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“I Started a Facebook Family Fued”

My brother-in-law and his girlfriend are a challenging couple for various reasons, but because I think family is really important, I’ve always made a huge effort to try and be close to them. For example, I’ve helped his girlfriend when she needed to find a nursing home for her father, I helped her find/then drive her to a bakery when she was new to the area and having a party for her son, and have offered my father’s legal counsel when she’s been dealing with issues regarding her son’s father.

Recently, however, my brother-in-law and his girlfriend got into a huge fight and were on the verge of breaking up. I had no intentions of getting involved, but then the girlfriend started saying truly awful things about my BIL on Facebook, which made things EXTREMELY uncomfortable for me, my husband, and many of our other family members. I decided to post my own Facebook status that was relatively general saying how just because you can say whatever you want on Facebook doesn’t mean you should, and that it’s not the place to air your dirty laundry. She promptly defriended me. I probably should have reached out to her directly, but after she and my BIL got past their fight I reached out to her and we talked through the situation and I thought we had moved on.

A couple of weeks later, we went to a party at their apartment. I was social, brought over a bottle of wine, played with her son and left their place feeling more confident that things would go back to normal. Five days later, however, I received an e-mail from her saying that I disrespected her in her home and showed my “true colors.” She listed my flaws: that I gave her dirty looks, made fun of their pet (I called their bird loud when it was screeching in the kitchen), and that I mocked their dessert choices (I told a close friend that I didn’t like the guy who owned the bakery because he dated my friend, but that he made phenomenal cupcakes). She then proceeded to tell me that she wanted nothing to do with me and that she would never go to my in-laws’ or any function if I was going to be there (we typically go there for Sunday dinners). I personally think she’s still angry with me about the Facebook issue, but was looking for a way to turn it so that I was the bad guy.

I’ve showed the email to my husband who thinks she is acting crazy and he has spoken to his brother who assures us that this will all blow over. Should I reach out to her and try to get her to understand my position? She hasn’t come to my in-laws’ (not even for my MIL’s 60th birthday), and she’s declined invitations to parties at our home. Should I just forget about her and live my life? Help! — Tired of Family Fueding


Yeah, leaving a passive-aggressive message on Facebook obviously directed at your BIL’s somewhat estranged girlfriend probably wasn’t the smartest move to make. And it’s especially ironic given the message was basically, “Don’t use Facebook to make public what should be private.” In the future, use your own advice there. Also, going to someone’s apartment and saying anything remotely critical about their pets, kids, decor, food, etc. when you are on shaky relations with him or her is also pretty dumb. Why call her bird “loud”? Why say anything about the baker from whom she got the desserts? Why even go there? It seems gossipy and unnecessary. You should have said, “Oh, wonderful cupcakes!” (or whatever it was she was serving) and left it at that.

But! Since you can’t turn back the clock and can only look forward, my advice is to make one brief apology (I’d suggest sending a handwritten letter or email) for any misunderstanding between the two of you and expressing how much you’ve missed seeing her at family functions and how you hope you can close this unfortunate chapter and move on. Then let this blow over. Your BIL is right that eventually, if you keep your mouth shut, that’s exactly what will happen. His girlfriend can’t avoid the family forever — especially if she plans to be part of it eventually. And even if she does keeping skipping out on things like big important birthdays and other special occasions, who do you think looks like the jackass in this situation? You, for calling her bird “loud” or her for overreacting in such an incredibly juvenile and pathetic way that everyone is probably wondering what the eff is wrong with her?

In the future, remember the lesson you’ve learned here: this woman is a loose cannon and should be treated with kid gloves. Avoid offending her, avoid being defensive, and … well, just avoid her, period. She sounds a little batshit, and if the very worst thing that happens is you don’t see her at as many family gatherings anymore, well, maybe that isn’t such a bad thing after all.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

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{ 48 comments… add one }

  • avatar 6napkinburger October 10, 2011, 3:20 pm

    Totally agree with Wendy. Apologize for any and all things that you may have done to offend her (I would keep it broad), tell her you miss her and look forward to seeing her at functions again.

    Also, remember: you’re a member of the family; she’s not yet. If she’s not an idiot, she’ll accept your apology, apologize for what she did and you guys can be leery of each other for years to come.

    Just make sure that everything you do, you’re above reproach and that she can’t point to anything you’ve done to justify her continued behavior (“she was mean to my bird” “honey, she apologized for that”). Make sure there is nothing that can be construed as passive-aggressive in the note, but don’t innumerate what you did wrong, lest you remind her of things she wasn’t mad at. Apologize for OFFENDING her, but don’t apologize for the underlying behavior (don’t mention it), but don’t make that distinction clear. Be prepared for this letter to be forwarded to EVERYONE, so take proper care when drafting it.

    • avatar Lydia October 11, 2011, 2:31 am

      Honestly, it reminds me of the part in Beauty and the Beast where Lumiere is giving Beast advice for his big dance night with Belle. :’D

      • avatar Nadine October 11, 2011, 8:01 am

        Flowers, chocolates, promises you cant keep……..

        • avatar Starfish13 October 11, 2011, 2:50 pm

          That is one of my favorite lines Nadine :)

    • avatar Violet October 11, 2011, 4:07 pm

      I love that you added the part about forwarding the letter, we have a very old, unpleasant aunt in our family who does this, she will make copies of letters she does not like and send them to many people.You must know someone who does this too. :)

  • avatar Greebo October 10, 2011, 3:40 pm

    I’m not sure referring to a bird as loud is criticism; the comments LW made sound fairly harmless, like ordinary conversation. Only the LW knows if she actually gave “dirty looks” to the girlfriend.

    Frankly, I’d keep this woman at a arm’s length. LW, you don’t say you like her, don’t list her good qualities, don’t say what this relationship gives you. Don’t force a friendship because she meets your definition of family. Be polite, be pleasant, be gracious. Go ahead, if you want, and send a letter saying you’re sorry you inadvertently offended her and you hope this is put to rest, but if you’ve represented the entire situation accurately–no hedging–then such a letter will probably lead to more drama.

    • avatar MsMisery October 11, 2011, 11:23 am

      I agree. Anything said about a squaky bird or a sleazy baker would just be chit-chat to a normal person, and since the LW thought she and the girlfriend had all moved on, that’s prolly what she meant it to be. But, the GF hadn’t moved on and was still secretly seething and probably looking for any molehill to make into a mountain. Now that she and her husband know the GF is a nutter, she can put on the kid gloves in the future.

  • avatar amber October 10, 2011, 3:46 pm

    oh, Facebook, why does it make adults act like kids. Here is an easy way to deal with those comments the next time they appear, hide them from your view. If she wants to act like a dramatic teenager let her, no reason to act like one too. Apologize and move on.

  • avatar ForeverYoung October 10, 2011, 3:55 pm

    You should also go ahead and apologize to all the innocent facebook friends that had to read all about your passive-aggresive family drama. I defriend people like you all the time.

    Grow up.

    • Budj Budj October 10, 2011, 4:14 pm

      Some of my facebook friends of friends of friends have quite the Jerry Springer feuds on facebook….some posts are like 120 comments long.

      • EscapeHatches EscapeHatches October 10, 2011, 4:47 pm

        A little light train-wreck reading!

      • avatar honeybeenicki October 10, 2011, 5:10 pm

        My sister and her soon to be ex husband (plus her friends, his friends, her baby daddies, etc) had one helluva facebook feud going on and I just sat back and watched it all play out. Quite entertaining and gave my mom and I some good dinner conversation.

        • avatar ForeverYoung October 10, 2011, 5:48 pm

          I mean it is funny in that train-wreck kind of a way – but at the same time annoying as fuck. I always wonder where these people’s friends are – I am that friend that will always remind my friends that if they need to talk about their life to call me so that innocent facebook victims don’t have to read about their awkward drama. I don’t know why people think this is any better than the couples that get in fights in public places…it’s like why are you ruining someone’s great night out…save it for the comfort of your own home.

    • avatar Shadowflash1522 October 11, 2011, 10:09 am

      Is this another GTFU moment?

  • theattack theattack October 10, 2011, 4:21 pm

    You definitely contributed to the facebook drama. Usually people who post things like you posted are also guilty of “airing out their dirty laundry” on facebook too. In my experience, that’s always been the case. Maybe you should consider changing your privacy settings for family members (or almost family members) on facebook, and definitely reconsider what you post. If she’s posting something angry about your BIL, what’s it to you? You recognize that it’s not all of facebook’s business, so why do you think it’s yours?

    I’m not sure whether or not you’re at fault for the other things here, because there’s no way of knowing if you did give dirty looks. It sounds like you made the cupcake comments somewhere other than her home, but I could be wrong. Regardless of whether you’re at fault here, I would say just stop worrying about this. If this girl wants to refuse to come to family functions because of you, she’s going to be the one who looks immature, not you. Make a light apology to her, like “I’m sorry if I offended you. That wasn’t my intention” and then leave it. She’s probably going to just drag this sort of drama out further, so don’t feed into it.

  • avatar Ktfran October 10, 2011, 4:24 pm

    LW,

    Do as Wendy suggeted and send either an apology through a handwritten letter or e-mail. Make it brief, yet heartfelt.

    It’s really all you can do at this point and hopefully she’ll accept and move on.

    Last January, I accidentally offended an acquaintance. We were at a party with an open bar and a lot of us had a little too much to drink. Not that it’s an excuse but I probably said things I normally wouldn’t and the acquaintance probably made more out of the situation than what was needed. The thing is, none of us remembered exactly what happened, but this girl was super mad. I got her e-mail, sent a nice apology and she accepted. She was extremely appreciative for the apology.

    Back to you LW. All you can do is apologize. If this girl doesn’t accept, then it’s on her and no longer your problem. We all do things we regret. Even unintentionally. And I do think you were in the wrong to post what you did on FB, no matter how crazy a person acts.

  • avatar convexed October 10, 2011, 4:39 pm

    Yeah, I get the LWs impulse to have posted the facebook rebuke, but unfortunately that particular move always backfires, because you cede your ‘keeping it classy and private’ moral ground, and she of course will latch onto that and see you as a gossipy participant, not a mediator.
    In the case of personal opinions that the gf mines for offensive content…I know it seems unfair, but just keep yr mouth shut and your comments unassailably pleasant and neutral. Its just a few hours each time, I assume, so its not too big a sacrifice to call the bird ‘charming’ instead of loud, or just to smile like a jovial douche and say nothing. The price of being mature is you often have to do more work and make more accomodations than the weirdos around you, bug ultimately you’ll send a message of zero drama and set a good example of decent behavior for any young ones milling about. And knowing you (truly) did nothing to offend (no passive aggressive facebook posts or cupcake judgments!) Is just a good feeling to have when you go to sleep at night.

    • avatar lk October 10, 2011, 4:50 pm

      Hahaha…um…..I channel “jovial douche” all the time….saves time & frown lines : )

  • landygirl Landygirl October 10, 2011, 5:22 pm

    The girlfriend seems kind of crazy. I’d suggest apologizing but I’m sure she’ll find something else to pick at you for so go ahead and do it, but just don’t expect it to be over and done with because crazy doesn’t know when to let go of things.

    I keep thinking that If you don’t apologize and she ends up not going to any family events, then it makes her look bad, not you. It was also would eliminate the crazy from your Sunday dinners. I know that’s snarky, but c’est la vie.

    • avatar MsMisery October 11, 2011, 11:27 am

      That’s another good point- sure, she can apologize for this, but there will be another drama, and another. I’d almost rather stay out of the GF’s good graces. If she’s always mad, then there won’t be the ridiculous fight/make-up cycle.

  • bittergaymark bittergaymark October 10, 2011, 5:58 pm

    Maybe you and the difficult girlfriend could start TWOFACEBOOK? You know,as an olive branch and both profit on the wealth of passive aggressive behavior between the two of you…

    • avatar callmehobo October 10, 2011, 7:01 pm

      Ohmygod I love it. I know of several people who could help launch TWOFACEBOOK’s website…

    • avatar Addie Pray October 10, 2011, 7:19 pm

      TWOFACEBOOK – I love it, BGM.

      • avatar Addie Pray October 10, 2011, 7:20 pm

        Oh oh oh, and someone should start a BUTTERFACEBOOK. I’m not sure what purpose that would serve, but I’m kind of obsessed with coming up with expressions that end in “face” so we can make up funning “something something” facebook expression. I also took the day off and spent it drinking with my neighbor non-boyfriend boyfriend. The purpose of that was to explain that I’m a little tipsy and everyhing sounds funny right now.

        • avatar Addie Pray October 10, 2011, 7:23 pm

          Am I the only one who dearwendies after drinking?

          • avatar 6napkinburger October 10, 2011, 7:30 pm

            Nope not the only one. And While you’re being random, does anyone know if you can watch “amazon.com” files on mac devices? Like, if you buy an episode of a tv show, can you watch it on your iphone? Does it go into itunes?

            • bittergaymark bittergaymark October 10, 2011, 7:33 pm

              I would think so… Just like buying something off itunes.

            • avatar amber October 10, 2011, 7:38 pm

              do iphones have flash 10? i’m about to get in to territory i’m not completely sure about but i’m not sure you can watch amazon.com movies on the iphone/ipad because of that….you may want to double check that though!

              • avatar 6napkinburger October 10, 2011, 7:43 pm

                Just called them and they are not i-device compatible (nor compatible with droids).

                And iphones have no flash, better yet flash 10.

                • avatar amber October 10, 2011, 7:46 pm

                  haha ok that would do it ;)

                • avatar Britannia October 11, 2011, 12:10 am

                  The Amazon files are not compatible with most hand-held devices, like iPads and TouchPads. Just sayin’.

    • avatar cookiesandcream October 10, 2011, 7:42 pm

      Would Harvey Dent be the official mascot of Twofacebook?

  • caitie_didnt caitie_didn't October 10, 2011, 6:01 pm

    So…..how old is the LW that she thought it was appropriate to post a passive-aggressive facebook status CLEARLY directed at this woman? Especially one that totally ignored her own advice?

    Anyways….

    The woman in question sounds like a bit of a nutbar. Do what Wendy said.

  • avatar GatorGirl October 10, 2011, 7:32 pm

    LW you definitely need to apologize. Make sure you use “I” statements and never “you” statements.

    Remember you are a part of the family already and the GF is burning her own bridges. I would advise not talking about the issues with the GF with anyone else in the family…gossip travels fast and words get twisted quickly.

    And use Facebook for cute pictures of your pets…leave the family drama out of cyberspace.

  • avatar WatersEdge October 10, 2011, 8:37 pm

    LW, I personally side with you. I don’t think you said anything that bad. But Wendy’s basic point is right. This girl is a little crackers and she wants to make enemies with you. Just be as angelic as possible and use your already-married-in status for what it is… leverage!

  • FireStar FireStar October 10, 2011, 8:59 pm

    You showed it to your husband who followed up with your B-I-L who told you that it will blow over. WHY do you now want to stir up anything by interacting with her again one on one? Let it blow over. You didn’t mention that you actually LIKE this woman. If she wants to avoid the family that sounds win-win all around. The B-I-L might have to figure out some things for himself in the future – but that’s on him since he picked her.
    I’m not someone who thinks you should cater to crazy – it only makes crazy think they had a point in the first place.

    • caitie_didnt caitie_didn't October 10, 2011, 9:11 pm

      Any Arrested Development fans on here?? “you don’t fire crazy!!”

      • avatar Lylacrabbit October 10, 2011, 10:00 pm

        or promise crazy a baby.

    • avatar Blitzen October 11, 2011, 4:20 pm

      “I’m not someone who thinks you should cater to crazy – it only makes crazy think they had a point in the first place.”

      Awesome. Can I quote you on that? =)

      • FireStar FireStar October 11, 2011, 9:09 pm

        :)

  • avatar GTR October 10, 2011, 9:29 pm

    Presumably this brother-in-law and his girlfriend have parents. We know at least one of them has a sibling, and at least one of them has a child. They would also have close friends. So why on earth is their sister-in-law butting in on their problems?

    Your problem, LW, is that you can’t see that you are not the centre of this soap opera. You are on the periphery. When Crazy Girlfriend wrote her screeds on Facebook and upset the family, the response should have come from the victim’s brother, or his best friend, or his father… not his sister-in-law. In pushing your way into the centre of all this, you’ve probably appeared bossy and opinionated, even though you were only trying to help.

    So butt out. There’s clearly something wrong with Crazy Girlfriend, but that’s a problem for her and her inner circle. Not you. Send her a heartfelt apology and a generous bunch of flowers or muffin basket, then back the hell off.

  • avatar Shadowflash1522 October 11, 2011, 10:29 am

    This, my friends and LW, is a classic example of what I like to refer to as “puppy loyalty”. Your desire to be friends with your brother-in-law’s girlfriend stems almost totally from a blind loyalty to family (and potential- or almost-family). It’s commendable most of the time to jump to the defense of family for loyalty’s sake, but when you don’t know the whole story and/or haven’t looked closely at the issues, it’s frankly annoying. Starting a facebook feud out of puppy loyalty to your BIL strikes me as more silly than commendable. Why don’t you let them deal with their own problems like grown adults?

    I’m not trying to flame the LW here, I know family is important to you, but an accident of birth and/or poor choice of women shouldn’t condemn anyone to deal closely with someone who strongly dislikes them.

    Relatedly, who says you have to be friends with her? She’s three degrees removed from you (your husband’s brother’s not-even-wife, if I’m reading this correctly). As Wendy said, she’s not part of the family and she doesn’t have to like you. That doesn’t give you license to mercilessly hate her, but if she doesn’t want to be friends with you than you certainly shouldn’t force her to be out of puppy loyalty. Apologize if you will, but keep it short & sweet and then back off once you’ve tossed the ball in her court.

  • bagge72 bagge72 October 11, 2011, 12:42 pm

    This reminds me of that Sienfeld episode where Kramer tells Jerry, and Elaine that he just broke up with his girlfriend, and they start to tell Kramer how much they actually hated her, then Kramer gets back together with this women, and now he wont talk to Jerry or Elaine, because of what they said! LW you should have thought to yourself that the BIL, and is girlfriend were going to get back together, before you started posting on facebook, and you need to either stand by what you said or apologize. If everything you said is actually the truth, and the whole story then you did nothing wrong at this women’s house, and you actually complimented the desserts by saying how good they were, and you weren’t even talking to the host so it doesn’t matter. With that said there are two sides to every story, and it seems like you are probably leaving a lot of it out.

  • avatar Lucy October 11, 2011, 2:23 pm

    This reminds me of the time my brother’s then-fiancee went on a rant about how I was so rude to her at dinner because I didn’t “look at” her enough. Not making that up. Your possible future SIL is batshit, LW. Consider yourself warned.

  • avatar AKchic October 11, 2011, 2:51 pm

    I wouldn’t even apologize. This individual is LOOKING for an apology. Why? So she can show it to EVERYONE and PROVE that she was in the right. Apologizing to someone who was looking for anything to find fault in only gives them more power. When you apologize, you give them leverage. You prove them right, even in their own mind. It makes them feel like they are vindicated in their grudge/negative feelings against you. That it was justified and therefore they need to CONTINUE being on their guard against you. Any little slip up (even if you sneeze in the same room as her, it will be considered as if you were purposely trying to infect her) will be considered a purposeful slight that deems dramatic outing and another dramatic, sincere apology – in writing (nothing less, because they need PROOF of such apologies).

    My 1st husband was this way. He would verbalize this crap to me all the time. “So-and-so apologized to me online for calling me an asshole last week. I have proof! I’m printing this thread out so I can use it against him the next time he tries belittling me. He was wrong, as usual, so the next time he’s wrong, I can use this to prove that I am superior to him because I was right and he HAD to apologize to me when he realized how wrong he was”.

    Keep your distance and pray to every deity possible that she doesn’t become an in-law.

  • avatar Meredith October 11, 2011, 10:05 pm

    Yeah this chick does sound batshit crazy like Wendy said and also sounds like a drama queen. I personally love when my fb friends post passive aggressive statuses bc they make me lol. But yeah, it’s no good to do it yourself, you’re just stooping to their level. Hopefully you’ve learned your lesson on that one. I think you should apologize and then keep your distance from Sister Cray-Cray so you don’t have to go through this again with her in another couple months.

  • avatar LePinch October 13, 2011, 12:22 pm

    Oh Facebook, so many epic fights began with the…

    LW, hopefully this is a good lesson learned, keep your distance from that girl, if its not one thing , it will be another. Don’t add gas to the fire.

    Also, lol, did anyone notice that its actually spelled “feud” ?.

  • avatar AmyRenee October 14, 2011, 2:35 pm

    I think one thing that makes a major difference is whether the girlfriend is dragging the Brother-in-Law into the mess or not. If crazy girlfriend wants to skip family events to avoid you, that’s fine, but if she’s convincing your BIL to miss family events it’s not ok. I had a set of aunts (women married to my father’s brothers) that got into feud and refused to bring their families to events and the person it hurt most was my Grandmother who just wanted all her grandkids at Christmas without drama. So if it’s reached the point when BIL is skipping out on events, I’d suggest you being the grown up on this and sending the email that says “I never meant to offend you, I’m sorry. know it means a lot to MIL that you and BIL come to the next family event. Lets call a truce and agree to get along for MILs sake”. Or maybe stay out of it and ask your husband to have this conversation with his brother, telling him you’d offer to apologize if it would help. But if it’s just her sulking and avoiding the family, then fine, I would just ignore it until it blows over or her relationship with BIL ends.

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