Unlike so many, I love it when my friends enter into new relationships.
The very millennial term WOM: woman over man (which can also be used in inverse order), is used when your mate frequently ditches you to hang out with their girlfriend or boyfriend. Doesn’t sound ideal, does it? Friendship can be a possessive concept, where people don’t seem to be willing to share. Although, I might feel a twang of jealousy on the rare occasion, for the most part, I find a WOM situation to be ideal.
Sure, the lovey-dovey aspect of a fresh relationship is frankly stomach churning, and you might lose quality time with your friend at the beginning. But eventually, that all subsides. You get to extend the clan by welcoming a new pal/a new boyfriend, your friend is happier than ever, and as the dominos take effect, you’re feeling pretty blissful too.
Except recently, I encountered something rather unusual and unexpected. My close friend had WOM-ed to the point of destruction, as she had become desensitized to her boyfriend’s many faults, including the inherently nasty way he treated her. I had witnessed it in the movies, I’d heard rumours about it, but never had I beheld a situation quite like this in the flesh.
The back story
The boyfriend, let’s call him ‘Dennis’; thrived off pointing out aspects ‘Josie was most self-conscious about. For the duration they were together, Josie’s self-esteem plummeted dramatically and was hanging by a single thread. How great does Dennis sound? What. A. Keeper. What a modern day gentleman!
The two started off as friends and all was fine and dandy. I’ll admit, I was even friends with him at this point, and we used to even get along. However, from what I later learned, being friends with Dennis versus being romantically involved with Dennis were two completely different types of interactions. Like Professor Quirrel and the ever so wicked Voldemort settled beneath his funky headwear, Dennis had an unexpectedly controlling, manipulative side.
My friends and I constantly worried while watching from the sidelines. At every social event they attended together, Josie ended up in tears and an attention grabbing fight ensued. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Dennis was also a master of the silent treatment. At times he’d come and hang out with our friendship group as an attempt by Josie to ensure Dennis was “not as bad as (we thought)”. He obviously didn’t want to be there, and made it clear to us by not saying a single word. If we addressed him or asked an inviting question, he would stare blankly at us and continue being mute. No expression, no smile, no amount of courtesy to even pretend. Behind his lifeless eyes, I always imagined the tiny, imp version of him, cackling with laughter as he watched us uncomfortably try to make an effort to see the decent in him. Evidently, it was safe to say my, friendship with Dennis didn’t last. Even his own friends disapproved of the way he treated Josie. Dennis was literally a menace.
He almost ruined our friendship
What’s worse? My friendship with Josie was suffering, and might’ve even suffered long-term because of her relationship with Dennis.
See, they’d broken up and gotten back together several times. The first time they broke up, and the time Josie was most distraught, he had broken up with her claiming she wasn’t whom he wanted to end up with. She was a wreck, but eventually understood his reasoning.
Then this happened. “No, babe, I didn’t mean it. You’re my future!!”
He lured her back in. We didn’t believe a word of it. She fell for the trap.
Next, he had the audacity to retract his initial take back. “Oh no wait, on second thought, I don’t want you anymore…”
So on and so forth, the cycle went on for months.
A symptom of low self-esteem, which was a quality Dennis had nurtured in Josie, is the habit of constantly asking for reassurance. Josie told me every little detail about her relationship throughout its life, and as her friend, I was understandably there for her. She also relentlessly asked for my advice, which would’ve been fine if she’d had listened to it and not refuted time after time. I was polite to begin with, but eventually sounded like a broken, very aggravated, record that Josie had put on mute. Ultimately, I realised no amount or quality of advice would make her actually listen, and it became more of a frustrating friendship than a pleasant one.
Josie was blinded by this roller coaster ride of a relationship; where her objectively dickhead boyfriend Dennis boosted her up enough, to then just push her back down again. She thought he was what she deserved. To the girls and boys who have, or are currently encountering a Type-A Dennis: No one deserves to be treated that way. You must rise above it, my friends. As per the wise words of L’Oreal – you’re worth it.
As of this moment, Josie and Dennis have officially broken up, and I’m hoping for good. Recently, she told me that right now is the happiest she’s ever been, which was music to my very much tone-deaf ears. Dennis, if you’re reading this: You are the weakest link. You’re fired. You have been evicted from the Big Brother House. The tribe has spoken. You are no longer in the running to become Australia’s best boyfriend (far from it).
Words by Annabelle Lee
Art by Angharad Neal-Williams
IG – @angharad.art