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.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.