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What do you do with a difficult friend/ ex boyfriend?

By December 11, 2008 - 7:18pm
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I have a friend, an ex boyfriend, actually, with whom my fiancee and I are close with, though, since we just moved, he now lives in another city.
I have a hard time with him because he has a bit of a social disorder personality(though he would NEVER agree with this) and a drinking problem(he would also NEVER agree with this).
When we were still a couple, things were often a bit miserable as he was quite controlling of me. The problem is, he still tries to control me though we are now just friends. We broke up about ten years ago and he has still not found someone else and I have. He is also over fifteen years older than me.

He has not dated really atall since we broke up. He tries to control little things in my life, like how I use my computer, how I drive,what I think about certain issues etc.. He just came to visit us for the Thanksgiving holiday and was perfectly pleasant and nice though drank like a fish and develped terrible asthma after returning home which, though it started three days later, he tried to blame on my dogs.
I gently suggested that it may have been because of the drinking and pot smoking, but he insisted that it was a delayed reaction to my dogs. I have never heard of an asthma reaction coming days later! Had anyone else out there?
He had been drinking and smoking pot the night before the asthma attack came!
I feel bad that he is suffering but when we talk on the phone, it's all he talks about and doesn't ask anything about me or my fiancee's lives.
Also he had promised to take care of one of the dogs at Xmas and just now, told us that he can't because of the asthma.
This made me very upset as we are leaving the country and it's super hard to find a person to take care of an animal. Mine have special requirements which a dog care centre will not deal with.
I don't know what to do about this friend.....he sometimes still makes me cry, accuses me of not being able to take criticism, when he is the LAST person who will, drinks far too much for a man of 53, doesn't seem incredibly interested in my life right now and drains me a bit.
When we hang out, things are often pleasant, on the positive side, he is kind and intelligent, but sometimes, it's not worth it.....
I am rambling on a bit, maybe I'm even over reacting...but I would love if anyone has any suggestions on how to deal wth a difficult friend????

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Just a follow up.....I made the mistake(or perhaps it wasn't a mistake)of telling my friend that I had found some information on smoking pot and asthma. Basically, all I said was that I read that one shouldn't use rolled paper, but rather a glass pipe, as inhaling the pot with paper can contribute to asthma. He had blamed the exposure to my dogs as the cause for his asthma outbreak, though he got the asthma after a night of drinking and pot smoking and hadn't been around my dogs for four days. Well, I guess he didn't like me telling him this, as he declined to care for my dog finally and left me totally in the lurch and hasn't contacted me since atall! We would normally speak at Christmas and often talk or e mail daily, but it seems that he has shut me out completely and out of the blue. We haven't spoken for about four weeks at this point. I guess that I should leave matters. What should I do when or if he contacts me again? This is strange for me as this man has been in my life since I was only nineteen....
It's not that I miss him so much as that I wonder if he's ok and why he had such a strong reaction to my comment about the asthma and the probable cause. I suppose that addicts of any kind hate being told that their addiction can have any ill effects? Maybe it was easier for him to blame the dogs?

January 13, 2009 - 9:20pm
EmpowHER Guest

I think the best thing for you and your fiancee is to start thinking about letting him go. If you don't know how to properly do this, go find a therapist to help you out. My suggestion is don't think about it as letting him go forever, but as distancing him while he learns how to get better himself. Maybe you can help him find resources that will help him do that. You are the keeper of your own well-being and this relationship right now is holding your life back.

December 19, 2008 - 9:56am

I DID let him control me. I was only barely nineteen when we met and he was in his mid thirties. We probably never should've gotten together, but we did. I have a long history with him and that's why it is painful to let him go.
I know that I am partly responsible for how he treats me.
I have moved on, you are right and perhaps he never has.
I would certainly trust him with my dog though. He loves her very much and would protect her from anything. I know this of him.
But he always behaves with me like we are still together and he can judge me and try to control me.
I feel sad that he is not doing much with his life. He hasn't even really worked for the last ten years, since we broke up, just a little here and there. I have a great job right now and in a funny way, I feel guilty as he was the one who taught me my trade(animation).
My fiancee is not happy with how this man treats me either, but he and I are both a bit soft and sweet with people in general....shall I say, I can be a bit of a doormat sometimes.
Thanks for all the info...I will read it carefully and write back.
This relationshio has been a part of my life since I was a teenager...I suppose that it is hard to let it go after all this time. He is not all bad...he has been good to me over the years too.....

December 12, 2008 - 10:45am

RLyons, your friend sounds a lot like my best friend's ex-husband. Yes, I said ex. He was a good man, and kind, inside -- even I liked him a lot -- but a drinking problem, denial and the effects that those things bring made him controlling and at times emotionally abusive.

This is what you are dealing with with your "friend." I put the word in quotation marks because like Coach Virginia, I don't actually see what you are getting out of the relationship. A friend is someone who supports you, who understands you, and who listens to you; and you do the same in return for them. A friend is not someone who blames you, tries to make you feel guilty, and tries to control your actions from afar.

How is it possible that he tries to control things in your life -- your computer, or where you drive? Even 10 years after a breakup? Did you formerly let him weigh in on such things?

How is it possible that he was "perfectly pleasant" yet drank like a fish and ends up trying to make you feel bad for being happy? He should be embarrassed and apologetic, not blaming and accusatory.

Is it that you feel guilty for moving on, and you somewhat buy his philosophy that you are responsible for his happiness (or lack of it?)

Is it that you feel good knowing that he still wants to be connected to you?

How is it ok with your fiance that your friend treats you like this?

Honestly, I'm not quite sure I'd trust someone who is controlling, has an alcohol problem and who smokes pot to be in charge of my special-needs dogs. You don't mention this, but people with these kinds of issues also often have problems with anger. Is that the case here? Do you have some fear involved in what would happen if you let him go completely?

It might help to read about a borderline disorder personality or a narcissistic personality to see if it sounds familiar. Here's the National Institutes of Health's page on BPD:


and the Mayo Clinic:


and here are some references on Narcissistic Personality Disorder:



I have to say that if I were in this situation, I would feel like I had one of two options, and the one I would choose would depend on whether I thought the friend had the ability to change. If you don't think this friend has the ability to change, then I would let the relationship go completely. If there are reasons you feel you can't do that -- and if you feel he is a good person who could change -- then I would have a truly honest talk with him about everything he does to hurt your feelings and how you need him to either respect your wishes and value your friendship or that you'll have to part ways. And be specific. Don't wimp out.

I have heard Dr. Phil say that "We teach people how to treat us." It seems so true in this case. The problem here is that you taught this friend how to treat you long ago. I'm sure that you thought you were being generous and kind, but that it has played out much differently over the years.

Please write back and let us know how things go. This is a difficult situation for sure, and your honesty here is something you should be proud of.

December 12, 2008 - 9:57am

Rlyons, I appreciate your honest recount of your experience with this friend. If I were you, I would have stopped this relationship long time ago. I believe in bringing into my life good energy so I can support my efforts to stay healthy not just physically but emotionally and spiritually. I guess you need to ask yourself whether or not your own life and wellbeing in enhaced by his presence. From your posting it sounds like the answer is "NO". Social disorder personality, drinking, drug use (pot)and controlling behavior patterns that "drain" you do not seem to be very healthy. As a matter of fact I would call them pretty toxic!

Ask yourself what do you get out of keeping him as a friend? Why do you accept his controlling behavior? Have you become co-dependant to his behavior? Do you think you will "save" him? Are you willing to risk your relationship with your fiancee over this friendship? I suggest sorting out the reason(s) that still keep you hanging on to him.

Hope this helps and good luck!

December 12, 2008 - 1:44am
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