Friendship-Breaker Fiancé

10 Dec

Dear LetterBalm: I met my best friend in college, and we remained close after graduation, living and working in the same city. Almost two years ago, she started dating a guy after she broke up with a decent longtime boyfriend. In the early months, I gave the new relationship the benefit of the doubt because I thought it couldn’t possibly last. Well, the man is now her fiancé. He’s a judgmental, arrogant know-it-all, who picks fights and spouts bigotry. They spend virtually every minute together because they live and work together, and she bears little resemblance to the intelligent, sweet, kind person she was. Her personality has completely changed to conform to his, and she lets him dictate her likes, dislikes and opinions – even if she had different ones before. I (and other friends) find it difficult to be with her, and he never allows just the two of us to hang out together. Sadly, I’m coming to the conclusion that our friendship is over. What can I say to her?

–Fractured Friend

You seem to have a good take on the sad state of your friendship, which, at this point, is limping along. Your challenge is to have a few minutes alone with her – you can’t write a letter or say what you want to say in a phone call. Her fiancé won’t take kindly to anything written on paper, and this sort of breakup needs to be face-to face. Ms. L.B. suggests a bit of subterfuge is called for. Ask your friend to accompany you to your gynecologist. Tell her your doctor has asked to see you to discuss your recent visit. Don’t be specific. Surely her fiancé won’t want to go. Instead, take her for a brief coffee, have your talk planned out, be firm but kind. Let her know you’ll always be there for her (because her man may well turn out to be controlling and manipulative) and let her go:

Olive, I apologize for tricking you, but I had to see you alone. There’s nothing wrong with my last gynecological checkup. I need to talk with you face-to face. This is difficult, but here goes: You are one of my dearest friends, but I don’t like what you’ve become since you’ve been with Ernie. He’s opinionated, judgmental and arrogant, and you’ve allowed yourself to take on his negative personality traits. I don’t recognize the smart, kind, tolerant person I’ve known for so long. I’m afraid he is too controlling and manipulative, and I’m afraid for your future with him. I want you to know that I always wish you the best, and I will be there for you if you ever need me. But, sadly, we must recognize that our friendship is over – I hope not permanently, but that’s your decision to make. 


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