joreth: (boxed in)
"Friendships can be abusive. It took me a long time to realize that a friend can manipulate you, emotionally abuse you, gaslight you, and that the effects of that trauma can last for years after the friendship ends. Abuse also knows no distance; one of the most damaging friendships I ever had had thousands of miles between us. We haven't spoken in years and I'm only recently discovering the depths to which that friendship has affected me to this day. I didn't even want to admit the fact that it was abusive in nature even though she's not in my life anymore because her hold on me is still present, and because I didn't think friendships could be classified as abusive relationships. But they absolutely can be. Please be careful and take [care] of yourselves and if you think a friend is crossing a line, please reach out." ~ jacksisko
When I was in high school, I had a best friend. Because I tend to nurture post-breakup friendships, I did some post hoc analysis with my exes. With 3 different guys (every guy I was involved with one way or another while she and I were friends), I discovered that she contacted each of them to deliberately mislead them about me.

Each guy, she tried to convince I was cheating on him. One of them, I did end up cheating on him, but only after she told him that I already was, and I did so because instead of confronting me about it, he just turned into an asshole and I turned to another guy friend for comfort that led to sex, instead of dumping him for being an asshole (I was a teenager with my own relationship issues).

One guy just flat out didn't believe her. We're still fairly close.

And the third guy I wasn't even dating, but he was a friend of mine who was actually obsessive about me and was girlfriendzoning me, trying to be my "friend" so that I'd eventually recognize him as superior to all those "losers" (i.e. like the awesome guy above who refused to believe her lies) and dump them to be with him instead.

It was only after she ghosted me on our high school graduation day (devastating me on what was already an emotionally challenging day) and the final romantic relationship breakup happened a year later and then all the post-breakup repairs were done with all 3 guys that I found out she had pulled the same stunt with each of them.

As I connected the dots on the patterns of our relationship with the benefit of more information and hindsight, she turned out to be extremely jealous of anyone who was taking up my time and attention and was manipulating everyone around her and gaslighting me about their behaviour in response to her manipulation to control our friendship so that she was my sole focus.

She is one of the main reasons why I held onto the Chill Girl persona for so long - I'm not one of Those Girls, I don't do Drama, I just don't Get Along with women, blah blah blah. It's taken me a really long time to learn how to trust women again, and I have never gotten over my physical withdrawal from them. To this day, I still can't initiate a cuddly, affectionate relationship with women like I had with her. I can only respond to overtures of affection, but I can't initiate (once an affectionate pattern has been established, I can, but I can't be the one to start that pattern).

My cousin also tried to develop an abusive relationship with my sister. She would go into a rage if my sister didn't put her first, didn't read her mind and anticipate her emotions. I've told the story before about my grandfather hosting a BBQ in my sister's honor when she came to visit (after having moved up north from living in their neighborhood for a year or two), and my cousin just going ballistic at my sister for receiving the invitation from our grandfather instead of directly from my sister. It didn't seem to matter that it wasn't my sister's party, or that my sister didn't even know about it at first. What mattered is that my sister wasn't the one to extend the invitation. She did shit like this all the time.

So, yeah, you can have abusive friends too. Abuse is about control. It's a belief that one is justified in controlling another. Platonic relationships do not offer some kind of magical vaccine against one's deeply ingrained belief that they are justified in controlling other people.

If anything, I might suggest that women, with our social permission to develop deeply intimate platonic relationships, can be particularly prone or at risk of doing this to others, and also likely at risk of having it done to us by abusive men we are not dating but who *want* us to date them, because girlfriendzoning seems like a situation just ripe for someone with beliefs about entitlement and controlling others to obtain what they feel they are owed.
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