How do I get my friend to stop "joking" about things that aren't funny?
October 20, 2012 7:07 PM   Subscribe

I have a friend who makes a point of expressing how much he likes really poisonous people from my past until I lay out for him the precise reason I (often) find even the mention of said person upsetting. These people are his acquaintances at best. He does this for every/any person he knows I find really upsetting. What should I do?

Normally, he mostly stops with the comments after I give him some gory details to justify the dislike, but he’s apparently oblivious to a very clear pattern and keeps on pushing until I have to give some painful explanation that may have to go into things that I don’t want to share even with my close friends.

For example, he ‘jokingly’ updates me about a boyfriend I had as a teenager who was physically abusive and liked to humiliate me in public, such as sending me a message that the ex was now living near where I was and maybe it was a sign we were meant to be together.

There are maybe four or five people from my past that I feel this way about and he continually “pushes” them on me. I sort of called him on it with respect to one particular incident/person and he said he thought it was good for my personal growth and that he was doing it on purpose. It took a painful follow up email for him to stop mentioning her frequently, and doing things like giving me framed pictures of her. He didn’t take that incident as a cue that he needs to stop it as a general behavior because it makes me really uncomfortable at best.

He seems to find it funny, if a little contrarian; I generally feel belittled and stupid when he does it, initially like maybe the problem was with me and not with whomever I didn’t like, until I think it through my logical reasoning for disliking the person and then I have started to feel sort of angry at my friend for not being in my corner or at least respectful of my feelings.

For the record, he’s otherwise a really good considerate friend. How should I address this long running situation? Is the problem actually my own over-sensitivity to some dark humor? Any suggestions on how I should work through my feelings about it? It’s slowly damaging my very long relationship with him, at least on my side, and I’m not sure what to do.
posted by skermunkil to Human Relations (56 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Your friend is an asshole. I understand that he is a friend and has redeeming features, but he is an asshole. If you have made it clear that he needs to cut this out and he has not, he probably will not stop being an asshole. Give him one big "stop bringing up people I don't associate with anymore" and if he doesn't listen, well, he cares more about being an asshole the he does being a friend. Act accordingly.
posted by griphus at 7:17 PM on October 20, 2012 [69 favorites]

If you ignore his comments you win. There will be no reason for him to continue his little game once you stop playing.
posted by Linnee at 7:17 PM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Stop being his "friend" since he isn't yours. I will elaborate!

I sort of called him on it with respect to one particular incident/person and he said he thought it was good for my personal growth and that he was doing it on purpose.

Be more assertive. Say "This hurts me. If you do it again, we will have to stop being friends." That isn't bitchy. That's honesty. He is not your therapist or engaging in a thing to that you asked him to do for your own growth/therapy.

For the record, he’s otherwise a really good considerate friend.

That hardly matters because, no, he isn't. You don't get to slap someone from time to time physically or emotionally and then make up for it by being nice the rest of the time. That is the definition of an abusive relationship.

Is the problem actually my own over-sensitivity to some dark humor?

posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:19 PM on October 20, 2012 [32 favorites]

No, you aren't being overly sensitive - your "friend" sounds like a jerk. He seems to be getting some perverse pleasure out of making you upset when he mentions these people. He shouldn't be making these comments to you, especially when you explicitly told him to stop.

Give him an ultimatum: stop bring these people up, otherwise you'll stop talking to him.
posted by littlesq at 7:19 PM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

He deliberately hurts you and humiliates you 'for your own good', and finds it amusing to do so? This is not what a friend does. Seems he found his people. Your ex-friends.
posted by likeso at 7:25 PM on October 20, 2012 [9 favorites]

This sounds extremely toxic. I would be inclined to put him on the list of poisonous people you no longer associate with.
posted by Michele in California at 7:26 PM on October 20, 2012 [16 favorites]

Nthing what everyone else has said. He is NOT a good friend if this is how he's acting.

It’s slowly damaging my very long relationship with him, at least on my side, and I’m not sure what to do.

He has damaged your relationship by acting like a bully and refusing to stop. I don't think there's anything else you can do, because you've already told him his behaviour upsets you and he won't stop. Cut him off, seriously. This isn't how friends treat each other and he doesn't deserve your friendship.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:27 PM on October 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Methinks perhaps he belongs in the hall of Poisonous People from My Past.
posted by space_cookie at 7:27 PM on October 20, 2012 [18 favorites]

What a dick! This is particularly controlling:

he said he thought it was good for my personal growth and that he was doing it on purpose

What are you - his pet project? Ewww!

Call him out on it every single time he does it or put him where all those ex-friends are - in the past.
posted by heyjude at 7:30 PM on October 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

I had a friend or two do this too -- one even went out of his way to invite a particularly toxic person to a party he'd thrown for me just so he could watch us square off. Truly one of the worst experiences of my life, seeing a friend betray my trust like that after confiding in him.

Ditch this dude and disassociate from all who know him.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:37 PM on October 20, 2012 [8 favorites]

Your friend is a manipulative asswipe. Add him to the list immediately.
posted by Sal and Richard at 7:39 PM on October 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

He sounds like another abusive person, just emotionally abusive instead of physically. Treat him like you treat all the people you don't want him to bring up.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:50 PM on October 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

Yep, controlling and abusive. People who don't respect your feelings or boundaries are not your friends. Cut him off.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:52 PM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

DTMFA! (you can dump friends, duh!)

What a disgusting, insensitive and ridiculous person. Sounds sadistic, quite frankly.
posted by rhythm_queen at 8:02 PM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

People who feed off of that kind of drama are so not worth the time and misery they bring into your life. Some folks spend their entire 20s learning this lesson. You can do better than this.
posted by availablelight at 8:06 PM on October 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you are invested in keeping this person around and not just cutting him off -- I agree that he's probably better off dumped, but maybe you're not at that place -- then say to him "DUDE. What do I have to do in order to get you to fucking cut this shit out? I'm not interested in whatever you think is for my own good; it fucking creeps me out that you're getting your jollies out of watching me be uncomfortable. I've been as clear as I know how, so now I am being blunt. Whatever it is that you need me to do in order to make this shit stop, I'll do it, but this shit HAS TO STOP, understand?"

He will argue and squirm and protest that he's not like that, but you just keep coming back to "I don't care what you're like, I care what you do, and I need this to stop. Are you going to stop it or not?" Eventually, either he'll stop it or it'll be clear that you can't be friends any more.
posted by KathrynT at 8:10 PM on October 20, 2012 [9 favorites]

This idiot is a giant bag of dicks and you should tell him to fuck directly off.
posted by elizardbits at 8:18 PM on October 20, 2012 [35 favorites]

I agree that he is not your friend and you should dump him. However, if you want to keep him around for whatever reason, you need to implement a zero-tolerance policy for this behavior. That means that if he brings up these subjects that he knows hurt you, you leave. Leave the room, leave the building, leave his company and go home. If he does this by phone, hang up on him. If he does it by email or IM, delete the very first message and do not respond. Any time he brings up these topics that upset you, refuse to engage, and ignore him. Do the same if he continues to press you to talk about the painful reasons you choose not to have relationships with these people. Absolutely refuse to put up with this abuse.

One of two things will happen. Either he'll get angry and dump you, which I honestly think is a perfectly good outcome, or he'll stop talking about this stuff. But no matter what, do not have these conversations, do not reward him for pressuring you to have them, and do not feel obligated to divulge personal secrets in hopes of justifying your feelings. You have to draw a firm line and stick with it. Boundaries are there to protect you, and you need to be absolutely clear and resolute about yours.
posted by decathecting at 8:21 PM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

He is not your friend. He is a sociopath. Get rid of him from your life completely.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 8:22 PM on October 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

Keeping him around is not an option if you want this to stop. This person obviously has a personality disorder, and will continue to have it forever. He will continue to do these things as long you let him, so it is your responsibility to yourself to put a stop to this situation.
For these kind of people, any kind of contact, even negative, is perceived as you accepting their behavior.
posted by Mai2k3 at 8:26 PM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Give him one big "Stop doing this immediately" declaration, not for him but for you. Either he'll correct course (unlikely) or keep doing it (sadly, pretty likely, maybe even harder than before to prove he was right in the first place) and then when you cut him off, you won't worry that you didn't give him a chance to stop being a dick.

Nthing possible personality disorder, or grooming you to take more abuse and boundary-crossing.
posted by ziggly at 8:34 PM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Friends do not behave this way. Nthing ejection of this individual from your life, immediately and permanently.
posted by Pudhoho at 9:06 PM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

"We've discussed that I don't want to talk about specific people from my past- if you keep bringing these people up, I will stop talking to you". Then act accordingly.

Really I don't even think he deserves this consideration, he's being a unbelievable asshole & seems to get some pleasure from causing you pain. This is not tolerable and you should never put up with this kind of abuse from anyone. It is abuse, he knows your concerns & deliberately ignores them. This is a sign of a very toxic messed up person. It might not seem that bad because he disguises it so as that it's no big deal, & makes you feel like you shouldn't be upset about it. These are the cracks that show into his true integrity. He's not your friend, & you don't deserve to be treated like that by anyone. Develop healthy boundaries, know them, & don't let anyone cross them. No one can do anything to you that you don't already allow. Start now.
posted by readygo at 9:17 PM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

How do you respond? "Go fuck yourself" sounds like a good start.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:23 PM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Asshole, asswipe, bag of dicks..holy cow, no one's called him a massive douche yet?

This guy, no matter how long you've supposedly been "friends", is deliberately tormenting you. And not in the annoying-but-ultimately-forgiveable way like, say, always asking to try your dish when you go out to eat. He's bringing real emotional turmoil, bringing up hurtful things for his own entertainment.

This guy isn't a friend. He's a wolf-in-sheep's-clothing. He's either a deliberate asshole or he's got a personality disorder. Either way, he needs to be on that people-I-don't-associate-with list. I mean, hell, he seems to like the people on that list anyway...
posted by notsnot at 10:04 PM on October 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Christ, what an asshole. Don't feel bad about dumping this "friend", because he isn't.

Still want to give him one more chance? It is Ultimatum Time - knock it the f off or GTFO.
posted by effigy at 10:13 PM on October 20, 2012

This person would be excluded from my life, if I were you.
posted by ead at 10:26 PM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I sort of called him on it with respect to one particular incident/person and he said he thought it was good for my personal growth and that he was doing it on purpose.

Yeah, that's kind of gross. He doesn't get to determine what's good for your personal growth, and that entire sentiment is self-serving bullshit.

One of my best friends did this - not to the extent your friend harasses you, but we had the same argument over one particular incident from my past about ninety thousand times over the course of a decade. Telling him to knock it off didn't work. Telling him that it upset me didn't work. Emailing him, saying "We are never talking about this again, ever" worked. He hasn't brought it up since.

It's your call whether you want to hold onto this guy or not. I would give it one last shot and email (not tell) him that you want all mention of persons X, Y, and Z to stop, forever. Don't justify it, don't apologize for the sentiment, don't tell him this is his last chance - just be really clear and specific that you don't want to hear anything about any of those people, ever. Your feelings are your own; you're allowed to have them and he has zero right to try to change them.
posted by Angharad at 10:35 PM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I feel pain just reading this. This is very toxic. He gives you framed pictures of these people? That would be weird even if he didn't know your history. But knowing it? He's deliberately violating your boundaries for kicks. That's what he's doing and he is NOT oblivious or ignorant as to what he is doing.
posted by Danila at 10:41 PM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

He sounds like an awful excuse for a friend. A good person wouldn't do shit like this to a friend for any reason, but have you considered that he may be less interested in your "personal growth" (which is none of his damn business) and more interested in manipulating you into giving him the gory details? He may be just looking to satisfy his inappropriate curiosity, but what if he's got other plans for the info, like stirring the shit with your poisonous ex-friends or pinpointing your sensitive issues in order to torment you more effectively.

I would start moving him into the ex-friend category asap.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:51 PM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

It hurts me to read this. I had a very similar experience with two women friend years ago. I am only friends with one of them today. It is hurtful behavior. Only one of them could see how unkind it was and stopped. Please do not let this person be so disrespectful and unkind to you.
posted by cairnoflore at 11:01 PM on October 20, 2012

He's trying to relate to you somehow that is fun or funny, as you said. When you say you don't like it, he may think it's part of a teasing game. You need a clear way to convey that this isn't actually a good game.

Yes, a zero-tolerance policy is one way to do that, and probably important. But to really make it clear that this isn't just part of the game (people really need help understanding this sometimes, it's true), I suggest this:

Give him, or discover with him, an alternate or new way to interact with you. Come up with something fun (talking about sports, learning a card game together, really analyzing a TV show you both watch) or even something thoughtful (talking about the latest movie reviews, local politics, food ideas).

Look, it's a bad way to try to relate to someone, but some families do it. My own seemed to take it's relationship models from 80s sitcoms, where sarcastic humor or taunting was just how people communicated. Once that gets ingrained, it's difficult to really "see" it.

Coming up with a new way of relating not only gives your friend a better way to talk with you, but the mere fact that you are taking this seriously enough to have such a conversation will really capture your friend's attention. People in general are having a more difficult time connecting with each other lately, it seems, so it's really worth putting some thought into this.
posted by amtho at 11:03 PM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

This person is both toxic and crazy (framed pictures of third parties, wtf? It's like the set-up of a crime procedural). Demote him to ex-friend level along with your other ex-friends he loves so much.

If you must keep him, stringent boundaries. Be a bitch to enforce it. What's the worst that could happen, he could get crazier? He's about as far down that rabbit hole as he could get without a surprise camera crew and a slip 'n' slide.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:04 PM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

By the way, you might not be clear on this fact, so it seems worth mentioning: You do not deserve to be treated this way. Nobody deserves to be treated this way. Not you, not anybody. Even if you think very, very little of yourself, you still don't deserve to be treated this way. And you have every right to do what ever it takes (short of, well, say, physical violence) to stop this. You do not have to be polite, you do not have to suffer nobly, you do not have to be quiet, you do not have to sit there and take it, no matter what reason you may think. You do not have to take it.

(Hopefully that was unnecessary, but I figured there was some small chance it might be useful to say so.)
posted by benito.strauss at 11:39 PM on October 20, 2012 [11 favorites]

I've teased my friends in hurtful ways in the past, but I've never done it to the extent that your friend is doing. Giving your friend the benefit of the doubt, if he's just a dunce about personal boundaries but doesn't intentionally want to hurt you, you should tell him how important this is to you, and it's not joking matter. Some people get stuck with hurtful jokes because they don't realize it's hurtful and when you find something to tease a person about, it's an easy thing to latch on to in order to have that inside-joke sort of camaraderie, they just don't understand it's at the expense of the other person. But yeah, if you want to give him the benefit of the doubt, show him his mistakes and don't sugarcoat it. If he doesn't get it then, then dump your friend.
posted by Hawk V at 11:43 PM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hmmmm. Yeah, I had one of those friends who would say shitty things "for my own good" and to "help me grow as a person" and you know what's funny? My life grew significantly for the better when I dumped that person.
posted by joan_holloway at 12:23 AM on October 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

This person is not a "friend". This person is "a person that you used to know". Friends don't behave like this.

You could spend time and energy trying to change this person from being the massive asshole that they are into being someone who is less of an asshole, but do you really want to do that?

If you want to go down that route, then make a list of times that he's behaved in this way and exactly how it made you feel then sit him down someplace quiet and tell him exactly what is going on with that. Make it clear that Persons A, B C and D are off limits for discussion and he's not to mention them to you again. His response will likely offer you some kind of indication as to how he's going to handle this in the future. Anything other than instant and sincere contrition will likely end badly. In fact, I'd go so far as to demand an explanation as to why he does this - he must be getting something out of upsetting you for him to keep doing it.

"Really good considerate people" don't behave this way. Generally, they have a clue about what is OK and not OK to discuss with friends, because they care about what people are saying to them. His behaviour is pretty much the opposite of considerate. Knowing someone a long time or them being a really nice person apart from this one massive thing they do is not a good reason to stay friends with them. Stay friends with people because they're friendly.
posted by Solomon at 1:50 AM on October 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

How familiar is he with just how toxic your relationships were with the people he brings up before you tell him? This reads to me like there is something your friend is trying, and failing, to communicate that may be either shitty or clueless. In a benefit of the doubt kind of way, does he just have a mix of being concerned you having few friends from your past mixed with that big hefty dose of cluelessness?

If so the thing that needs doing is a clearly communicated conversation with him about how not only this is not one of your needs but you have actively disconnected from these aspects of your past for Reasons where you probe him for just what the fuck is up with this. Clueless friends can be a challenge to have, but a manageable one that can lead to really awesome friendships, shitty friends not so much.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:15 AM on October 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

... This guy sounds like a troll with access to your personal/emotional information.

DTMFA'ing him isn't unreasonable here.
posted by Cracky at 2:33 AM on October 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

"...he said he thought it was good for my personal growth and that he was doing it on purpose. It took a painful follow up email for him..."

Imagine yourself in, say, twenty years, looking back at this type of behavior. Would you likely still characterize this person as "a really good considerate friend", or will he himself have moved up to the group of "really poisonous people" from your past?

Other folks are right here, nobody deserves to be treated in such a way. Try to stay away from poisonous people here and now.

(Or, if you really think that the rest of this person is worth interacting with, give him the full brunt of your disagreement in all caps, to stop his inconsiderate and patronizing behavior for once and all. Standing up for your feelings might turn out to be far better "for your personal growth" than your being teased into wallowing in your past by this drama-voyeur)
posted by Namlit at 3:43 AM on October 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Honestly, reading this was really alarming. His behaviour is extremely abusive. Like others have said above, I think he's probably a sociopath or suffers from some other significant personality disorder. I hardly even have time to frame pictures I bought for myself in my own house, the amount of energy this guy channels into knowingly inflicting pain and humiliation on you, for laughs, is really above and beyond. It is freakish. He is not your friend.

Ready yourself for the honest anger I at first attempted to contain in a first draft but just couldn't:

I think what's happening here, which happens often with people who've come from abusive backgrounds, is that someone cruel who enjoys viciously lashing out has found a mark in you. After hearing about the abuse/poisonous people you need to avoid, I bet cash money he became excited at the prospect of having someone who'd be easy to toy with. Someone who wouldn't be able to fight back as hard as other people because of weakened support systems and self doubt. Positioning himself as someone YOU EXPLAIN THINGS TO, or else CONSEQUENCES in the form of harping on about [insert sensitive topic here] or [framed picture of X here] is impertinent in the extreme. I'm sorry, but did anyone who might have any actual insight on the matter call him up and assign him King of Your Emotional Development? Bwahahahaha. (This, by the way, is a red herring. He's not interested in that at all).

If this was me, personally I would become mysteriously less and less available to him due to work/other demands. You could try the one last email/convo about stopping this, but in my experience it won't stop. The way he makes himself feel better is by making you feel worse. He enjoys seeing you upset, seeing you feel stupid, seeing you squirm. God knows what else he knows is unacceptable but worth trying because he thinks he could get away with it. Cut him out - you'll feel so much better I promise. The 'he's a good friend' feeling is just a) very few people are 100% bad 100% of the time. It doesn't excuse this stuff and b) probably just him performing enough so you still keep him around. Which people like this then see as a character weakness that "deserves" mockery and punishment. Don't let him use your own good nature as a tool for your degradation.

I also bet this guy would la-la-la LOVE a big drama-y show down with you over this stuff where he gets to say tons more hurtful things, probably publically, under the guise of 'concern'. So just phase him out as quietly and non-confrontationally as possible is my advice.

What a fucking c[redacted].
posted by everydayanewday at 4:26 AM on October 21, 2012 [6 favorites]

He's doing it to wind you up because he enjoys getting the reaction. Either that, or he is a sociopath. In either case, not a friend.

Phase him out of your life, say why you're doing it then block all means of communication. When he tries this again, hang up, walk away or press "delete" as appropriate.
posted by epo at 4:39 AM on October 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was going to say "add him to the list of toxic people from your past about whom you want no mention, and go no contact."

But then everyone else said it first.

Still, it can't be said emphatically enough, so I'm going to say it too.
posted by tel3path at 5:42 AM on October 21, 2012

Adding to the chorus. He is NOT your friend. Friends don't do these kinds of things.
posted by Dolley at 6:39 AM on October 21, 2012

Nthing what the others are saying.

Tell him that if he needs a project, to go to Home Depot, and that this shit stops now. Don't expect him to listen to you, though. Please stop explaining your point of view to him; it sounds like he really gets his jollies by hearing how this person or that person has hurt you.

Sounds like you can stop a lot of this hurt by putting him in your past.
posted by SillyShepherd at 7:20 AM on October 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

Ok, I'm going to caveat this with the fact that I have very little context, but...he gave you a FRAMED PICTURE?!?! This was the moment for me where this guy went from a jerk to a psychopath. Seriously, doesn't he have better things to do than frame images of people from your past to give you as gifts? That is downright creepy.

It strikes me as more than a little strange that this person has taken it upon himself to get so involved in your emotional life against your will. Anyone who takes pleasuring in triggering painful memories for you and does it in such a calculated way is not right in the head.
posted by amycup at 7:50 AM on October 21, 2012 [7 favorites]

I have to agree with amycup. Why does anyone think that explaining to him that this is hurtful, or warning him that he mustn't do it again, is going to help?

He'll do one of three things:

1. Press you for further details about what was done to you so he can "understand", then use those details to damage you in some other way that doesn't involve taunting you.
2. Find another way of taunting you that doesn't technically cross the line you attempted to draw.
3. Appear to stop for a while and then dump a bucket of pig's blood over your head at the prom.

He knows exactly what he is doing, and explaining to him why it hurts is hugely entertaining to him. Don't do it. Fade to no contact and then block, as everydayanewday suggested.
posted by tel3path at 8:12 AM on October 21, 2012 [5 favorites]

There has been such a pile on saying DTMFA that I now feel compelled to play devil's advocate and give some air time to how to keep this friend if you so choose.

Like you, I have abuse in my past. For a long time, I had poor boundaries and didn't know how to effectively stand up for myself when things went wrong -- I mean do so and keep a relationship. I stayed in my long unhappy marriage as long as I did in part because I was convinced that if I left without first figuring out a few things, my next relationship would be a case of "new face, same old crapola". So why bother if it wasn't actually going to fix anything?

Maybe that's where you are at. Maybe you would be better off trying to fix this friendship rather than DTMFA. Maybe for your own edification and personal growth, you would be best served by trying to wrestle this problem to the ground.

If so, please reread your second paragraph. Some people really are just stupid about some things. I have two ASD sons and, yes, I have to explicitly spell a lot of things out for them. I am okay with that. You are saying you are not comfortable doing that but that is one of your options for trying to fix this friendship: Start comunicating a whole lot more about why you don't like these people, don't want it brought up, etc. If he is kind of aspie, this might solve it.

Part of the problem here is that you keep wanting him to infer from what you feel is a clear pattern of behavior even though he has proven incapable of doing so. So one thing you need to decide is if you value the friendship enough to open up on the topic. If you open up and he continues to be a toxic prick, well, yeah, DTMFA bigtime. But some people really are just clueless.

Some of those clueless people can be great friends if you understand you have a responsibility to clue them. If that doesn't work for you, it might be time to let this person go, not with a bitchy announcement that he's a toxic prick but with a quiet conclusion that you are allowed to pick your friends and it is okay to not wear your abuse on your sleeve and, instead, consciously choose to only befriend people with enough of a clue to infer that something is a big deal for you and, no, you don't really want to talk about it, thanks.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 8:24 AM on October 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

With respect, I do not believe this guy is clueless. Framing a photo of someone you explicitly do not want to hear about, and taunting you that your abuser has moved nearby and haha maybe it was meant to be, are calculated acts. They are not clueless.

I say this as an Aspie myself, coming from both a history of abuse, and of giving others the benefit of the doubt that they might have been clueless as I myself had been.
posted by tel3path at 9:01 AM on October 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

> How should I address this long running situation?

I think the long running situation is that you keep getting these assholes in your life. I presume some of them were people from your childhood that you didn't have a choice about, but that you'd consider someone who'd do this to be " a really good considerate friend" is concerning. You need to raise your standards.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:34 AM on October 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

tel3path, I am inclined to agree with you and my first reply indicated basically DTMFA.

My concern here is that the OP seems unable to determine that for themselves and might be better off in the long run going through a personal process which teaches them how and where to draw the line rather than giving up agency to a bunch of total strangers on the internet and dutifully doing as they are told and dumping their friend when it is not clear to them that is the right answer.

Professional victims with poor boundaries have a huge need to learn how to effectively make their own decisions, even when (or especially when) other people disagree and disapprove. Doing as they are told without understanding why is part of what keeps them in the role of victim. I am a former professional victim. I see other people routinely try to help professional victims by inserting their own judgement on the victim's behalf. I know firsthand that this does not fix the real problem.

I thought I spelled out my reasoning for playing devil's advocate pretty clearly: That this process might be something the OP needs to go through for their own edification, so they can stop picking abusive friends.
posted by Michele in California at 9:58 AM on October 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

This person is an asshole who is deliberately upsetting you because they believe they know what's best for you and that you do not. Start spending much less time dealing with them.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:53 AM on October 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm really curious about why he think his needling you about these people is for your own good. The answer to why that is might be the answer as to whether you try to keep him in your life.

If you want to keep this guy in your life, say this,

"I feel belittled and stupid when you do that, initially like maybe the problem was with me and not with whomever I didn’t like, and then I feel angry at you for not being in my corner or at least respectful of my feelings."
posted by ldthomps at 2:21 PM on October 21, 2012

I thought I spelled out my reasoning for playing devil's advocate pretty clearly: That this process might be something the OP needs to go through for their own edification, so they can stop picking abusive friends.

But by dumping this abusive friend for good she would be drawing a clear boundary and stepping out of the victim role. I'm sure this would be difficult for her to do; we internet strangers may have given her the courage but she'll be the one doing most of the heavy lifting I don't think we have to worry about her feeling like she didn't make the choice herself.

I'm unconvinced that trying to fix the problem with this particular person is the answer. I know that this kind of thinking is often a rationalization for people staying in unhealthy situations ("I can fix or figure out past wrongs by getting this person in the present to treat me better"). The truth is the only way to handle toxic people is to avoid any involvement with them whatsoever.
posted by timsneezed at 2:22 PM on October 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

[Please do not turn this into a debate. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:09 PM on October 21, 2012

...he said he thought it was good for my personal growth and that he was doing it on purpose.

He's an utter jerk. It's up to you whether you give him ONE fair warning to quit or be banished. I think I'd just dump him without any more contact or explanation. His behavior sets off some warning bells with me. I'm wondering if he will try to push himself on you even if you indicate you want no contact with him. I wouldn't put it past him to act as a stalker.

After all, he knows what's best for you, doesn't he?
posted by BlueHorse at 7:52 PM on October 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

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