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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

SL Letter of the Day: Red Flagging

Posted by Dan Savage on Wed, Jan 9, 2013 at 10:29 AM

So I was hanging out with one of my closest friends and her new—they have been together no more than a month—boyfriend. She and I are early 20s, he is just 20. My friend and I were having a discussion about sex. Nothing too specific, just general ideas. I was defending certain kinks (being kinky myself), because she, being really vanilla, didn't really get it. After she and I were pretty much done and ready to move on to a new topic her boyfriend pops up. And without being in on the discussion at all he says this:

"You know just by listening to this, I feel my IQ has dropped 10 points."

I sat there stunned for a moment. This guy had said less than six words to me at this point. And this comment was directed at me. My friend said, "Woah now, not cool," to her boyfriend, but she didn't say it too forcefully. Perhaps because the relationship is new. He then starts spouting off BS about how he doesn't care what I think and he doesn't care what others think. This isn't true. This boy is transparently insecure. I don't really say anything, mostly because this is my friend's boyfriend and I don't want to be rude to him, but I did look at her like, "Reign your stupid boyfriend in already." And then he says, "Look, I don't care about you, I don't care if you don't like me, I'm here for my girlfriend!" He then left the room in a huff.

Correct me if I'm wrong, Dan, but that was a GIANT red flag, wasn't it? Shouldn't a guy make an effort to be nice to the friend of his new girlfriend?

I'm going to BTFO of this mess for now. But should I warn my friend about all the red flags her new boyfriend is waving? Or do I just leave it alone and wait for them to break up?

And They Will Break Up


My response after the jump...

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Hm...

Usually when a person uses the term "red flag" in the kind of context that you have here—in reference to the behavior of a good friend's new boyfriend—it means you're concerned about the possibility that your friend might be dating a person who is likely to become physically or emotionally abusive. This guy sounds like an asshole and douchebag and an insecure bag of slop, ATWBU, but what you've described doesn't sound like a red flag for potential abuse. It's possible that he's just an asshole. Lots of people are assholes and not all assholes are abusers. And it seems to me—oh shit. Wait a second. I just Googled "red flags for abusive relationships" and guess what popped right up?

The following is a list of warning signs for potentially abusive relationships. They are presented as guidelines and cues to pay attention to, not as judgments on the worth of the other person.
• Abuse alcohol or other drugs.
• Have a history of trouble with the law, get into fights, or break and destroy property.
• Don’t work or go to school.
• Blame you for how they treat you, or for anything bad that happens.
• Abuse siblings, other family members, children or pets.
Put down people, including your family and friends, or call them names.

There are a lot more red flags where those came from.

While it might be tempting to BTFO and avoid your friend while she's dating this guy, ATWBU, you owe it to her to at least send her the link to the website of the Red Flag Campaign. And as a friend you actually owe her a little more than that. Friendship obligates you to tell your pal that her new boyfriend is an asshole—it's obvious even to her that he's an asshole—but that you're concerned he could be something worse: an abusive asshole.

Your friend might be angry but the mark of a true friend is their willingness to tell us something that we need to hear, ATWBU, even if it pisses us off.

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