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Ask Amy: How do I tell my friend’s abusive ex that I don’t want to keep being friends?

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Dear Amy: One of my friends, “Charles,” has just gotten out of a three-year relationship with his emotionally abusive partner, “Anthony.”

Before I understood how abusive Anthony had been, I considered us friends, but I’m no longer comfortable associating with Anthony at all.

Normally in this kind of situation where someone’s primary friendship is with one person, the friendship just sort of naturally dissolves when they break up, but Anthony thinks of me as his best friend and will probably continue unless I say otherwise.

I don’t want to recreationally hurt his feelings by telling him I’m not comfortable with him anymore (he has severe depression, and given that he’s lost his relationship, losing a friendship on top of that could easily push him into a dangerous mental state), but he’s unlikely to stop thinking we’re friends unless I tell him outright.

We have never talked very much, so simply not talking to him anymore would be unlikely to send the message.

Letting him think that I still value our friendship, even though I now actively dislike him seems a lot like the friendship version of leading someone on, but I don’t have the first idea how to go about telling him. What should I do?

Not Your Bestie

Bestie: Thank you for introducing me to the concept of “recreationally” hurting someone’s feelings. Yikes.

To recap — “Anthony” has been emotionally abusive to your friend. Even though you and Anthony don’t speak very often, you believe he sees you as his best friend. You want to disabuse him of this notion but you don’t want to ghost him, and you don’t want to confront him because you are worried about his mental state.

A middle ground here would be to continue as you are, not initiating contact, speaking infrequently, and letting him think whatever he wants to think — until more time has passed and you each would have gained some perspective and can back away slowly.

If Anthony is emotionally abusive, it is also possible that he would be capable of trying to control you through a sort of emotional blackmail: “If you leave me, my depression might lead me to spiral into a dangerous state.” However, in this case, you seem to be supplying Anthony’s script for him.

Anthony is responsible for his own feelings and reactions. If you are determined to express yourself to him, without being gratuitously or recreationally unkind, you should say, “I was very disappointed in the way you treated Charles.” That’s it. He may explain, apologize, or offer a contrasting view. He may also choose to end the friendship with you.

Dear Amy: I met the man of my dreams. He is the love of my life and my soul mate.

He has recently been arrested for not updating his whereabouts, as he is a registered sex offender. He was wrongly accused and did his time. He will probably go back to prison for a few months because of not updating his address.

I love this man. He’s a good man and he’s good to me. We are both madly in love, and I will support him, regardless.

I’ve lost friends and a couple of family members because they are not happy with my choice. They refuse to see his side of the story.

Why can’t they just be happy for me? Is it so bad that I support my fiance?

How do I handle people judging me for making a choice that makes me happy?

C

C: Failure to register as a convicted sex offender is a serious crime in every state.

Obviously, the people who are closest to you are worried about you. Not only are you engaged to a convicted sex offender — but, even if he was unjustly accused and convicted, he is too arrogant, or irresponsible, to register.

This is why they can't be happy for you.

Now that your fiance is behind bars, you will need your friends and family to be in your corner. Please, accept the fact that they cannot endorse this situation. Do your best to rebuild the relationships that have suffered.

Dear Amy: “Furious Stepdad” was upset that various family members would not use his stepson as their real estate broker.

Yikes. Mixing business with family almost never works. I wish you had pointed that out.

Disappointed

Disappointed: I suggested that this devoted stepfather could help this young real estate broker in other ways, by marketing his business to more receptive clients.

©2022 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency

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