Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Sister’s Fiancé Hates Me”

I’m not crazy about my sister’s fiancé, but he treats her well so I have never been “against” their relationship, and I have made a sincere effort over the years to be friendly with him. Our personalities clash and I don’t believe we will ever be good friends, but, up until now, we have gotten along just fine.

They got engaged in April 2014. My sister is in vet school and wants to wait until she is done to get married, so it’s a somewhat long-term engagement. I was single the entire time (two years) they were together (dated some guys, but nothing stuck), and over that time the fiancé would pester me about not dating “the right way,” and sort of taunt me that I would end up alone. (This is why we’ll probably never be friends, because I don’t think that’s very nice behavior. But he doesn’t act this way toward my sister).

Recently, I got into a serious relationship. We had been dating four months when Christmas came around, and he works in a hospital and had to work in the days leading up to Christmas and immediately afterward so he couldn’t travel home to see his family. I asked my dad (my mom is not alive) if he would be alright with my boyfriend joining us for Christmas dinner and he said of course (it would be their first time meeting, but my dad wasn’t bothered by this). I also asked my two sisters, who had already met him, and they were very encouraging.

On Christmas Day, before my boyfriend came over, my sister’s fiancé cornered me in a room by myself and lectured me on how it was inappropriate for me to invite my boyfriend to Christmas dinner, and how I was making my dad and sisters uncomfortable bringing a new person into the house on Christmas Day. I told him that I had already talked to my family about it and they were all supportive.

Then, when my boyfriend got there, my sister’s fiancé refused to talk to him (even though my other sister’s boyfriend, both my sisters, and my dad were engaging him and everyone was getting along). At the end of the night, he said to my boyfriend (not in front of me, my boyfriend told me afterwards), “Good luck with this one – no one will blame you if we don’t see you again.”

I thought that was so mean and hurtful. He has also seemed to go out of his way to be cruel to me since that day. We were having a brunch a few days after Christmas with just my family (my boyfriend wasn’t coming) and my sister’s fiancé said he couldn’t come because he was busy, then he texted me later telling me I was the reason he didn’t go. I texted him back and said, “What’s going on? Is there something we need to talk about?” but he never responded and has not returned my calls asking to talk since then.

I haven’t told my sister any of this because I don’t want to put a strain on our relationship, but I don’t understand why he is being so cruel to me. I haven’t done anything to him. What can I do to smooth things over? I know I don’t have to be best friends with my sister’s future husband, but, if he is joining my family, I think it would be nice for us to at least be civil. I don’t want every future family event to be hostile like Christmas was. — Not a Fan of Sister’s Fiancé

Your sister’s fiancé doesn’t hate you. But he DOES have inappropriate feelings for and toward you, and you should beware of them, steer clear of them, and do not engage him. As long as you continue ignoring him and don’t respond to any of his grossly inappropriate comments or behavior, he will hopefully get bored of trying to rile you up and move on. But if he doesn’t move on and his behavior continues or, God forbid, gets worse, I think you do need to talk to your sister about what’s going on.

Until that point, I agree that going to her could potentially put a strain on your relationship with her. She won’t want to hear what you have to tell her and, depending on her personality and her relationships with both you and her fiancé, she may decide that you’re the one to blame — that you’re either lying (or exaggerating) or that you’re doing something to encourage her fiancé’s behavior. Plus, you don’t really know what goes on in their relationship. Is she someone who might be susceptible to controlling or manipulative behavior? If so, you have to be very careful because he may already be preparing her for a fall-out with you or the rest of the family.

Have you talked to your other sister — the one who isn’t engaged to this man — about what’s going on? I wonder if she has been on the receiving end of similar treatment or if she’s noticed what’s going on or if she has any advice on how to proceed. After all, she knows your other sister as well as you do and knows the family dynamics and the different relationships and can probably steer you in the right direction, provided you trust her to keep your conversation private.

As for future family gatherings, your sister will likely start spending some holidays with her fiancé’s family, and, eventually, you’ll spend some holidays with your partner’s family (either your current boyfriend, if the relationship continues getting more serious, or someone else down the line). Among you three sisters, there will probably be kids/grandkids in the next few years and that will further change the family dynamic and make it a little easier to sort of “hide in the crowd.” My point is: things will change, and that will hopefully be a good thing. (And in the meanwhile, you should initiate more get-togethers with just your sister(s), without significant others). It probably won’t be often that you’ll be stuck in close proximity with your sister’s fiancé or put in a position where you have to interact with him one-on-one. But if you do find yourself in that position, get out of it as quickly as possible. Don’t engage him in conversation and don’t respond to any questions or comments that are personal in nature. Don’t text him and don’t reply to texts. Don’t give him any “ammunition” to use against you. Just ignore him. Oh, and save every inappropriate text or message he sends you because you may need the evidence later.

I know this sucks, and you just want a civil relationship with this person so you can enjoy family time again. But something’s wrong with him. And it’s not your fault. He isn’t behaving like a civil person. And he isn’t treating you, the sister of his fiancée, in an appropriate way at all. Unfortunately, the delicacy of romantic relationships, especially when they aren’t your own, and the often emotionally-charged dynamic among siblings/ family, plus the lack of true “hard evidence” in this case, make it hard for you to actually go to your sister with your concerns. But if you think she may be receptive to what you have to say, you could show her that one text message he sent when he said YOU were there reason he didn’t come to a family brunch, and let her know you tried to find out what he meant and he never responded. Maybe she could shed some light on the situation or maybe the revelation would give her enough shred of doubt in him that she might start paying closer attention to his behavior around you. Of course, if he is manipulating her and she’s susceptible to his manipulations, you run the risk of his lying to her and framing YOU as the one who has been inappropriate. I think you need to follow your gut here, tread lightly, and maybe enlist the guidance of your other sister.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

21 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Laura Hope January 6, 2015, 8:38 am

    I think he likes you–as in likes you, likes you. If you were in 6th grade, he’d be punching you. In fact, given his level of maturity, he might actually punch you, especially if you like someone else.

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  • avatar

    Eve January 6, 2015, 9:10 am

    Wendy’s advice is very wise and you should follow it 100%.
    Honestly this thought crossed my mind as well – that he may *like like* you and is acting passive aggressive in an attempt to hide it. Because if he’s actually being nice it might show in some way. It seems like the main thing he is taunting you about is dating – which can’t be a coincidence, in my opinion. And the fact that he’s trying to drive your boyfriend away by saying what he said to him isn’t a coincidence either. He’s making you feel bad about dating anyone, which may be a sign of jealousy on his part which he can’t control.
    Either way, don’t engage and save every form of evidence you get. Since he is treating your sister great, I guess there’s no concern at all about him making her unhappy or hurting her, so just be an adult. I honestly would tell her if things start getting worse. If you don’t engage in his mean behaviour, he may start being even more insulting in an attempt to “wind you up”.

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    • avatar

      RedroverRedrover January 6, 2015, 9:46 am

      Actually I think there is a concern about making the sister unhappy. If he’s that into another girl that he’s acting this way, should he really be getting married? Also there’s a weird, mean undercurrent to it. A childish meanness, that seems to be out of his control. It’s a bit scary. I’d be very worried if my sister was going to marry a guy like this.

      I think what I’d do in this case is just start innocently bringing things up with the sister. Be like “Is there some reason Mike doesn’t like me? He told me he didn’t come to the brunch because of me. Did I do something to upset him?”. If she doesn’t believe her, she can show the text. Frankly it would be worth it to me to have my sister angry at me, if it stopped her from marrying a guy like this.

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  • veritek33

    veritek33 January 6, 2015, 9:17 am

    I’m with Eve on this one – do you think he might, possibly, have even a tiny amount of feelings for you? It might explain the pushing away of the possible boyfriends and such.

    Either way, do what Wendy said and ignore the hell out of him. He’s probably thriving on the attention.

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  • muchachaenlaventana

    muchachaenlaventana January 6, 2015, 9:32 am

    Yeah I agree with this. He is trying in some weird way to engage you because he has some sort of feelings for you. There really is just no other explanation.

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  • Miss MJ

    Miss MJ January 6, 2015, 10:08 am

    I definitely think there is some merit to the idea that the fiance has feelings for you, LW. On the other hand, I have had the lovely occasion to meet (through work and friends) men who honestly think it’s their place and/or responsibility to police the love lives of women they aren’t involved with, but who are friends with/related to their SO. It’s usually longish-term single women in their circle that they target (like here) and it is, frankly, some fucking bizarre paternalistic bullshit. But I’ve seen the dynamic. It’s gross. Either way, stay away from this guy, LW, and ignore the hell out of his texts, taunts, and “advice.” And if it happens again, absolutely tell your sister. Don’t kid yourself that he isn’t being manipulative and controlling in some way with her, too. I’d also talk to your other sister about the Christmas Day stuff and anything else that has been happening. Don’t couch it in terms of “feelings for you” or anything; say that his actions in trying to tell you what to do, making you feel bad about bringing dates around and trashing you to your dates is making you angry and you don’t want to make the sister he is engaged to feel bad by putting her in the middle, but you need to shut that shit down and see if she can help.

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  • avatar

    cleopatra jones January 6, 2015, 10:35 am

    The insanity of his behavior is insane. Seriously.
    .
    I’m kind of on the fence about this one because on one hand, I agree with the others that there maybe an undercurrent of him having not so brotherly feelings towards the LW. But on the other hand, it could also be his way of alienating the sister for future manipulation or control.
    .
    Whatever it is, it not a healthy relationship.
    .
    I’d also like to know if he is doing this in front of the /sister/fiance or in private where no one but the LW can hear his taunts. If it’s in front of the sister and she hasn’t said anything, that’s probably your answer. But if it’s in private, then I would tell the sister because he’s doing a hell of a job hiding his craziness.
    .
    I don’t have any advice other than, if it were me, I’d like to know that the dude that I’m about to marry is a covert asshole. For me, I wouldn’t want to find out many years later that he was doing this shit to my sister (red flag) and she didn’t say anything because she thought I wasn’t strong enough to walk away from the jerk.

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  • Stonegypsy

    Stonegypsy January 6, 2015, 10:41 am

    Yeah honestly, I would bring it up to your sister, LW. But do not frame it as “he might have feelings for me” or even “Dude’s an asshole, what’s wrong with him?” (Even though, yes, dude’s an asshole and WTF is wrong with him?)
    Frame it as “I’m really confused by his behavior and I’m just wondering if I did something in the beginning that got us off on the wrong foot, and I’d like to work things out because I know how happy he makes you”.
    I feel like that frame is the least likely to alienate her, and the way that makes him look weird if he tries to paint you as lying or exaggerating.

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    • avatar

      ktfran January 6, 2015, 11:16 am

      Agreed, if she talks to her sister about it, I think this is the best way to do so.

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  • avatar

    mertlej January 6, 2015, 10:45 am

    It sounds like he’s taken the opportunity to corner you alone a couple of times to make these comments… If you are in a situation where he’s cornering you again, I’d honestly say something firm and clear (but not combative) like “excuse me, I am going to rejoin the group” and just walk right past him. Don’t engage, don’t let him detain you, and don’t sit there and listen to his crap.

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  • something random

    something random January 6, 2015, 11:01 am

    Wendy nailed it. I would talk to the other sister to determine if this inappropriate behavior is limited to you. I might casually bring up the texts with the other sister very casually, just as Wendy suggested. If fiance flat out refused to speak to your boyfriend at christmas it was probably fairly obvious to everyone there. I’ll bet your sister knows her fiance is off. She may be in denial about the extent in which case she will only minimize what you have to say or feel embarrassed. Don’t bring up what your new boyfriend told you fiance said. Take it as the clarity you need to see this nut is off his rocker. Though do mention things to your other sister and keep each other updated.

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  • avatar

    Sunshine Brite January 6, 2015, 11:25 am

    Is he trying to isolate your sister? It sounds like he doesn’t act that way towards her now, but he could in the future as he gains power in the relationship.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark January 6, 2015, 11:28 am

    Happily, this is a LONG engagement. Even so, the tim to act — is now. He has already wildly inappropriate and I would bring this up to your other sister. See if she is dealing with any of this bullshit.
    .
    Even if she isn’t — I’d go to your sister. But act baffled. Confused. Bring up the brunch and then show her the text he sent you. If she glosses over it — then mention the unbelievably SHITTY thing he said to your boyfriend and calmly ask her what she would have done had your boyfriend said that to her. Or pulled any of this shit on her.
    .
    If she’s not an idiot, she will NOT get mad at you. If she IS a idiot — oh, well. Good riddance, I guess.

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    • avatar

      Taylor January 6, 2015, 12:25 pm

      I agree! I think you should definitely talk to both your sisters. I’d want to know if I were engaged to someone who was acting this way! I would absolutely want to know if ANYONE was treating my sister this way. It isn’t a matter of “being nice” or “making trouble” – it’s a matter of providing pertinent information to your sis. This guy is being way creepy.

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    • Moneypenny

      Moneypenny January 6, 2015, 1:50 pm

      Definitely this!!

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones January 6, 2015, 11:39 am

    Gosh, if it were my sister or a BF were treating my sister that way, I would certainly want to know that to prevent either myself or my sister from marrying a total abusive douchecanoe. I don’t care what the fallout. If my sister’s fiance was treating me rudely (and they aren’t married yet) I would raise my concerns about his weird behavior. And if my “perfect” fiance were rude to my siblings behind my back I would also want to know. You need to do due diligence before this monster becomes a member of the family.

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray January 6, 2015, 12:51 pm

    I guess it depends on what kind of relationship you have with your sisters. If it were my sister, I’d definitely say something but I might say something along the lines of: “Hey, Sister, does your boyfriend hate me? I feel like he haaaaaates me! What did I do?!” Then Sister may something like “of course note, why would you think that?!” and then you could say “because he got mad at me for bringing my boyfriend to Christmas dinner and he told my boyfriend “good luck with her” etc.” And then you can see where the convo goes.

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    • avatar

      ktfran January 6, 2015, 2:13 pm

      Yep, I’m pretty sure it would play similar to that if this was happening with one of my sis’s beau’s. I’m also pretty sure the entire family would know immediately that something that creepy happened. We’re all pretty damn close though.

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  • avatar

    Dalben January 8, 2015, 10:16 am

    I agree with everyone who said tell your sister. She’s your family, and you owe her your best advice on something as life changing as getting married. You don’t have to be mean about it, but even if it causes some friction with your sister it’s worth it yo try and stop her marrying someone bad for her. My brother was engaged to someone who was wrong for him and all my family except my dad , were saying we had some reservations, but If he likes her, and is fine with her issues we guess it’s ok. My dad was very nice and polite to the fiance, but in private told my brother that he would support my brother no matter what and if they got married they would always be welcome and so on , but also told him in the clearest possible manner that he should break up and ecx

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    • avatar

      Dalben January 8, 2015, 10:37 am

      [Sorry I accidentally hit submit, before I was done typing and editing]
      Exactly why. my brother didn’t listen to him at the time, but they eventually broke up. Now he’s engaged to someone much better, and he thanked my dad for giving him, his advice. Obviously the ultimate decision maker in all this is your sister, but you want to have a clear conscience that you did everything you could. If my brother had gotten married and then been miserable I’d never have forgiven myself for not saying something when I had the chance. Additionally, after they broke up i found out more negative things abour his fiance that he hadn’t wanted to mention, because he knew it would make us dislike her, so it’s posduble your sister knows more about her fiance than you think.

      Also, of course, if you talk to your sister and she talks to her fiance and he says ‘oh I didn’t realize I was acting so bad and I will change my behavior’ and then actully does so, then you probably don’t need to advise her to break up. However, your description of him makes that seem unlikely.

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  • avatar

    wobster109 January 13, 2015, 5:22 pm

    You can be polite without being friendly, and this guy doesn’t deserve your friendliness. Get the rest of your family together and practice some cold, stern phrases. Or even just your boyfriend and other sisters. Then be prepared to use them. For example:

    – He calls you inappropriate. You say, sternly, “Sorry you feel that way,” and then leave. If he tries to keep talking, keep repeating it and seek out a family member.
    – He insults you to your boyfriend. Boyfriend should frown and say “Susie is a lovely person”. If he persists your boyfriend should add “I don’t appreciate that comment”.
    – He blames you for his decisions. Text back “You can’t be serious?” And if he says he is serious, say “Well, you’re free to make that choice”. Don’t offer to change yourself.

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