Your Turn: “My Boyfriend is Too Close to His Sister-in-Law”

I have been with my boyfriend for 10 months but have known him for many years since we attended the same school. He and his sister-in-law are too close for comfort for my liking. They share many secrets which her husband does not know about and they seem to confide in each other a lot and he can’t say a bad word about her. In fact, he can’t shut up about how amazing she is at everything. I have, for some time, had a strong gut feeling that there is more to this than meets the eye. I believe she’s jealous of me, even though we always used to get along. She’s nosy and seems to want to know all the details about my relationship with my boyfriend.

Now, my boyfriend is lovely, but tight where money is concerned and I feel he has a very roving eye which is now making me green-eyed! I know 100% for sure that he has lied to me over certain things to do with his Facebook account, and I believe he messages women behind my back although I do feel it is innocent (but why all the secrecy?). On the whole, he has a lot of great qualities, but this is really giving me second thoughts. Do I follow my gut instinct or am I just an insecure, paranoid woman? — Second Thoughts


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  1. Follow your gut and MOA. You’re uncomfortable with your boyfriend and that’s all you need to know. There is zero sense in trying to make something work with someone just so you’re not alone.

    I also think there might be some insecurity or controlling behavior at play, but I would need to know more information. Regardless though, I think you should end this relationship.

    In regards to the sister in law, it sounds like she likes being the female in the group of brothers and so she is protective of that, which is bullshit, but I know women like this. So, she’s unfriendly to you. I wouldn’t read more into their relationship than that. Honestly.

  2. artsygirl says:

    Umm why are you with this guy? Even if the relationship between your BF and his SIL is strictly platonic – you are uncomfortable with it and that is not likely to change. Als,o you think he is a cheater and cheap. Get out of the relationship because you do not want to go down the road of making him choose between you are his SIL because chances are you are not going to like the results.

  3. starpattern says:

    One good way to not be an insecure and paranoid person is to remove yourself from situations that make you that way. I can’t say from what you’ve written whether your boyfriend’s relationship with his SIL is inappropriate (hope not, I mean gross) or he is messaging other ladies on Facebook, but if this relationship is driving you nutty, the best thing you can do is MOA.

    1. I LOVE your first sentence.

      1. starpattern says:

        It’s so simple, but it took me the longest time to really learn it!

  4. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

    Always follow your gut.

  5. Er, to me, it sounds like you’re paranoid & insecure? I mean, sometime “the gut” does tell you things, but what tips me off is that you’re uncomfortable with a bunch of random shit? Meaning, it’s likely generalized jealousy, a hair-trigger suspicious streak? In this one letter, you listed: his relationship with his SIL, his “secretive” Facebook messaging, his roving eye. I’m sure other situations have cropped up, & will crop up, in this relationship or the next, unless you address your lack of trust.

    Now, COULD he be sleeping with his SIL & shadily messaging other women behind your back? Sure. Anything is possible (& it’s hard to tell from the letter whether he’s ~actually~ slipped up at some point?) but you can’t assume the worst with no evidence. That’s no way to live life.

    1. However, with that said, I do think you should MOA. Maybe you aren’t always this nutty (following starpattern’s train of thought here) & it’s something caused by this particular guy or relationship. In which case, move on & re-evaluate yourself.

      1. painted_lady says:

        Yeah, even if she’s *actually* paranoid, with or without this guy, she needs to re-evaluate.

    2. I agree about the paranoia. That ego voice that everyone has is usually a liar. Now, this guy doesn’t sound like a winner but seriously so much of this could be written off.

    3. starpattern says:

      “what tips me off is that you’re uncomfortable with a bunch of random shit”

      ^^ This is a very good point. I especially wonder where his being tight on money comes into this… huh?

  6. Please please please follow your gut. It sounds like you don’t feel like you can trust him at all. How is that a good or healthy relationship? He may be “lovely”, but that’s not enough to sustain a relationship.

  7. So, you think your boyfriend:

    (1) may be sleeping with his brother’s wife;
    (2) is cheap;
    (3) is lying to you;
    (4) has a roving eye and may cheat on you; and
    (5) is messaging other women behind your back.

    I’m not sure what those “many great qualities” of his are you say are there, but this is not the guy for you. MOA.

    Also, can we please make a new rule that says that if you think your boyfriend or girlfriend is banging (or wants to bang) one of his/her family members – blood relation or not – you must just MOA? True or not, the fact that this suspicion comes up just says terrible things about the relationship.

    1. I’m sad that we even need to make a rule, but I would agree it is an excellent rule.

    2. Fo real, I was like “Oh hey another maybe-incest letter!” So yeah, this topic comes up enough that we need a rule.

  8. MOA. It seems like you’re uncomfortable with a lot of things in this situation. Personally, I think it’s great that he’s close with his sister in law, but then you add in the stuff about his messaging girls on FB and he’s lying to you… You’re only 10 months into this, and there’s a whole lot you don’t like about him. Why stick it out any longer?

  9. You don’t trust your boyfriend & you’re clearly not happy with how he’s handling things with his SIL. MOA.

  10. lets_be_honest says:

    Such a great example of people who will be with anyone, regardless of whether they actually like the person or trust the person, simply to have a boyfriend or girlfriend.

    1. Yeah, and also an example of being really unspecific regarding his good qualities (he’s “lovely”) but having super specific complaints (shady behavior with SIL, roving eye, cheap…). This always creates the impression that the LW really doesn’t have anything nice to say about their bf.

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        Good call. I wish people would realize that almost everyone has SOME good qualities. Probably even murderers do. Probably even murderers can be nice sometimes. That doesn’t mean those basic qualities make him/her a good catch.

      2. lemongrass says:

        Yes! I tell my sil in this all the time. Her new boyfriend is a total dick and she says “oh, he got beat up once when he was 16. And when no one was looking he got me flowers once.” Banging my head against the wall.

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        Ah yes, the ol’ ‘but he had a bad childhood.’ Apparently that makes up for literally every bad thing he does for the rest of his life.
        My sister used to say that, and same with the ‘but I got a half dead rose once!’

      4. Absolutely. I’ve always thought that bad outweighs good. Like, it carries more weight. One truly bad quality can (and should) outweigh many good qualities.

      5. Yep, bad qualities are like filters: If there’s a truly bad quality, you don’t even start weighing that against all the positive ones, you just stop righ there.

  11. Did you trust him before you started dating him, when you were just friends?

    1. This is a very good question. If the answer is “no”, then the problem is legitimately him (like, maybe he is for-real kind of a playboy, & she knew this before they started dating? & that’s why her suspicions are running high?), buuuut if the answer is yes, then it’s clear that being in the role of a girlfriend causes every jealous, paranoid, & insecure button in her to light up? (Which is totally a thing; I used to kind of be this way)

      1. yeah that’s what i was trying to get at, but i’m too tired today for more than one sentence. so thank for fleshing it out for me, haha.

  12. “(but why all the secrecy?)”

    Hmmmmm… I wonder. Maybe it’s the constant suspicion of his relationship with his SIL and his Facebook profile? Just a guess.

    That said, I don’t believe that your paranoia, if it is that, justifies his lying. In fact, your paranoia could have started as a legitimate response to shady tendencies on his part, although I have to say that it’s unusual for someone in a trusting relationship to have to lie about their Facebook profile precisely because most people do not feel the need to interrogate their SOs about their Facebooks. But my long-winded point is, you do have a responsibility to remove yourself from a situation where you a) feel paranoid and b) are being lied to, no matter who’s at fault.

    I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, but when a letter sounds like it was written by someone who only reads trashy magazines (“green-eyed”? “more to this than meets the eye”? How do you fit so many cliches in one two-paragraph letter?), I get prejudiced against the writer. Which is probably unfair since your lying boyfriend is probably not exactly composing James Joyce-worthy prose in his secret Facebook messages, either.

    1. You’re right. This is the language of the drama seeker.

    2. Last night I found some of the short stories and essays I wrote back in college … holy moly, cliche phrases and bad puns galore! I wanted to burn it, but I’m trying to be compassionate to my younger-writer self and just laugh it off as beginner-y.

  13. LW, it doesn’t matter whether your boyfriend is really being shady or not (for the record, I think some of those behaviors could be shady, and others you’re reaching a bit). What matters is you clearly don’t trust him, and that’s not something that could ever magically change. Cut your losses and MOA before this jealousy makes you into a crazy person.

  14. The way some of these LW’s write in you’d think their lousy boyfriend is the only man left on the face of the earth. MOA!

  15. There doesn’t seem to be a reason to be with this guy. Why waste any more time? MOA. I have a friend who says, “The time spent with Mr. Wrong is keeping you from finding Mr. Right.”. I think you do recognize on some level that this is Mr.Wrong, so just end it for your own sanity.

  16. lemongrass says:

    If at 10 months you have that many concerns about your relationship, move on! What the hell makes you think it’s going to get better? Do you think he’s going to magically stop doing the things that skeeve you out? Or do you think you can force him to stop, which is either unrealistic or he’ll end up resenting you. But seriously, why stay? Do you think you will never fall in love? Or that being in a bad relationship is better than being single? Moa and spend some time thinking about why you would want to hold onto a relationship with someone with no sense of boundaries.

  17. Gwen Soul says:

    This is probabably an issue with the upgrade but I can’t see the letter and it sounds juicy based on the comments! I am on IE9 with a windows 7 desktop. At work or I would try another browser.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Who needs to read the letter when you can just read the comments! 🙂

      1. Gwen Soul says:

        Then you guys are now my work entertainment! Can you summarize the letter in haiku maybe? Oh, or an interpretive dance that goes viral on youtube!

      2. LW is confused
        She thinks her boyf be cheating
        Facebook messages and more

        His sister-in-law
        might be shady or might not
        We can’t really tell

        Trust instinct or don’t?
        That is the LW’s question
        She should just move on

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        Awesome! and thank you! I tried and failed miserably. Apparently poetry isn’t my strong suit.

      4. haha, my skills are rusty, but I managed

      5. Gwen Soul says:

        Favorite person of the day right here (well above here)

    2. gwen soul says:

      Looks like I can’t see anything but the comments on all posts with a quick spot check back (no titles either). I am going through withdrawal….

      1. Try accessing the site with Chrome.

      2. Sunshine Brite says:

        No chrome at work, shoot. I can make it until 5… but it’s weird it wouldn’t come up on my phone either. This will be my patience challenge today I do believe.

      3. Sunshine Brite says:

        Yay, I’m in! I don’t think my work isn’t anywhere near IE9… I think we might have 7 still.

        Oh, and the LW should just moa. It’s not worth it.

      4. Gwen Soul says:

        I am stuck with work gives me, which is IE9, and we just got that 😛 I never think to get on at home because I have other things that distract me there.

      5. You’re stuck with IE9 at work? I’m so sorry. We *can’t* use IE at work because our web-based programs don’t work on IE.

    3. I just did a quick test with IE9 on Win7 and concur that the letter does not show up.
      With IE10, the letter does show up, and Firefox, Chrome and Safari also work fine.

      1. Ugh I’m still on IE8 at work. But I only read DW on my personal laptop – otherwise I’d be on DW on my work computer all day.

  18. Lily in NYC says:

    You’ve been with this guy 10 months. If you are already having these issues so early in your relationship, I think it’s time to MOA. It’s only going to get worse and it sounds like he takes you for granted.

  19. This *does* seem like a MOA situation but my question is, if the LW is so concerned that something is going on with her bf and his SIL – why can’t she just ask him about it? Whatever happened to communication in a relationship? If you can’t communicate with him, that’s a huge red flag and just setting the relationship up to fail.

  20. So here’s a question for everyone (and yes I agree, MOA):

    When you break up with someone, how much information do you give them about why you’re breaking up?

    Because I can see both sides. I can see it where the person doing the breaking up is like “I don’t have to justify myself, if I’m not feeling it I can just say “We’re over” and that should be enough.” And then I’ve seen people who have been dumped “out of the blue, for no reason, and I don’t even want to get back to together but I wish they would just tell me WHY!!” if for no other reason than that they don’t want to make the same mistake again.

    To me, both POVs seem legit, you can make decisions like this based on personal feelings and don’t have to justify that to anyone. But if someone breaks up with you, I can see feeling like you deserve at least SOME explanation.

    Maybe I’m just curious because I’m totally a stranger to breakups, I haven’t broken up with anyone since I was 14 and have never been dumped. So I’m just trying to imagine how this conversation would even go, if she would just say “because I don’t trust you” or if she would go into the specific things that make her feel like she can’t trust him, or if there’s ever a situation where it’s OK to say “Yeah, I think I’m done dating you, buh bye now!” with no further explanation.

    1. I think it’s usually something in between your two examples— that’s why you always hear the same reasons over & over, from relationship to relationship (“It’s not you, it’s me” , “The timing is off…” , “My feelings changed” , “We’re two different people”) They’re clichès because it’s juuuust enough info, without hurting the other person’s feelings (well, it’s at least a clear attempt to not hurt the other person’s feelings) & also not get into a huge back-and-forth (which tends to happen when you give super-specific, accurate reasons for the break-up)

      Obviously, break-ups barely work out like that— giving someone a vague reason without getting into details tends to prompt the dumpee into asking more questions or prompting for more info, but at that point, I think it’s justified for the dumper to say, “look, we’re over, I’m not feeling the relationship anymore. BYE.” (BUT it’s obviously hard sometimes on the dumper to do that, right? Most people find it difficult to go from being in a relationship to then totally excising the person from their life, without explaining even when the person is begging. Sooo that’s why breakups are often long, & drawn out, & sucky.)

    2. I think in theory, if people didn’t get their feelings hurt so easily, it should be possible to state the reasons for a break up (I think there usually are some reasons that go beyond just “eh, not feeling it anymore). However, in reality, when you break up the person on the receiving side gets their feelings hurt already, and often there’s also a risk that stating reasons will lead to bargaining. Basically, stating reasons either comes across as “It’s not just that I don’t want you but now I’m also telling you why you’re inadequate” or “Since I’m giving you reasons, you may assess them an then try to argue me out of breaking up with you”. Therefore, I think stating reasons often doesn’t help thing. I also kind of fail to believe that people have no clue why they’re broken up with, since usually there’s a period of things going down hill, conflicts etc. Unless it’s a really short term relationship, in which case it’s just not worth it to get into the reasons.

  21. MOA. People have outlined the reasons why. Find someone who isn’t mooning over his SIL, attempting to secretly message other women on the sly (yeah buddy, she knows), and is a tightwad with his cash around you. It will suck for a little bit, but you’ll move on and find someone better.

  22. fast eddie says:

    A simple solution would be to tell him if he wants to play around it’s fine but you him want to be open about it. If he does then you’d know and back out or go along with it removing all the drama.

  23. fast eddie says:

    A simple solution would be to tell him if he wants to play around it’s fine but you want him want to be open about it. If he does then you’d know and back out or go along with it removing all the drama.

  24. How many red flags do you need? Your gut instinct screaming and he has an inappropriate relationship with his SIL. MOA!!

  25. My gut is usually right – actually I can’t think of a time when my gut wasn’t right – of course I can think of many times I didn’t follow my gut instinct and later wished I would have done so. Good luck.

  26. Frankly, your two paragraphs are telling two different stories. At first I found my self sympathizing with you, thinking ew, no, his sil?! Then I started seeing “he’s cheap”, “his eye wanders”, “I’m jealous”, and I realized who the problem likely is: you! You’re possibly blowing the situation with his sil out of proportion, given the list of insecurities you’ve given it seems you are jealous of any woman in his life, her included. OR maybe he IS a cad, she knows it, and is asking nosey questions to assess how serious you may be so she can warn you about what may be coming. Either way, I’m thinking you need to MOA.

  27. Helene Vardakis says:

    I am going out with someone like this. As a matter of fact he uses the aunt card.
    And they have slept together I even think her kid is his 2. He is adopted so sleeping with family members don’t matter to him. He even slept with adopted sister’s. He is pretty ducked up. His parents pay his Bill’s and so have I. I was destetuted. And returned still trying to move on. A good sighs is how the sex..mine is non existent. He is Mr minute man. Anyway. He is not gods gift let him go he will never change and he like all this attention. So stop . you will end up feeling lonly and worse broke. He will never leave as long as you give in. Helen gawish.

  28. Well, I was in the same situation, except his sister in law is just along term girlfriend of his brother 20+ years. I just found out there was a “sexuationship” 2 years prior to me being introduced. I don’t know what to tell you but I would mention it. Mine lied straight to my face. So confront and leave or just leave.

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