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Is this "Friendship" Abusive or Misunderstood?

  • 30-05-2022 11:43am
    Registered Users Posts: 27 friendshipissue

    I understand that a "throwaway account" can be created for the purposes of creating an anonymous personal issue thread, so that's what I've opted to do to stay within the rules.

    Put simply, I'm a little confused whether a "friendship" I have someone is abusive or whether I'm overthinking it and/or misunderstanding the friendship.

    About a decade ago, I started doing some online work for this guy - and about 2-3 years later, he invited me to work alongside him on a project / business. I was a little obsessive during this period as he was an important person in my life. Giving me work, allowing me to financially move forward, help me develop skills etc. He is the same age as me, but was way ahead of me in terms of maturity. I was in my mid-20s at this time. The business eventually flopped, not least because of my obsessive and immature behaviour but also for other technical reasons, too.

    Nonetheless, we had an on and off friendship, where he would try to give me more work and he thought of me as a friend. But it has always been one sided. Often, he would lie about something and, if I tried to catch him out, he would become extremely defensive and blame me for trying to cause trouble. I know the value he can bring to my life, so often I backed off and let him have his way. Of course, desperately hoping the lying would stop - but it just kept going. He's financially successful and I've always saw him as a mentor, so I never wanted to lose him. I think he knows that this gives him power over me to do whatever he wants.

    But at the same time, even though I've always hoped he'd change, occasionally he'd ring me and we'd catch up and he would come across as understanding and friendly. That's the kind of guy I want him to always be, but it's like there are 2 versions of him: and you never know which one will turn up.

    2-3 years ago, I split from another business partnership. To my surprise, he swooped in on the opportunity and took my place and asked me not to go mad about it. Then, every month he would message me saying how financially successful it had become. This obviously tore me apart and I kept asking him, politely, not to mention how much the project is making as I had just split away from it. But every 2-3 weeks, he'd drop a subtle or sometimes not so subtle message to me about the numbers. This phase lasted 8-9 months and, toward the end, I lost my patience and decided to contact the business partner and expose what he was doing. As he lost some control over my actions, he became concerned about what else I might do. I decided to set up a duplicate business to compete with his, to punish him. It's now doing well and I own 100% of it. My owning this competing project has always upset him, but he has tried to keep the hurt silent to avoid me feeling better about it.

    Fast forward to this year, and he messages me in early February - after a year had passed of nothing - to ask me if I'd like to do some work for him. I agreed to help him out, and then he offered me 50:50 with two new projects. I stupidly said yes, and then for 2-weeks he was excitingly saying how much we could make and so on, but then he went silent for the last 2-3 months. Around this time he was saying how "proud he was of me for doing so well" and described himself as "an old friend" of mine. I'm absolutely certain that he'll message me soon to say that these projects now exist, and just like what happened 2-3 years ago, he will start bragging in very subtle ways about how successful they are doing. I'm worried it's history repeating itself. But at the same time, I was speaking to him a few months ago and he seemed just as friendly and great as always. So I don't know which version will turn up. And nor do I know what to do about it. I've noticed a trend. In the early days, we were at each other's throats but made up and forgot about it. In the last few years, it's about trying to kill me with kindness and saying friendly comments but which are packed with subtle psychological daggers. He is a very smart person and knows the consequences of his words, yet why does he want to keep hurting me? And yet saying we are old friends.

    Part of me thinks that he wants me to lose my temper, so that he can blame me again for causing a fallout.

    Part of me thinks, "Am I overthinking this?", and maybe he has done nothing really wrong at all, and it's just my immaturity ruining things in different ways.

    Usually I'm very wise for my actions and how others treat me, but in his case, I struggle to get why he behaves in this dual manner. I think if others on this forum can read through this extensive history, you may have a more objective interpretation than me. And that might help what I do next.

    Thanks in advance of any replies, particularly to anyone who has read the entire history of the past 7-8 years into the above.



  • Registered Users Posts: 8,207 ✭✭✭Furze99

    Abusive??? Only thing I can observe is that business can be cut throat. You're lucky if/ when you get a degree of loyalty from people passing working your way and/or general customers. But you can never take it for granted. So take a long hard look at it, if there's something in it for you - keep it going. Otherwise just politely decline any future work / ventures.

  • Registered Users Posts: 27 friendshipissue

    Which part of my behaviour "seems far more troubling", though?

    I understand that I was a little obsessive at the outset. There are reasons for that, due to extreme immaturity I developed a kind of dependence on him as the person who would help me become successful. Once that wave sort of subsided, I then worked hard for my own success. He was key to that, as without him, I'd be nothing today.

    But I would like to hear what you feel is troubling for me today?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,325 ✭✭✭cuttingtimber22

    I think you should distance him. He sounds like a user and appears to present business relationship as a friendship when it suits him to benefit him. There may have been a period when it was mutually beneficial but that time has passed - you owe him nothing.

    I would also add not to beat yourself over the past. It is what it is. There were positives and negatives. But you can determine the future.

  • Registered Users Posts: 27 friendshipissue

    Actually, I ended up setting up a second competing business for another business, too. But I kept this one silent, but he somehow found out about it and lost the plot.

    But given what I had been forced to accept - namely, him constantly telling me how much it was making, when I specifically asked him not to do it. The stress from that was overwhelming.

    Moreover at this stage of the friendship, he kept lying: often about really serious matters. One of which was him saying he was clinically depressed and was seeing a psychologist. This was a lie. The medicine he sent me a picture of, I identified as an ADHD medicine (I know he actually has ADHD). This is the kind of stuff I've had to put up with.

    And yes, the anger got to a point where I wanted to, and did, exact revenge.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,557 ✭✭✭Jequ0n

    You weren’t “forced” to accept his behaviour. You accepted it, end of. I’m not saying he sounds like a pleasant person but you might want to ask yourself why you keep going back to reheating this relationship.

    If the anger made you vengeful why would you even go back to working with him when he reached out again this year?

    Sorry but based on your responses there is a pair of you in this.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,132 ✭✭✭Deeec

    From your post it looks like you do not or you never did have a friendship with this guy. Neither of you are good friends to each other. What you have is a working relationship from time to time. This guy possibly could be 'using' you from a work point of view and you fall for his promises every time - he is playing you a bit. I think you need to stop viewing this guy as a friend as that is what is causing the issues. Also distance yourself from him work wise as it sounds to be going nowhere.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 27 friendshipissue

    Because he was being friendly, and I like him - for all his faults of the past, and I recognise the value that he can bring. He's quite clearly the best person I've ever come across: multi-talented, extremely smart, great sense of humour, admirable self-confidence and self-belief, skilled, very driven and motivated, destined to succeed. Everyone else is extremely boring compared to him. He's just one of those great people you come across in life. So yes, that's why I don't want to kill it off, because I'm hopeful that he'll change the negative ways of the past and what happened so that things can progress in the way that it can. Eliminating someone from your life isn't a decision anyone can take lightly, I think. You can never know if they'll change or not.

  • Registered Users Posts: 27 friendshipissue

    He said only a few months ago that, "...speaking as an old friend, I'm proud of you".

    If he wasn't a friend of mine, I don't think he'd be making statements like this.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,145 ✭✭✭StevenToast

    If this guy is your "friend", i would hate to see what your enemy looked like....

    He seems to be a guy with an attitude of "keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer"...

    Avoid this prìck

    "Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining." - Fletcher

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,132 ✭✭✭Deeec

    Thats just a phrase he used to suck you in more and get more work out of you.

    Do you meet up at weekends and do anything social together?

  • Registered Users Posts: 27 friendshipissue

    No, these days we live in different countries.

    But during the time that we did live in the same country, yes, we did of course.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,132 ✭✭✭Deeec

    Honestly this guy doesnt sound like a friend. You would be best to cut all links with him.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,557 ✭✭✭Jequ0n

    Do you mind me asking if you get into these confused situations with other acquaintances too, OP?

    He can clearly differentiate between friendship and business, but you seem to be struggling with this.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,068 ✭✭✭✭Dial Hard

    Honestly it sounds like there's a pair of you in it, OP.

    I think the best thing both of you could do would be to cut ties and move on. There are so many unhealthy and downright weird dynamics going on here that I don't even know where to start trying to unpick them.

  • Registered Users Posts: 27 friendshipissue

    Not at all. This has been the only one where these awful situations have developed.

    I'm starting to think that, if the bragging-style approach continues as I suspect it will, then I might have no choice but to do this.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,805 ✭✭✭DoctorEdgeWild

    I don't understand what harm it is to you if he talks about what money/success he is making? How does that cause harm to you? Some of my customers make an absolute bomb off the work I do for them but that's just business. The better they do, they more work that usually comes my way (within reason of course).

    It sounds to me like he needs someone with your skills to do work for him, he pay you for your skills/time, everyone wins? (forgive me if I've misunderstood anything, I know this is a PI thread so trying to be friendly :-D)

  • Registered Users Posts: 27 friendshipissue

    It's harmful because of how the situation evolved.

    Project X - worked on by me and another guy.

    I leave Project X for a multitude of reasons. I discussed it with this friend, not knowing he was going to insert himself into the project to replace me.

    But he does decide to do it. And the project becomes financially successful over time.

    I told this friend that I didn't mind if he took my place in the project but that I would rather he didn't come to me talking about how much money it was making. It was a sore loss to me to have to leave it, and as a result, I didn't want to think about how much money wasn't coming my way. Despite my incessant calls for him not to tell me, he insisted on sending me WhatsApp messages with monthly reports on how much it was making - often pretending to have "forgotten" about my request (despite the fact I was repeating it over and over and over again for 8-9 months).

    So yes, it did bother me that my request wasn't being respected. And so I sought revenge after that.

    Wouldn't you be extremely upset with someone if you kept asking them not to do X, but they kept doing X for 9-months - over and over again?

    That's not business, it's plain disrespect.

  • Registered Users Posts: 70 ✭✭RojaStar

    I think him saying the 'proud of you as an old friend' line sounds more manipulative than anything else. He knows that his validation is important to you. To use an old cliché, actions speak louder than words.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,805 ✭✭✭DoctorEdgeWild

    It wouldn't really bother me to be honest, I missed out on an opportunity a couple of years back and now the chap who 'took my place' is absolutely raking it in (me, definitely not so much! 😂)

    However, I know that some people are sensitive to different things so fair enough if that's something that gets you annoyed.

    My advice would be that if the business relationship makes you money, keep at it. If it doesn't, don't.

    My reading of your posts is that you are way overthinking/misunderstanding the whole thing, however, I absolutely understand that nuance and detail can be lost in written form, and you are the important person here as you are the one being affected by it, so I wish you the best of luck with it.

  • Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 11,615 Mod ✭✭✭✭miamee

    But why did you allow that to continue? You could have blocked him on Whatsapp, muted his messages or just stopped reading them but you continued. Honestly, this guy is not adding much to your life at the moment. You seem to look up to him as some sort of mentor slash business colleague but I don't see any signs of a genuine friendship from what you have said so far. Do you have any other friends outside of the work environment?

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,557 ✭✭✭Jequ0n

    He simply saw an opportunity and took it. It’s not his fault that he just did better with the opportunity you left..

    Once you sought revenge you should have accepted that the “friendship” was over once and for all. You are being very inconsistent with your thinking.

  • Registered Users Posts: 27 friendshipissue

    One of the concerning parts is that when he did say that, he also prefaced it with the following, "Whether we go ahead with the projects or not, or whether we fight in the future...".

    This basically confirmed to me that he has no intention to do those 2 projects with me (the ones brought up in early February), and that his intention is to repeat what happened in the past - even if it leads to a fight.

    I could be overthinking it but, if his intention is to repeat what happened in the past, I'll have no choice but to cause mass disruption.

  • Registered Users Posts: 27 friendshipissue

    Because I was waiting for him to change, and it never materialised. Instead, the lies continued.

    More fool me I suppose, I agree.

  • Registered Users Posts: 70 ✭✭RojaStar

    This all sounds incredibly toxic and maybe even immature OP, I'm struggling to articulate exactly what is off about this. I agree with someone else who said there's a pair of you in it, especially with statements about causing "mass disruption". Why waste the energy on that, just take the high road and do your own thing. To answer the specific question in your subject line - this is not a friendship. You're misinterpreting something for friendship.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 27 friendshipissue

    I do have friends outside of work, but since becoming involved with business projects I've tended to focus way more on projects / business interests, almost all my time including weekends - and I'm not so interested in socialising as much as I used to. I'm happily in a long-term relationship, so I'm not isolated in any way. More so that my focus is on making money / becoming successful, if that makes sense.