‘My friend phones to manipulate and abuse me when it’s him with the

Dear Coleen

I have an ongoing issue with a friend, who I’ve known for more than 20 years.

The problem is, he can be verbally and emotionally abusive, as well as manipulative. He projects all his own issues on to me and even leaves nasty voicemails, so I have had to change my phone number.

He’s more vile than usual when he drinks and is horrible to my partner as well as me.

I have tried talking to him about his behaviour, but he’s in denial – all the things he says about me are actually about himself and are his problems. 

I’ve also tried distancing myself from him, but he refuses to leave me alone and has caused me a lot of emotional pain. He doesn’t realise he’s a narcissist with a personality disorder.

I don’t really know what to do to get him to stop. I’m not sure the police would do anything and, if I did contact them, then it might make the situation even worse.

I don’t think he’s ever going to change and I’m tired of being subjected to his issues. What do you think?

Dear Coleen

Coleen says

Don’t try to talk to him any more about his behaviour. Don’t indulge him at all – you’re not his therapist and you don’t deserve to be treated like this. It’s not a friendship – he’s using you to dump all his anger and transferring all his issues on to you, so you become the problem instead of him.

It’s good that you have changed your number, so hopefully that’s stopped all the horrible phone calls and ­voicemails.

I don’t think a subtle or sensible approach is going to work with him, unfortunately. I do think you have to be very clear that you no longer want him to be in your life, and maybe if he won’t listen to you, then he will listen to your partner.

He’s the only person who can resolve his problems – whether that’s through self-reflection in terms of how he conducts himself and his friendships or through therapy.

The important thing is you remove yourself from the drama – don’t reply to emails or letters and don’t engage with him verbally, even if that means not answering the door to him or getting your partner to answer it.

Just because you’ve known him a long time doesn’t mean you can’t move on from this “friendship”.

You were his friend, but this ­relationship is no longer serving either of you. It’s enabling him to avoid his real issues and avoid getting proper help – he should be directing his angst at a therapist.

Finally, keep a record of any abusive messages or exchanges and there’s no harm in calling the police for some advice if you’re worried.

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