A little background: Ryan and Rachel have been friends for many years, but they talk about once a month and mainly about her. When we got engaged, she cried for days. I get this could be a happy thing, but her husband and I found this very strange. She also was very controlling over our engagement party, changing everything and even wanting to do a speech. Speeches can be lovely, but we both wanted a very informal thing and didn’t want speeches. Because Ryan did not want to upset her, he said he wasn’t too keen, but he didn’t say no. Rachel had also written a speech for Ryan which was very impersonal and didn’t really include things about our relationship. On the night of the party, she kept asking when she could do the speech, and I eventually snapped and said, “No, I don’t want that!” very loudly, and she went to the bathroom crying. I felt really bad and apologized the next morning. Rachel then did not speak to me for months and every time all our friends got together she would blame me; it was very awkward. Most of our mutual friends and her husband defended me, saying it was our party and not hers, but, annoyingly, my partner did not say much to her.
When it came to wedding planning, she would text Ryan saying all our ideas were terrible, and she kept making suggestions to change things. Rachel even told us not to “rush into anything” after we announced our wedding date (two years into the future), which really upset me as we had been together for over five years at that point, and since she got married to her husband after two years, I don’t see how we could be rushing.
I have also felt that when we all meet up, all of Rachel’s attention is on Ryan and she will make jokey snide comments about me a lot, which I always take on the chin, but they do upset me. If I am honest, I feel like she fancies him although I don’t think she knows it. Ryan now believes she may, but he is just allowing things to happen. When Rachel told Ryan of what she had planned for his birthday, she said she was going to do another thing, but I was already doing it, which upset me a bit because she then spoiled my surprise! I feel like she is taking over his birthday after I’ve spent weeks of planning, and it means every day the attention is on her. Also, it is worth mentioning that Rachel’s gifts aren’t all small gifts; some are quite large and we are only on day 6 of the 30 at the moment. We worked out that she has spent £60-70 ($80-$95), which is quite a lot where we come from.
Am I overreacting? Do we accept the gifts? Do I say something? I am really bothered by this, but I don’t know whether to just get over it or to say something. — Three’s A Crowd
Not only are you not overreacting, but also you are underreacting. This should have been nipped in the bud ages ago. Rachel is so beyond inappropriate and disrespectful to you, to Ryan, and to your relationship, and that her behavior has been tolerated for as long as it has been is very troubling. Enough is enough. Tell Ryan in no uncertain terms that you feel so incredibly uncomfortable with Rachel’s continued behavior, with her obvious sabotaging of your relationship, and with Ryan’s continued silence on the matter that unless he puts an end to it, you won’t marry him. And you need to be firm about this. This cannot be an ultimatum you back out of. It is past the point of his maintaining a healthy friendship with her with boundaries. The friendship needs to end and the two of you need to have the space you have thus far been denied to tend to your relationship and the cracks that likely exist or have begun to show as a result of Ryan’s reluctance to prioritize it and your feelings. Period. There’s no middle ground here. Rachel is stalker-level obsessed, and there’s no gray area where including her in your/Ryan’s life can exist. You know this. You either convince Ryan of this and have him immediately show he understands (by cutting Rachel out of his life), or you move on. There can be no marriage for you two with a third, unwanted-by-you spouse, and that is exactly what Rachel is trying to orchestrate.
I feel like I don’t want a one-sided friendship at my age, and yet we did share some fun times together. Do I say something again? Let the friendship go? Or accept she’s a fair-weather friend? — One-Sided Friendship
It sounds like your neighbor friend would benefit from reading my essay about how showing up is the most important thing you can do in a friendship. But she’s not writing to me – you are. And so to you I will say this: If what you want is a friend in the truest sense, this person is not going to fill that role for you. Sure, you could tell her you need her to show up more, but is the friendship really worth it if you need to spell out for the person how to actually be a friend? Probably not. What might be worth it to you is the casual companionship of someone with whom you can “share some fun times together.” You can enjoy that level of friendship as long you keep the expectations of anything more at zero. Can you do that? Can you stop showing up in the way an intimate friendship requires as maintenance since such showing up will not be returned to you? If so, proceed then with caution. If you feel like that’s too difficult and that the reward – some potential fun times together – is not worth it to you, then cut this friend loose with a clear conscience.
P.S. Linking to that “showing up” essay and seeing the photo I used in it always makes me catch my breath. Those are dear friends of mine, one of whom is now dead. What I wouldn’t do to be able to show up for him again and for all of us to enjoy one more fun time together…
***************Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram. If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.
brise January 15, 2021, 9:03 am
LW, she is or was his mistress!
brise January 15, 2021, 9:09 am
LW2: she is just a neighbor friend. She doesn’t have many friends because she behaves the way you say. She is self-absorbed, doesn’t “read” well hints and social cues. I would treat her more like an acquaintance. When she speaks of her problems, listen for a while, sympathise, then move on. Don’t offer so much guidance and support. Don’t over-invest into her or punish her or whatever. Just adjust your investment into her to her investment into you. If she is nice company, see her. If she is always complaining, limit more your time with her.
Karebear1813 January 15, 2021, 10:51 am
Rachel is totally inappropriate and yes she fancies Ryan very hard. Ryan should, with caution, try to end this relationship.
Ele4phant January 15, 2021, 11:37 am
Another add on thought for LW2 – you don’t say how long ago her hard times were; she may still be struggling and just not have any emotional reserves to give to you, or anyone. It may have nothing to do with you and everything to do with her continued struggle.
I think Wendy’s advice is right – regardless of whether she can’t or just won’t – she’s not going to be a close intimate friend to you the way you have been for her. You can choose between accepting and matching her level of effort, or moving on entirely. Those are your only options.
That said, I think for your own peace of mind, you will be more at peace with whatever decision you make if you assume that she can’t be a good friend, not that she just doesn’t care to.
If you take the more compassionate interpretation of her actions, your next decision – whatever it is – will feel a lot less fraught and painful to you.
Ready to Mingle January 15, 2021, 11:43 am
LW1: I don’t know how you managed to deal with this interloper in your relationship for so long. She clearly is far too attached to your fiancé. It is beyond inappropriate. The fact that your husband allows it to continue speaks to how he probably enjoys the attention. I would not allow this any longer. I would demand that he get her to back off, or otherwise, as others have said, you are not going to marry him. OMG, this just makes me so mad for you.
ron January 15, 2021, 1:00 pm
The threat not to marry him isn’t serious. The planned marriage is two years in the future. That’s far enough out that he probably doesn’t even count it as a commitment — it is a phony commitment. He’s hoping that in the next two years, his friend and her husband will break up and he can be with her. He doesn’t put up with this totally out of bounds behavior in an innocent, enjoys the attention sort of way. He prefers her to you. If your bf doesn’t agree to forcefully end this nonsense and block this woman on everything, you need to move out and end engagement. I think you’ve already lost this guy. I also don’t see it as much of a loss.
Betty January 15, 2021, 2:18 pm
LW1: I recommend that you get into joint-counseling immediately. If Ryan is really as deluded as you are describing, I think that having a neutral third-party affirm what you are saying may be what he needs as he already has been dismissing your concerns for years.
Jolie January 15, 2021, 3:31 pm
LW1 – I refuse to believe he’s this oblivious. Does he lack boundaries in other areas with family or other friends or his job – in that he’s letting other people control aspects of his life? If not, then the issue is Rachel. If he does lack boundaries – then getting rid of Rachel won’t help because others will fill that place. Either way, for me, this seems like a big flag because maybe if it’s Rachel today tomorrow it’ll be ‘Jane.’
Bittergaymark January 15, 2021, 10:40 pm
LW1). Damn. Yeah… I think this is the very first time anybody has ever writtern in here with a so and so is obsessed with my boyfriend letter and had me go: “Omigod! She IS obsessed with your boyfriend! Like psychotically obsessed! Then you further floored me with the creepy news that his best friend already has a husband!! WTF?!? Wendy nailed it. But yeah… this deranged friendship of his would give me real pause. The girl simply sounds deranged! You are so beyond reproach, too… Her reactions are all so out of the bounds of normal! Yikes… just Yikes!!
Sea Witch January 20, 2021, 5:00 pm
To be fair, not many people have the experience to deal with stalkers. And Rachel definitely is starting to tip into stalker territory.
Keeks January 18, 2021, 4:11 am
I’m not even sure why he has allowed it to come this far. I don’t ever think a SO more so a Fiancé should have to fight down an intruder. He should have immediately shut it down. Not you
Maybe you should evaluate him too.
Sea Witch January 20, 2021, 5:07 pm
It probably strokes his ego to have two “chicks” fighting over him.
anonymousse January 18, 2021, 4:42 pm
Honestly, if he respected and prioritized your feelings, he would have shut this down a long time ago. I agree that it’s long past time to examine what this is really about and tell him explicitly what you want him to do about this. IE- tell her no more birthday gifts, no gifts, no more please. This must come from him. But you must first put your foot down.
Bittergaymark January 18, 2021, 5:14 pm
Oh, and MY YES. The 30 days of birthday gifts is excessive in the extreme. It’s be cute if that happened to me in a movie and if the sender was, say, Pedro Pascal… but otherwise it’s all decidedly creepy.
Sea Witch January 20, 2021, 5:06 pm
What the heck does Rachel’s husband think about all this? She sounds a bit unbalanced and in need of some mental health care, to be honest. I could see her husband asking for a divorce, with the result that she’d then throw herself at Ryan even more furiously.
Ryan’s reaction may be a combination of feeling flattered and being a little bit afraid of her intensity.
beccadira January 27, 2021, 9:32 am
For LW1: Either he knows about her feelings for him and is ignoring his fiancee on purpose, or he’s completely delusional. I imagine him saying “But she’s married, it’s harmless”. Sounds like “Rachel” is upset that “Ryan” is no longer on her backburner. You can’t save someone on the backburner when you’re in a relationship or especially if you are married. Rachel is not harmless, and probably would do the same for any woman Ryan would be in a relationship with or engaged to that is not her.