My best friend is an idiot
June 30, 2005 10:53 PM   Subscribe

"When someone shows you who they really are, believe them the first time". Is this right? Here's why I'm Asking:

He's been my best friend for fifteen years. He married her five years ago, she's ~20 years younger than him. Out of nowhere he has accused me of having an affair with her. He also said he "knew" she had called to warn me he was coming over to kill me. I explained that there was no affair or phone call, and BTW, since your conclusion about who she had an affair with is so wrong maybe you should rethink whether she had an affair with anyone. He started crying and thanked me over and over again, but I havn't heard a word from him since that day. So I guess my question is: Now What?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total)
Sounds like your friend is going through some rough times. This is when he needs you. Call him.
posted by cali at 11:07 PM on June 30, 2005

hell yes, what cali said. go round, call him, whatever - ask him what's up, or just see if he wants to go out for a beer.
posted by andrew cooke at 11:21 PM on June 30, 2005

My first instinct when I read your story is to think that your friend's wife is messing with him. You should give him a call and stay the hell away from her.
posted by 517 at 11:29 PM on June 30, 2005

Yeah, one phone call doesn't undo 15 good years. If he really is your good friend as you say, be there for him.

I too would vote for the wife playing some kind of bizarre game.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:46 PM on June 30, 2005

Fifth-ed. I'm sure he's embarrassed, so don't take the radio silence personally. I'd chalk this up to external circumstances, rather than his "true nature" coming through after fifteen years.
posted by samh23 at 11:49 PM on June 30, 2005

I figure this stuff is what friends suit up for. Otherwise you just "know each other."
posted by cribcage at 11:50 PM on June 30, 2005

Yeah... this doesn't mean 15 years down the hole.
posted by Dean Keaton at 1:08 AM on July 1, 2005

It sounds like something beyond jealousy is going on. Is it possible that your friend is experiencing a mental illness right now that is causing him to perceive reality in a distorted way? If that's the case, your friend will really need support from you and other people he can trust. Call him up to see how he's doing.
posted by rhiannon at 1:49 AM on July 1, 2005

rhiannon brings up a really good point. Your friend really needs you right now, but this really sounds like more than just emotional turmoil. Help make sure he sees a professional, even if it's under the guise of just finding an outlet for the stress.
posted by LairBob at 3:55 AM on July 1, 2005

Sounds like your friend is super stressed out (random crying, flip-flop emotions) and paranoid (accusations and more accusations). And all that points to what rhiannon said: he's perceiving reality in a distorted way.

How about doing a guy's thing together for a day or a weekend? Just you and him, fishing, hunting, swinging at small balls, whatever. Hopefully once he feels comfortable, he'll start opening up to you.

Note: this might be some sort of mid-life self-confidence crisis. You know.. young and pretty wife that men 20 years younger must be ooglin'. As a 40+ y.o. he might be comparing his prowess to others. She might have randomly said something like "oh anon's cute/smart/rich/whatever" which could have inflammed his paranoia, etc, etc..
posted by ruelle at 4:37 AM on July 1, 2005

I immediately wondered if he was manic. Does he have any kind of history of mental illness? You should call to talk with him, for sure, but also to kind of check on how he is acting and stuff. He may need your help getting some other, more professional, help.
posted by OmieWise at 5:49 AM on July 1, 2005

Be careful. "Coming over to kill you?" I'm not sure I'd start with downing beers or hunting or, god forbid, a combination of the two. And is the wife okay or has he gotten all baselessly paranoid and abusive in her direction as well?
posted by Morrigan at 6:22 AM on July 1, 2005

The potential intensity of jealousy in a man with a much-younger wife can hardly be overestimated. Reach out to him and have nothing to do with her.
posted by nicwolff at 6:35 AM on July 1, 2005

Yeah, dude's on hard times. Which sucks, and is a terrible shame.

But I wouldn't be going *anywhere* with him for a weekend, as others have suggested. Here's where you, as the friend, get screwed: if you point out trouble with the wife, you're fucked when things are good in their relationship. If you point out good with the wife, you're screwed when he finally realizes she's a bloody psycho. No win. Either way you get isolated and the friendship gets destroyed.

Time for you to re-read "Games People Play," because they're working out their psychodrama on you in a really malevolent way.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:19 AM on July 1, 2005

ok, ok, as others have pointed out, the whole buddy getaway thing may be a very bad idea. Sorry, I didn't get the whole "coming over to kill you" part.
posted by ruelle at 7:43 AM on July 1, 2005


Your friend is having a psychotic episode, IMO. I've been in a similar situation, though not coming from a married couple. The earmarks are the same, though:

- A patently untrue scenario, with no warning.

- Proof/corroboration that can easily be discredited. Phone calls are easily verified/disproven.

- You are involved, but cannot act. Within the confines of the story, you are merely a player. He is solely in control of the outcome.

- Abrupt changes in mood.

Handling this is very tricky. I think the wife, not the husband, needs to be talked to, but I would advise against calling her directly, since that will only play into the fantasy if it's still occuring. Is there a third party (another friend) you can pull in as an intermediary?

If that's not an option, I'd give it a few days, then find some way to discretely call the wife to check in. If this truly is a psychotic episode, it'll burn itself out, and most likely he'll play it off like it never happened.
posted by mkultra at 7:59 AM on July 1, 2005

Either your friend is really disturbed in ways others have said (in which case the wife may be totally innocent), or the wife in in fact having an affair, just not with you. Either way he needs you.
posted by LarryC at 8:21 AM on July 1, 2005

yeah i think we're reaching the limits of what we can tell you. the fact is, if you've known this guy for 15 years, you should know him already. has he done anything like this before? i mean is he prone to this kind of thing or he a solid,reliable fellow that this one time freaked out? do you have a deep rapport with this guy or not? If you do, then i agree with the earlier advice--go get that guy, see what's up.
on the other hand, what about his wife? how well do you know her? if you know her enough to trust her, then maybe you should call her. but if you don't trust this girl, then don't call her.
basically, to you answer your question, no, no one reveals themself to you in one moment 15 years after being your best friend. I mean, cmon, where to start. There's no such thing as any of that--"showing who you really are". Showing who you really are is nothing. You mean who he is now? Or who he is overall? I don't believe in this junk. Go with your guts.
posted by alkupe at 8:30 AM on July 1, 2005

Gah, the phrase "I'm going to kill you" doesn't always mean that the person has an intent to murder you. Did he bring a weapon? If not, be might have just been speaking broadly and really just intended to seriously kick your ass.

To you, it seems like this is all coming out of nowhere, but you're not privy to the private conversations between him and his wife, and the things about her that he has been aware of. He might have a strong, reasonable suspicion that his wife is fooling around on him with someone, and he just picked the wrong someone to confront.

How long has it been since you talked? A couple days? A couple weeks? If it's closer to the latter than the former, then give him a call, go out for beers, and get him talking out why he freaked on you.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:30 AM on July 1, 2005

I also ANAD :-) but common-or-garden depression can cause seriously weird behaviour. The likelihood of this is far higher than a full-blown psychotic episode. The two can be very difficult to distinguish though, depends what behaviour is exhibited. Leaping to conclusions, I'd reckon: the guy's got a younger wife, is paranoid about her having an affair, and has unresolved thoughts and feeling stewing in his head. Sounds like he feels he can't trust or talk to anyone - so, to echo what everyone has said, it's time to prove that he can trust and talk to you. How you handle it depends on you both, but I'm usually in favour of jumping straight into the subject, and getting all the cards on the table. Good luck.
posted by ajp at 9:25 AM on July 1, 2005

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