Anger/lack of remourse in relationship
July 29, 2013 11:18 AM   Subscribe

I'm not sure how to handle a situation with my best friend and an outburst her boyfriend caused this weekend which caused a huge rift between all of us. She has been dating for about 7 months and I have met him a handful of times, and truely was a huge fan of him until this weekend. I want to talk to her about it, but want to see if my take on the situation is appropriate and how to approach it.

A few drinks in and I was driving (sober) my boyfriend, my friend and her boyfriend (we will call him Steve). My boyfriend and I got into an argument during which I was acting like a bitch I admit and it came down to Steve throwing a nasty comment in and me saying get out of my car then, to which Steve exploded in a fit of anger yelling at me to pull over, it escalated to him getting out of the car telling me I will always be alone for my behavior and telling me I am not a good woman and nobody he wants to surround himself with. He was SO angry and yelling, the look in his eyes was almost scary, and just saying mean things that steve and my friend (his girlfriend) got out of the car and took a cab. He has had these "over reactions" in the past in which his anger shows over something that doesn't seem like a big deal. I just want her to be in a relationship that is healthy and not someone who can 1) talk to a woman like that and 2) over react with such anger. It was really hurtful the things he was saying and now we are all in a bad place. Maybe I'm sensitive or protective just not sure how I should handle this. He doesn't feel bad and thinks he was right because I provoked him and am a bad person for talking to my boyfriend like that.
posted by love2much to Human Relations (37 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Why did Steve even feel the need to 'contribute' to the argument? Especially in a way that feels like throwing gas on a fire. Or, more like throw his own issues on a delicate situation that doesn't really seem to involve him. Sure, it is awkward to sit in a car while people bicker/fight/act poorly, but unless you left out something pretty major there, I fail to see how you 'provoked' Stevey boy. You can't make Steve feel something, anything, or nothing. he is, presumably, an adult. He does not, however, sound like a safe person for you to be around, and I see no reason why you should subject himself to Steve any more.
posted by Jacen at 11:24 AM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think that, in order for you to be able to discuss this with your friend, you need to first own the part of it that is your responsibility. I have a problem with a lot of the interaction you described, including "get out of my car" which I consider an over-reaction, too.

In your shoes, I would apologize to my best friend for starting the incident and let it go at that and then if Steve acts this way when unprovoked by you, at that point you could talk to her about his behavior.

You're not in a good place to tell her that she's not in a healthy relationship if you're having arguments with your boyfriend and acting like a "bitch" to him.
posted by janey47 at 11:28 AM on July 29, 2013 [48 favorites]


I would find it quite stressful to be in a car that was being driven by someone in the midst of an argument. Sober or no, distracted driving is also dangerous.

I could absolutely see that stress bubbling over into making some kind of snide remark to try to shut things down.

And I would be pretty pissed off at being kicked out of the car of someone who had previously offered me and my girlfriend a ride.

So, without knowing the details of what was said, it doesn't feel like Steve necessarily overreacted to me.

What do you want to get out of your conversation with Friend? do you want her to break up with Steve? That seems unlikely if their relationship is going ok except for Steve's interactions with you.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:37 AM on July 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


Steve does sound like he sucks and has anger management issues, but from this description, so do you. If I were Steve & Friend I would have taken a cab before blowing my top, but I would have taken a cab.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:37 AM on July 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


It sounds like Steve may have had an anxiety attack, brought on by post traumatic stress disorder (maybe you sounded like his mom) and then it became worse when you wouldn't let him out of the car when he asked.

I wouldn't diagnose your friend's relationship with Steve. Let it rest. He probably never wants to be around you again, you did get into an argument while driving, not safe. Just let it go. She will maintain your friendship or she won't. The bigger issue is getting yourself in a healthy place.
posted by myselfasme at 11:40 AM on July 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Has your friend approached you about your relationship, based on the fight that she observed that night? During your exchange with Steve, did she say anything to you, in defense of you, about you?

Let her behavior then-- and now-- drive how you talk with her.
posted by RainyJay at 11:40 AM on July 29, 2013


I'm not even sure what your actual question is. It sounds like a lot of bad behavior and people over-stepping their boundaries all around, OP included.
posted by sm1tten at 11:45 AM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'll try to keep this neutral; my apologies if it comes across as too brusque.

[Steve thinks] I am not a good woman and nobody he wants to surround himself with.

Ok, that should be easy for him to do. You should feel free to reciprocate and keep him out of your life.

I just want [my friend] to be in a relationship that is healthy and not someone who can 1) talk to a woman like that and 2) over react with such anger.

That's nice of you to think of your friend, but she's an adult and commenting on her boyfriend is probably a losing proposition for you. I don't think this is your business (with exceptions for abuse etc. but those don't seem to apply).

I was driving (sober) my boyfriend, my friend and her boyfriend. My boyfriend and I got into an argument during which I was acting like a bitch I admit.

This is something within your power to change. I'd start here.
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:47 AM on July 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


What seems telling to me is that not just Steve ended up getting out of the car, but so did your friend (his girlfriend, so her leaving is not too surprising) AND your boyfriend. So I think you might really be downplaying your "overreaction" and leaving out quite a bit of the story. I would even go so far as to suspect you normally have these outbursts or arguments where you "act like a bitch" but are now shocked and taken aback that someone called you on it. And that they did so with anger.

Maybe he should not have jumped in the argument, true. Maybe. Depending on what you haven't told us... And maybe his level of anger was uncalled for.

But considering the night ended with the three of them deciding they would rather be together than in the same car with you, I think you should reflect on your role instead of taking the "there's something wrong with Steve" position.
posted by Eicats at 11:50 AM on July 29, 2013 [15 favorites]


Acting like a bitch to your boyfriend and throwing a friend out of your car is as appalling, if not more appalling, than Steve calling you a bitch and telling you that kind of behaviour means you'll never work in a relationship.

I'm not sure why you're so concerned about your friend being in a healthy relationship when it seems like you clearly have gardening to do in your own back yard.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:52 AM on July 29, 2013 [20 favorites]


You should be less concerned about Steve and your friend and more concerned about why you were arguing (and admittedly the one in the wrong) with a group of people who have been drinking whilst driving.

First of all, do you need to apologise to you boyfriend? what about to your friend and Steve?

Questions to ask yourself:

What was your friend's reaction to your fight?
Why did your friend get out of the car with Steve?
What has she said to you since the incident?

Let your friend approach you first, I would not bring up her relationship with Steve at this point.
All the points you made about Steve could similarly be applied to you based on your description of the events
He very well may be bringing up a similar question about YOUR relationship with her.
You need to get your own house in order first.
posted by Snazzy67 at 11:55 AM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sounds to me as if Steve and his girlfriend, your friend, had had conversations about your behavior in private and when your behavior mimicked what had been their premise, Steve could not hold back and said what he had been expressing privately to his girlfriend.

Your behavior was atrocious. There is no one with clean hands here that I can tell from the short description.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:59 AM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


You sound all kinds of wrong.

1. If you had a couple of drinks, you weren't driving sober.

2. People shouldn't argue in social situations.

3. Why would you act like a bitch to your boyfriend? In front of other people?

4. Even if drunk Steve did throw in his two-cents, ordering someone out of your car is a dick move. Especially at night. Dick. Move.

5. If I were your friend, I would expect YOU to apologize, you weren't the sober driver, you made a fun evening awkward and you cost us a cab ride home.

Now Steve was out of line, he should have butted out completely. But he didn't. Perhaps because he was drunk, but whatever.

YOU need to take care of your issues. I think your friend should dump Steve and dump you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:00 PM on July 29, 2013 [19 favorites]


Your behavior sounds kinda scary, too. If I was in your shoes, I'd probably handle this situation by making some apologies for how I acted.
posted by 99percentfake at 12:02 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Steve definitely overreacted, you definitely overreacted, and you aren't driving sober if you're "a few drinks in." None of you are in the right here.
posted by ook at 12:03 PM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I note A LOT of confusion in the comments above. There's NO indication in the OP that:
1. She 'wouldn't let him out of the car when he asked'; or
2. Her own boyfriend exited the car along w Steve and friend; or
3. She was less than sober.

Read carefully, folks, and take the OP at face value.

Overall, I think the most important advice is your friend will live her own life. I'd apologize for putting her and her boyfriend in the situation to begin with. I doubt I'd set up a foursome again.
posted by LonnieK at 12:04 PM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not an angry guy at all, but I would for sure lose my shit if I was drinking with friends and our sober driver was having an argument with her boyfriend while driving, and then kicked me out of her car for making a snarky comment about it.
posted by Jairus at 12:05 PM on July 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, it sounds like everybody was acting like children here. I don't know how we're supposed to sort it out.
posted by Justinian at 12:26 PM on July 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


...an outburst her boyfriend caused this weekend which caused a huge rift between all of us.

You start by taking responsibility for your own actions. I have no idea what kind of argument was transpiring between you and your boyfriend, but it certainly does not seem like this situation was escalated by Steve alone.

What did you say to your boyfriend that made Steve think you are a bad person? You might not think it matters, but it matters.
posted by inertia at 12:26 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're right LonnieK- my bad, I misread that the boyfriend also exited the car. However, I do still suspect there is more to the story and that the OP is just as much, if not more so, in the wrong than Steve is.
posted by Eicats at 12:27 PM on July 29, 2013


Messy night, but Steve "exploding", ordering you to pull over (after what sounds like a mouthy, insincere, "so get out") comment, and other "overreactions" is more than a little concerning, but it's for your friend to deal with.

(I've seen things like this incident happen, but not with someone losing it to the extent that Steve did.)

People who explode with rage and anger are not healthy, have "overreactions" more than once in the bluest of blue moons are not people you want to be around.
posted by ambient2 at 12:35 PM on July 29, 2013


Response by poster: Here's some clarity for those that are asking (and I appreciate all the feedback):

-I didn't come out and say get out of my car, my boyfriend made a comment to Steve "we are both in the dog house so lets just walk home", I said Okay get out of my car I can pull over now. This sparked Steve to grab the back of my seat and scream to pull over that nobody talks to him like that or kicks him out. I am trying to pull over, not keeping him in the car. He continues to scream as he is exiting, causing a scene.
-His judgement on me being a bad woman, telling me I would be alone forever was uncalled for I believe because he doesn't know me well enough and I just dont thinkt he things he were saying were nice.
-I get I was in a not-so-nice argument with my boyfriend and the situation was stressful, but i think of more concern was that after the fact my boyfriend and I disucssed we were actually a bit concerned for our safety with how he was screaming and grabbed the back of the chair, and told my boyfriend to get his hands off of him when he was just trying to calm him down.
-My boyfriend didnt leave with the 2 of them, they left on their own and my boyfriend appologized for not sticking up for me more as he was berating me.
-I didn't really say anything other than stupid bickering fight saying that he was not giveing me right directions and not helping me out. I know that fight should have stayed between ourselves and I appologized for that.

-More background on him, he has just up and left my friend in the past, has done shady things and lied about it, has over reacted to someone asking him to leave a pool because it was closing and glass bottles weren't allowed at that time calling them a dick and maknig a scene. He has also yelled at my friend telling her that she was a bad person because of her past relationships and allowing a man to abuse her (emotionally), which is what made him leave her claiming that she was "fucked up". I guess this is deeper than it appears at first glance.
posted by love2much at 12:39 PM on July 29, 2013


I just want her to be in a relationship that is healthy and not someone who can 1) talk to a woman like that and 2) over react with such anger

And she probably wants you to be in a relationship where you don't feel the need to fight and act bitchy, esp. in front of her, esp. while driving a car. But that's not really up to her, just as her relationship is not up to you. I think this combination of people sounds toxic and in the future, assuming you don't also fight with your friend, you and she should stick to getting together just the two of you. (Might do you good to get away from your boyfriend sometimes too.)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 12:41 PM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just want her to be in a relationship that is healthy and not someone who can 1) talk to a woman like that and 2) over react with such anger.

You don't get to pick your friend's relationships. You can decline invitations to hang out with them together and not invite her to things when she would expect to be able to bring Steve but if you badmouth Steve your friend is unlikely to respond how you want.

On preview from your update it is entirely reasonable to try to limit your contact with Steve for your safety/mental health/happiness but that still doesn't give you veto power. Try to be polite but keep your distance. Make it clear that you are still your friend's friend but she may drift away.
posted by mountmccabe at 12:43 PM on July 29, 2013


With your update, I still wouldn't say anything to your friend, unless she brings it up.
Steve has problems. Limit your interactions as much as possible.
Be available for your friend as much as you can without endangering yourself.
Best of luck to you.
posted by Snazzy67 at 12:56 PM on July 29, 2013


This sparked Steve to grab the back of my seat and scream to pull over that nobody talks to him like that or kicks him out. I am trying to pull over, not keeping him in the car. He continues to scream as he is exiting, causing a scene.
This is extremely violent, scary, and out of line. This is the kind of guy I could imagine actually smashing stuff if he was properly drunk.

With the other info there id almost say he sounds like he could be just as emotionally abusive as the guys in your friends past he was attacking.

I also have a special sort of hate for people who just have to get a word in edgewise in friends arguments, and jump in to get a jab in or(worse) take sides. I have some sympathy with how upset you were on that because I've completely cut people out of my life who had a history of doing that.

I would be perfectly willing to believe this was a really minor argument and this dude jumped in and started being over the top angry and blew it up by yelling and shit. I could see this as some normal couple "ugh, no!" Interaction where you were being a bit obstinate. I've watched this type of person "pour gasoline on the fire" in that way many times. It often feels like they just want to watch shit burn or get an excuse to yell a bunch. Especially with the grabbing the seat and getting just to the edge of physical violence part there.

This guy really sounds like a shit to me.

That said, there really isn't much you can do. My best friends girlfriend had a shitty friend like this guy. My solution was just to not hang out with them when they were around. It's even worse when it's someone a good friend is dating because you have to go out of your way to make plans with just them, and it probably won't happen often. Be prepared to invite her to something you think only she would go to and have him show up too.

If you try and explicitly exclude him, I can absolutely see him making this in to a you or him thing and going "you'd rather hang out with that cunt and ditch me!?!!?". You will stop hearing from your friend.

You're pretty much going to have to make super girly plans with her, and plans to hang out with both of them occasionally in a large group. "Let's all go with bla and bla and their friends to trivia night!/this show for the band we all like" Kinda thing.

If you try and overtly exclude him you will fail. And you'll likely lose her as a friend until she untangles herself from him 3 breakups later.

Im actually kinda amazed people are seeing his reaction as some kind of logical if-then thing to your argument here. Butting in to other people's arguments is SUPER rude, and grabbing your seat and being super violently angry like that is really over the top and out of line. Like scary. I realize you just posted the update, but it sounds like he took a minor argument with a bit of yelling and turned it in to like, violent screaming. Like from a 3/10 to a 7/10 kinda thing.

Oh well though, everyone is entitled to their opinion and whatnot. I just find arguing a bit(and possibly being a bit of an ass) about directions infinitely more normal and relatable than having a tantrum like that.
posted by emptythought at 1:11 PM on July 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't think it's helpful to think of this in terms of whether he overreacted or not, what you are seeing is a pattern of how he acts, and if you don't want to be around a person who acts the way he does then don't be around him. He sounds like a frightening person to be around.

People think of themselves as having overreacted when they do something out of character, and it sounds like this was completely in character for him. Trying to convince him he overreacted would not be successful, from his own point of view he's probably acting like he normally does.

I said Okay get out of my car I can pull over now.

If you feel the need to tell someone to get out of your car, always pull over first (preferably in a place with other people around, in front of police if you can). It was completely unnecessary to escalate this by telling him to get out of the car when he couldn't get out immediately.

Telling a hostile person they will have to leave when you control whether they can safely exit (by stopping a moving vehicle in a safe place) and you don't have that exit immediately ready that very second is a bad idea.

I didn't come out and say get out of my car

Your reaction to two passengers discussing the possibility of walking was to immediately ask them to get out -- it is somewhat controlling of you to react to any discussion of their leaving voluntarily by kicking them both out.

I wouldn't worry about what this jerk Steve thinks about you or repairing this "rift", it sounds like you are better off if someone like that doesn't want to be around you.

I just want her to be in a relationship that is healthy

You can't decide who your friend dates for her. You can't change this jerk to be not a jerk.
posted by yohko at 1:19 PM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


In general, you should try not to have personal arguments with your partner in front of others. It's none of their business, so it's unwise to include them in any way.

That said: the argument was none of Steve's business and he was rude to comment at all, much less spew nasty insults at you. His behavior sounds scary and inappropriate. You should avoid spending time with him, even if that means less time with your friend.

In terms of talking to your friend about all of this, I think the best you can do is something like: "I wish I'd waited until we got home to have that stupid argument with Jim. However, as much as I regret the argument, Steve's behavior was really weird, scary, and nasty. I can't be around someone who talks to me like that. I understand if you prioritize your relationship over socializing with Jim and me, and I hope the two of us can still hang out sometimes, but I think Steve and I had better keep our distance."

Stay level-headed. Assert your boundaries. Take responsibility for your choices. Emphasize that you respect and value your friend. Hopefully this will set you up to be someone your friend can confide in once she realizes what an erratic jerk her boyfriend is.
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:22 PM on July 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


More background on him, he has just up and left my friend in the past, has done shady things and lied about it, has over reacted to someone asking him to leave a pool because it was closing and glass bottles weren't allowed at that time calling them a dick and maknig a scene. He has also yelled at my friend telling her that she was a bad person because of her past relationships and allowing a man to abuse her (emotionally), which is what made him leave her claiming that she was "fucked up". I guess this is deeper than it appears at first glance.


Wow. With all of this, why did you say at the beginning of your post that you were "truely a huge fan of him until this weekend"?

Regardless, your friend's relationship is her mess to sort out, not yours. If you don't like the guy, the most you can do is minimize your contact with him -- tell her you're not up for hanging out with the two of them as a couple of she invites you out with them. Pressuring her to dump him is likely to backfire, and will definitely ensure that if she's having trouble with him, she's not going to talk to you about it.
posted by palomar at 1:42 PM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just want [my friend] to be in a relationship that is healthy and not someone who can 1) talk to a woman like that and 2) over react with such anger.

No person should talk to another person like that. In other words, women should not talk to men "like that."

It sounds like you have a lot going on here. I suggest getting in touch with your own anger and leaving your friend's situation to work itself out.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:58 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


You started by saying that prior to the "car incident" you had been a big fan of Steve. But now you say Steve has a history of being shady and that he tells lies and makes scenes at swimming pools and yells that your friend is a bad person and calls your friend a fuck up.

So I'm lost...but I doubt it really matters. It is unlikely that Steve would voluntarily get back in your car (after your behaviors), and you wouldn't get in a car he was driving (since he is so shady), so I suppose the situation resolves itself.
posted by 99percentfake at 2:43 PM on July 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


This person was drunk. You and your boyfriend were having an argument, and you threatened to pull over and kick them out of the car. No one that you mentioned, except maybe for Steve's girlfriend, are not at fault here.

Glass houses, throwing stones, etc. If you don't want this sort of thing to happen again maybe you should take a look at your part in creating the situation.
posted by destructive cactus at 3:00 PM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


as a child I was threatened to be kicked out of the car often, and sometimes actually was, resulting in my walking for miles.

if I was drunk, I wouldn't maybe shake the seat but I would have an EXTREME reaction (probably lots of swearing and denunciations). In short, evicting somebody from a ride takes control away from a person in a very severe way. You have established that you have power over them. It is a fucked up way to treat someone.

In your follow up, unless you have taken out the part of the conversation where you said, 'Are you serious about walking home? Are you sure?' and they said 'Yeah, we are serious' UNLESS you said that then you did the thing where your boyfriend said a snarky thing and then you showed him who was boss and you have, yes, kicked them out of the car.

I have acted out plenty, plenty of times. Some of those times it was in a context where others were acting out. If you act out, you lose the authority of a person who can correctly diagnose acting out behavior.

So, if you are worried about your friend, don't act out around Steve. Maybe take some time to establish your non-acting outness, because right now you don't have that history.
posted by angrycat at 3:17 PM on July 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


OP, what you want to hear is that Steve is a shitty person and you need to save your friend from him. I'm going to be really honest and say your posts come across as you being more bothered by Steve insulting you than by any of the things he has done to your friend, but it could just be the writing.

I'm going to reiterate the "bad behavior/bad boundaries" statement and advise you to talk to your friend and acknowledge your responsibility in this event and let her know that Steve's behavior made you and your boyfriend feel uncomfortable. It doesn't really matter who was right or wrong, there's no need to assign levels of blame, just acknowledge and move on. Then cut down on the "double dates," minimize your contact with Steve (drunk or sober) and be supportive of your friend should SHE decide that her relationship is unhealthy or a dangerous situation seems to be percolating between them.
posted by sm1tten at 3:55 PM on July 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


He was SO angry and yelling, the look in his eyes was almost scary

Reading this sentence gave me chills. I noticed this about my ex boyfriend at some point, the look in his eyes that took over when he got angry and would flip out- like his face would contort into something unfamiliar and terrifying like he was about to break with reality or something.

He turned out to be a really volatile, frightening and damaging person who was incredibly hard to cut ties with even after we broke up (I had to move, change my number, etc.) I still have bad dreams about him (just had one last night actually) and we broke up over 2 years ago. I think Steve sounds like a bad guy in the same vein.

But honestly, I agree you don't sound that great either. This was the other thing I noticed about my awful ex- all his friends were awful too. Including one couple who would always pick wildly inappropriate personal fights and be horrible to each other in front of us, the captive audience in the car. Doing this is really shitty IMO and indicates a lack of self control. Anyway, among that group it was like everyone was getting away with bad behavior because no one was above it to call it out. The whole dynamic within the couples in the group was just toxic. I didn't realize it until I left all of them behind me (I left the friends behind when I broke up with him. Best decision I ever made.) Maybe you need to re-evaluate yourself, and your circle too. That amount of drama just seems soooo unnecessary and stressful and unhealthy.
posted by Argyle_Sock_Puppet at 7:09 PM on July 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm gonna be a lone dissenter here. I think you can talk to your girlfriend if you do it with the highest and best intentions. Talk to her personally, get coffee. Start by unreservedly apologizing for your role in the incident. You should not have been acting like a bitch to your boyfriend. You should not have suggested that they walk and you're very sorry that things ended that way. Having said that, you have not been able to get it out of your head how violently and loudly Steve erupted and that, frankly, he scared the shit out of you. You want to know that this was out of the ordinary as it made you a little concerned for her. Then let her talk.

No matter what she says (she might be mad at you, she might think her boyfriend is the best guy ever) just make sure you tell her that you will always value her friendship and she can count on you. Then mean it.

But, yeah, I wouldn't go looking for any opportunities to hang out with the guy regardless of what she does. Avoid him. If that means distancing yourself from her then so be it, unfortunately.
posted by amanda at 8:56 PM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Adding to those who say you are part of the problem. You were arguing with your BF in front of other people, and while driving; and then you told them to get out of the car. Unless they're actually posing a danger to you - and you had the danger covered by driving while emotional - telling someone to get out of the car is a hostile act on a par with telling them to get out of your house. If you say something like that to someone, you do it on the assumption that they will never come back.

Take the log out of your own eye first.
posted by tel3path at 5:58 AM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


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