My friend recently got engaged. While I’m happy for her, I’m conflicted about something that she shared with me about a year ago.
Before she started dating her fiancé, she had a torrid short-term relationship with one of his brothers, during which she served as his sexual plaything.
Her fiancé has no knowledge of their affair.
During family functions the brother (now married) makes inappropriate gestures to my friend, laughs in her direction, clearly mocking her.
My conflict is this: Should I tell her fiancé about what happened with his brother? I’d hate for the marriage to go ahead and then be ruined later if all this comes out.
Doesn’t the fiancé have the right to know what went down before deciding to marry this girl?
The clear answer here is Yes and No.
Yes, the fiancé has a right to know about his future wife’s torrid past relationship with his brother.
No, you should not be the one to tell him. You don’t describe him as being your very close friend whom you must protect.
And, if you have a personal interest in wishing to save him from a disastrous marriage, being the bearer of such sordid bad news won’t endear you to him, even if he breaks the engagement.
The truly nasty person in this story is the brother. Sure, the sister was his willing “plaything” for a short while, but now she’s undoubtedly terrified that her former lover will reveal their affair.
He already comes close to it by mocking her in front of family.
She is the person you should talk to, the person you call a friend.
She needs to summon her courage to tell her fiancé the truth. It happened before they started dating. She can honestly insist that she didn’t cheat on him.
But she’s cheating herself, since she suffers in silence when the brother goads her and she fears exposure.
Be a true friend. Urge her to speak up. Better that she tell the story rather than have the brother do so first, doubtless putting all blame on her.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding when adult children react uncomfortably (or badly) to their parents’ new relationships (August 12):
“My second husband, some 20 years senior, had adult children who were much older than my son and daughter.
“But for many years following our marriage, they didn’t hesitate to let me know that I was going to be “the outsider” and they’d be showing little interest in our family life.
“Because my husband was very strong in our relationship, he never hesitated to correct a statement and/or refuse an invitation from them to their home, if not convenient and/or did not include both or all of us.
“Also, my mother, widowed at age 45, remarried four years later.
“At the time of her marriage, her husband’s three children were estranged because of a previous relationship their father had been in following divorce from his wife (his children’s mother).
“Within a few years, because of my mother’s efforts on her husband’s behalf, all three children became good friends to both of them.
“Many years later, after her second husband died, my mother remarried again and the third relationship was with a close relative of our father.
“We were very happy for both of these two lonely people to be together and, because our step-father hadn’t had children, we enjoyed a “happy parent relationship” with him.”
FEEDBACK Regarding your response to the letter-writer who went silent when her friend confided having multiple sex partners (August 13):
Reader – “I felt you blamed her for not holding a parade. Every truthful response these days is, instead, lectured upon or instantly shamed.
“Her friend’s behavior, albeit her business, is risky and dangerous, during Covid or no Covid.
“We make excuses for life choices rather than facing difficulties head on. Here, you make the excuses for her. The conversation on heady topics such as this one seemed so lopsided.”
Ellie - My response was less directed to dealing with her friend’s polyamorous relationship, because the writer’s question to me was about her longtime friend’s hurtful distancing from her.
I have addressed polyamory many times when readers have raised it, and again in this response too, when I, like you, stressed the risks of infection being greater from sexual activity with multiple partners, Covid or no Covid.
Tip of the day:
Helping a friend summon courage to reveal facts that could end her engagement, is kindness. Revealing her story yourself is gossiping.