Maybe My Best Friend Sucks?

A CUTIE PIE:

About three years ago I broke up with my ex of five ears for a variety of reasons. My ex did not take it well. He stalked me, loudly confronted me in a quiet library, read my personal emails, told all our mutual friends I cheated on him (I didn’t at all and he knew this), wrote a very lengthy post about how I was a terrible slut online, and told me he planned on parking outside of my apartment complex because he wanted to “talk to” the guy I was dating. During this time, I relied heavily on my best friend. I told her everything, she was my shoulder to cry on and the person I knew I could call at any time of day to complain about the next scary and invasive shenanigan my ex was up to. 

This is where things get sticky. While we were still dating, I introduced my ex and best friend because they were in the same major and had the same post graduate plans. During our messy break up, my best friend and ex were taking the same classes and studying for the same graduate school entrance exam. I told my best friend I was uncomfortable with her hanging out with my ex during this very weird and trying time, but she assured me that she was not actually friendly with him, but rather found him a good study partner. My ex and my best friend both got into graduate programs in two different states, so I felt assured that their relationship had subsequently ended. 

Earlier this year, I had a mutual friend tell me that my best friend was visiting my ex in the state he attends graduate school in, where they were having dinners together and even attending that city’s SantaCon. My best friend hadn’t even told me she was going to my ex’s state, but I mostly shrugged it off. However, in early January another mutual friend told me my ex was hanging out with my best friend in her state. Both of these occurrences have picture proof and neither of these meet-ups have been mentioned by my best friend. 

I’m really unsure of what to do. I haven’t confronted my friend yet as I haven’t gotten the opportunity to hang out with her in person, but it’s difficult for me to picture continuing a friendship with her. I don’t care that she’s hanging out (or maybe even hooking up with) someone I used to date, I care that she’s continued a relationship (in whatever capacity) with someone that caused so much grief and turmoil in my life. I’m doubly hurt because I feel like she lied to me about her relationship with my ex by telling me they were simply study partners and that she hasn’t at all hinted that they still occasionally hang out, even just as friends. I want to talk to her about it but I don’t want to frame the conversation as “it’s him or me.” If they are just casually hooking up, I feel like that transgression might not be serious enough to call quits on such an otherwise solid friendship. Basically, I don’t know how to tell her what I feel without rocking the boat or giving her an ultimatum. 

SOPHIA:

🚨EXCUSE ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!🚨 The friendship train has fucking left the station, driven off a cliff and SUNK. This is not a friend. This person is so not a friend of yours, I cannot even describe to you how much anti-friend they are.

There are five thousand ways of handling this that she could have done that were less hurtful and shitty than what she did, ways that could have built a road (albeit perhaps a bumpy road) to continued friendship. Instead, she built a god damned moat. A river. Do not ford the river. Do not caulk the wagon. WE ARE NOT CROSSING THAT GOD DANG RIVER!!!!!

Here are some things that she could have done that would have made this situation better:

  1. Not spoken to this dipshit ever fucking again ever.

  2. Talked to you about why she was maintaining a relationship with dipshit.

  3. Told you beforehand that she was visiting him.

  4. Told you after that she had visited him.

  5. Told you beforehand that he was visiting her.

  6. Told you after that he had visited her.

  7. Not lied.

  8. Not gone to fucking SantaCon on a date because, no offense to SantaFans, but that’s bizarre. (I’m kidding on this one!!!)

Those are all steps she could’ve taken to be in my good graces, should she have wanted a relationship with me. The point is that SHE FUCKING SUCKS AS A FRIEND SO MUCH I CAN’T EVEN IMAGINE YOU EVER SPEAKING TO HER AGAIN.

Before the whole visiting each other in other states thing (we will get to that), she easily could have come to you and said, “Hey, I fucking hate your ex so so much, but he is in my field and I need to put a good face on around him in professional situations. Please know that I 100% have your back and still fucking hate this man, but I want to give you the heads up that I can’t totally burn this bridge as much as I would like to, because he and I might encounter each other professionally.” You sound like an incredibly reasonable (maybe too forgiving, but very reasonable) person. There is no way on earth she didn’t think you’d understand this situation. And if she doesn’t think you’d get it, then why would she be friends with you.

BUT THEN THE STATE TO STATE VISITS??!?!?!?! Is someone joking me??? ARE THEY JOKING ME??? Dear god in fucking heaven you do not go visit your best friend’s abusive ex in another state. You don’t invite him to visit you. You don’t grab dinner when he’s in town. YOU CERTAINLY DON’T FUCKING LIE ABOUT ALL OF THOSE THINGS TO YOUR SUPPOSED ‘BEST’ FRIEND. I truly cannot deal with this woman’s concept of friendship.

If someone said that my best friend’s hair was frizzy, I would cut them out of my fucking life if she wanted. MY GOD!!!! THIS GUY FUCKING HURT YOU!!!! I’m screaming because someone clearly needs to be shoutin’ about this guy. This guy blows. HE CALLED YOU A SLUT ONLINE. HE STALKED YOU. HE YELLED AT YOU IN A LIBRARY. HE YELLED AT YOU… PERIOD. ANYWHERE. IF SOMEONE DID THIS TO MY BEST FRIEND, I WOULD MAKE IT MY MISSION TO RUIN THEIR LIFE SLOWLY OVER MANY YEARS, ACROSS MANY CONTINENTS.

THIS IS WILD OF HER.

Ok, I’ll stop typing in caps lock.

Please know, that you are not framing it as you vs. him. SHE knows that this will hurt you and she chose to do it anyway. She picked that. It has very little to do with him at all. She doesn’t care about hurting you. Do you get how sick that is? SHE DOESN’T CARE THAT SOMEONE WAS CRUEL TO YOU. Ok, I guess I’m not done with the all caps. It is not him vs you. It’s being a good friend vs. being a shit ass friend and she chose the latter.

Do not talk to this person again unless it is to explain that you two are not friends based on the multiple, complex, hurtful concrete actions she took. If you’d like to explain that the relationship is over between you two (and I really, really think it needs to be, as fucking painful as that will be), you can say something like this, “Tanya*, I love you, and you’ve been my best friend for years, and that makes it really hard for me— impossible, in fact— to grapple with your friendship with Dipshit. I don’t care if you date people I’ve dated in the past in a general sense. I frankly don’t care at all about this guy and really was hoping to never have to hear about him again. But I’ve found out that you two have been visiting one another out of state, and I just don’t see how you can do that, knowing how much pain he caused me. I also know that you know how hurtful this would be, since you didn’t tell me. I get that you two are in similar fields and I don’t expect you to never speak to him cordially or professionally, but this is just too painful. A friend would’ve had my back in this, and would not even need me to explain not to hurt me like this. I don’t know what else to say, but that I’m sorry and I’m sad. I wish you would’ve chosen your relationship with me over him, but I can’t move on from you doing this and lying about it to me. I’m not trying to make it a choose me/pick me kind of thing. I don’t want it to be about him vs. me at all. I’m just beyond having to explain how un-friend-like this is. I shouldn’t have to ask you to not be friendly with someone who was cruel to me.”

If you feel like calling or doing this in person, fine. But I would highly recommend sending a (heavily drafted, revised) email and then sending her reply should one come straight into junk mail.

You deserve someone who does not befriend abusers, especially not your abuser. This person is not a friend. That’s not an ultimatum. She has made it SO FUCKING CLEAR that she is not interested in your pain. How could she ever be part of your joy? NO.

*I don’t know her name.

Sophia Benoit writes this very newsletter; she also writes about sex & relationships for GQ, tweets about everything else at @1followernodad, is a researcher for Lights Out With David Spade, and has had bylines in The Guardian, Reductress, Refinery29, Allure, and The Cut. You can reach her or yell at her at 1followernodad@substack.com.