How can I cut someone off without making too much of a fuzz?
December 22, 2019 8:20 AM   Subscribe

So unfortunately there's a friend of mine which just needs to go. He's helped with some things, but I can't afford to be friends with him anymore. I will explain why in the extended explanation. I was hoping to get some advice on how slowly and quietly disappear from this person's life. I don't want to be around them any longer and I don't feel safe being near them anymore.

This person can be a very good human being when he wants to, but he has an alcohol problem and he has been running away from his demons for a long time. He did some very bad things in the past and I think he's been running away from it for a lifetime. For simplicity's sake let's call him David.

Anyway, I didn't really think it was all that bad until last Friday. I asked David if he wanted to go out and get a beer. So we went out, when I got there he was completely wasted. I had to put up with his insults, his bad temper and him wanting to get in a fight with a bunch of people. More than that I got to find out about the skeletons David's been hiding in his closet. According to him he was convicted of first degree murder. I'd say he was lying, but it didn't feel like he was lying. I get the feeling he was involved in the drug business.

The worst of it was when he had said that he "saved me". On a previous occasion I was going to out with some friends, so I got to the place where these other friends and I were going to, I got there early and they hadn't arrived just yet. I like to take walks, especially in neighborhoods that I don't know well, the nearby neighborhood was really nice, so I took a walk. Anyway, David was driving around, and saw me walking, so he offered me a ride. On Friday David brought this back up, he said he had "saved me", that I was being weird by walking by myself, and that I was probably doing because I wanted to kill myself. I don't know what ideas he's got in his head, about what walking around alone on a neighborhood means. I have never had suicidal thoughts, nor am I depressed or anything else. I think what's really going on is that those are his thoughts and that he's projecting them onto me. He was really drunk

Anyway, I want this person out of my life. I don't want to have anything to do with him. I could put up with his criminal convictions, but he was just awful on Friday. He has some major issues that are eating him up and I don't want any part of it.
posted by Tarsonis10 to Human Relations (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
If he's like this you will not be the first person or the last to do this. Just stop answering his calls and texts and don't reach out to him.
He'll react however he will react but you don't have to worry about that. He'll decide to worry about it or not. He may not even remember . Just stop. You don't even have to explain.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:33 AM on December 22, 2019 [28 favorites]


If he invites you out, you're "busy." If he's going to be part of some group outing, you're "busy." Eventually he'll stop asking. If he gets abusive at you when you go silent, block his texts/number and just don't look at it anymore. He'll find someone else to burden soon enough.

If you're worried about group dynamics, if there's a group you're both in, the easiest thing to do is just not be a part of that group anymore. It sucks to have to give something up because of some other person being a jerk, but sometimes that happens when the group won't address the jerk issue.
posted by cabingirl at 8:40 AM on December 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


You've justified why you want him out of your life (not that this really needs justifying) as if you are asking for permission, reassurance about your decision (it's fine, it's a good decision, don't be friends with murderers or people who think lying about murdering someone would give them a social boost) but not really provided the kind of details that would help us figure out how to get him out of your life.

How do you keep in touch with him now? Do you have a lot of close friends in common or are you just in broadly overlapping social circles? Do you feel you need to literally never see this person again or is being at the same social event but not having to deal with him face-to-face sufficient? Would you be particularly upset to lose some or all of your shared friends?

You can just ghost him, of course, and stop responding altogether. But depending on how your relationship works now, that might not actually be the low-fuss approach.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:42 AM on December 22, 2019


I wouldn’t give another second to pondering the “saving“ thing, as he probably earnestly believes that you were in danger. Telling a good neighborhood from a bad neighborhood is a judgment call, and his judgment is obviously quite suspect.

Never initiating things and being "busy" a lot would be the traditional way to ease him out of your life.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:55 AM on December 22, 2019 [3 favorites]


If you're worried about group dynamics, if there's a group you're both in, the easiest thing to do is just not be a part of that group anymore. It sucks to have to give something up because of some other person being a jerk, but sometimes that happens when the group won't address the jerk issue.


How do you keep in touch with him now? Do you have a lot of close friends in common or are you just in broadly overlapping social circles? Do you feel you need to literally never see this person again or is being at the same social event but not having to deal with him face-to-face sufficient? Would you be particularly upset to lose some or all of your shared friends?


No shared friends, no group, nothing. This is someone I met in another job, I never knew he was such a rotten person, though. My core friends' group is elsewhere, and they have nothing to do with him or anybody that knows him. I'm not really sure he has any real friends, he kept saying that I was his only friend. I'm guessing anybody who was worth anything to him, walked away because of the same things.

I guess the reason I find it hard is because I asked him a favor, he kept his end pretty well and did what he could to help me out. Nonetheless, the bad things about him outweigh the good ones. One other thing I didn't mention is that he's very religious, and I get the feeling that he has a problem with me being an atheist. He keeps on going on about that, and asking me if I really don't do anything religious.

I also think that part of it has to do with his self destructive tendencies. I felt like he wanted to push me away. He was literally on self destruct on Friday.

I wouldn’t give another second to pondering the “saving“ thing, as he probably earnestly believes that you were in danger. Telling a good neighborhood from a bad neighborhood is a judgment call, and his judgment is obviously quite suspect.

No this is pure projection on his part. This neighborhood I was walking around in is a white collar neighborhood, and it's pretty safe. He's really projecting his suicidal tendencies on to me. I explained to him several times why I was walking around there, and he refused to listen, even going as far as telling me I was lying. He's got mental health issues, and he's seeing what he wants to see.

If he's like this you will not be the first person or the last to do this. Just stop answering his calls and texts and don't reach out to him.
He'll react however he will react but you don't have to worry about that. He'll decide to worry about it or not. He may not even remember . Just stop. You don't even have to explain.


I think you've got the right of it more than anyone else. He's like this, and I'm probably not the first. He doesn't really message me that much, most of the time I was doing the messaging. I won't bother doing that anymore.
posted by Tarsonis10 at 9:10 AM on December 22, 2019 [3 favorites]


In my experience with people similar to this, they are focused on staying in contact with friends who want to go out and party. Don’t contact him, and next time he contacts you to grab a beer, say you’ve quit going out for the most part in favor of trying to be healthier. I doubt he’ll want to tag along with you on an early morning workout or the like.

If there are particular bars he frequents, don’t go to them.
posted by sallybrown at 9:13 AM on December 22, 2019 [3 favorites]


I'm not really sure he has any real friends, he kept saying that I was his only friend.

I used to hear this a lot from a friend who drank too much. His problem wasn’t a lack of friends, it was that his real friends wouldn’t enable his bad choices any more. What he really wanted was “friends” who would stay out and drink with him without judgment.
posted by sallybrown at 9:16 AM on December 22, 2019 [38 favorites]


He sounds like a dangerous, abusive alcoholic. Consider going to an Al-Anon meeting to meet people who are dealing with the "industrial strength" version of this problem - friends and family members of alcoholics.
posted by alittleknowledge at 7:26 PM on December 22, 2019


I had a friend a little like this, and it sucks. Good you're doing what you need to. Lots of what everyone says here is true and good advice.

I would agree that you don't need to tell David anything, but it's also ok to reply to a text saying "Sorry can't do it tonight" or "I'm busy" or whatever. It seems indirect and evasive in a way, but if you want to fade out you can do so by politely declining, repeatedly, rather than going jumping out all at once. Entirely up to you.

I would also be aware that you may see this person IRL some time in the future in circumstances where you can't avoid them, and you may have to be prepared (I don't say "ready" because it's hard to be, but you can prepare) to give them the real story.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:26 PM on December 22, 2019


"...and I don't feel safe being near them anymore"

If that's the case, do nothing but run.
posted by james33 at 6:57 AM on December 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


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