“I Hate My Sister’s New Fiancé”

I just found out that my younger sister has gotten engaged to her boyfriend whom I seriously do not trust him or like. He is only 24 and has already been married and had a child. Before even filing for divorce from his wife (who was still trying to convince him to try to make the marriage work), he moved in with my sister. There are a lot of things I have found out about his marriage that he lied about, but my sister forgave him. He is actually in the process of getting divorced now, and he and my sister plan to announce their engagement once it is finalized.

I hate how I have such a strong dislike for this guy and that it has caused some damage to my relationship with my sister! I keep telling myself I need to stop being so paranoid and learn to like him, but we have a brother who recently went through a horrible divorce from a woman I also did not like but forced myself to get along with for my brother’s sake. I made the mistake of accepting someone once before who turned around and seriously hurt a sibling, so how am I supposed to do it again?

I am so torn on how to fix this complicated situation. I am not sure what I can do to prevent any more damage to my relationship with my sister. — Hating Sister’s Fiancé

What you can do to prevent any more damage to your relationship with your sister is to butt out of her personal affairs. Honestly, unless you have reason to believe that her fiancé is abusive or dangerous in some way or that marrying him will literally ruin her life, it’s not your place to interfere. Furthermore, I’m not sure what kind of effect you think you might possibly have on your sister. If she already knows all the stuff about her fiancé that you think is so awful, what new insight or perspective could you share that would suddenly open her eyes?

You say that you forced yourself to like your brother’s wife for his sake and that was a mistake because she turned around and hurt him, but what difference do you think your not accepting your brother’s wife would have made? Do you honestly believe all you had to do was say, “Don’t marry her! I don’t approve!” and he would have dumped her and you would have saved him whatever heartache he’s feeling now? If you have that much faith in your ability to persuade people, I hope you’re banking on that skill somehow, like practicing law or working in politics or, you know, just raising a teenager or two, haha.

The truth is, you probably have about as much skill as the rest of us in persuading our loved ones to do what we think is best for them, which is to say probably not that much. And there’s a reason most of us can’t convince people to make the decisions we think they should: because it’s not our damn lives.

I suggest you focus your energy on your own life. Live well, love well, do good. You may not be able to change the world, or even change people’s minds, but chances are you can at least improve your own relationships, and that’s a pretty damn good deal in the big scheme of things. Live well, love well, do good. And let the people you care about live their own lives, make their own decisions, learn from their own mistakes, and grow from the pain you think they need to avoid at all costs. You’ll be better for it and so will your relationships.


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


  1. Lily in NYC says:

    I agree OP needs to back off, mainly becuase there’s nothing she can do that will actually work, but I thought telling her that she needs to get a life was kind of mean, Wendy! Of course it’s natural to be concerned when we see our siblings do something we know will end badly and it’s harder to butt out than if it were a friend – regardless of what else we have going on in our life (or not).

    1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      Actually, I made the assumption — twice! — that she already had a life, but suggested that in case she didn’t, she ought to get one. I personally think that’s pretty good advice for anyone, really.

      1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        Everyone who is thumbing me down needs to get a life!

      2. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Haha that was funny.
        Also you guys I’ve been busy and am trying to catch up but there are so many posts and forum topics to go through I’m struggling! There should be a new feature where Wendy summarizes all the debates, good comments, bad comments, etc. for me (ahem, I mean everyone).

      3. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        You could just pay me to do that!

      4. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        You’re hired. I’m gonna need mid morning and mid afternoon updates and then I’m gonna need a summary at the end of the each day. With each report, I am going to need to know: the dumbest comment and smartest comment thus far, who got pissy at whatever BGM said, what LBH bought online, what lurker de-lurked, what sex thing was mentioned randomly in the comments that I didn’t even know existed but that, like, Fabelle did at age 14 on a bike and it was no big deal, whether any of my DW boyfriends have asked about me, and, I dunno, anything else you think I need to know, thanks.

      5. I think some people are just enjoying the power of the down thumb. I got down thumbed on the weekend thread for saying what I was doing this weekend. How can you down thumb that?! (plus, I was doing awesome stuff!!!)

    2. I cannot agree more with this comment. According to the letter, the fiance is a literal red flag, and I think family and dear friends are supposed to Be THERE to help and remind their loved ones what it looks like from the outside with an objective view. Straight saying, “Mind your own business bc it’s her fiance, not yours,” is absolutely mean and not compassionate. What kind of family doesn’t care about their family’s big life decisions? Especially when it clearly seems off.

  2. Avatar photo rosie posie says:

    I understand the LW’s concern. I was in the same boat with my brother’s former wife. You know what I did? I kept my mouth shut, never said a bad word about her to him, was supportive and inclusive. When she would be blatantly rude and ignore anyone in our family when we would speak to her or spend holidays in a separate room when we were all sitting around talking do you know who looked bad? The person throwing the temper tantrum. I may not have liked the woman but I do like my brother and I wasn’t going to do anything that would damage our relationship. My sister acted more like the LW, never said anything bad but was never welcoming or inclusive. Even though my brother’s marriage fell apart my brother and sister now have a strained relationship (at best). Perhaps spend more time worrying about your relationship with your sister than your sister’s relationship with her fiance.

    1. Julia Christelle says:

      Your answer is better than spicy Wendy’s today!

  3. kerrycontrary says:

    WWS…It’s just easier to pretend to like someone’s SO. I always say unless someone’s partner is abusive or a drug addict, you keep your mouth shut and pretend to like them. She can make her own mistakes.

    1. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

      I agree…and not only can she, but she should! This is her (your sister) life. Let her live it.

    2. You don’t even need to pretend to like them. Just be polite, and keep your mouth shut. It works pretty well.

    3. Agreed. Some of us only learn from our own stupid mistakes. If it wasn’t for stupid mistakes, I wouldn’t be where I am now, and I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t appreciate this life as much either. The sister has something to learn from this man, good or bad.

  4. Avatar photo LlamaPajamas says:

    My family is in the same situation with my cousin and her new fiancé. None of us like him or think he’s good for her (or a good person in general), but we’re making sure we don’t damage our relationship with her so she has somewhere to go if the relationship falls apart. Family members closest to her did have one serious discussion in which they outlined their concerns about the guy, but that was it – she’s an adult and can make her own decisions. I think the worst thing you could do would be to alienate your sister. And I doubt that forcing yourself to get along with your brother’s ex-wife was a waste – I’m sure he appreciates the effort you made.

  5. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

    Haha, my initial thought was “well good thing you aren’t the one marrying him!”

    WWS. It’s none of your business unless he’s abusive. So butt out.

  6. Laura Hope says:

    Your wording suggests that you think you have to like him. You don’t. (But keep that to yourself). Nor do you have to be particularly warm to him. You just have to be cordial, polite, respectful and inclusive. And it may be helpful to consider that maybe people come into our lives to teach us something that we need to learn.

    1. simonthegrey says:

      This. My sister doesn’t like my husband, and it’s mutual.

  7. You don’t have to like everyone or agree with everyone’s choices. Your sister isn’t asking your opinion, and it sounds like she’s not in any real danger or anything. Soo… You just need to learn how to keep your feelings to yourself. She’s a grown up and is living her own life and making her own choices and you need to respect that.
    If you don’t like her finace, that’s ok. You don’t need to. When you’re around him be polite, and leave it at that.

  8. WWS in every respect, plus: I know it’s hard to get along with someone you strongly dislike, but when you have to (at family gatherings, etc)…grow up and plaster on a smile. You don’t have to pretend to be best friends, but I really believe that you can get along with nearly ANYBODY for fifteen-twenty minutes of conversation if you really try, and you have an open and nonjudgmental attitude. Whenever I hear that someone just can’t stand to be in a room with someone else, I always feel it reflects poorly on the hater. The LW doesn’t exactly say she can’t stand to be in a room with the fiance, but LW says she “hates” him and it’s caused damage to her relationship with her sister, so I kind of have to imagine that hate is probably spilling out into their interactions with each other.

  9. What’s the complicated situation, LW? That you don’t trust a man your sister forgave? Personally, I’d say your sister is in a bit more complicated situation what with the engagement and pending divorce. I’d do WWS and everybody here has suggested – work on your relationship with your sister and keep your mouth shut about her fiancé. You don’t have to like him, you just have to be civil when you’re in the same room. That is how you prevent any more damage to your relationship.

  10. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

    Think back to when you were a teenager and were making terrible choices. You may have even known they were bad choices but you didn’t care. Your parent’s told you “you are making a mistake!” and you said “maybe I am, but it’s my mistake to make!” And it was your mistake to make, you made it and learned from it (hopefully). Your sister may be making a mistake (in your eyes at least) but it is her mistake to make. Trying to shield our loved ones from any pain is shielding them from personal growth. It’s the same reason we let toddlers fall all over the place, so they learn to pick themselves back up.

  11. For the sake of your relationship with your sister, just put on a fake smile and be cordial whenever your sister’s fiancé is aound. I know it sucks, but there’s nothing you can do. To Wendy’s point, cultivate the good relationships you do have and I think it will help you be ok with the times you do spend with your sister and her fiancé. Also, holding on to anger toward the situation isn’t healthy for you, either. I have a few people in my family who I consider extremely toxic and who I can’t avoid, but feeling good about the healthy relationships I DO have makes it a whole lot easier to be around them.

  12. Painted_lady says:

    Like Christy said (and I repeated) in the forums, I think you get one say. Be tactful, but be clear, because it’s the only chance you get – “Hey, sis, I love you and I want you to be happy, so ultimately I stand by your decision, but I’m very concerned your fiancé is kind of shady and here’s why….”

    If you’ve already said something, or she makes it clear she doesn’t want to hear it, you have to keep your mouth shut. And even if you don’t like him, you need to pretend to unless he’s dangerous or in some way abusive or creepy to you directly. And unless you’re concerned he might hurt you, you still have to do the polite-acknowledgement-neutral-conversation-topics-try-like-hell-to-not-talk-to-him-alone song and dance routine if keeping your relationship with your sister healthy is a priority for you.

    It sucks watching someone you love get involved with someone you don’t even like, especially if you feel like that person could make your loved one’s life very, very messy. One if my close male relatives, for example, has a boyfriend he’s been on-and-off with for awhile now, and the guy’s nice enough, but he’s a hot mess – no job, no car, completely incapable of (or unwilling to) doing the common-courtesy, everyday things people do when their lives are intertwined (relative came to visit us, for example, and boyfriend didn’t answer his phone the entire time relative was gone). And he’s also involved on a large scale in certain activities that are legal in the state where they live but not on the federal level, which I have no problem with, but male relative could lose his job if it were discovered his cohabiting romantic partner is involved. And that pisses me off. But it isn’t my decision. And male relative knows my feelings on the matter, but beyond that I have to play nice. And it makes me crazy, especially since my male relative has a long pattern of adopting strays, moving too fast, and letting them blow up his life in all sorts of ways.

  13. lets_be_honest says:

    My sister had a SUPER crappy boyfriend for a long time. Nothing any of us said made her leave him. After she finally left him, she told me that she never wanted to break up with him because she knew she’d be proving us right. Something to think about.

    1. Good point! I’ve also seen people dig in their heels in bad relationships when everyone else seemed to disapprove. I might have been guilty of this myself in high school.
      Also if the LW keeps hating on him to the sister, and the sister’s having some doubts, she’s not going to go to LW because she already knows what LW’s going to say. Make it clear that she’ll always be there for her and support her? LW might be the one she goes to.

    2. artsygirl says:

      When everyone appears to be against a relationship it creates an ‘us verses the world’ bubble for the couple. I have seen friends keep a relationship alive for a lot longer than it should have just because they can blame a lot tension/fights/etc on the general disapproval around them.

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        Yes, exactly! Great way of putting it.

  14. I would say have an honest conversation with your sister about the perceived problems in a loving, concerned way…but it sounds like you did already if you know all the terrible things he has done and that she forgave him for them. Nothing you can do now except be there for her. You don’ have to like him – you aren’t marrying him – you just have to like her enough to politely tolerate him.

  15. applescruffs says:

    LW, I really don’t like the woman my brother married. I didn’t like her that much to begin with, but after they had kids I liked her less, seeing what kind of mom she is (I’ve complained about her on here before). But I keep my relationship with her cordial and friendly because I love my brother, and I love my niece and nephew. Especially with the kids in the picture, I want to make sure they know they have an auntie who loves them to pieces and will always be there for them. If my relationship with my SIL is contentious, I can’t be there for those kids.

    I know it’s really hard, but try to be there for your sister, and if there are kids eventually, be there for them, too. That’s the important piece.

    1. You seem like an incredibly wise person, I admire that 🙂

  16. I actually found out recently that my best friend hated my ex for a long long looong time. She told me that she always had a not so good feeling about him and that he wasn’t treating me how I deserved. She said “you loved him, and I didn’t intervene because you can live your life how you want to”. She said if we had gotten engaged (which we had talked about seriously) she would have staged an intervention, but she was happy to see him go. She was there for me when I needed her, but deep down she was relieved it hadn’t worked out between the two of us.
    You really can’t intervene. I know you want to, but you don’t want to put your relationship with your sister on the line.

    1. applescruffs says:

      My good friend and I have long had a pact that if one of us was dating someone shitty the other one got one conversation about it. I didn’t think her husband was shitty when they were dating, but I did have a few concerns, she and I talked, she brought some of the concerns up to him and I guess they had a really great conversation about the whole thing.

      She said with my ex she didn’t realize how much he sucked until after we weren’t together anymore. It’s harder when you don’t live in the same place. I guess my point is I want my friends to care enough about me to bring up their concerns, gently and with love, if I’m missing something. Even if they don’t think I’ll listen.

      1. Yeah she didn’t give me the slap-in-your-face “Lyra, what the hell are you doing??” but looking back she did say how she didn’t really care for him. We almost broke up a few times prior to the actual break up (I know I know) and once he SKYPED MY BEST FRIEND ABOUT IT. They spent an hour and a half talking about our relationship! BEFORE he talked to me! So so so messed up. He would do that all the time — talk to everyone else before he talked to me. And then if I said something like “well shouldn’t I be included in this conversation since IT’S ABOUT ME???” he would say it didn’t concern me………SO GLAD that relationship is over.

    2. We have done the intervention thing – I’ve spoken to a friend after she got engaged – since the week before she was going to break up with him. And I’ve had a friend speak to me when I got engaged (because she was concerned with all the history between us). It didn’t hurt our relationships to air our concerns. If anything I appreciate the courage it took my friend to tell me how she felt and I view that friend as special for trying to look out for me. The key part was airing the concerns and letting it be. You give your friend all the information she needs and then you leave he to make her choice. You support her and never “I told you so” her. Of course I also had a friend that wanted me to marry someone else and gave me my wedding card addressed to me and the other’s guy’s name with my husband’s initials pencilled in – but that was a more passive aggressive approach.

  17. LW, the way you talk about this whole situation is… odd. “I made the mistake of accepting someone once before who turned around and seriously hurt a sibling, so how am I supposed to do it again?” – what do you mean you “made the mistake”? how is that a mistake? you “accepted” someone for your siblings sake and they hurt your sibling and that is somehow *your* fault? that caused *you* harm? you were supposed to be the savior and save your sibling? i dont get it. i dont get why you are thinking you have a role in all this. and also what happens when/if your sibling finds someone you really like, and then they hurt your sibling? what then? is that still a mistake or… what is your role there?
    i dunno, your whole rationale is just odd. just because you dislike someone or distrust someone doesnt mean that “accepting” them is going to cause *you* harm. not in the slightest. so you dont like him and dont trust him and have issues with how he handled his divorce- so what. have you ever heard that phrase that an opinion is like an asshole, everyone has one? now, i do agree that you get to tell your sister your feelings about him, so do that, but then let her be. be kind to both of them because thats the right thing to do. you “accepting” isnt you somehow “accepting” any behavior that will come from him in any future time (do you feel that by “accepting” him you are helping/encouraging him when he ultimately hurts your sister? is that it? so weird.). its just being a decent human being (barring that this guy abuses anyone, ect)

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      I totally agree with Wendy’s advice and know there’s nothing you can do, as a friend/sibling/whatever, to stop your loved one from getting hurt…but I don’t get what’s confusing about wanting your loved ones not to get hurt and wishing/wondering if you could prevent that. I don’t see how that’s odd.

      1. i can appreciate that this LW doesnt want her siblings hurt- i think that is standard. what is really odd is the way she talks about it as if it somehow is her responsibility (ie. if i dont say anything my sibling will get hurt! i can save my sibling!) OR that it causes her pain too (which, ok yes, if people you love hurt you hurt too, bla bla bla, but she is extreme with it). its just odd to me how she talks about it. about it being a “mistake” and everything….

    2. That stood out to me too. I appreciate the LW wanting to stop their siblings from getting hurt. That’s incredibly kind and loving. However…they need to stop creating drama where there isn’t drama. It’s admirable that the LW is so protective, truly, but for the sake of their family they need to let go just a tiny bit.

      1. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

        Yes, it’s the drama and the unwillingness to let her make her own mistakes, if it is a mistake. People need to be allowed to make their own mistakes to grow, as other people have stated.

  18. You can be “friendly”… or at least give the appearance of it (civility, acting cordial, asking a few questions or including them in conversation when they are around, etc.) without actually being friends. Or liking someone. Sometimes being a bit fake is the way to taking the high road and not shutting out someone you love because you don’t agree with their choices.
    That being said, hate is a pretty strong word, so unless your just hyperbolic in your letter I think you need to take a step back from being so intertwined with your siblings’ relationships (unless there really is abuse or similar domestic problems). You can dislike them for treating people you love poorly, and hate being around them/draw some appropriate boundaries if they have done something specifically to you… but otherwise grown adults have to live their lives and make their own choices.

  19. I agree with Wendy’s advice. The only thing I would add is that it’s okay to express concern to our loved one’s about relationship decisions they are making. There is a difference between expressing concern and being a busy body.
    It’s true, if you express your concern to your sister, she will probably disregard it. But at least you got your feelings out there. From there, it’s just a process of letting go and allowing others to make their own mistakes. In my opinion, most people only start making good relationship decisions once they’ve experienced some errors in judgment.
    Also, I think it goes without saying, always be kind and respectful the fiance, even if you don’t like him.

  20. simonthegrey says:

    As I said above in a reply, my sister and my husband will probably never be friends. They don’t like each other. It’s a personality thing, mostly; they’re both very stubborn. Because of meeting my husband (then my boyfriend), I moved farther away than my sister wanted. Also, my sister has a habit sometimes of “taking advantage” of me because she’s the baby of the family and I have always wanted to take care of/protect her. Nothing major – asking me to help her finish writing a paper the hour before it is due, giving me a day’s notice and asking me to petsit her animals when it will mean a lot of time/inconvenience on my schedule, that kind of thing. Likewise, my husband will lecture when he starts talking about a subject he really likes, and to someone on the outside it can sound a little pompous or arrogant. The thing is, his mother is a university professor and I am a college teacher, so the tone doesn’t offend me, but my “buck the system and stick it to the man” little sister thinks he’s lecturing her. But my sister is polite, was in our wedding, and has worked on accepting him; and in turn, he knows how much she means to me so he has been trying too.

    And it goes both ways: I haven’t liked her BF in the past, because he is kind of a jerk, but I understand that I don’t have to live with him so I don’t try to talk her away from him. Did that years ago when she was in high school, it didn’t work. Learned that lesson.

  21. artsygirl says:

    I have yet to like a single one of my sister’s partners. I never liked any of her boyfriends, her ex husband, or even her current husband. She has a type which she sees as ‘protective’ and I see as controlling. That being said, I keep out of her personal life because I imagine she scratches her head at my choice as well. I have on occasion expressed worry – such as marrying a rebound guy after only knowing him three months, but I was still her matron of honor at the wedding and the same at her second wedding. I am careful to never say ‘I told you so’ and am casually friendly to all her significant others. True I will never call any of these guys up to chat or even actively look forward to spending time with them, but it is my sister’s life and I love her.

  22. My experience shows that giving such personal advice can go very well or horribly wrong, depending on the type of person the person is, which only the LW would know. You give your opinion to some people and they’ll jump into a massive drama and start yelling at you how “this is my life, you don’t want me to be happy, you’re just jealous of me and always have been” blah blah blah. There are others who’ll grab your hand with a smile and tell you “thanks for the advice, I know you’re concerned so I appreciate it loads but you do understand why it’s my call to make, it’s my life, it’s my marriage”. Which of these two extremes does your sister come to?
    I understand why you’d have a nagging feeling that you have to do/say something “to help” your sister especially with the horrible divorce your brother is going through. If your sister tends to fall in the second category I described above, I would sit and try to talk to her in the politest and most heartfelt way, tell her that you love her, value her and want her to be happy in life. That being said, you’re concerned whether she has thoroughly thought out her decision and maybe give her some insight into some aspects she might not have considered. (apart from all the ones she already knows about and has forgiven him).
    If she falls in the first category though, I’d just leave it and as the others have said, focus your energy on maintaining a good relationship with your sister because this is what lasts forever in the end. We want to protect the people we love and care about from all the evil and bad in the world but sometimes the best way to do it is to let them make their own mistakes and be there for them when something happens.
    I remember my very first long-term relationship, after an incredibly messy break up I realised all the red flags which had been SO blatantly obvious from even before the start, but due to my inexperience at the time I didn’t see. I then thought to myself “Where were all of my friends then to tell me all about that, they must have seen that?!” (and they indeed had, but no one expressed their concern to me). But this is just me and also, the best learned lessons are from the mistakes you’ve made yourself. I might have overreacted as well if they had pointed out any of the red flags in advance, only to find out they were right a couple of years later. That’s when the thing about “learning from your own mistakes is best” comes in.

  23. cameforadvice says:

    When I clicked on the link to this article, I was hoping to find some good advice. But all I got out of this article was ‘wow, she’s really a bitch’. Maybe you should take a look at your own life to see if there’s something that’s making you so hostile… What a waste of 5 minutes of my life lol

    1. I read all the comments. A lot of excellent advice and NOBODY called LW a bitch. They said she needed to back off and allow her sister to take responsibility for her own relationships. They said LW had one opportunity to politely express her views to her sister and then needed to back off. I’d say to very briefly express her views and keep it strictly factual. Apart from the guy is divorced and his wife didn’t want to divorce, LW actually says nothing at all negative about him except that she personally dislikes him. Well… even two sisters of similar age often have very different taste in men. You don’t have to like your siblings’ spouses for them to have happy, successful, even forever marriages. So, again, I don’t see your objection here. Perhaps you just chose to drop in here to play the bitch. You certainly wrote nothing constructive and just trashed everyone. Not a single specific in your post. Bye!!!

  24. Allll THESE comments and NOT ONE mentions the major red flags with this guy who sounds like a real piece of crap. Finalize the first divorce before you jump into a new marriage, how about that?

  25. Sea witch says:

    “I keep telling myself I need to stop being so paranoid and learn to like him…”

    You don’t have to force yourself to like anyone that you don’t actually like. You just need to be polite, that’s all.

  26. Cheri Hannan says:

    Accept the things your cannot change. (Everyone else in the world).
    Change the things you can. (Yourself).

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