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Quaternary 04-21-2011 12:13 PM

Sad Puppy - Halp!
Hi, I'm Quaternary, sorry to introduce myself with a sad puppy post. I'm monogamous for now; my husband, Rho, has a couple of longterm girlfriends, Sigma and Pi. There's been all sorts of trouble in the past, but me and Pi get along pretty well these days. Sigma and Pi were introduced to each other by Rho, and also dated each other for a while, but ended up breaking up with each other after a while. Both are still seeing Rho. Both Sigma and Pi have husbands of their own who know about their other relationships.

The problem is, me and Sigma do NOT get along at all, and have not for a long time. I thought we were making some progress in working things out, but when Rho and me announced our wedding date to her several months ago (we're married now) - Sigma took it very, very badly, saying it would ruin her life, she thought that we were horrible for each other, she said everybody she knows would think it was horrible, et cetera. (Sigma had known since the beginning that Rho and I were domestic/primary partners, and engaged; we simply hadn't set a date until last year.) After that she pointedly stopped communicating with me completely. We have exchanged nothing but small talk at a very small number of gatherings of mutual friends since then. I generally greet her when I see her, but I do not dare attempt to reestablish any sort of meaningful direct contact with her beyond that. If I do, past experience tells me that she will most likely respond either aggressively by chewing me out and sending nasty emails or texts, or passive-aggressively, by posting things online or otherwise spreading rumors amongst mutual friends. But, even if I do nothing, there will be social consequences. There have been multiple occasions where she has told people (including my husband) not to invite me to events, and/or threatened loudly and at length to leave if I showed up.

I feel really hurt at her past actions, and I am intensely uncomfortable with this situation. I don't want her to lose time with her friends, but this is a situation she is willfully creating and I'm not okay with missing out on time my own friends simply because they're her friends too. I'm also scared of being blamed by mutual friends who don't know the whole situation. I'm scared of her making it look like I was making threats, like I was issuing ultimatums about who got to go to what party - when it's the other way around.

I don't know what to do with this mess. Sigma doesn't acknowledge me as any sort of legitimate partner for my husband, much less as a domestic partner or wife. I feel dehumanized by her in almost every interaction I have with her. I love my husband very much, and I know he loves both me and Sigma (and Pi!) very much, but with all the past history there is, when I feel Sigma start pulling social strings, I have panic attacks. I can't deal with this. I feel like the victim of a junior high school bully even though we're all adults. I've spoken with my husband about these problems before, and how it has long since reached the point of harming my physical health (have experienced shakes, racing heartbeat, fevers, headaches, and exhaustion, to the point of having lost time from work because of it), but there isn't much of anything he is willing to do. He seems to feel completely powerless to solve this, and he completely shuts down when I try to talk to him about it any further. He is uncommonly affectionate, loving, and supporting in most other facets of life. But, I can't so much as get a few kind words from him if he knows I'm upset about how Sigma is treating me, no matter to what degree or in what manner I express it. It's like he becomes a completely different person. There has been talk of us all meeting together with me and Rho's therapist, but I have no idea if/when it will actually happen. I have no idea whether or not it will actually help.

What do I even do with this mess? I want everybody to be happy but I don't have some special power to make it happen without anybody else's input or support. I am tired of being pushed around and every option I look at, I'll be under intense pressure of some kind or another. Could use every kind of advice.


AutumnalTone 04-21-2011 06:13 PM

Ignore her. Seriously. Live your life and schedule your social engagements as you see fit without considering her at all. Mutual friends, if they know you well at all, aren't going to blame you for what she does and any lies she tells them will be revealed soon enough.

Now, that's easier said than done. You may benefit from seeing a therapist by yourself, just to settle your issues.

As for Rho going spineless in the face of the problem with Signma, that's an issue you need to take up with him and not allow him to avoid it. If he is enabling bad behavior on her part, it is his problem, too, and you can call him on his part in it. You can only decide what you are going to do, however, whatever his response. So decide what course of action you're going to take and take it--he can come along or not.

MonoVCPHG 04-21-2011 07:16 PM


Originally Posted by AutumnalTone (Post 77574)
As for Rho going spineless in the face of the problem with Signma, that's an issue you need to take up with him and not allow him to avoid it. If he is enabling bad behavior on her part, it is his problem, too, and you can call him on his part in it.

This ^

I don't care how "in love" you are with some one...there is no excuse for letting a loved one be treated with disrespect by another partner. It's time for your husband to stick up for his wife IMO. For whatever reason, you guys got married - to me that sets a precedent of being the primary couple with greater impact across a broader spectrum. Time for him to start looking after the health of his primary relationship.

redpepper 04-22-2011 12:55 AM

Can't agree more with AT and Mono. Ignore her. Spend your time with those you like and treat you with respect and ignore the others. Make sure you have some clear boundaries that you don't want to see her, have her at the house or have any part in her life. You never know, in time she will either be less interesting to him and move on; it could be unappealing for him to have her separate from the rest of his life, or, she could come around and reach out to you. It might be an idea to make sure she knows that option can be open in the future if she requests it.

Quaternary 04-22-2011 07:14 AM

Thanks for your responses! I don't have a lot of people IRL I can talk to about our relationships and I really appreciate y'all taking the time to write to me.

Unfortunately, never seeing Sigma at all is not a very realistic option; we both belong to some of the same clubs and volunteer organizations independently of each other and it is not possible to go to regular meetings and social events without seeing each other there from time to time. I'm not willing to give up my own involvement in those groups to please her, and I can't expect her to stop showing up to please me. It's especially rough for me in that I've only lived in this area for a few years, grew up in a completely different part of the country, and she's lived here all her life. Most of our mutual friends have known her longer than they have known me. The various organizations I belong to here are an extremely important part of my social life and losing half of them in order to avoid her would be absolutely terrible.

Rho and I already have an agreement not to bring other partners over to our place without each other's permission, thankfully.

I spoke with Rho at some length tonight about all this stuff. We weren't able to decide on much but at least he really seemed to be listening this time. Tough stuff is a lot easier to bear when it isn't compounded with feeling unheard by a significant other.

BlackUnicorn 04-22-2011 08:13 AM

Hi and so sorry to hear about your situation!

Sigma seems to have some serious cowgirlish tendencies. How does she get along with Pi? How does her husband feel about you? What does Pi think about all this?

Starting to avoid social situations where she will be present is not the solution, it will just give her one over you, like you and everyone whose posted already pointed out. How about having a safe person to go to these gatherings with, who can support you if she starts acting out? Or very simply stating, if the abuse is about to start, that she has no right to say those things to you, and you will need to ask her to leave if she can't behave in a civil manner towards you? If the texts start flooding, NEVER answer! Turn off your phone and delete them without reading.

nycindie 04-22-2011 08:49 AM


Originally Posted by Quaternary (Post 77671)
Unfortunately, never seeing Sigma at all is not a very realistic option . . .

I don't think that anyone who said to ignore her meant to hide out and avoid going where she goes. They meant ignore her.

You can still go to these places but your owe her nothing. Trying to adjust your life to accommodate her nastiness means she's already won. It's difficult, but you can just simply go about your business with head held high, knowing you didn't do anything wrong, and just don't even give her the time of day. She sounds like someone who is mentally unstable. Cultivate your own friendships and interests, and forget about her tantrums.

Ever go to a restaurant with someone and get annoyed by some loud person sitting at another table nearby? You can't even concentrate on your conversation because they're so loud and obnoxious, right? You're ready to throw something at them. But eventually, you pay attention to the person across from you because they're more important. You're involved in selecting your meal, you enjoy the food, the conversation. You engage in the things and people that matter, and live in the moment. At some point, you look over toward that other table and discover, much to your surprise, that those obnoxious people left a long time ago, someone else is sitting there, and you didn't even notice them leave! Something that you thought you just couldn't get past didn't affect you because you paid it no mind and, instead, redirected your focus.

DON'T let her idiocy eat at you and create such anxiety for you, even in your private moments. There's a saying, "why let someone live rent-free inside your head?" Now, I don't mean you should outright snub her, just don't pay her any credence. If she sees she has an effect on you, she feels some small (lame) victory at your expense. Why should her not acknowledging you as Rho's wife have any bearing on your life? You are his wife. You don't need her to acknowledge that, you've got the relationship and piece of paper. If she has a husband, and yet insists on living in such a stupid, childish, and nasty fantasy, well, maybe she needs some serious psychological help and Rho should examine whether or not he really wants someone like that in his life. As for you, just train yourself to redirect your focus. It does work!

Quaternary 04-22-2011 08:59 AM

Thank you for the sympathy, BlackUnicorn.

Sigma and Pi have a tumultuous relationship. To my knowledge, they sometimes enjoy each other's company but Pi gets very frustrated with Sigma's behavior too at times. Both Sigma and Pi have some lingering issues with each other regarding who gets Rho's time and attention when. Pi lives out of town and wants a lot of attention when she's in town (which is only maybe once or twice a month, aside from special occasions), Sigma is able to see Rho once or twice a week in addition to any friendly gatherings they both end up at. Both are highly active online and get frustrated with Rho if they feel they aren't getting enough time with him chatting online on a daily basis. Putting off one to concentrate on talking to the other is always a powder-keg waiting to blow. Weekend large-group social events where me, Sigma, Pi, and Rho are all present are an easy way to get the drama going.

Sigma isn't calling or texting or emailing me at all anymore, good or bad; if I initiate contact with her for any reason, she will probably resume, most likely with bonus negativity for messing up her apparent coping method of pretending I don't exist. What she is continuing to do that I have a problem with is channeling all relationship drama into constant and repeated texting to my husband and/or mutual friends (often including Pi). It's much easier for her to say awful things in writing than to anyone's face. She has rarely SAID much directly to me that was pointedly abusive aloud and in person, it's that she says things behind my back all of the time, and when she's in touch with me, writes nasty things directly to me some of the time.

I'm not sure who I can turn to at most of these events other than Rho, and sometimes Pi. I'm scared of dragging in mutual friends who are already tired of how Sigma is acting and don't want to have anything to do with it at all, since they're at these events for fun and this drama show is pretty pointedly the opposite of fun. Rho gets upset when Sigma does tons and tons of this stuff in short order, but usually the main result is for Sigma to get hours of his attention as he tries to calm her down, and for Rho to get defensive in turn if I complain about it myself. I could turn to Pi in an acute emotional emergency and she would understand what I was going through but we're not so close that I feel comfortable asking for her aid in dealing with Sigma on a regular basis. :-/

BlackUnicorn 04-22-2011 09:18 AM

Hmm, a tough situation, although it doesn't have to be. But Sigma it seems has Rho pretty much where she wants him, in that she gets the attention and affection she needs with pulling the stunts she does. Is this relationship so important to Rho that he is willing to risk alienating both his wife, his friends and his other love Pi to accommodate Sigma?

She has her own baggage to deal with, but with everyone else, especially Rho, dancing to her tune and catering to her insecurities, she doesn't have to do the work required to start unpacking that.

Is it possible to get Rho on this board to explain why this woman has him so under her spell? As things now stand, I don't see any reason for Sigma to change her behavior any time soon.

nycindie 04-22-2011 09:23 AM


Originally Posted by BlackUnicorn (Post 77680)
Is it possible to get Rho on this board to explain why this woman has him so under her spell?

I was going to say something similar - maybe if he visits here and talks about it, sees your position, writes about his, and gets some new input from this community, it might do some good. Personally, I don't understand why anyone would put up with such bullshit and let others he loves suffer because of a very toxic individual he feels he must placate. No one is that good in bed!

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