Woe Is Me! “My Boyfriend Wants Me to Block a Guy Friend. What Should I Do?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
My best friend from high school kept on doing mild flirting while I was already dating someone. My boyfriend obviously didn’t like it and told me to cut him off, but he was a really good friend of mine so we kept on talking without my boyfriend knowing about it. One day, he sent me something vulgar and my boyfriend read it and he broke up with me, but I really loved him so I promised him that I’ll do anything to get him back. My boyfriend told me not to talk to any of my guy friends ever from the next time. This incident made him change and even after I blocked everyone and started doing whatever he said, he still used to slut-shame me and control me all the time. I went into depression but still, he never cared. Then one day I saw that old friend again and couldn’t stop myself from talking and telling him everything. I told my boyfriend about this and he said that he’ll change, he’ll never slut-shame or control me again but at the same time told me to block that guy out of my life. What should I do?
— Torn Lover
KB: This guy sounds awful! I don’t completely understand this history (why was your best friend sending you “something vulgar”?), but it doesn’t even matter — the boyfriend sounds insecure and toxic. It’s always unreasonable to ask someone to cut any and all of their friends of a particular gender out of their lives. This is probably the most telling thing; it indicates that this is not about any particular friend or situation, it’s really just your boyfriend who is jealous and insecure and can’t handle you having any friends of the opposite sex. He is not behaving like someone who genuinely cares for you and wants the best for you, so this is an easy one: run, don’t walk, in the opposite direction.
ADT: Well shit. I think you need a guy detox — you need to get rid of both your friend and your partner, considering they both think its okay to say vulgar or controlling things to you. It’s clear that the presence of either or both men in your life is a direct cause of your depression. You have to prioritize yourself this time — it’s unbelievably hard but you’ll love yourself for it in the future. Get together with your girlfriends and allow them to create an emotional and literal physical (nobody is scarier than a gaggle of girls) barrier between you and either of these fine male specimens. You get to decide which boy is in your life and which boy isn’t ultimately — but I am literally begging you to kick both of these fools out of your life.
SM: Cut your boyfriend out of your life. Everything that you’ve written about him indicates that he is emotionally abusive, and you’ve been in the cycle of abuse for too long to think clearly. You should try and take a few friends and family into confidence if you can, so that once you do cut him off, they can help you stay away from him, heal, and see things in perspective. If possible, you should definitely try and go in for therapy or counseling to get a professional’s help with processing this.
RN: I’m so sorry you are going through this. It seems like the thing to do would be to let go of what seems to be incredibly toxic — dare I say abusive? — relationship with your boyfriend. You need a partner who would want you to be happy, not try to limit all your other relationships for his own insecurities. He sounds deeply manipulative and distrustful, and you deserve someone whom you can have a conversation with, not someone who expects you to unconditionally do as he says. Friendships outside relationships are super important and no partner should ever try to cut you off from anyone else. You clearly care about this high school friend and trust them, and while they were mistaken to flirt with you, your boyfriend didn’t have the right to “tell” you to do anything. It should have been a conversation where you both met each other halfway, at the very least. The fact that he continued to behave this way after you cut your friend off shows that it was never really about that, and is a huge red flag. Given that, he doesn’t sound like someone who will keep his word on not doing those things again.
Ultimately, no relationship should ever compel you to cut other relationships off, it isn’t a zero-sum game. But even without the friend in the picture, the slut-shaming and controlling are immediate deal breakers in themselves. It will be really hard, but I think the best way forward would be to take whatever time, energy, and help you need in breaking up with your boyfriend. I hope that whatever you do, you’ll be at peace — sending you strength to get through this!
OG: Who you speak to and who you befriend is your choice completely. I can understand your boyfriend being insecure at the beginning but him asking you to stop talking to all of your guy friends and slut-shaming you is a huge red flag. He saw an opportunity to control you, almost blackmail you into submission and he took it. I’m also unsettled by the fact that he broke up over something that your friend did? Unless you were participating in the conversation, I see no reason for your boyfriend to blame you. It’s difficult to build a meaningful relationship with someone who is insecure and controlling. As for your high school friend, if he was sending you unsolicited, inappropriate messages, he may not be the perfect guy for you. You need to consider how this guy would react in other situations. Is he controlling too? Is he insecure? Does he genuinely like you? Has he grown up to be a decent guy whom you can trust? If the answers are not favourable there are plenty of other people out there who will treat you with the respect you deserve. You shouldn’t settle for anyone who doesn’t treat you right.
DR: I think you should cut off your boyfriend — before you do anything else. Then, you can make a decision, independently, on what to do about this guy friend. I’m not sure what your guy friend wants from you, but your boyfriend certainly seems to be trying to control your life, and who you choose to make a part of it. Also, the fact that he doesn’t seem to care about your mental health is a huge red flag. To add to that, it’s clear that he doesn’t trust you, and no matter what you do, I doubt that’s likely to change — unless, perhaps, you let him control every aspect of your life, which seems really toxic.
Moreover, the fact that he said he’ll “change” and not try to control you, while asking you to block your friend, is very manipulative. He can’t commit to not control you on the condition that you listen to him — that’s exactly what controlling is. His response also indicates that he’s not going to follow through with his promise to change — that he just said it to keep you around. Please dump him?