|Don't tolerate verbal abuse!|
Question: I have a friend who goes to my high school and she's been going out with her boyfriend for a few months now. This guy is known for his sarcasm and rude behavior, but now he’s acting that way with her. Every time I see them together, he’s calling her names and making fun of her at her expense. What's worse is that she laughs it off and clings to him even more. I tried to talk to her about it but she told me he’s just joking around and I don't understand his humor. He isn't abusive or anything to her but I just don't like the way he talks to her. How can I get her to realize this is wrong? (Sacramento, CA)
Social Shrink: When your friend’s boyfriend is putting her down, calling her names, or making fun of her, he’s using her as an easy target. The fact that she laughs it off and allows this type of treatment is definitely worrisome. I’m glad that you are looking out for your friend and wondering how you can help.
First things first – let’s understand why this guy is acting the way he is. He is using his girlfriend to prop himself up at her expense. Each time he’s rude or sarcastic to his girlfriend, and she does nothing about it, he feels like it is okay and that it’s nothing at all. THAT IS WRONG. It’s clear that the boyfriend is insecure to some degree; otherwise he wouldn’t feel the need to belittle his girlfriend to make himself look funny or better than her.
Abuse is abuse no matter what form it is. Even though physical abuse is not involved, it seems your friend's boyfriend is verbally abusive. This is definitely a sign that the relationship could lead to something worse. It's best to get your friend to realize this now before it gets too late.
Unfortunately, she won't break up with him until she is ready. Sit your friend down and let her know that you see all the time the things he says to her and how disrespectful it is. Give her specific examples of times you see her boyfriend outright disrespect her with rude remarks. If she laughs it off, tell her it’s not funny. You need to open your friend’s eyes so that she can see the situation as a whole. Ask her, “If my boyfriend was acting this way to me, would you allow it?” Turn the tables so that she can see the situation as an outsider and ask her if she would react the same way.
It will take time before your friend realizes that this behavior is unacceptable. It’s important to keep an open dialogue with her and to wave a red flag each time you hear her boyfriend say something inappropriate or rude. The more you flag this type of behavior, the more cognizant your friend will be to react accordingly.
As a side note – if your friend won’t dish it back to her boyfriend, that doesn’t hold you back from doing so! Give him a piece of his own medicine and let’s see how he reacts! Turn the tables and let’s see how he feels being belittled or demeaned. If he reacts negatively, let him know that he does the exact same thing to his girlfriend – the last person on Earth he should be treating like that.