but it would be wiser to keep that disclosed. – SomeoneElse Jan 19 '18 at 1:21
  • 1
    @SomeoneElse, ah sorry, I misinterpreted your last two lines, assumed it was natural for his region, and that that region is western Europe. In the end it is Betty who has to talk about it, preferably before marriage because contrary to what people want to believe, marriage does not magically change a partners behaviour for the better ;) – Hans Janssen Jan 19 '18 at 7:57
  • Agree, marriage i think makes you know more about the person like things they wont show before. – SomeoneElse Jan 19 '18 at 8:01
2

Intro, hopefully we're on the same brainwave

... communicate with John that I would want him to stop

Stop what, exactly? Being a jealous, controlling, creepy, unfair guy? Behaving like one? Sending yoga pose pictures and invitations for your GF to visit him?

Those questions are vital. It seems like you've already mulled them over and narrowed down what you want him to stop. But I wrote them because at any rate they are worth reiteration. Those questions all have wildly different answers. Also you don't explicitly mention what you want him to stop. So, all you're asking for is how to communicate with him about this situation, I think you just want him to stop sending those messages. The rest of 'The main issue' will work itself out. Right?

Communicating a potentially offensive message without offending

One approach is to cut out the offensive part, e.g. the part where you tell John that he is creepy, jealous, and unfair. This is highly recommended in situations where it is not vital to the message itself. Fortunately in your situation, John is not at his core a creepy controlling person preying on your girlfriend.

But even if you don't directly attack his character, will he or Betty be offended that you brought up the topic at all? I doubt it. What makes you think they will? I'll try to switch the roles. You might do something that creeps someone out or is unfair. If they bring it up to you in a respectful way, will you get offended? No, you will intelligently decide whether and how the situation can be improved. That is my rough estimate of what it will be like for John and Betty to hear your input on the matter. But, seriously, what makes you think they will be offended? I only have a tiny piece of the story and know very little about your relationships with John and Betty. I leave it to your creativity to find ways to improve this rough estimate.

How to communicate it? I think a phone call is pretty efficient for this type of thing. But maybe you would both prefer messaging, or maybe a video-call? Snapchat with some fun filters on your faces? Again, it's hard to go beyond a rough estimate here without knowledge of what your are both comfortable with. But I think you should talk with him as soon as possible and get straight to the message you want give him. This should just be a conversation with you and him, since Betty and Alice are both ok with the situation as is. He's only affecting you. If you ask Alice or Betty to talk to him on your behalf, you're just playing the telephone game, and you are adding risk to the situation. He might end up offended, or there might be some kind of burden on your relationships with Alice or Betty.

Here's a (please don't do this word for word) example of how to say it.

When you send yoga poses and invite Alice over to visit, I see all that, and it seems unfair. Unfair because I feel like I deserve my own copies ;) Nah, let me explain. I think since Betty had to remove me, and all guys, from her social media and stop messaging any guys outside her family, this seems like you're taking a lot of liberty. This makes me uncomfortable because this is something I would never do myself, especially pictures of me in my yoga outfit. To make things more comfortable for me, could you stop sending this much messages about yoga to Alice? At any rate, I just want to open communications more with us.

  • 1
    Really wish I saw the comments on apauls answer before I wrote this. I definitely focused on the wrong things in the question. I thought this was a problem between OP and John, not a problem between OP and Alice. – How was prom- Dec 14 '17 at 6:15
  • 1
    oh no worries man, i kinda feel there are issues between me and John as well, all valid points and i'll take some to heart! – SomeoneElse Dec 14 '17 at 6:32
  • 11
    "John is not at his core a creepy controlling person "...I don't know, from the description it sounds like they might be. Seeking to separate someone from their friends in such a blatant manner is textbook abusive - I always get very suspicious when I hear about someone doing that. – Obie 2.0 Dec 16 '17 at 9:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.