My group of friends is having trouble with one member and are completely baffled as to how to handle this.
posted by buteo to Human Relations (55 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I have a very tight knit group of friends (7 of us) that have bonded quite strongly over the past year. Most of us met by forming a D&D group in April 2011 (we added two other members in June or July). Our linch pin was my friend Ken.
Skip ahead a year and our group is experiencing a lot of friction around Ken.
1. Ken's characters are extremely flat and experience no character growth.
This is admittedly the weakest complaint we have by far but it really hampers our gaming. He thinks his characters are perfect: they're unapologetic badasses who hit people without question, get in your face and yell at you all the time, and have flaws that he considers strengths. One of his characters is a one-eyed alcoholic but he refuses to have any penalties for this. Another of his characters has been part of every organization he can think of and is very (overly) sexual.
Our campaign is very character-focused. We don't roll dice for damage. We don't have loot tables. Often, the majority of our campaign focuses on character interaction and character arcs. Naturally, this makes flat characters even more annoying. Our DM has tried everything to provoke some kind of character growth: giving his character penalties on rolls because he has one eye and is always drunk, knocking up his overly sexual character, having everyone be warned about his sexual character beforehand... none of it sticks. He just starts whining that it's unfair.
2. He is a complete control freak.
In the game, this manifests as him being a huge jerk. He was our DM for one campaign, which was supposed to last 4-6 weeks. Instead, he drew it out to last 4 months. He didn't let us make any choices. He didn't give us anything fun to do. We overrode him one day and insisted our characters went to a bar; this then became his default action whenever our characters had free time. He routinely asked the others with DM experience (Neil and Devon) for suggestions and then implemented none. He didn't read any of the lore we'd established of our world and kept trying to make huge changes to it without asking anybody else.
He also used his position of DM to bully one of our group members (Dan) relentlessly; he later blamed Dan for the failure of his campaign and suggested that we should kick him out of the group. His girlfriend also plays with us (Gabby) and she cannot sit next to him while we game because he annoys her so much while we play.
Needless to say, we aren't too excited for him to DM again. He, however, thinks his campaign was the best and keeps telling us that he'll "make us pay next time [he] DM[s]".
Out of game, this manifests as him being... kind of a jerk as well. We have to play on his schedule even though we established that Tuesday works best for everyone. He routinely schedules things on Tuesdays and then gets mad that we play without him if he's the only one missing. We have to eat what he wants to eat. We have to drink when he wants to drink. You can't say no to him or he, again, whines and insists that you explain why. If he doesn't like your answer, he dismisses your concern. ("I don't want pizza." "But why?" "We had pizza the past three weeks." "Well I don't think that's fair. I want pizza.")
He also needs to be the center of attention all the time. If someone makes a joke and everyone laughs, he attempts to build on that joke in order to redirect the attention. If we move to the kitchen to eat, he'll stay in the other room and laugh really loudly over something completely irrelevant in an effort to get us to ask him what it is or go back. If everyone else is interested in Thing X and he isn't (such as when Skyrim or Mass Effect 3 came out), he bans that thing from discussion for the duration of our hangout (seriously. he tries to enforce this by making us buy a shot for everyone every time we say it).
3. He routinely touches people inappropriately. I'm pretty sure this qualifies as sexual harassment if not sexual assault.
He routinely grabs people's butts, grinds up against people, straddles them "jokingly" if he needs to sidle past, slaps people's butts, runs his hands up people's inner thighs beyond where you really should stop or ask, and forcibly hugs people even if they're visibly scowling/pushing him away. He thinks it's funny because he only does it to men. We think it's ridiculously fucked up that he doesn't listen to us saying no (as above, his response to being told "No. Get off of me." is to whine "Why?" and then dismiss your concern). This is especially fucked up because he's tried to use his groping of me as a validation of my identity throughout my transition from female to male (ie. "but i touch you because i think you're a man, isn't that good?").
It's reached the point where we don't want to take him out to bars, don't want to go to parties with him, and nobody wants to sit next to him anywhere. Neil (also one of his roommates) will often insist that overnight guests take his bed instead of sleeping in the living room as Ken has come into the living room and spooned guests while they are sleeping (he then says really creepy things when they wake up and freak out).
Ken is also 6'5" tall and very much in shape, making him physically imposing.
4. He will not listen to us when we tell him to stop. Ever.
We've tried being nice, being firm, being angry, shoving him, using examples, avoiding him, cutting him off... pretty much every tactic we can think of. I've had more than one shouting match of "dude that's not OK, stop touching me. it's sexual assault". He just laughs and brushes it off.
Even Gabby (his gf) can't get through to him and they've been dating 2.5 years.
5. He treats his girlfriend like crap.
Since we're all good friends and hang out at least once a week, if not more, seeing him treat Gabby like crap drives us nuts. Gabby attends almost all of our non-gaming hangouts whereas Ken attends none, so arguably we're closer to her than we are to him.
They have an open relationship and their agreement is to tell each other BEFORE anything happens. However, Ken has a history of bailing on games to go out and then not contacting Gabby after 9 PM even though she's sleeping at his house that night. She stays up all night wondering if he's OK, where he is, and so forth only to find out the next morning around 10 AM that he was too busy having sex to tell her he wasn't coming home.
He will not support her when she is having a bad week (to the point where she's called me crying) and seems generally oblivious to it but he will bail on dinner with her grandparents that same week to go console a mutual friend.
I'll admit that this is likely none of my business but it's upsetting to watch one of my closest friends be treated so poorly by their partner of 2.5 years.
If you've made it this far, thank you! Here are my questions:
a. Am I completely overreacting?
b. Any suggestions on how to deal with his behaviour, especially behaviour that violates our boundaries, in a way that he might actually get it and stop it?
c. If we can't get him to stop it, how do we deal with his shitty behaviour? I would love to just sever, but he lives with Neil (until August), he's dating Gabby and he's the reason 5/6 of us know each other.
And before anyone asks, YES, we have told him all of this before. None of these are new grievances. They've all been mentioned directly to him at least once or twice in the past year.