Torn between concern for a friend and anger at her betrayal of my trust
Hi everyone, I could really use some external advice and perspective on something that's preoccupying my thoughts almost constantly - thanks in advance for reading!
A good friend of mine started dating her current partner about 9 months ago. Things progressed very quickly, with her moving in after three months and talk of a baby starting soon after (she had been unhappily single for a long time and felt a need to “catch up” with her peers - though she was only 31). Though I try to refrain from judging friends' life decisions, I found this alarming due to the many red flags raised by her partner: he’d had a falling out with his entire family (his mom in particular), no male friends to speak of, and an ex girlfriend who we found out had still been in the picture far more recently than he first let on. He was also quite pushy and insistent about my friend moving in with him quickly, rude to her mother the first time he met her, and from anecdotes sounded quite manipulative and controlling in small everyday ways. Generally I had a really bad feeling about him, but my friend was so happy to finally have a partner she ignored these signs and wasn't receptive when I tried to gently raise some of the issues.
A few months ago, my fiancé and I discovered I was pregnant and made the difficult decision to have an abortion (for a variety of reasons, we just weren’t ready for a family). Though I had to no regrets about my decision, it was obviously a sad and traumatic situation and I mostly kept it to myself. One day I was catching up with my friend and she couldn’t stop talking about her desire to have a baby (this was now about five months into her rocky relationship) - after attempting to gently discourage her from making such a rash life-changing decision and trying several times to change the subject, I finally told her about my abortion and how hard I was finding baby talk at the moment. I hadn’t planned to tell her but her incessant baby talk was about to give me a panic attack, and I felt I had no choice.
The next day my friend had a few people over to her house. Her partner was there and while I don’t particularly enjoy his company, the day passed with incident until we got our coats to leave. As I hugged her partner goodbye in front of the rest of the group, he turned and whispered in my ear that he was “very sorry about” something before tailing off. Confused, I pulled back sharply and asked what he had said - there was an awkward moment before her partner pretended he hadn’t said anything at all.
Immediately I knew his “sorry” must have referred to my abortion, and I felt sick and violated as it meant my friend had come home the previous night and shared my very private and painful story. Though I understand some people divulge everything to their significant others, this felt like a true breach of female confidence and I was beyond disturbed that he chose to mention it to me in a crowded room - in a way it felt like emotional assault. At best, I think he’s very socially inept, and at worst (considering his past manipulative behaviour), I fear this was a calculated move to drive a wedge between me and his girlfriend... which worked, as I find it hard to be close to her now.
I eventually did work up the courage to tell my friend about this incident around two months later (I waited to say something so my emotions could settle and because the two of them were heading to visit her family the next day, and I didn’t want to ruin their trip). She apologised, admitted she’d guessed what he had whispered in my ear and had asked him about it that night. He claimed it “just slipped out” as he was worried about me (it’s worth noting he and I had met briefly only twice before this incident, so I really don't buy this).
Reflecting on this incident and other small indications of toxicity in our friendship, I had decided to put some distance between me and my friend... until she told me the other day that she is pregnant with this man's baby. Naturally this has stirred a whole mix of feelings for me, and I’m struggling to separate what’s triggering because of my termination, what’s related to what her partner creepily whispered in my ear, and what’s genuine concern for my friend over her questionable life decision (their financial situation is not good, her family lives in a different country, and they still haven’t known each other a year). I do still feel violated by both of them and the thought of being in the same room with this guy makes my skin crawl, but with a baby now in the picture I feel like distancing myself at a time when my friend will need me more than ever is cruel.
Would really welcome some insight and perspective here as I’m a jumble of emotions and can't talk about this with friends or family without also divulging my abortion. Are these feelings justified, or am I blowing this out of proportion? After the incident with her partner, do I have a duty to be there for my friend at the expense of my own mental health/happiness? I genuinely think this guy is bad news and I worry about her - but at the same time, it's her life and I'm still shaken by her betrayal of my trust and am not sure it's a friendship I want to invest tons of energy in.
Yes, you can be concerned for your 'good' friend but, as you mention in your post, it's her choice to be with this guy and therefore her business. Sure, you can be there for her if you feel you have to be, but not at the expense of your own sanity and wellbeing.
You have treated your friend respectfully in the past even to the extent of sacrificing your own comfort, but her betrayal of your trust is a true indicator of where her loyalties lie, regardless of what sort of a guy she is with. She will eventually realise what this guy's about but you don't have to hang around and watch it.
I am sorry for the delay in my response, but glad you are here and that you are willing to share.
Friendship is special and is usually worth saving. Honesty is always special and always worth saving. Have you thought about sharing with your friend what you were willing to share with us? Are you someone that can forgive? Your instincts are probably correct. Keeping some distance from your friend's friend (however possible) but keeping your friendship intact may be very helpful for your friend. She probably needs you now more than ever. By sharing with your friend you were hurt/angered by the trust that was broken, and with a willingness to forgive her, you have done all you can do. The rest is up to her. Continue to make yourself available under your terms and conditions. She will seek restoration.