Monday, December 18, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Friend's ex-boyfriend doesn't seem as bad as she says

Q: My friend "Emily" dated "Andy" a few years ago. They broke up spectacularly. Emily has always said that Andy was the most controlling and insecure boyfriend she has ever had, which always surprised me because that does not come across when I interact with him.

Andy and I have gotten close over the years and have been on a few dates. Emily has moved on and is fine with it, but it really bugs me that I feel like I'm waiting for these negative traits to suddenly appear. Is this something I should talk to him about, or do I just discount Emily's opinion until given a reason to do otherwise?

D.C.

A: Seems to me there's a lot Emily can say that will be useful to you. For example, did she see these traits in Andy early, or did they emerge as things got serious? Were there signs she didn't recognize at the time but that his later behavior explained? Were there specific triggers? Dig a bit to see if they had mismatch issues versus an Andy-is-bad issue.

Also, how reliable is Emily as a judge of character? I realize some people might recoil at such kiss-and-tell recon, but "controlling and insecure" are serious stuff. Yes, you have your eyes open, that's good, but borrowing a map would just be smart.

To Andy, don't blurt, "Emily said this and I'm wondering if it's true." That could make Andy both defensive and unwilling to look inward. Better to talk about life, love and hypotheticals, and see who both of you reveal yourselves to be. Listen to the way he talks about his exes. Are they all crazy? Is everything their fault? Is he a blamer, a perfectionist, a person of strong preferences?

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