Carolyn Hax: Friend picks wrong side in breakup with abusive ex



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Dear Carolyn: A while back, I broke up with my boyfriend because he hit me. It was a very bad breakup, because my ex didn’t accept that I had left and continued to pester me for weeks afterward.

Most of my friends took the situation very seriously, except my one friend M. When I told M. what had happened, he brushed it off and told me I should reconcile with my ex. A while later, I asked M. if he would be willing to cut contact with my ex while I decided whether to press charges. M. immediately got defensive, said it wasn’t my place to ask him to stop speaking to my ex, and then blamed me for having dated our mutual friend because it put him in a bad position. I told M. that I no longer wanted to continue our friendship, which he reacted to aggressively as well.

It’s been a year since the breakup, and M. reached out to me with an apology. The apology felt insincere, as though he were trying to simply make himself feel better, but several of our friends have encouraged me to accept the apology. I still feel deeply hurt that he refused to support me or even acknowledge the wrong that had been done, although I acknowledge that asking him to cut contact might have been controlling.

I want to know if I should be gracious and accept the apology, or if it would be more cathartic for me to tell him that I deserve a better apology.

Forgiving a Friend: Oh, my, there’s some stuff here.

There’s not a lot of you here, which I’ll get to.

But there’s abuse, obviously, and good for you for getting out of that relationship and withstanding all the highly inappropriate pressure for you to get back into it. That is not easy.

There’s a “friend” who absolutely, mystifyingly, shockingly took the wrong side in your breakup and championed your abuser. What the what.

There’s this same friend, M., telling you that you “should reconcile” with the guy who hit you, and saying you shouldn’t date any of your mutual friends — and then taking exception when you ask him if he was willing to stop hanging out, temporarily!, with the guy who decked you. Besides — control isn’t what you ask, it’s how you take “no” for an answer.

There’s your excellent decision to add M. to the list of people you parted ways with over the abuse.

There are also friends — more “friends” — now butting in to “encourage” you to accept an apology you find insincere.

And then there is you. You are the one who matters here, you are the one who shed two people who mistreated you, you’re the one who heard the apology and thought, “Eh — nope.” Your inner sensor seems to work just fine, when you ask it to.

So why are you giving your friends’ pressure so much weight? Why did you give M. so many chances before, and why have you considered overruling yourself now?

I don’t think you’re far from where you want to be — but the last step is big and as yet untaken. Trusting yourself.

As for being pressured to accept M.’s apology: “Why should I?” Works both rhetorically and to say, “Not unless M. makes his case.”



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