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My Scandinavian bridesmaid’s roommate is a creep

My Scandinavian bridesmaid’s roommate is a creep
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Cary’s classic column from

He screwed my 17-year-old sister on my wedding night, and threatened to have my kneecaps broken!


Dear Cary,

I live in a Scandinavian country. I moved here a little over a year ago to be with my love and recently got married. Despite the difficulties of being from a different culture we have made some close friends. I have particularly become close to one young woman, and we spend a lot of time together, have a lot in common, and have become such good friends that I asked her to be a bridesmaid in my wedding.

My family and many of my close friends from the U.S. came over to be in the wedding, including my little sister who is 17 years old. On the night of the wedding my sister met my new and dear Scandinavian friend’s best friend of many years. He is a very good-looking and smooth-talking guy and sleeps with a different woman every night; at the time he met my sister he had a girlfriend (whom he had already cheated on and would cheat on again). He and my sister made out (running off to corners, etc.) all night long. At the end of the night as we were all leaving, my sister came to tell me that she was going home with him and with my friend (they are roommates).

I knew what was going to happen, and at that moment it made me feel sick. The wedding had been so beautiful. My family and my husband’s family had bonded, and all of the love between our families, ourselves and our friends and guests felt overwhelming. At the end of this kind of night the fact that my underage (but hardly virginal) little sister was going home with a man I knew (and she knew as well) to be a complete shark just felt like a very bad thing. I went to this man and told him, “Don’t sleep with my sister!” I did it in a very firm way, maybe even aggressive, but I did not swear at him and I did not shout. (Nor was I drunk; I had felt so stressed and had so little sleep leading up to the wedding that I made a conscious decision to drink very little.) He told me that I was being dirty, so dirty that if his father ever saw me he would have to break my kneecaps. (Yes, he said that, and not in a joking voice trying to diffuse the situation, but in a very angry voice!) When he said this it felt a bit like I had been slapped. I was standing there in my long white gown, in my veil, and had been told that, and I just felt it was very much over the line. I walked away from him and did not talk to him again that evening.

The real problem, and the reason that I am writing to you, is that my new friend will not accept that I do not really like or want to be around her sharklike best friend. She is very close to both of us and feels that it is unacceptable that I do not like him. We have had several fights about this. I do not badmouth him to her, I do not try to convince her not to be friends with him. In fact when she wants to talk about him (which she does very, very often) I in no way show my basic dislike for his (what I consider) lacking character. And I have helped her analyze him and his very strange and privileged background.

She has been trying very hard to get us to become friends again. She has started bringing him over (twice during this last weekend) trying to get us to hang out together. When we do so, I am very friendly and frankly quite fake, and I really don’t want to hang out with him. In fact I would rather that my friend would not come over at all if she wants to hang out with him. His affectations, which didn’t do much for me before the falling out, are just ridiculous to me now. My husband doesn’t like him either.

However, I do feel very, very close to this friend. She has made life here so much easier for me, making me a part of her life in a way that few Scandinavians are willing to do (besides, of course, my husband). She and I love to sit and talk for hours about life and literature and politics. I really hate the fact that this could have an impact on a new and important relationship in my life. I also hate that she is trying to force me to be friends with this person. She has asked me several times, “But you like him again, right?” I have answered yes, because when I told her several weeks ago that I didn’t want to be friends with him and didn’t like him she became very angry with me. However, to me this issue is not going away as fast as she would like it to.

I can not figure out if this is my problem or her problem. I don’t want to lose someone whom I like so much, but I’m not sure how much longer I can hold my tongue.

Confused and Abroad

Cary Tennis Writing Retreat in France

Dear Confused and Abroad,

I think he did a terrible thing and you are quite right to despise him. What a despicable act! Not only to defy a bride’s wishes on her wedding day, to sleep with her sister against her clear entreaties, but to threaten her? To suggest that he’ll have her kneecaps broken? That is beyond the pale. I don’t see how you could expect to get over such treatment and come to be pals with this guy. You need to be true to yourself. I would not let him in the house again. If it means losing this friend, that is the price you have to pay for being true to yourself.

But perhaps it doesn’t mean losing this friend. If they are roommates, they will probably not be roommates forever. Your social circle in this Scandinavian country, I’m guessing, is fairly fluid; your friends are young and subject to changes in their living arrangements and their loyalties. So if you end up having a longtime friendship with this woman, she too may come to see that her friend is a jerk. In the meantime, you have been pretending; you have not been true to yourself, and that, I think, is destructive to you. I’m sure there are reasons — you are in a foreign country and you are grateful for the society of the natives, you don’t know if your standards are right or not. But the reasons do not seem sufficient. What this man did, it seems to me, showed great disrespect to you. I think you should stay away from him, and make it clear to your friend that, however much you like seeing her, you do not want to see him.

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6 Comments

  1. Based on the experience of a dear friend of mine I am guessing that the guy is an evil sociopath and that the bridesmaid has been emotionally threatened and bullied and is secretly terrified of this guy and feels a secret despair that she can never be rid of him–so she must pretend she adores him. The truth is no healthy person could like and embrace a person that dangerous. The letter writer might even want to approach her one day and say “do you feel secretly trapped in a crazy and frightening relationship with your roommate, but feel there is no way out of the friendship?” Then I would protect inform the bridesmaid that she feels menaced by the friend and genuinely puzzled by the bridesmaid’s desperate need for them to all be buddies: “but you like him again, right?” That sounds like a frightened and panicked question. Why does it matter to the bridesmaid so much? We all have friends who don’t particularly get along–so we don’t force it. There is something nasty and very wrong here and the letter writer’s instincts, like Cary’s, are correct.

  2. Cary’s response was gentle and firm. Mine is going to be more from a place of tough love from a caring stranger to a possibly very needy and very scared stranger.
    Why, in earth did you give up your homeland, any sense of security, and settle in a foreign land, whose customs seem to make you feel quite lonely and needy? So, you have interesting conversations with this so-called friend. She seems, via your description…uncaring of needs for basic respect and healthy boundaries. It sounds as though this culture, that you have chosen to move to…is bringing out more fear and insecurity in you.
    This louse who threatened to have your kneecaps broken? Is that OK with you? To hell what your husband thinks…you are getting some huge RED FLAG warnings!

    No disrespect intended, but you sound very young and naïve. You have given UP ALOT for this new husband. God forbid, if you would get into an accident that you could lose your mobility, or become very ill…is this woman friend your main source of nurturing…except for a husband that is surrounded by HIS support system…his friends and family?
    Perhaps you don’t really have a decent support system in your home country, and your whole family…including you…perhaps you have been taught just to look at the world through rose colored glasses, and that Everything will always work out fine. The real world does NOT work this way. Life is difficult. That is the first sentence, in Dr. F. Scott Peck’s book, THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED. I am not being a pessimist. Life is filled with ups and downs…some glorious experiences, some very unpleasant ones ,too. That is reality.
    If I were you…I would put this love to a test…in a big hurry.
    Is your husband willing to re-locate to the U.S. FOR YOU?

    The young think that they are immortal. Every generation is like that. I get a really queasy feeling in my gut, when I think of your situation. Consider going back to the U.S. and get some perspective. Some of us are not born into our true family…but to move away from basic cultural mores…could become very dangerous for you. None of us ever live in a real fairy tale. I think you got a wake-up call, that has frightened you to the core on many levels. Do not seek solace, where perhaps in times of true personal adversity, there will be none.
    None of us are immortal, no matter, what our age is. I don’t feel you can feel safe seeing a therapist in this country, who will truly get you.
    Your support system sounds/feels weak…both here in the U.S. and in this far away land. It feels like you have sold yourself out on many levels.
    There is good in thinking what could happen if things go sour for you, as well as what can go right.

    Come back to your home country for a visit, and seek sound advice…professional and otherwise. If your family can only look at the bright things in life…you were not taught balance and self-preservation. This is more than a woman friend trying to push you together with a sleaze bag for a friend. It goes much deeper than that, and I feel you know what I mean. Return to some familiarity, by means of your home culture, re-assess and find your inner compass. See if your husband will accommodate YOU. GOOD LUCK, and I sincerely hope you can see/sense the bigger picture…and not get talked into a sleepy state that feels safe, when, in reality, it isn’t. Heed your intuition about the BIG PICTURE of life in this very different culture, and PLEASE wake-up from your fairy tale! Ask yourself some hard, truth based questions and scenarios…and not ones with just happy endings. Get a good grip on yourself and your truth.

    • Ummm…she did say her husband doesn’t like this jerk either. I hope she did ban that guy from her house.

    • This response makes zero sense, just sayin…

      • haha@roubien milkman: i know for a second i thought it might be me. then i went back up and reread the letter and now i suspect nightqueen’s response is a creative writing project

  3. I would break his kneecaps to demonstrate my sincerity and to have a little fun; I’m from Chicago though, and maybe not all Americans would be so forthright

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