My friend is dating a woman who I find controlling. He's recently divorced, and he has been telling me that the new woman has asked him to tell his ex wife that he has been seeing someone new as for the ex wife not to be in contact with him and to disconnect his ex wife on social media. He did tell me that his ex wife has been in frequent contact and has been making him guilty, but that doesn't entitle the new woman to ask him to severe contact. She is interfering with his social life. I know that there is a rhetoric about not calling women controlling, but I find this quite controlling. To support women, does that mean we should stop calling women controlling when I think they are?
Just Looking Out
Dear Just Looking Out,
Thank you for writing.
Your question confuses me - you want to decide whether or not he should keep seeing her and decide if she is controlling or not? Your questions sound controlling to me, not to mention judgmental.
You find it controlling the new woman's asking your friend no longer be in touch with his ex wife as not to allow his ex wife to cause damage onto the relationship they share (feeling guilty is a code word for residual, unfinished business with an ex), and consider her ask to be "interfering with his social life." By that standard, you are interfering with his dating life.
But more importantly, it does not sound like you are hearing what your friend is indirectly telling you that he needs. He has literally told you that he feels guilty from divorce. Your friend sounds like he is dealing with a lot emotionally, and I wonder how much of you jumping to judge the new woman instead of helping him through his divorce is helping your friend.
To add to that, it does not sound like you know the full story behind what went on between your friend and his new woman. The best thing you can do is to suspend your judgment until you know more. If you want to be a good friend, which sounds like you do, the fairest thing you can do is to fully be there for him, but also acknowledge that his issues might have been hurting both the new women and possibly his ex wife by not having set healthy boundaries with his ex-wife after their divorce. If he would not have been "guilty", there would have been healthy boundaries in the first place, leading the new woman not to be in the position she finds herself in. I assume that this is very difficult for the new woman.
It was your friend's responsibility to clear up all issues from his previous marriage and divorce. It does not sound like he completed that. If the issues from his divorce lingered and they began impacting the new relationship, the new woman has every right to ask for the things that will make her feel comfortable. She is insisting on boundaries, and most often, when women insist on boundaries that will make them feel comfortable, a host of labels is slapped. "Controlling" is one of them.
Being a good friend now doesn't sound like it should involve you judging the woman. Your friend seems to be in need of closure from divorce, which is a lot of work and takes a lot of support. Quickly trying to figure out if you should judge the new woman to be controlling, rather than learning what actually happened and if your friend is in need of any emotional support to overcome his issues from divorce so he can build a healthy relationship (with anyone), is not only unfair to the new woman but is not helping your friend. Maybe you can do better.
Hope this helps,