Do I tell my friend to DTMFA?
June 27, 2010 10:17 PM   Subscribe

I just discovered something potentially damaging to one of my best friend's relationships. But it's also going to hurt her really badly. Do I tell her?

Background info: One of my best friends, A, dated a man, L, for six months. For the first three months, they kept it a secret; the only friend of L's who liked A was his best friend, and all his other friends very openly disliked her. This, and a few other reasons, led to A breaking up with L. It was really obvious she'd hurt L a lot by breaking up with him, and he'd told her he was in love with her and that he had really thought they had a future together and all that jazz.

Fast-forward three months. A now thinks she made a big mistake breaking up with him, and that all their relationship problems stemmed from their thing being a secret. Now L's friends seem to be pushing her to L -- telling her L misses her and that they were a great couple, etc. -- but they're also all trying to get into her pants. Just an example: this weekend, two of L's friends, including his best friend, asked her if she'd have a threesome with them, told her how much they wanted to fuck her, said they'd heard she was crazy in bed, and one of them pulled her down into his lap and told her to feel how "excited" he was. This kind of thing happens all the time -- pretty much any weekend A and L's friends end up at the same bar -- with L's friends now, but it never happened while they had been dating. A is really confused and upset by their behaviour, and she doesn't understand why they seem to want her to get back with L but think it's okay to say this stuff and do this kind of stuff to her. She's told L about it but he doesn't think it's a big deal.

I know that's a huge problem in and of itself, but here's my dilemma: The guy I'm dating used to be good friends with L. Friday, my guy revealed to me that while L and A were dating, L told everyone he was only with A for the sex and that she was a slut. (My guy doesn't believe this is true, but the fact that L said it makes it a problem.) Now I'm thinking that the reason L's friends are always trying to hook up with A is because of things L may have told them about her, and that they want L and A to get back together because they think their buddy needs to get laid, not because L truly misses her.

This would really hurt A a lot to find out, especially since she thinks L was "the one." I do think L still loves her, but I also know hearing this will make her question their entire relationship and possibly make her change her mind about getting back with him. I'm not sure that's a good thing or a bad thing. I'm also not sure how to break this to her, if I even should. Do I mind my own business and stay out of it, even though she's one of my best friends, or do I go over to her apartment with a bottle of wine and then break it to her that the ex she's still in love with told his friends she was a slut?

For the record, L is 33 and A is 25. So this kind of behaviour from him screams immaturity.
posted by canadia to Human Relations (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Hm, well, I'm inclined to tell you that she needs to deal with the situation on her own. I have a policy of not repeating anything I didn't hear firsthand. It's like playing telephone with higher than average stakes, you know? If I were in your shoes I would strongly caution your friend about the dude's bros. Tell her to keep an eye on them and that you have a suspicion that they have ulterior motives. I wouldn't reveal any details, but just say that you are worried about her. Obviously their behavior is very rude (and should be a bright red flag for her) and she should see to it that it stops. Once again though, that's her battle, not yours. It's tricky to quote something your boy said someone else told him, because there are any number of ways it could have come out differently and spark some discord in their relationship. I wouldn't even say that you heard something, because that will prompt her to ask you what you know. Alert her to the possibility that the friends' and boy's intentions aren't where they should be and keep an eye on her.
posted by wild like kudzu at 10:25 PM on June 27, 2010


No, you should stay out of it. You have no direct proof anything like that was said. She'll figure out whether this relationship is good for her or not based on her own, it seems. And she'll eventually need you as a friend then. If you tell her now, you risk being the bad guy.
posted by quodlibet at 10:26 PM on June 27, 2010


Stay out of it, plain and simple. If the guy was in it for the sex, then it will become clear eventually. Let them sort it out themselves.
posted by inturnaround at 10:26 PM on June 27, 2010


Best answer: Whether or not it's your business to tell your friend about what L's friends have said to your acquaintance in confidence---you can definitely, easily, tell her that this kind of behaviour:
one of them pulled her down into his lap and told her to feel how "excited" he was. This kind of thing happens all the time ... [L] doesn't think it's a big deal
Isn't acceptable from anyone at any time anywhere. Invitation to a slap to the back of the head, if you ask me.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:28 PM on June 27, 2010 [31 favorites]


Holy cow, that was a difficult read.

I think the standard, safest course of action is to reveal nothing yourself but to exert extreme pressure on the parties involved to fess up. This particular situation is more difficult because you didn't actually hear L say what your boyfriend says L said -- so you should pressure your boyfriend to pressure L to fess up.

Getting directly involved is neither your responsibility, nor a good idea.
posted by randomstriker at 10:31 PM on June 27, 2010


In reference to the point made by Fiasco da Gama, I have to agree-- the fact that L doesn't seem to mind his bros physically violating his love is not okay, and is also a warning sign.
posted by wild like kudzu at 10:32 PM on June 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Just an example: this weekend, two of L's friends, including his best friend, asked her if she'd have a threesome with them, told her how much they wanted to fuck her, said they'd heard she was crazy in bed, and one of them pulled her down into his lap and told her to feel how "excited" he was.

WTF, I wouldn't associate with anyone who would befriend such people. Does your friend realize that behaviour like that is not normal or acceptable by any standard?

...while L and A were dating, L told everyone he was only with A for the sex and that she was a slut.

I genuinely assumed that you were talking about teenagers until I read the last line of your question. Tell your friend — I'm a great believer in informed consent, and she has the right to know what she would be getting herself into if she ever starts sleeping with L again.
posted by halogen at 10:33 PM on June 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


Best answer: I wouldn't tell her the rumors you heard. I would, however, as a friend, advise her not to listen to advice from anyone who is trying (in a very sexual assault-y way, I might add) to sleep with her. If she wants to try again with L, she should go straight to him and ask him if he wants to get back together and have a real relationship. This secrets and rumors crap isn't good for anyone.
posted by decathecting at 10:35 PM on June 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


It seems like you already have enough information to convince your friend that L's a skeezeball without mentioning the slut rumors. She's told him that his best friends routinely sexually harass her and he doesn't think it's a "big deal"? If he was really "the one" he wouldn't let his friends do that to her, even if they're not currently dating. What a jerk. She's so wrapped up in L that she can't see straight, and you can help remind her that L's behavior isn't at all acceptable.

If you're really really looking to intervene and your boyfriend is willing, ask him to share why he's no longer friends with L. I'm guessing there are probably similar stories he could share that don't involve her. But I wouldn't recommend doing that unless you're absolutely OK with that information getting back to L because that will throw a lot of heat on you two.
posted by lilac girl at 10:40 PM on June 27, 2010


If I was your friend, I'd want you to spill the beans. Obscurity hurts more than the truth, especially the thought that your friends are hovering around you with "do not mention" lists, you know, "for your own good."
posted by philosophistry at 10:46 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Best answer: If you care about your friend, spend your time carefully and honestly pointing out the very clear indications of sleaziness that L's friends have been giving her. What they've been doing is nothing short of sexual harrassment, and it sounds as though the constant sexual solicitation and physical assaults are only the most egregious part of it.

Please make no mistake: what you describe is sexual assault. If someone forces you onto his lap and asks you to feel "how excited he is" in a way that was unwelcome and unwanted, that's sexual assault, and it's very much against the law. The fact that you give this as an "example" is really worrisome, because it makes it sound as though this is a pattern of behavior rather than a one-time thing. A needs to know that she doesn't have to put up with that, and that guys are not allowed to make her uncomfortable in this way. What's more, it may be worthwhile to point out to her that any guy who thinks this behavior is okay (like L, apparently) clearly does not have her well-being in mind.

It really doesn't matter what L wants, or whether he's a good guy "deep down," or whether she has some feelings for him. The clear and unfortunate fact is that neither L nor his friends really care about her or have any scruples whatsoever with regards to her well-being. The fact that sexual assault is not only allowed but apparently perpetuated in L's circle of friends is a very strong indication that she's not safe with them.

Maybe what she needs most is to be encouraged to thing about what does and doesn't make her feel uncomfortable. She needs to know that if anyone does something to her person that isn't welcome – no matter whose friend that person is – she doesn't have to put up with it. Even if you don't reveal what your guy has told you, I think it should be easy for you to point out that these dudes are being manipulative and physically abusive, and that she really needs to stay as far away from that scene as possible.
posted by koeselitz at 10:47 PM on June 27, 2010 [23 favorites]


Also, it should go without saying:

From what you've said, this isn't at all about rumors. This is about a group of guys who are happy to engage in sexual assault. As a friend, I think it's clearly not only your right but your duty to make sure this doesn't happen again.

I can only think that the people above who advise you to stay out of this haven't really read the question, or understood what has apparently happened here. I know it might be easy to miss, because you, canadia, have framed this as a question about third-hand gossip and a potential love. But it's not about that – not even remotely – and if your friend doesn't see that, I think you must let her know.
posted by koeselitz at 10:50 PM on June 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Every time I have spoken up in similar situations it has blown up in my face, even when I had the best intentions.
posted by Menthol at 10:54 PM on June 27, 2010


This is about a group of guys who are happy to engage in sexual assault. As a friend, I think it's clearly not only your right but your duty to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Absolutely. Can't you tell your friend that "L" and his friends are a bunch of creeps, that you find them gross and scary, and that she can do better than them? What a bunch of fucking gross guys.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:02 PM on June 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Tell her the truth. "L told everyone you're a slut, that's why they act like that. Do you really want to be with a guy who talks about you like that? No, no you don't. Also he's too fucking old to be acting like that anyway. DTMFA."
posted by goblinbox at 11:16 PM on June 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is about a group of guys who are happy to engage in sexual assault. As a friend, I think it's clearly not only your right but your duty to make sure this doesn't happen again.

I think koeselitz heart is in the right place here, but I hesitate at the wording.

You might have a talk with your friend about how she feels and discuss if she would want to go to the police about this unwanted behavior, but it's not your duty to make decisions on A's behalf. She's a grown woman and can make decisions on her own; if she wants you to help her go to the police or whatever, great, but please don't take it upon yourself to do or say anything for her without her explicit permission to do so. Regarding this unwanted touching stuff, it's A's call to decide what she wants to do.
posted by Menthol at 11:29 PM on June 27, 2010


I had to break bad news to a friend about a sketchy boyfriend once. (For the curious: the guy had a baby with one of my neighbors and was still in a relationship with her -- my friend was aware of neither the baby nor the girlfriend. She happened to mention enough details about the guy that I realized it was the same person.)

In my case, the conversation actually went fairly well, but I think you really have to approach the conversation right. What worked in my case was essentially to say "Look, I have some bad information about this guy and I think you should be aware of it. What you do with it is your decision and I'm not going to bring it up again or nag you about it or judge you for your response to it or try to wheedle you into making any particular decision about what to do with it. However, you are my friend and you're important to me, and I thought you should know." And that's it. You want to do your due diligence as a friend, but beyond that, she's an adult and she can make her own choices, even if they're bad ones.

My friend was very taken aback by the disclosure and we actually never discussed the subject again. I think it also helped that our friendship was pretty much drama-free, so she knew I wasn't just stirring up shit for no reason.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 11:30 PM on June 27, 2010 [14 favorites]


Yes you should tell her. This guy (and his friends) are bad news. She needs a good shock to the system, like this, to get this fact through her head. She may be able to rationalize away a lot of their very not ok behavior, but she can't rationalize away him calling her a slut and telling all his friends he's just with her for the sex. Tell her asap and then have nothing to do with any of these guys again.
posted by whoaali at 11:42 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fiasco da Gama and koeselitz totally have it right. The people he hangs out with are bad people and, when you date a person, you are in a relationship of sorts with their friends, too. I would run NOT WALK away from this gang.

I think your description of your info source sounds reliable. God, I would hope so, it's the guy you are dating. Blue Jello Elf describes an excellent way to lay it out. Do it.

If I were your friend, it would hurt but I would be damn glad in the end.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:18 AM on June 28, 2010


So, to summarise: this guy is 8 years older than her but dated her "secretly", all his friends hated her, and now they treat her in a way that would get the pulp beaten out of them by angry bouncers if they tried it in a strip club?

You don't need to pass on secondhand gossip to point out to your friend that this is a group of people she should stay far away from. The cake is already pretty solid without any icing whatsoever.
posted by Cuppatea at 12:23 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Best answer: L's friends certainly sound like vile douchebags, and yes, what that one guy did could certainly qualify as sexual assault, it's both paternalistic and presumptuous to decide for Canadia's friend A how she wants to take it. There are many, many social circles where that type of alpha-male cave-man aggressiveness is what passes for flirting, and subsequently there's a lot of sexual horseplay that goes on in bars across the country that described off hand sounds like grade-A assault, but ends up leading to consensual, if often regrettable, sex.

So while it's certainly helpful to point out to Canadia that it would be OK to be horrified by L's friend's behavior, we also can't expect every woman out there to suddenly "wise up" and stop participating in the "rape culture" that permeates the contemporary dating scene.

Assuming that A is ok with the level of bro-tardedness displayed by L's friends, let's try to give Canadia advice on the topic she's seeking, and not the topic we think she *should* be.

So, yeah. L sounds both immature and very, very insecure about his acceptance amongst his friends. It sounds like since his friends openly didn't accept A, L felt the need to act dismissive of his feelings for her around them to retain his friends' approval. This doesn't make L a bad person, but it also doesn't really paint him as real catch, either. I mean, that's some really pitiful approval-seeking behavior on his part, and it does sound to me that A is probably better off finding herself a guy who's more sure of himself.

So my advice would be to be upfront about your opinion that L is immature and insecure, and tell A that a guy who worries enough about their friends approval to want to keep a relationship secret is not a guy a girl will ever be able to count on, etc. I mean, it sounds like Canadia has plenty of ammunition at her disposal to warn her friend that she can do way better than an emotionally stunted 33-year-old without telling her something she heard third hand that would be unnecessarily hurtful.

And if A still wants to get back together will him, it sounds like it wouldn't take long for her to realize why she broke up with him in the first place, and she can end the relationship for good without ever having to hear the pathetic thing L said about her because he's too worried about what his friends think about him.
posted by patnasty at 12:24 AM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Fast-forward three months. A now thinks she made a big mistake breaking up with him, and that all their relationship problems stemmed from their thing being a secret. Now L's friends seem to be pushing her to L -- telling her L misses her and that they were a great couple, etc. -- but they're also all trying to get into her pants. Just an example: this weekend, two of L's friends, including his best friend, asked her if she'd have a threesome with them, told her how much they wanted to fuck her, said they'd heard she was crazy in bed, and one of them pulled her down into his lap and told her to feel how "excited" he was.
Jesus. How exactly would those guys have heard she was "Good in bed"?
Friday, my guy revealed to me that while L and A were dating, L told everyone he was only with A for the sex and that she was a slut.
Of course, that's the reason they're acting like that. So if you don't want to tell her, you need to reason with her to make her understand that the most likely cause of these guys behavior is that L told them a bunch of B.S about her. But honestly I think the best thing to do would be to tell her straight up.

You run the risk of her not believing it, thinking your lying and hating you. That's a potential outcome of telling her. You know her, how likely is that. If you're just worried about hurting her, then tell her. Because these guys have zero respect for her and you want to reduce the chances of her going back to him. A little pain now to avoid a lot of hurt later.

---

But ultimately your friend is going to do whatever she's going to do. Even if you do tell her, she may go back to him anyway. We can't give advice to her and if she read this thread she might get offended. We have no way of knowing. All you can do is support her, and do what you think will make her less likely to date this guy, who clearly doesn't respect her.
posted by delmoi at 12:40 AM on June 28, 2010


... said they'd heard she was crazy in bed....

Jesus. How exactly would those guys have heard she was "Good in bed"?


This is exactly right. Your secret really isn't a secret from her -- the other guys have already told her. Maybe she thinks it empowering and sexy to be thought of in these terms (as desirable, etc.), but really it sounds like the whole crew needs to grow up a little.

I would point it out once, the way Blue Jello Elf recommends, and then drop it. You don't need to bring what your guy overheard into it; just remind her what she (and you?) have heard from this gang of guys.
posted by Houstonian at 3:09 AM on June 28, 2010


Best answer: If it's not likely she's going to end up with L again, then don't tell her. No good can come of that for her.

If it seems likely that she may end up with L again, focus on the other matters. People who let their friends treat their significant other or potential love interest like shit aren't worth the time of the day. If L's friends were rude, belittling, and inconsiderate while A and L were dating previously, how does she think they're going to behave now that this smarmy and, frankly, unacceptable physical behavior has started? She should look to their actions, not their words. The reason A is confused is because L's friends are doing what they can to confuse her. They're, intentionally or unintentionally (and it sounds like they do in fact have some sexual motivations), messing with her head.

Regardless of whether L loves her and regardless of whether he wants to get back together with her, until he himself has said so to her (the dude is 33, he should knock off the middle school crap and man up if he in fact does want her back so badly), she shouldn't pay any mind to a word coming out of L's friends' mouths. When someone's words tend in one direction and actions in another, it's best to simply stay away from that person, in this case, all of L's friends.

I think telling A what L may have said in this case will lead to more confusion, more drama, and more sadness at this particular moment. I think it may just continue to fuel a fire that should just die. A is 25. They're are better people out there than L and L's friends. There are people who won't let their friends treat her like shit, whether they're together or not. You should encourage her to hold out for one of those. And as A's friends, you should start suggesting that you go to different bars from now on. A really shouldn't have to put up with L's friends messing her head when she's trying to enjoy herself on a weekend night.
posted by zizzle at 3:12 AM on June 28, 2010


Not to be alarmist, but I would give her a strong steer not to drink to excess (e.g., be passed out drunk) around these people. I don't think she would be safe if she is incapacitated - they are already beyond acceptable boundaries, and it doesn't take too big a stretch of the imagination as to what might happen if she were unable to push them away. I would hate the next post to be entitled "Was it rape?"

Also, I would tell her about what he supposedly said. Its clear something is being said about her and she needs to cut ties with his friends, if not him.
posted by zia at 3:24 AM on June 28, 2010 [14 favorites]


I'd tell her. But if you decide to do so, be prepared for it not to do any good. Your friend already has lots of evidence that this guy and his friends are nothing but bad news and she's still seriously considering going back to him.
posted by orange swan at 5:37 AM on June 28, 2010


Tell her. She deserves to know he's been saying rude things about her. And tell her L's friends are assholes and help her meet new people whose friends don't mishandle her and behave inaapropriately when drunk.
posted by anniecat at 5:52 AM on June 28, 2010


I read this and thought it was a teenage couple until the last sentence.

L's friends are immature idiots who have no right to treat here that way. L needs to step up and tell them to back off; and if he has been calling her a slut, then I see no reason why she should get back together with anyone who doesn't respect her.

I'd tell her what's been said, qualify the sources as needed, but this guy doesn't sound like he's the "one".
posted by arcticseal at 9:16 AM on June 28, 2010


I would tell her immediately.

People questioning the veracity of your boyfriends' statements: everything indicates that he is telling the truth.

That, combined with the creepy behavior--she deserves to know, so that she can make good decisions about her own safety and well-being.

Your friend is potentially walking into a dangerous situation. Don't keep this from her.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:42 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Response by poster: Update: I told A that I thought L's friends' behaviour suggested L didn't respect her, because if he had told his friends he cared about her, they wouldn't be doing this. I also suggested she tell L about what happened, and she said she doubted L would do anything about it. I told her that was a big flashing neon sign right there. Overall, though, she kept making excuses for L and didn't see how the other two friends were disrespecting her, so all I can hope is that she seriously thinks about this.

Thanks for the advice, everyone.
posted by canadia at 9:52 PM on June 28, 2010


You should definitely let your friend know what's going on. I don't know how close you two are but I wouldn't be inclined to keep her sleazy boyfriend's secrets from her. Realize that if you don't tell her you're inadvertently helping her boyfriend make a fool out of her. I think she would be more thankful if you helped her see the truth than being hurt much later down the line, AND THEN she realizing everyone knew the joke was on her.
posted by xbeautychicx at 7:18 AM on July 4, 2010


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