My brother is in a toxic relationship for over 5 years now
So as the title suggests, my (M20) brother (M23) has been in a toxic relationship with his girlfriend (F21) for over 5 years now and they now want to move in together. I will start explaining the whole story from the beginning here. It's a lot to unpack, so my apologies for the (very) long read.
5 and a half years ago my brother came home with his girlfriend. She seemed nice, had some friends in school, was into sports and seemed like someone who you'd think was a decent girl for my brother. At that point in time, we were all going to the same highschool so we could talk about some things we had in common there.
However, after the first few months, I started noticing the first red flags. Whenever they were texting, it seemed like she made problems out of certain things that weren't that big of a deal. For example, when my brother wanted to go to friends but she wanted to hang out with eachother, she would get mad, even though they didn't plan to hang out in the first place. It seemed weird to me, but I thought it wasn't that big of a deal at that time.
Over time, the controlling and unreasonable behaviour got worse. The main issue became that it looked like that she was not able to see certain issues from someone else’s point of view. For example, she had a male friend from the local pizza place where she worked, where she would be at his place meeting up with only him until 5am in the morning. When my brother said something about that, that he did not like the idea of her spending the night with another guy alone, she did not see any problems with that. Meanwhile, he could not even meet with a group of friends, because she wanted to claim him for the evening. In that period, he told her and even me many times that he missed seeing his friends that much and that he did not like it that she would be standing in the way every time he wanted to meet with them. However, she did not see the problem, made it look like it was the problem of my brother, and it always was his fault (which he told me he found really hard to deal with, since my brother has always tried his hardest for his girlfriend) and would not stop behaving the way she did, which eventually led to my brother barely seeing his friends outside of school and sports anymore.
Ultimately, after 2 and a half years together, my brother really got enough of it. He tried talking to her about these problems countless times, but it would only help for a few days, only for her to be unreasonable again and to try to control him afterwards. At a certain point, he broke up with her. I was supportive and there for him, but I also expressed my happiness, because it was better for him being out of that relationship. He acknowledged that, we talked about other things he didn't like about her and being with her, but also how he missed her and felt empty. I thought that would be the end of all of it.
About a month later, they got back together. Honestly, I couldn't believe it and didn't understand why, but they were and although it seemed like the relationship was better than before, it soon got way worse. In my opinion, she turned more (mentally) abusive. Let me explain why.
First of all, she calls him "fatty" (the Dutch equivalent) as a joke all the time. The problem is that my brother is insecure about his body and used to be overweight until he was 15 years old. He has asked her many times to stop calling him like that, and even though she might have stopped with calling him fatty that frequent, to this day she still does. You can clearly see in his facial expression that he doesn't like it when he's called that, but still she continues doing it.
It feels like whenever my brother says something that does not follow the guidelines in her head, she instantly becomes angry and plays the victim role.
For example, my brother's girlfriend sometimes hits my brother in a "jokingly" way, where for instance my brother makes a joke and she hits him on the arm saying "staahppp itt". Depending on how hard and everything this might (?) be okay, but me and my brother have a history with domestic violence where we would get hit by our father, so for us it's not. He already told her many times that he doesn't like it when she hits him like that, but yet still she continued doing it. One time my brother got hit again a bit hard (even though it was meant as a joke), he had enough and grabbed her by the arm to firmly ask her to stop doing it. She responded by getting her stuff, going downstairs (where I was sitting in the living room) and smashing the door shut behind her. I immediately went to my brother's room asking what happened and he explained everything, but it felt so stupid that she was the one who did something bad and still she played the victim role.
There are a lot of other things that she did, which i think definitely crossed the line. Moments where she got mad for no reason, acted unreasonable or just acted very unrespectful. I will give some examples of the most important events.
One day my brother and I were working together in a phone shop as a summer job. His girlfriend visited him during work, and they had a bit of small talk together, nothing weird. After a while she asked him if he wanted to hang out that night, but my brother told her that he was thinking about going to a barbecue with his friends, but wasn't sure yet on whether or not to go. She instantly got mad at him, and asked him if he was really considering visiting that barbecue over hanging out with her. My brother told her that he was just thinking about it and he didn't know the answer just yet. That's when she got even more angry and stormed off out of the phone shop, just because he was considering his choices. Not only was this something very unrespectful, but also humiliating, since there were some other customers watching and hearing it all happen. What makes this even more outrageous is that my brother went after her, bought her flowers (it should be the other way around?!), and made up with her. My brother always seems to be too good for her. When she's the one misbehaving, he is the one that's apologizing.
Also, I have the feeling she does not communicate well with me, my girlfriend, or other people in my household. Most of the times when she visits or leaves, she doesn't say hi or bye to us, unless my brother says something along the lines: "are you going to say goodbye?". Whenever she tells a story or you're having a conversation with her, she talks towards my brother and keeps minimal eye contact with you. She sometimes interrupts us when we're trying to say something, doesn't include us in conversations and it doesn't seem like she tries to.
One time, I came home, and I wanted to tell how my selection procedure went for becoming a fighter pilot, something I was really ambitious about. Since there is a strict selection procedure for becoming a fighter pilot, and it was difficult to get accepted for the job, it was something very important in my life. At home, my girlfriend, my brother and his girlfriend were there. My brother immediately asked how it all went and I started talking about it. In the meantime, my brother's girlfriend didn't bother to pay attention to the story and continued to watch TV, which was on when I came home. I really tried to include her in the story, make eye contact with her, but she didn't bother. I found it weird, since this was a major life event for me, but I continued. At one point, however, she interrupted me to tell my brother to look at something that happened on TV, and my brother responded with "haha, yeah" and continued listening. 2 minutes later she interrupted with "Look! Look! This is what i meant the other day!!". My brother told her that he was trying to listen to my story, and she got silent and looked a bit irritated. I just continued with my story, but I found it very rude of her. She ignored me being there, even though I was telling something very important to me.
Some other example: It was my birthday on Monday and we got the message that the dad of my girlfriend had been in contact with someone with covid on Saturday. We happened to be in contact with my girlfriend's dad Sunday. When we notified everyone that that was the case before we came to the house to celebrate my birthday, my girlfriend's brother decided that she did not want to come to our house, and she said that she did not want my brother to come to my birthday either. He did not see any risks, because of the short timespan that all of this happened, so he decided to come, but he had to promise her to keep his distance. On the one hand, I understood it, because safety first in covid times, right? However, a few weeks prior, my girlfriend had a runny nose and we were together the whole day with the three of us (so my girlfriend, my brother, and me). When my brother’s girlfriend heard that my girlfriend had a runny nose, she immediately came to our house to pick up my brother, so that they could go to her house together. This felt a bit weird, because, if you are so afraid of covid, why would you want to pick up your boyfriend that has had contact an entire day with someone who potentially has covid? And currently he might have covid as well, and she is okay with being around him too. It just feels a bit like she is using and bending certain information and arguments to get things her way (so not having to go to my birthday, but having my brother for herself when she wants it).
I also want to share just a small side story about something that was also just really weird. One evening me and my brother were just gaming, when she came into the house via the back door. She closed the door and when she saw us gaming, she stopped and stood in the entrance just staring sternly towards us. I didn't understand what was happening and asked my brother what was going on and what she was doing. He stood up went to talk to her. I could not really hear what they were saying, but he was talking with a bit of a higher pitched voice (he always does that when he's apologizing to her), and she was just mad. When he walked back towards me she went into our backyard to grab her bike and leave again, but waited and stared at us for another 10 minutes. My brother told me that he had said to her that he could not meet with her, because he had to do his school work. He actually needed to do his school work, but he just took a break to game with me. Even though it might have been longer than he should've taken a break, it doesn't justify her extremely weird behaviour.
Sometimes my brother does make up excuses so that he does not have to meet up or talk to her. For example by saying he is going to bed, so she is going to bed as well, so that he can have some time for himself or with me. Imo It seems unhealthy that she does not leave him alone until he really is doing something she cannot be a part of.
A similar kind of thing happened with Christmas. We all said that we would meet with our family on Christmas’ Eve, because everyone had other plans on the other days with their families or friends. When we were done with eating and giving presents, we wanted to do the games that we had gotten each other that night. We asked my brother’s girlfriend to play along with us, but she didn't want to. I thought that was pretty sad, but okay. After only like 20 minutes she asked my brother to stop playing and go to bed with her. It was around 11pm, so it was a bit early if you ask me, since we only saw each other on Christmas’ Eve (they would also get away with New Year’s Eve and Day, so we would not see them before the next year), but it was alright if she felt that tired. The problem was that she did not want to go to bed by herself, which was a bit annoying, because we wanted to play a game with everyone, including my brother. They compromised (compromising is something my brother has also told me he is tired of doing in their relationship) and we would play one round and then they would go to bed together (she still did not participate though). However, we did not know the rules of the game so the first round was an explaining and quick round. When my brother proposed to do a ‘real’ round, because now we all understood the game, she just stared at him angrily, like she did at the gate. He did not see it but me and my girlfriend did and we looked at each other like ‘what the heck is she doing?’. When we wanted to play one more quick round after that, she looked at him the same way again, this time he noticed that and they went off to go to bed.
Next to these big events, there are also smaller things that I think shows that they're obviously no fit for eachother. My brother is very open-minded, she is rather narrow-minded and wants things her way. My brother likes to taste food and try new things, she eats only very selective few foods, and also doesn't want to even try things she thinks she won't like. Also when having dinner, we always serve the food on our own plates in the kitchen, and then take a seat around the table. She however, always stays seated and lets my brother do it for her, which I find kind of weird (my brother also told me that he doesn't like that he always has to do these kind of things for her). Also, whenever she thinks she isn't going to like what is being served, she lets my brother make her a sandwich instead. It's like she acts very dependent, even though she shouldn't be.
I had multiple conversations with my brother about some of this, even one about 2 months ago, where he agreed with almost everything I said. First he wanted to defend her, about how me and my girlfriend never gave her a chance. Meanwhile we always invite them to things and we never get anything ‘in return’ from her (my brother does propose to do something now and then, just not his girlfriend). When we had that conversation, he started to agree more with me, and when I asked him if she is the girl he wanted to marry, he said "no, at this moment I don't think I would want that". I responded that after 5.5 years into a relationship, it felt off that he still did not think she was the girl for him to marry. He even started talking about the complications if they broke up, because they have some shared items (for example a Nintendo Switch) and on what to do with those things. After this conversation I really thought that the relationship was going to end soon, because it really sounded like it. But, according to my brother, after one conversation between them, everything became clear and everything was alright with them. Let me be clear, it has not gotten any better. Now, yesterday, they started talking about how they were looking for a place to live together. I just feel like the bubble that she has already created (I am lucky if I see him once a week), is going to just grow bigger and bigger, which may lead to him finding these things more and more normal, leading to me eventually losing my brother and my strong connection with him because of her.
If he was happy with her, and their relationship was just about equality, then I would not comment about it. But I cannot do nothing and sit tight, because I see my brother being manipulated and almost emotionally abused. Maybe it sounds like I'm only picking the bad times to talk about, but to be honest, there aren't genuine fun moments I experienced when she was around. Of course we do not see everything, but that goes both ways. We may not see the good parts of the relationship, like my brother always claims we don’t when I bring up the relationship, but I also think that there is way more bad things going on than I already know. I think we gave her many chances for a very long time, and tried to look at it objectively, but as they now are talking about living together, I believe it is time to step up and protect him from her and himself. I really would like some advice on what to do, for him, but also how I can help him to see what the outside world sees.
TLDR; My brother is in a toxic relationship and now they want to live together. I don't know what to do.
Your bro is with an insecure, controlling person who will eventually isolate him from everyone, including his family, but it's for him to see and for him to act on, if and when. Your brother needs to recognise this for what it is, before he can learn to live with it and sort it, but it's his business to sort.
The best advice is to keep on supporting your brother without interfering with his relationship in any way, but it's all OK to be there for him if he ever needs family support.
When the feeling of dissatisfaction becomes constant, and the joy from the relationship is less and less, it makes sense to think about whether there is a future for these relationships and whether it is worth preserving them. Of course, everything is very individual here, and before making a decision, it is important to be honest with yourself and your partner. Most often it happens that deep down the decision has already matured, but there is not enough psychological strength to implement it. A person still hopes for something, is in captivity of self-deception, is afraid of the future or is not ready to take responsibility for his life. I wish you good luck
Tell me right away that the story was very interesting, but I want to say that the situation with your brother is similar to mine, mench also had a relationship with an ex-girlfriend, she also resisted me to devote more time to her and not to myself and friends, our relationship with her lasted two months and there were a lot of moments where she behaved strangely, so we found a compromise with her and dispersed peacefully
relationships are a very difficult thing. we all understand that there is reciprocity and love in them.but alas, they do not always treat each other equally well in relationships. I wouldn't want to be in your brother's situation. He's even a little sorry because he's used to her and can't just let go, he's blinded by love. My advice is to continue to support my brother morally, and not to interfere in their relationship, sooner or later he himself will understand the full globality of the situation.
Getting out of a toxic relationship is very difficult, especially if two people are connected by something other than love - they see each other somewhere other than at home, for example at work, or they live close. But in no case should you stay in them, this greatly affects the mental state. Take your brother in an armful and save him from this.
Hi! I am very sad to hear this, because I have often observed similar attitudes on the part of men to women. In most cases, abuse victims need a lot of time to understand that their partners have mental problems. Your brother is very lucky to have you around and see his girlfriend's abnormal tendencies. I think this girl is just a spoiled jealous possessive. Such people are often found, and this does not even really concern psychological health, as usual selfishness.
I think your brother is just weaker than her in his character, and even though he sees it, he doesn't take it seriously. Maybe he just feels sorry for her, because according to your stories, he is well aware that his girlfriend is overreacting. I think you need to talk to his girlfriend in person, since your brother does not intend to part with her. Either he needs to leave her, or she needs to be more loyal and sociable.
Dear Lord, what an essay. You don't like your brother's girlfriend. She rude and manipulative, selfish and self-centered. (That would have been enough)
"...But I cannot do nothing and sit tight,..." Yes, you certainly can. Your brother's life is for him to live, not you. All I can think is, she must be **exceptional** in bed. Can't think of any other reason to put up with this rubbish.
Bright side is, they're not engaged. You don't have to invite her to your wedding, if you have one. You have the right not to invite her over if she's a jerk. You also have the option of saying to your brother, "We're not inviting Gwendolyn because we don't enjoy her company." You have the right to say to your brother, "I'll talk with you about anything except Gwen. She treats you horribly, and I don't want to listen to you complain about her when you refuse to stand up for yourself. If you want to know how to break up with her, let me know."
You might also say, (before you declare talking about her off-limits) that at his age, and given the time they've spent together, she would quite logically be expecting a ring sometime soon. If he's not going to do that, it would be reasonable **and kind** to end the relationship with her so she may pursue a marriage-minded man. That could be his out, maybe. When my boyfriend of three years told me he would never marry me, leaving was easier. Not easy, but easier.
Sorry, pal, but this is not your circus, not your monkeys. Frankly, I think nagging people about this sort of thing only causes them to express MORE loyalty to their awful partners, and they stick to 'em like glue to prove everyone else wrong. You seem determined to try that anyway. It won't work, but you do you.