Caring for an angry friend

A male reader writes:

I’ve just recently become familiar with the term “incel” … I believe it accurately describes my best friend (male, 35). I am soon to move in with him and his young son (age 6).  I love him deeply and want him to be happy. 

His marriage ended 4 years ago due to infidelity on the part of his wife. This broke his heart. Since then his tone when speaking of women in general is disdainful. He wants a relationship and he uses dating apps but has yet to find anybody compatible. I believe he has built up a toxicity that makes him undesirable.

Sounds like your friend was previously able to date and get married, but now he’s being rejected when women pick up on his hostility. Although some would argue that he is “incel” or “involuntarily celibate”, I would say he is “voluntarily angry” based on this:

He is very angry with his ex-wife and sees himself as a victim… In general he is misanthropic… We speak almost everyday about life and all of the beautiful lessons but he refuses to let go of his anger toward his ex.  He has admitted to me that if his anger is hurting him he would rather be hurt than forgive her or let go of this anger.  

You’ve done well at talking to him and being a caring friend. It’s not clear why he is resisting the possibility of returning to happiness. Maybe someone gives him emotional “rewards” for expressing anger. Maybe he is resisting somebody’s pressure to “forgive” the major breach of trust that is infidelity. We don’t need to reconcile with those who have done us wrong, but we do benefit from “forgetting”: shifting our focus to other people and activities. The other details you gave indicate that this man needs counselling beyond what you’re able to provide as a friend.

Since you live together with his young son, you have the opportunity to ensure that this six-year-old hears positive messages about women, and sees you behaving respectfully with women.

He gets agitated with me when I bring over lady friends of mine.

Is there some type of support group available for people with loved ones who may be incel? 

You are entitled to set your own boundaries about how much you listen to your friend’s anger. You can insist that when you have women visiting, he treat them with respect (or stay away), and that he not complain to you afterwards.

Although I don’t know of any support groups for loved ones of incels, maybe you can find a local group for “family of people with anger management problems”. As a loving friend who lives with this man, and is being affected by his divorce, you’re in the position of a family member. The nice thing about “chosen family” is that we can choose how to relate to them.

Look after yourself first, and best wishes for finding support and peace.

Here’s more advice for people with a family member angry at women or feminism:


Alana is the founder of the Love Not Anger project, and the creator of the original "involuntary celibacy" support website in 1997. This post expresses her own views; she is not a mental-health professional or dating expert.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Hello Alana. This is “Roomie” from your above post. Thank you for your insight as it has been very helpful. “Voluntarily angry” is perfectly accurate. I see clearly now the emotional rewards he receives and how this helps perpetuate his behavior. I can also see now that I made this about me and that was not helpful for the situation. When I said, “He gets agitated with me when I bring over lady friends of mine,” I realize now that he wasn’t agitated with me but rather with himself over the frustrations he is struggling to process. As an update, after careful consideration I felt it best to find a new living arrangement and I will take to heart the advice to look after myself first while still offering support but with healthier boundaries. Thanks again for your help and for providing this healing space for us all.

  2. This is really sad, and I hope the “voluntarily angry” finds his peace and a new life, because he certainly deserves it. Funny how nobody in this article mentions that. Everybody has boundaries to set, everybody is a valid person. Everybody but those who are hurt and act upon that wound.
    Also, regarding the term “voluntarily angry” – Did he cheat on himself? Is he the cause of his own anger? Poor guy.

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