#1149: “We decided to leave our abusive ex and move to another state, only she came with us and is living on our couch?”

This letter contains emotional abuse of people, potential physical harm of animals (now stopped/interrupted/not ongoing/the animals are ok for now!, but still I know some people can’t safely read about that), and enough WHAT THE FUCK that you’ll need a comfy chair and a cold washcloth, at minimum.

If you want the teachable moment without reading the whole story, here it is: When a romantic partner wants you to do something that is terrible for you to make life easier for his ex-wife  the lady he’s very much still married to and choosing to prioritize, 1) SAY NO! 2) RUN AWAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY.

Dear Wise and Benevolent Captain Awkward,

So, I don’t know how to begin this, but I’ll get straight to the point. I was in a polyamorous relationship with a married couple. Around March-April, the wife started getting really possessive and controlling of how I lived my life, such as picking apart what I eat, putting the lid on conversations she didn’t want to talk about anymore, and threatening to throw me out multiple times. She also was very nasty to my dogs and they eventually started having behavior problems, which led me to suspect she was doing something to them while me and her husband were at work (their behavior problems eventually disappeared when I dropped them off at my folks). At the end of April/May, I broke it off with her, but I had developed feelings for her husband. Eventually, she found someone else online and was happy with him. She began a polyamorous relationship with them, but she started treating her husband the same way as me. Her husband had enough and decided to end the marriage altogether.

Around the time he began proceedings to file divorce, we began having problems with her dad’s family as they were renting us a house. However, the basement flooded and her family was refusing to provide us tools necessary to clean it up. They also began slacking on keeping the lawn mowed, which got me in a trouble at work since I worked for the city. Eventually, her ex-husband, now my fiancé, and I went to find jobs in another state and were successful. However, her dad’s family did not want her in the house while we went scouting for areas to live that would take large dogs and they wouldn’t take her in either. So, we decided not to leave her behind and take her with us.

During the moving process, my fiancé and I were the ones packing things and running boxes to storage as we were not able to take everything with us, only necessities. It was during this time that she had lost her 3rd job since I had moved in with them, stating she was in pain and had a hard time sitting up, taking phone calls for UHaul, but she also liked to play video games all night. I was aggravated because my fiancé was working two jobs in the same town I was and only bringing enough to pay for some utilities and groceries. She was the next largest check, followed by mine. I became saddled with all the costs of the move, including rent for the new place. Instead of helping us move boxes, her Dungeons and Dragons game became more important than making sure all our belongings were safe or coming with us. My fiancé and I made a storage run one night, only to find out when we came back that she had taken the liberty to pack all of her things in the SUV, leaving hardly room for necessities we needed for the new apartment, such as food, cookware, cleaning supplies, and clothes.

I told her to take the stuff out of the car as we needed to pack more kitchen wares, food, and cleaning supplies. She began yelling at me that she needed her art supplies and PS2 and games, when we had agreed we were taking the PS4. I raised my voice firmly and told her, food, cleaning supplies, and kitchen wares were more important than video games. The video games were going into storage as that is what we all had agreed upon, and it wasn’t changing. I also told her that since I was paying for everything related to the move, to ask if she could take something so that way we could plan for space, if it was possible. She got enraged with me, which forced my fiancé to step in and end the argument as best he could.

In the end, we brought some of her art supplies and PS2. We were forced to leave some food and kitchenware behind. Tired of her treating me like crap, my fiancé told her she had 6 months to find a place of her own or go to her mother’s, which is close to where we live now. She never paid her rental application fee and we couldn’t afford to pay for her rental application either. Since she wasn’t on the lease, she was placing us in jeopardy of losing the new place and damaging my status as a lessee with future rental companies, as I am the primary holder on the account. The rules my fiancé and I established would be followed until she found a job and started contributing to the bills and rent, then she would have a say. However, if she continued to treat us like crap, cause drama among our families, or refused to adhere to the rules, she would be kicked out. Since we were also paying for the move, we told her she was on her own regarding basic necessities, such as toiletries, food, etc. We were maxed out financially, and she had nearly used up all of my large Costco size bottles of shampoo and soap, which normally last me the entire year. If company came over, she was going to stay at her mother’s as both my fiancé’s family and my family do not like her and she would usually begin shouting matches with them. She could also have company over, provided she helped clean up the new apartment. She agreed to said rules.

So after her constantly bitching on the day move, fast forward to today and we are settled in the apartment. My parents stated that after my fiancé and I were done with training for our jobs, they would love to visit us and bring the dogs down as they are currently staying with them right now. I said sure and would keep them posted on dates as I would find out the training schedule in due time. However, our roommate began crying last night, stating that we were kicking her out early and not adhering to said agreement. I told her the agreement was still in effect, but as part of the agreement, if company came down, she had to stay at her mother’s, as we wanted to avoid drama and did not want our company to pay for a hotel. She felt that we were abandoning her. I told her that she had abandoned us in our time of need. We had left things behind just to bring her things to make her feel better. When we needed the extra financial help, she chose to play video games all night and not wake up on time for her job. She countered that she had insomnia and the beginnings of fibromyalgia, to which I said the doctor had not diagnosed you with those things, only her friends. She stated that if she had money, she would’ve gone seen a doctor. I told her to be more financially responsible with her money and not blow it on video games, so that she could take care of herself. And if she had taken care of herself, I wouldn’t be going to Costco for toiletries every 2 months. In the end, she stated, she wasn’t going to say anymore because she was afraid she would cause a big fight. I replied, if she began a shouting match and caused the tenants to call the mgmt. at the apts, she would need to leave asap or I would call the police if she refused. This got her even more upset and then she began blaming me that I was the reason we could not take all of her belongings and that we had to leave things behind because I was too lazy to help pack. I looked her and stated I was working 12 hour shifts up until we left so that we could afford just to get down here, since you left me hanging when you got fired for not showing up on time at UHaul.

I am trying to establish boundaries so that everyone has space. Also, I am trying to establish limits so that my fiancé and I are not literally drowning in debt and she can begin relying on herself financially. I am behind on my bills and I cannot feed/provide for a third mouth anymore. Also, my fiancé and her are still married as they just filed for divorce today. He is afraid she will trying to press charges of abandonment against him if he just kicks her out (We live in TN, I don’t know if that helps). I just want this drama to end and I don’t know what to do. I’m also afraid that if she is still here when the dogs come home, their behavior problems will start again and I don’t want to put them through that. If you could provide any advice, it would be most appreciated.

Sincerely yours,

I can haz break, yesh? No???? Dammnit…


There is…a lot…to process here but I also want to mark down for posterity the sentence where my body temperature dropped a noticeable amount of degrees and strange involuntary sounds started coming out of my mouth:

“So, we decided not to leave her behind and take her with us.”

Fifty years from now when you tell people this story, this is the sentence that will still freeze entire rooms. You’ll be able to hear a pin drop. All the arm and neck hairs on all the people in earshot will suddenly stand on end.

There is the problem where your ex-girlfriend/your fiancé’s current wife is abusive, and there is also the problem where your fiancé can’t say no to this lady and you can’t say no to him.Whatever good qualities your man has, and however much he is also a victim of this lady’s emotional abuse, this man looked you in the eye and told you that the woman who routinely treated you like shit & who HURT YOUR DOGS was going to a) be coming with you into your new life and b) you would be paying all the bills for that.

Is it warm in here? What day is it? I feel faint.

I call BULLSHIT 100% on the idea that this was even close to the only choice she or any of you had. Doesn’t she have a fake-mom nearby that she fake-plans to move in with if she can’t fake-find a new apartment in 6 months? (She never intends to actually leave. You know this, right? You will need lawyers, plural, and probably cops, plural to get her and her PS2 games, plural all the way out). When faced with a breakup, she made her housing the problem of the dude who is divorcing her, and, instead of saying “Nope!” he made it your problem. (Worst game of hot potato ever). And instead of telling him “Nope!” and walking away, you negotiated with the lady who used to threaten to kick you out of her home on the regular over how much of her shit gets to fit in the getaway car and how much of your shit has to be left behind. Your fiancé/her husband watched this negotiation unfold and at NO time did he say “Hey, this was a terrible idea! Let’s scrap this whole plan.” No, he only stepped in when voices were raised. What a gem.

Your dude needs to make a safety plan. He needs to hire a lawyer or lawyers, plural, in Tennessee who understand divorce and landlord-tenant law so that he can legally and safely sever all ties with this lady, and then (more importantly) he needs to listen to that lawyer who will almost certainly have instructions for boundary-setting. Here’s a directory of divorce related legal aid services by county in Tennessee. He also probably needs a lot of counseling and support and time to learn & practice the words “Where you stay from now on is not my problem, direct all communication to my attorney from now on” until they stick. He is not ready to have custody of a rock garden, never mind propose and plan a marriage to a fellow human being. He’s still too intertwined with her to be a good partner to you, and all the love for him you have can’t change that.

As for the dogs returning, I wouldn’t leave a tea towel of mine with this lady while I stepped out of the room to take a shit and expect it to be in once piece when I got back. We know that someone who will hurt animals is very likely to also harm people. They can’t ever be in a place she has access to them again. If they’re safe at your parents’ place, they should stay there indefinitely. If your parents can’t keep them long-term, re-home them with somebody who isn’t connected to this lady. If you are even considering bringing them back to a place that has her in it, then you are doing to them what your fiancé is doing to you: Letting magical thinking and a refusal to draw a line put someone you love in terrible danger.

You want the drama to to end, so end it! Control the part you can control, and get yourself away from this doomed household. I know you don’t want to abandon him to her or for it to seem like she is “winning,” but she’s shown you that she will break every promise and cross every line and he’s shown you that he cannot be trusted to take care of your safety or your happiness if it means having to stand up to her. Let him deal with his shitty roommate problem that he enabled. The situation may change with some time, but you can’t plan your life around that change or bet your safety on that change. Please, tell this guy that you can’t rescue him or put up with this lady in your life one minute longer. Show him what it means to actually leave a situation that is not working. Then,

  1. Pack what you can salvage of your stuff,
  2. Move in with your folks and your sweet dogs for a while,
  3. Don’t tell any of these people where that is,
  4. Get some counseling,
  5. Take all the time in the world to restore whatever can be salvaged of your credit score, your sense of boundaries, and self-preservation.

I wish you luck, and strength, and resolve, and safety, and many miles and years between you and this situation. This is not the only man in the world. This is not the only apartment in the world. You deserve so much better.

P.S. I’m not hosting a comment thread. LOLOLOLsobsobsob Just imagine hundreds of people screaming “RUN AWAY” in unison while also laughing and crying and you’ve about got it.