Do I move out and leave my best friend with a man I (and sometime we) hate?
November 26, 2011 7:58 PM   Subscribe

Friendship Help! Currently living with my boyfriend, my borderline-diagnosed best friend and her friend with whom she has a like/dislike relationship with and who I can't stand. When the lease ends, what should I do?

My best friend was diagnosed at the start of the year with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and as a result has impulsive tendencies, mood swings and sees things in black and white (she either loves it or loathes it). I am trying to do what I can to help her, most important is being a stable and ever-present figure. She has a friend who she can't leave for legal reasons (they may have misinformed the government as to the exact nature of their relationship) and as the friend is foreign my bestie is their only contact here. The only problem is that my boyfriend and I can't stand the friend. He consistantly inconsiderate, stonewalling us whenever we try and discuss anything related to the living situation, and absolutly expolitive of my best friend. For example, he knows she is dependent on him for transport (My boyfriend and I work nights and can't help her), so he convinces her to buy carparts and tires, then refuses to let her use the car. This is despite the fact that he works full time and has cash, while she studies and does 10hrs work per week. It has happened about three times now. He knows she is emotionally volitile, but yelled at her for crying so often so she started cutting herself instead. She has said to me on numerous occasions that the relationship is not good, but she can't leave him. So, the end of lease comes in a few months and my boyfriend and I have one aim: get away from her friend. However, if we leave my best friend, I'm afraid she'll end up in a deep depression and try to kill herself (she's had two instances in the last year of taking half the pill cabinet). She won't leave him, I'd forever blame myself if I left her with him but I'm at the point whenever time I think about her friend I want him gone. It's getting past the point of dislike into active hatred. Even if we bit the bullet and resigned with both of them, her situation is only going to get worse because she can't get away from him. Help!
posted by Saebrial to Human Relations (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If the government were informed as to the actual nature of their relationship (I'm assuming this is some sort of visa situation), would this change anything?
posted by DoubleLune at 8:08 PM on November 26, 2011 [8 favorites]

If I'm interpreting your friend's situation right, then she needs to leave/divorce him and let him get deported. He surely isn't worth dying for. And with the way he treats her, there's no reason to do him any favors.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:08 PM on November 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm skeptical of the "she can't leave for legal reasons." What does she think will happen to her if she leaves? Has she consulted with a lawyer to determine whether her fears are actually justified?

Bottom line: you can't save her. You may be able to help her if she wants to save herself, but you can't save her if she wants to stay with this guy whom you (justifiably) think is bad for her, or if she wants to give him huge amounts of money, or even if she wants to kill herself. I think you should let her know that you're planning to leave, and be ready to call emergency if she attempts suicide. But I also think you should do what you need to do to accept the fact that you can't save her.
posted by decathecting at 8:09 PM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not clear if your friend or her friend is in the county illegally, but assuming it's the former, ya reckon he'll report her if she leaves him? Do you know if there's any hope for her staying legally if she leaves him (relative to her state of mind, ongoing medical treatment, situation in her homeland)?

Putting a lot of things aside, your BF sounds like a great guy for putting up with this. I fear that it going on interminably could result in him saying farewell. If he's willing to put up with all this for an extended period of time, I would about marry the guy and I'm a straight male.
posted by ambient2 at 8:12 PM on November 26, 2011

Where is your friend's family? I would reach out to them and see how they can help her, or at least help provide support while you remove yourself from the living situation.
posted by erstwhile at 8:18 PM on November 26, 2011

Sounds like your friend is in it for the long-haul in terms of staying with her crazy-making "friend". You don't have to stay, though, and neither does your boyfriend. You're taking waaay on too much responsibility in this situation. Borderline people are at times quite challenging to know and love, especially if codependence (on a loser!) is also a factor. You're totally justified in wanting to get out of there. Offering sane, reasonable, sincere support and help to your friend is fine, but the idea that you staying in this situation and becoming even more miserable is somehow going to be better for her is crazy. She chose to entangle herself with this guy. She's the one with all the problems, not you. Don't get sucked into the drama! Anyway, a healthy, happy you far away from these issues is a much more objective and peaceful support to her than if you stay mired and miserable with your bf as a fellow casualty.
posted by devymetal at 8:21 PM on November 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I bet it's easier for her to kick the dude to the curb than she thinks it is, legally and otherwise.
posted by rhizome at 8:25 PM on November 26, 2011

She will likely have suicidal ideation whether or not you're there physically living with her.

I also question your blaming of him for her unhealthy behavior. It's ultimately her choice to cut herself, not his. Likewise, it is unreasonable to expect that he always react calmly to her, or behave a certain way, lest she decide to do something impulsive. He is not a therapist and neither are you.

Don't get me wrong, he sounds like a bit of a jerk, but people with BPD act out in response to real OR perceived rejection. If she was in the perfect relationship she'd still act out until she got professional help and learned to deal with her emotions in acceptable ways.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:35 PM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Have you googled Borderline Personality much?

I hate to say it, but the relationship she is in, sounds a pretty much par-for-the course, run of the mill, borderline personality relationship.
Given that, I really doubt you will be able to talk her out of it.

The best I can think of, is that you suggest she gets counselling/therapy, say DBT style, and hopefully she decides on her own that she doesn't want a drama-filled relationship like this (which, like it or not, she *does* want at the moment).

If she reads a lot more about BPD, or gets counselling, she might recognise herself in this situation, and... move on from it.

Be very very careful, that your idea of 'looking after her', doesn't turn into enabling. I am only saying this because I had an acquaintaince/friend who didn't get the help she needed for a very long time, because her friends were always covering up/fixing for her. And she needed the help, because she was in a miserable place.
So please, please, keep your boundaries.
posted by Elysum at 8:57 PM on November 26, 2011 [4 favorites]

At this point, you need to do what's best for you and your boyfriend. You are trying to take on a responsibility that isn't yours. You are her friend, but you are not her life saver. Provide her with the resources (direct her to therapy stat if she doesn't already have a good counselor) and support that she needs but keep boundaries in place.

Realize that your friend will more than likely stay with this person for years. You should not live with him (or either one of them for that matter) because it's an unhealthy decision for the four of you.

You need to draw boundaries by finding a place for you and your boyfriend and not the three of you/four of you. Living with your friend (and/or her friend) can be a HUGE detriment to her mental health (and yours too).

You seem like you fear the idea of losing her if she commits suicide, but you cannot prevent these thoughts from developing in her mind or these actions from occurring regardless of whether or not you live with her.
posted by sincerely-s at 9:07 PM on November 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

She's afraid if the government knows the truth she'll be in trouble for fraudulent behaviour.
posted by Saebrial at 10:00 PM on November 26, 2011

she can always say she thought he really loved her and that she had hoped it was true. i mean, based on her behaviour with him, i'd say that might actually be the case.
posted by batmonkey at 10:01 PM on November 26, 2011 [9 favorites]

Well, she is possibly exaaggerating that fear in order to deflect the judgment she likely feels from you for staying with him. Either way, it's not our decision to make (or yours).
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:06 PM on November 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

He knows she is emotionally volitile, but yelled at her for crying so often so she started cutting herself instead.


if we leave my best friend, I'm afraid she'll end up in a deep depression and try to kill herself (she's had two instances in the last year of taking half the pill cabinet).

You have a serious case of hyperresponsibilityitis. You cannot, nor should you try, control your friend's life, behaviour, or feelings. Likewise, however much of a schmuck he may be, your friend's boyfriend isn't responsible for making her cut herself. SHE is responsible for her own actions, period. If you and your boyfriend want to get away, then do so, and ditch the guilt. You get to live your own lives and be happy. You aren't responsible for any negative reaction she has to your reasonable and necessary self-protective decisions.

Do what's best for you, convey your decision kindly but firmly, and be supportive of your friends in ways that don't compromise the quality of your own life.
posted by parrot_person at 1:31 AM on November 27, 2011

I don't think I've ever heard of a spouse being held responsible for "fraudulent behavior" when they're the citizen of the country in question. The immigrant is the one who takes all the heat (whether or not that's justified is entirely another question).

I second what the young rope-rider and Elysium have said. Also, I grew up with a mother who was finally diagnosed BPD after my second-to-last boundary-setting (she'd said she wanted me to die, it wasn't the first time, so I stopped contact with her for several months) finally got her to see a therapist. (FYI, she crossed the boundary – as well as several others – again afterwards anyway and I haven't spoken to her since in 3+ years now.)

BPD can be treated, but only if the person really wants treatment, of their own volition, and for their own good. Which means, trying to push her to get help, might help in the short-term, but if she's not doing it for herself, in a few months you'll be in a worse situation where she's learned how to behave just right with her therapist while having regressed with everyone else. They really need to have their own best interests at heart.

Which means, so do you. This drama has "typical BPD relationship" written all over it, up to and including the legal worries. Don't even get me started on the nightmare my mother put me through as a kid... she somehow managed to get hired by an ex-mafioso, who told her he was an ex-mafioso, and she thought it was cool so she stayed at the place, and what happened? He ended up screwing her over royally. Of course. Then it was death threats, phone calls at all hours, stalking, drama drama drama, court orders, and finally, a trial, where my mother won, but it didn't stop there. Now, if you're raising an eyebrow reading all that, don't worry, so do I now. Because I finally realized that I don't even know what of all those stories was true, apart from the strange phone calls. Welcome to untreated BPD.

Long story short, yes, your friend needs help. She has to want it, of her own accord. For your own sakes, you need to make decisions based on what you need in order to live healthily. She can absolutely get away from him. She just has to want to. BPD people (who aren't in constructive treatment) are masters at creating "inescapable" dramatic situations, that aren't, in fact. It's how they keep others close to them. (Yes. It is terribly sad. I feel awful for people with it, because it's clear they're going through some sort of internal torture. But you can't let yourself be destroyed by it. They're able to help themselves, they just have to want to.)
posted by fraula at 2:53 AM on November 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

One of the best things you can do for her is model a happy, healthy relationship with your boyfriend by setting firm boundaries and creating loving home for the two of you. Hopefully she will want to have a life as healthy as yours and do the hard, hard work to get it. Living together you will not be able to model appropriately and she will reap only short-term benefits like a shoulder to cry on instead of the deeper help she needs.
posted by saucysault at 4:20 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Can you and your boyfriend move out and get your own place? For your own sanity the best thing you can do is get away from the BPD "friend" and her boyfriend. You are not responsible for these people, and they will drag you down. Also she will blame you for anything that goes wrong. Don't stay out of guilt. When the lease runs out, you and your boyfriend should run out too, and live your own lives. If you let her stay and get rid of the boyfriend, it is likely she will get another just like him or worse.
posted by mermayd at 5:12 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can't be responsible for your friend's mental health. You just can't. It's not possible to help like you want to, and it's too much for one person to take on.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:24 AM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

The more she convinces other people (you) that this is their problem too, the more attention she gets and the less responsible she is for her own problems.

I'm not saying it's all made up -- it's clearly not. But no one is considering the healthiest or most responsible options because everyone is trying to perpetuate a little ad-hoc family that (to most eyes) appears entirely dysfunctional.

By enabling her, you are hurting her more than helping her. And as intoxicating as all the rich, spicy drama may be, none of it is actually your problem. Your presence is not keeping her alive. I don't know how old you all are, but it sounds to me like real grownups need to be involved in this, and you need to excuse yourself from the whole mess as soon as humanly possible before your expectations for love and friendship become permanently defined by this whole mess.
posted by hermitosis at 6:35 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

It is commendable that you want to stand by your friend and help her. However, this friend seems to be beyond what help a friend can give her without the friend (you) giving up their own life in the process at the least, and possibly doing serious damage to their own health, relationships, and career that will take time and money to fix.

Friend needs professional help. She needs to see a lawyer in regards to the marriage if she purposely committed marriage fraud. If she has no money, a local legal aid or immigrant-help group might provide a consultation.

A mental illness needs a doctor (psychiatrist and/or psychologist) just as a physical illness does. One doesn't ask one's friends to treat one's cancer or diabetes in lieu of a doctor; same thing goes for BPD. Helping your friend is a job for a doctor and lawyer at this point.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:00 AM on November 27, 2011

My first thought is that you need to prioritize your relationship with your boyfriend over your bestie.... I haven't dated a single man who would put up with this situation for any length of time AT ALL!
posted by misspony at 9:48 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I (a fake internet lawyer) can't think of a way that she could get in trouble for it that won't affect him. Her attitude could certainly be as simple as, "Look buddy, if I go down, you go down. Either you straighten up, dickhead, or you're going back to the old country. What's it gonna be?" He needs the lie to remain intact at least as much as she does.

Recommend that she go for a free consultation with an immigration lawyer who had dealt with this kind of thing before in order to extricate herself. Beyond that, what batmonkey said.
posted by rhizome at 12:15 PM on November 27, 2011

Your BPD bestie is really the problem here, not her boyfriend. You need to walk away from these people. Don't try and fix their situation, which is one of their own making. The problem with people with BPD is they create drama and draw others into it and it's never their fault. You are not responsible for them. You are not responsible for finding her an immigration lawyer. She can do that as easily as you. You are not responsible for her housing. She can find an apartment just as easily as you. Tell her to get counseling every time she talks to you about her problems. Every time, do not offer advice, assistance, ideas, suggestions. Move out. Move out. Move out and let her figure it out.
posted by shoesietart at 12:40 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Your BPD bestie is really the problem here, not her boyfriend.

I want you to think about this. Really, really think about this.

Your post is absolutely dripping contempt and hatred for this guy. And, from what you say, it sounds like he's a bit of a jerk -- so, maybe you're dripping warranted contempt. But think about his situation: his residency in your country is on shaky ground, depending on his relationship with a particular woman; this particular woman is mentally unwell, who is emotionally volatile, needy, and, now, engaging in self-harm; this woman also relies on him for all of her transportation and doesn't have as much money to contribute to their mutual needs as does he because she's getting an education while he works; on top of all this, his other housemates drip contempt and hatred for him, blaming him for many of his girlfriend's problems.

In short: give the guy a break. You don't have to like him. You don't have to live with him (and you really shouldn't be). But, please, acknowledge that he is in an extremely bad situation right now, and he is probably suffering as much as (if not more than) you are. Even jerks are human beings. And, more importantly, even non-jerks can act in hugely jerky way when they're stressed.

This guy isn't handling your friend's mental illness as well as you'd like. But, really, there is no good way for him to be handling it. He has not been put into the sort of situation where he has good tools to make his life with his girlfriend happy. And, day in and day out, it sounds as if you are blaming him for the fact that he's in this crappy situation -- and it sounds like you are doing so in an incredibly obvious way. I'm betting he can tell, quite well, just how much you dislike him. Being around that constant contempt and judgment is, for most people, a huge stresser. So, on top of everything else he's dealing with, he has the added stress of knowing that, no matter what he does, he's going to face your disapproval.

You're trying so hard to help your friend, but you're putting all the blame on this guy. Instead of acknowledging your friend's agency--ie, her ability to control whether she has a job or goes to school, whether she cuts herself or not, whether she stays with this guy or goes--you're interpreting everything she does as if she's a complete victim and her partner is responsible for everything that's wrong. This is blinding you to the fact that your friend's problems are hers, not her boyfriend's. I think your love for your friend has warped your viewpoint, leading you to see enemies where instead there are only people suffering, leading you to think you can save your friend.

Does that sound right at all? Can you make sense of your actions, in these terms? Everyone in this thread, including me, is going off of very little information. I could be reading into what you said stuff that isn't there. And, I'm guessing, you love your friend so much you really don't want to hear that you can't help her, that she's not the blameless party here. But, if this sounds right at all, then here's what I think you should do:

First, give some compassion to this guy. You don't have to like him. You don't have to think your friend should be living with him. But, when you start to feel contempt for him, think: "He is in an incredibly hard situation, and, while I wish he was handling it better, I acknowledge he's handling it as well as he can." Try to reassess how you interact with him, how you talk to him, how you contribute to the circumstances that are adding pressure to his interactions with your friend.

Second, get out of there. You're taking on all of your friend's dysfunction. You are taking on her problems. You are living her disorder. That's not healthy for you. There's no way you can actually help her when you're in such a dysfunctional state, yourself. Move out, give yourself some distance.

Third, try to acknowledge that the only person responsible for your friend's actions is your friend. If you think she is suicidal, call the police. Ask her partner to let you know if her behavior becomes incredibly worrisome (note: if you are more compassionate in your dealings with him, you may find it a lot easier to interact with him as an ally, rather than an enemy). Encourage her to get help from professionals. But, beyond that, live your own life.

There is a tragedy being written in your friend's life right now. It's a terribly sad one. It's the tragedy of mental illness. But, it is a tragedy. It's not a thriller, where your friend is trapped by an evil ogre, and you are the hero who can rescue her. If there is anyone who can act like a hero in this situation, it is your friend or a mental health professional. I'm sorry, but this is just one of those horrible times where you cannot be the one to save the day.
posted by meese at 4:07 PM on November 27, 2011 [5 favorites]

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