Carolyn Hax: Confidants say they don’t want her dating their relatives

I told the wife, whom I’m closer to, about the date. She immediately went into what she called “crisis mode to protect her family” — thi...

I told the wife, whom I’m closer to, about the date. She immediately went into what she called “crisis mode to protect her family” — this is her brother-in-law. After talking to both of them without the brother present, I realized: They don’t want me to date their brother; if I date him, they don’t want to see us together, don’t want to talk to me, and don’t want to see me; if this happens, I have irreparably torn the fabric of their family. They said they know too much about me and I know too much about their brother, and it would put them in too awkward a position to see us two together. They said, if there’s been THIS MUCH chaos in only two days, can I even imagine how much chaos there will be moving forward?

So many things hurt here. I have lost the trust and respect of — and for — people I considered my closest friends. I have been betrayed and gaslit to think I am an evil force intruding on a safe family. I feel terrible for the brother, who now feels he has to put his family over his own life decisions. I feel like a beautiful, fresh, fragile new relationship has been stripped from me before we even got to decide if it’s a Thing.

I have nothing left for the two friends, and I’m not interested in living in their warped reality where I’m a bad person, but I don’t know how to move forward with the brother. What can we do?

Pizza to Chaos: They haven’t helped you bury any past boyfriends, have they?

Kidding, kidding. But I can see their hesitation if their inside knowledge about the “tumultuous” romantic history they’ve had to “protect” you from is objectively really bad.

Even in that case, though, and even if you deliberately left that history out of your letter — just for the sake of argument — their reaction still seems bizarre and extreme. Not only are you all adults, with no right to impose yourselves on each other’s choices to this degree, but you’re also adults who think enough of one another to keep frequent company for a decade. Their reaction suggests boundary and hypocrisy issues.

One rational way to handle puzzling behavior is to reality-check any blame you’ve assigned to others that more appropriately lies with you. (Easy! Ha.) Then adjust your own logic as needed, then have the integrity to live by it — by making amends, standing firm, dating a man you like who likes you back, backing off, whatever.

Obviously, dating the brother is still an option only if he remains willing to date you. You ask what “we” can do, right after saying he “has to put his family over his own life decisions,” which suggests there’s no “we” left for us to discuss.

But you can still signal a continued interest in seeing him, if that’s what you come to; give him enough room to form an answer without pressure; and conduct yourself with grace and self-respect regardless of how he responds.

Wherever you land on this, it’s okay to leave these friends/“friends” — the people accusing you, it seems, of chaos they themselves are creating — to figure things out for themselves.

Maybe they have calmed down and apologized by now — or they remain opposed. They don’t control you regardless — but also don’t let them surprise you. Expect their resistance to you to endure, and factor that into whatever choice you make.

Dear Carolyn: For the past 42 years, I have been happily married to a woman who is afraid to go to the doctor because she might find out something is wrong with her health. I have never been able to change her mind.

Now my wife is 68, and I can see her health deteriorating. When I confront her, we always fight and do not resolve anything.

Her closer friends are not capable of helping her. What should or can I do?

J.: Heartbreaking, I’m sorry.

Presumably she’d reject therapists as she does doctors? In that case, I urge you to get therapy yourself, solo — to find ways to help your wife, if there are any, or to find ways to accept it if there aren’t. Ask your own doctor for names.

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Newsrust: Carolyn Hax: Confidants say they don’t want her dating their relatives
Carolyn Hax: Confidants say they don’t want her dating their relatives
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