Dear Chump Lady,
I found your blog recently and have been reading all about ego kibbles and cake and chumps, because of a fucked up situation that recently came to light and is wreaking havoc in my life. I’m hoping you can help someone who isn’t a chump, but is currently being affected by a massive amount of cheating, gaslighting, and the works.
My fiance’s friend group is unhealthy, and has been since he and I met two years ago, but now it’s insane and unhealthy and falling apart. When I met him, he was living in a big house with two other married couples, and there were two more couples in their friend’s group (8 people plus my fiance). He moved out last year to get an apartment with me (yay!). Since we started our relationship, all four married couples have split up, all four due to cheating, and in the two most recent breakups (last week), one person from each remaining couple was cheating with each other. EACH OTHER.
I. Can’t. Handle. It. The cheating people also bullied their spouses into accepting open marriages to avoid feeling guilty. The whole past year this has been going on in secret. My fiance’s four closest friends. For about six months, they’ve been ignoring him and leaving him out of things while they run around, turning down all his invitations to get together. They’ve been completely unavailable to him, but NOW that everything’s come out and there’s disaster everywhere, all the cheating folks keep popping up and asking to talk with him. “OH I NEEEEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE. Let me pour insanity into your ear about how my childhood was so awful and I cheated without thinking about it (with my childhood best friend’s spouse, for a year) and now I want to hurt myself, and I demand you be available to me whenever because you’re my good friend, right? I know I ignored you for months, but you see now why I couldn’t talk to you then, right?”
These people have also been superior, snobby, and exclusionary the entire time of our relationship, giving him unsolicited relationship advice as well as treating me as though I wasn’t there. They never accepted me (I know this isn’t the point, but I spent a long time agonizing over what was wrong with me, finally going to a therapist and coming to terms with the fact that it wasn’t me). They went so far as to tell my fiance that marriage sucks and his friends are his “mirror” and he should listen to them, etc etc, and that I don’t “push” him enough. I never got comfortable with them, and even though I tried to get to know them each individually, they only ever wanted to socialize as a big group. Eventually, I stopped joining my fiance when he went to see them.
Luckily, he and I have worked to build a good relationship. We went through couples therapy for months to prepare for marriage, and a lot of that time was spent talking about his friends and why they treated me and our relationship like they do. He now sees their behavior as strange and unwarranted, thank God. We’re getting married in November and these folks were supposed to BE in the wedding, but he’s trying not to take sides. I’m having a hard time stomaching that, as well as their constantly filling his head for hours with tales of their infidelity and woe. I know I’m letting myself be affected by their past shitty behavior to us as we got closer together. He is crushed by this revelation of their characters, as he grew up idolizing these people (they’re a few years older). We’re going back to counseling over this, and I’m just SO ANGRY. It’s taken so long for him to create healthy boundaries with these people, and they have found a delightful new way to fuck with him.
I guess what I want to know is, how can I be a support for my fiance and what can I say to him? For obvious reasons, he can only talk to one of them at a time, and he is determined to be there to talk whenever any of them ask. This is very trying. I’m trying to understand this. Thank you. And thanks for being a voice of reason amid insanity!
Civilian Casualty Bride
The problem isn’t your fiancé’s friends — it’s your fiancé. Look, that pack of hyenas he calls “friends” are narcissistic fuckwads. Why he doesn’t toss the whole lot of them says a lot about HIM.
You’re asking me how you can be supportive of your fiancé while he supports wah-wah crybaby cheaters who phone him up at all hours? Not gonna do it, CCB.
Ask yourself — if you were a cheater and you wanted some kibbles of “There, there, you poor sausage, what you did wasn’t so bad” — who would you call? A Catholic nun? Someone who would tell you you’re an asshole? Someone who wouldn’t pick up the phone? Or would you call someone you suspect won’t call you on your shit. Who, you suspect, adheres to the same crap values you have?
At best your fiancé is a spineless dude who has poor judgement in friends and won’t set boundaries. He’s just a big pussy kibble dispenser. At worst, he’s someone who’s okay with cheating. It’s all a big whatever to him.
Unfortunately, you’ve given me some evidence of the latter when you wrote “he doesn’t want to take sides.”
There’s a red flag! But before I launch into my Jerks Who Want to be “Neutral” sermon, let’s take a moment to reflect on your fiancé’s other acts of shittiness.
1) He didn’t distance himself from his friends when they were cold and unwelcoming to you. I believe the terms you used were “superior, snobby, and exclusionary.” They excluded you and he went along with that. Worse, when you wouldn’t tag along, he went without you.
I’m not saying you have to be glued to the hip with your boyfriend. Or that you both can’t have other friends outside the relationship. Or that you have to do everything together. That’s not the point. The point is — they were rude to you. They slighted you and let you know you weren’t cool enough to hang with them — and THAT didn’t make your fiancé question his judgement about them. No, he hung on and got his nose out of joint later when he kept calling them to do things, and they were too busy banging each other.
So not only did he not put distance there — he chased them. I really don’t know how else to interpret that other than hanging with the cool kids means more to him than your feelings do.
2) The hyenas gave him unsolicited relationship advice that was negative about your commitment and you. Did he shut that shit down? No, apparently he told you about it. They are his “mirror”? WTF? Is he no one unless his friends tell him who he is? Maybe that’s one for the spineless pussy column. He is sharing his joyful news of engagement with these people and their reaction is to tell him how much marriage sucks? And it never occurs to him that he needs a better class of friends? Way to revel in his happiness, there. Friendship FAIL.
Then the moment comes when he is shocked! just shocked! that’s they’re all a bunch of cheaters.
He’s so shocked and upset that….
… he keeps taking their phone calls.
He is so “crushed by these revelations of their character” that…
… he doesn’t want to take sides. They’re still in the wedding. And you’re supposed to go along with that.
Oh yeah, I can smell the stern disapproval from way over here in Texas.
Here is where I launch into my Jerks Who Want to Be Neutral sermon.
Somewhere in this clusterfuck, CCB, are some chumps. Unless every single one went along with the open marriage gig, someone got grievously played. Their marriage fell apart. They’re shattered. And their “friend” there, Mr. Switzerland, would like everyone to act like it never happened. Just show up for my wedding. Let’s be cool and hang out again like we used to! He’s not going to judge. Apparently he’s not judging when they call, which is why they keep calling back. All the kibbles! None of the judgement! Everyone gets to stay friends!
Why isn’t he going to judge? Because he’s got shit for values. His attachment to these people isn’t that deep. He wants whatever sparkle they can confer, he isn’t really invested in who hurt whom. His heart isn’t breaking for the person(s) who got betrayed. No, he’s conferring comfort and kibbles to the cheaters that betrayed them. Because he doesn’t want to Take Sides.
But he’s taking a side. He just doesn’t want to be called on it. He’s still with the cheaters. His actions say What You Did Wasn’t That Bad That I Still Won’t Be Your Friend.
Hell, you can be in my wedding!
And isn’t THAT rich? Yeah, come celebrate my day of monogamy and commitment! Let’s have people in the wedding party who are on record with how much “marriage sucks.” And who didn’t keep their vows themselves.
THIS is who he chooses. THIS says a lot about your fiancé.
And here is where I tell you what you probably don’t to hear as you’re neck deep in wedding prep. This guy isn’t marriage material. He’s not ready for marriage. He doesn’t know himself and he can’t stick up for what he believes in (assuming he even knows what he believes in). And I’m not sure he’s going to figure it out in 8 weeks.
And you’re taking an enormous risk marrying a guy who keeps company with a nest of cheaters.
You can throw a lot of counseling at this, and good luck with that, but the best shrink in the world can’t give your fiancé a character transplant. The best I can say about your fiancé is that he’s immature and spineless. Ask the folks here how it worked out for them marrying someone whose values didn’t align with theirs. Who were on different pages when it came to monogamy and loyalty.
But his love for you will transcend all that! He’ll get his shit together and leave these losers!
I don’t see any evidence of that. He loves you… and he still picks up that phone.
Please give this marriage thing some more thought. (((Hugs)))
— Chump Lady