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My formerly sweet neighbor is freaking me out a little. Help!
January 30, 2010 1:01 AM   Subscribe

How do I tell my insecure older neighbor that I’m not having a fling with her husband?

My husband and I (mid-40s) live next door to Bill and Rita, a married couple in their mid-60s. When we moved here six years ago, they were extremely welcoming. We’ve been in each other’s homes and hung out together quite a few times -- they even have our spare keys. We’ve lovingly called them the perfect neighbors. Bill is pretty mellow and avuncular; Rita is more reserved, but still friendly and warm.

Because Bill and Rita have lived here for decades, I asked them about the history of our neighborhood. Bill told me some great tales and dug out newspaper clippings and photos. Because I help run a local history group, I added Bill – with his blessing – to the mailing list, so he got four or five e-mails a year detailing various events and discoveries.

If Bill came over alone (for example, dropping off lemons from their tree), Rita would phone after 15 minutes or so. He would laugh this off and say, “She likes to keep me on a short leash.” When my husband and Bill went to an early-evening party together, Rita called Bill several times to tell him to come home.

About a month ago, Rita e-mailed me out of the blue: “Please advise on the cost of a subscription to [the local neighborhood newspaper] so you don’t have to waste your time sending these emails. Your neighbor, Rita.”

I was puzzled and a little bit freaked out. Then my husband told me that when he had been out with Bill the week before, Bill had mentioned that Rita had gone through his email and saw a couple of messages from the history listserv. She went ballistic and accused him of having an affair or cybersex, and would not be convinced that the email address belonged to vickyverky next door, despite the clearly innocuous subject matter. Bill said that Rita’s first husband had another woman, house, and kids, who he hid for years – and that she was very possessive as a result.

If it isn’t obvious, I’m definitely not having an affair with Bill, and I don’t like feeling that Rita is suspicious of me when she has no reason to be. She is quite the archetypal sweet little older lady, so I don’t feel threatened or in danger – but I don’t like feeling that there is resentment coming from next door.

I told our former downstairs neighbor, who had been just as friendly with Bill and Rita. She told me that one day, she had asked Bill to help her move some planters in the backyard. Bill did so, but asked her not to tell Rita, because she would be angry at him for going into the home of a single woman. (Again, absolutely nothing untoward happened or was even hinted at.)

Part of me thinks this is Rita’s problem and that I should just keep out of it, but another part of me wants to try to figure out a solution. My husband offered to talk with Bill, but the opportunity hasn’t come up yet.

We haven’t seen either of them since, but that isn’t deliberate – just the holidays, bad weather, etc. So far, I’ve ignored Rita’s email, but I’d appreciate some advice on what to do and/or say -- or not say.

And is it even an issue that Rita is emailing me from Bill's account? I'm tempted to say that I'll take Bill off the mailing list if he asks me to, but I don't think it's her place to tell me.
posted by vickyverky to Human Relations (39 answers total)
 
It's not about you, and I'd do the minimal possible. If she wasn't being insecure about you and Bill she'd be channelling her energies somewhere else.

If she persists, I'd politely tell her that you find it quite insulting that she thinks you would cheat on your husband and leave it at that.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:46 AM on January 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Part of me thinks this is Rita’s problem and that I should just keep out of it

I think that's your wise part. Take its advice.
posted by flabdablet at 1:52 AM on January 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm inclined to agree with MuffinMan and flabdablet.

It must be terribly uncomfortable to be in your shoes, but it sounds like her distorted outlook has been in place a very long time, and her husband is well aware of it.

Since she's not being reasonable, I don't think that anything you say will help, since it's my very strong impression that she can't be reasoned with or even reassured.

I think that any unnecessary discussion of the issue with her will only add fuel to the fire.

It's so sad when what seemed like a very nice, neighborly relationship turns out be something that never really was what you thought it was. It must be extremely unsettling, to say the least.

One last caveat: if I were in your shoes, I would change my locks ASAP, and trust my keys only to those who have proven their trustworthiness. Unfortunately, this couple has knocked themselves out of that category.

I see no reason to remove her husband from your listserv.

Best to you in coping what has added up to a stressful situation. Once you have decide on your new approach this couple, I would do my best to put my energy into the very places that you thought you were putting it before: in fulfilling activities and relationships.
posted by SociologistTina at 2:09 AM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sometimes it's better to be diplomatic and back down than to convince someone you're right. Especially when that other person is your neighbor.
This is Rita's problem and you should just keep out of it.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:29 AM on January 30, 2010


This happened to a friend of mine's father. Very similar. It ended up that he went from jealous husband to paranoid delusions about his wife's apparent infidelities slowly and subtly.

It was the beginning of a slow decline in to dementia and he ended up on psychosis medication... which his doctor told him was for something else or he wouldn't have taken it.

If it hadn't been so bizarre and impossible and ridiculous, it might not have been picked up.

Perhaps your husband could suggest to Bill that he have a chat with his family doctor about Rita. Part of this may be organic.

I did notice that she is young for dementia, and that it has been happening for some time... but it's still possible. And my friend's dad had no other apparent symptoms. Which made it hard for it to be diagnosed. A geriatric psychiatrist had to diagnose it... after a very distressing time for his wife and daughter (my best friend).

I've seen him and talked with him at length (both prior to and post diagnosis and medication) and would never have guessed in a million years that he had any serious cognitive deficits.

I hope it's not that. But it's something Bill should consider. Best of luck.
posted by taff at 2:55 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is really Bill's issue to deal with, and I suspect he's been dealing with it for a number of years. Live your life, there's nothing you can do to fix this. And, I suspect that anything you attempt to do will be twisted and blow up in your face...
posted by HuronBob at 4:11 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


My mother is about Rita's age. Phrases like "please advise" etc. are passive-aggressive watchwords that tell you she's got an idea in her head and nothing you tell her is going to change her mind. I would simply change the locks and withdraw, because no matter what you say or do, Rita will have a fit. If it really becomes an aggressive problem, your husband initiating a man to man with Rita's husband might help - if it's done in a tacit and indirect way. In my mother's case, Mad Men has given me great insights into her character. The way those characters approach conflict may be what you have to do with your neighbor to get anywhere.
posted by medea42 at 5:00 AM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Get those keys back as soon as possible. Preferably through Bill so as to avoid confrontation that would go nowhere.
posted by ZaneJ. at 5:44 AM on January 30, 2010


They're an older couple, she doesn't want you sending emails, and the length of your post about this easily solvable situation indicates you are way too involved with this couple. If his wife asks you to take him off the list, then take him off the list and quit putting him in a compromising position. She's older, she may be stressed or showing signs of dementia, or some kind of mental illness and I don't see what you get out of meddling in their affairs and deciding what Rita can ask you and ask you not to do. It's just a lame listserv.

She doesn't like you and she doesn't have to like you for any reason. You're creating a lot of unnecessary drama. In your dealings with Bill and Rita, just deal directly with Rita and avoid Bill all together. She's an older lady and you don't know what her mental deal is, so don't continue stressing and aggravating her.
posted by anniecat at 5:59 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


All this talk about dementia, concerning a woman in her mid-60s, is a bit ridiculous I think. She's jealous and possessive. If that's a sign of dementia, it starts at about 12.
posted by crazylegs at 6:19 AM on January 30, 2010 [15 favorites]


She doesn't believe that the email address really IS you. She's upset that there is a mystery woman sending her husband emails. That's why she wrote--to determine if there is a mystery internet woman, and if so, to assert her territory. When someone gets hold of a paranoid idea like this they tend to be pretty convinced about it, in which case you're not involved except as a bizarre cover for his online perfidy.

Respond, already, so that she knows it's you! Tell her that there is no paper version of the mailing list and that it's no trouble, you send it to [x] number of people. Make it clear in the email that it's you. Then find an excuse to call Rita. When you're on the phone mention the email to Rita. This will assuage her fear that Bill is simply feeding a mistress details about her life in order to pretend to be you.

So here's a recap:
1. Email Rita back with details proving that it's you.
2. Call Rita and further verify that the email is from you.
3. Wait to see what Rita does next.
4. In the meantime, try to assume the best about Rita, an older person who might not understand email well and who has suffered a horrendous betrayal that affects her today.
5. If she's still whack about it a couple of weeks from now, yeah, maybe get upset.
posted by kathrineg at 6:21 AM on January 30, 2010 [25 favorites]


She's not THAT old, for crying out loud.
"Bill said that Rita’s first husband had another woman, house, and kids, who he hid for years."
She's paranoid, but for a seemingly good reason. It would be hard to move past that kind of betrayal. I like what MuffinMan suggested, if the time is right tell her that you would never cheat on your husband (maybe leave out the "insulted" part). Don't even mention Bill. If feel bad for Rita. Bill seems to be handling things pretty well.
posted by Dolley at 6:25 AM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Agreeing with the consensus that this is Rita's (and by extension, Bill's) problem. So far, Rita has not directly confronted you with any kind of suspicions, so why get involved? I would continue being as normal as possible with both of them - you've done nothing wrong. I would also change your locks.
posted by Paris Elk at 6:26 AM on January 30, 2010


Seconding katherineg's suggestions. I don't think she's thinking about you at all - she's thinking about a mystery internet woman. Hell, there's probably viagra and russian bride spam in his account that she's responded to as well.

Email back, make it clear it's you and that the history group is real, offer to include her own email address on the list, then chat with her in person/on the phone about the email. Having bad life experiences can scar a person and make them twitchy in ways they can't always control; empathy for that in her case is your first best path. If it escalates later, then you can take more self-protective steps.
posted by donnagirl at 6:41 AM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can completely understand why Rita is the way she is; it's nothing to do with Bill, however every woman who gets close to him could be the one that he springs a secret affair on her with. It's hard enough to get over a cheating spouse, let alone one that had a secret second life and kids. Bill married into all of that and, as a result, should be the one to handle the length of his "leash."

One thing I would certainly caution if you do decide to handle this yourself is mentioning knowing anything about Rita's past to her; I can imagine that Bill told you in confidence and that Rita wouldn't want everyone knowing what has happened to her. You could ignite a fire for Bill that would only make things worse if you show he's confiding her secrets to you.
posted by Hiker at 6:51 AM on January 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Alzheimer's Disease could be setting in here. This sort of paranoia can be a sign of advancing loss of rational functioning, especially at that age. Bill should take his wife to the doctor.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:14 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


She doesn't have to be 90 for there to be a psychological, possibly-dementia-related issue. I would suspect this is something, not just jealousy.

That said, I think the best course is to politely respond to Rita and then find a way to have (or have your husband have) a serious conversation with Bill. He seems to have found a way to live with her paranoia (joking about her keeping him on a short leash, not telling her about helping female neighbors), but it could be important for him to intervene in some way. You or your husband may be able to help him sort through options and resources for assessing and helping Rita.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:28 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


crazylegs, there is such a thing as early onset dementia and early onset Alzheimer's. You never know what kind of mental issues a person has, and while the poster needs to stop obsessing over her neighbors, it's not much to ask to stop aggravating an older woman who obviously doesn't like you or want you around her family. It's just a neighbor, not a family member or a real friend.
posted by anniecat at 7:29 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dementia can be a sign of Alzheimer's, it is not necessarily a lifelong symptom. And the symptoms of Alzheimer's/adult dementia can start with weird paranoias and actions that are uncharacteristic for the person. If this has been your neighbor's typical behavior, then it might not be a mental health problem. But, to the extent that she doesn't interfere with your life, her mental health is not anyone's business but hers and her family's. That said, you should take the advice offered and withdraw, change locks, etc. If the behavior persists, then something should be said, and you would need to make her family aware that her behavior is inappropriate.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:03 AM on January 30, 2010


Anniecat - I think you were being a bit off base in your first reply. It sounds like they were/are neighbor friends. I dont think that she is "meddling" so much as in an awkward situation where she and her husband would like to remain friendly. I'm not sure where you are getting that Rita doesn't like the op, Rita doesn't like mystery woman and is a bit insecure due to duplicitous first husband.

My grandmothers had full blown dementia by 62 and it took us years to figure it out. She was always rather manipulative but suddenly became much more so, telling all everyone different things and sowing a lot of distrust. Dementia doesn't mean you act different necessarily, sometimes it just magnifies part of your personality.

I agree with you need to reply to email, even offer to add her, and call her to make sure she got it, in a friendly way. Be sure to explain how the holidays etc have kept you from replying more promptly.

Good luck!
posted by sio42 at 8:19 AM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


All those who are saying she's too young to be showing signs of dementia, have obviously never had the misfortune of seeing people they know battling the onset of Alzheimers in their 50's. It happens, and it's sad and disturbing when it does.

Having said that, it is not your place to deal with it. If Bill has concerns that there might be underlying health issues, encourage your husband to off his support in dealing with it. Otherwise, either ask for the key back or change your locks and restrict your contact to that of neighbours who are not friends.

It's unfortunate, but regardless of whether she is mentally ill or not, there will be little you can do to satisfy her that her suspicions are groundless.
posted by scrute at 8:41 AM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Given the other details in the post (asking Bill to come home after 15 minutes, etc), it doesn't sound like Rita's behavior has changed suddenly; it sounds like she's always been a bit jealous and controlling when it comes to Bill. (And given her past, it's understandable and she's extremely unlikely to change.)

I think she knows that the e-mail was from you, since she signed it "Your neighbor, Rita."

My guess is that you can continue having a good relationship with both Bill and Rita as long as you make sure your interactions are always with both of them at once rather than just with Bill (and that includes e-mail interactions.)

Here's what I would do:

1) Respond to Rita's e-mail, apologizing for the delay in responding due to the holidays, and just say you're sorry if your e-mails have caused an inconvenience and say that you won't send them anymore.
2) Take Bill off your listserv. I probably would just take him off and not mention to him that I did it, in the interest of not causing more drama.
3) Don't see Bill without Rita anymore, don't call or e-mail Bill, etc.
4) Change your locks. This is probably unnecessary but you never know if one day Rita will come over to search your house for evidence of Bill's "affair". Highly unlikely, but why take the risk when there are probably other friends or neighbors who could hang onto a set of your keys?

If you do 1-3, I think there's a good chance you can continue enjoying a friendly, comfortable, drama-less relationship with your neighbors.
posted by whitelily at 9:44 AM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, medea42's got it completely right re: the passive-aggressiveness and the Mad Men attitudes.
posted by whitelily at 10:30 AM on January 30, 2010


I think Bill should tell you how to handle this. He's well aware of Rita's insecurities, and has chosen to live with and manage it as best he can. Next time you see Bill without Rita, casually mention that Rita has requested that they (as a team) be removed from the mailing list, and is that ok with him? I don't think changing the locks or otherwise making this a big "I thought we were friends" scene is the way to go - you're still friends. Just maybe "wave when you see them, count on in a pinch" friends and not "hang out all the time" friends.

Since you know some back story on Rita, just take that into account to make it easy on Bill. Don't be inviting him to your place or out to dinner without Rita, or have private email exchanges about history, or any of that stuff. Not that any of that would be wrong, just that it puts Bill in a tough spot with regard to respecting Rita's fears but also not offending or isolating himself from his other friends.
posted by ctmf at 10:41 AM on January 30, 2010


Oh, and if you know she's there, go ahead and visit her at her home (i.e. pick up the lemons instead of having Bill drop them off).
posted by kathrineg at 11:17 AM on January 30, 2010


Some excellent advice here from MeFites -- thank you one and all. I'll mark best answers for almost all of them.

I wanted to post this last night because there's a good chance I'll see Bill and Rita at a neighborhood event this afternoon. I plan to take Miss Manners' advice, which is to be polite and courteous if I run into them. I don't expect Rita to be looking daggers at me or to bring the issue up, but we shall see.

Rita definitely knows the emails were from me -- she isn't just replying to a random woman's address who regularly sends links to photos of a 100-year-old building. They cannot be misconstrued as "Hey, big boy, come on over." I don't think either she or Bill is particularly Internet-savvy, so she could well be wondering why his inbox is full of emails from seeming strangers who want him to play with them.

She also knows the history group is real because we put out a book that Bill helped with, and she has come to some of its events!

I'd like to get our keys back, just in case. I seriously doubt that anything odd would happen, but it's a security thing, and I don't feel entirely comfortable knowing that she doesn't like me and also has access to my home.

Rita had some big health issues, including major abdominal surgery, in the last couple of years. In addition, she is still working while Bill just retired, so I'm sure her stress levels are high enough from all that. I don't think she has dementia or cognitive issues, but the fact that she always wants to keep tabs on where Bill is means this is important to her, if not an obsession.

I don't think she knows that we know about her philandering first husband, and I would certainly never bring that up.

My husband and Bill mostly chat over the fence or when taking out the trash these days -- I'll see whether there's any way for them to have a subtle conversation about this.

I guess it's a minor sticking point about the listserv/email list. I know Bill is interested in reading about the history stuff, so why shouldn't he get the emails? It's his account, not Rita's. (She is not subscribed to it separately.) I'll probably just take him off the list, but I'd rather hear that from him, not her monitoring his email. In the name of keeping the peace, it's probably easier just to quietly do that.

Does that then preclude me from emailing him and my other friends on the block about friendlier, pertinent stuff like "Hey, we had raccooons in the backyard last night -- you might want to close your cat door" or "Joe and Sammi had their baby on Tuesday" or "We have friends staying from out of town, so don't be alarmed if you see strangers coming and going"?
posted by vickyverky at 12:18 PM on January 30, 2010


I say whenever you email Bill, make sure Rita is aware of it. Yes, it's controlling and irritating, but it would become far worse if you only told Rita you'd take Bill off the listserv and then went "behind her back."

If you're going to remove Bill, send Bill and Rita an email saying that, to give Bill time to talk about it with Rita in case he does want to stay on.

If you're going to email Bill about raccoons, go ahead--just make sure you CC Rita on the email. Maybe she just doesn't like being left out?
posted by sallybrown at 12:38 PM on January 30, 2010


Is there a male member of the list serve that can forward the newsletter to him? He can still get it, but not make things uncomfortable for anyone. My husband and I share one email account, and then have other separate ones for each of us. Bill and Rita may only have one email account that they share (perhaps not using it often.) Do ask Bill if it is ok to continue to email the newsletter through a friend because you don't want to make issues for him at home.

If you need to email about the raccoon in the yard, address it to both of them, i.e. "Hi Rita and Bill, just wanted to let you know there was a raccoon our yard last night." If she says anything more about the emails, then just call - asking to talk to her.

If Bill comes over to help your husband or something, invite Rita over for some tea at the same time. If Bill comes over with lemons, tell him that you would like Rita to come over for tea sometime soon. Try to see both of them at the same time if you can and don't invite one over without the other. Your husband can do the same - ask Bill to help while Rita has tea with you.

wife of 445supermag
posted by 445supermag at 12:48 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe this is already done, but is there a way to change/update the history listserv mailing list so that messages from it contain clear (VERY clear) information that it is what it is? For instance, if right now messages go through and they show as being from an individual, and the message subject is whatever the individual happens to type.. someone who isn't savvy and IS that jealous can use as an excuse go ballistic..

But what if the messages all had (automatically) in the subject line: "_____ Neighborhood History News:" followed by the subject? Maybe if you ran it through a Yahoo group and named it that - that way all the emails would also come from the Yahoo group, not an individual? Perhaps too much trouble but just a suggestion, also it'd make it easier for users to sort/tag/filter messages, so would benefit everyone.
posted by citron at 1:25 PM on January 30, 2010


Given the e-mail history and the fact that e-mailing Bill about anything at all is likely to hit a nerve with Rita going forward, I would stop sending Bill e-mails altogether. If there's something you need to tell them (raccoons, etc), walk over and say it in person, or call and ask to speak with Rita.
posted by whitelily at 1:44 PM on January 30, 2010


One more comment...I'm a lot younger than Rita and don't tend to be jealous or insecure about significant others. But my mom, who is around Rita's age, has very different attitudes than I do about certain things (doesn't believe men and women can be friends, and is more conservative about what's "appropriate" for married men.) I'm guessing Rita might be a bit like my mom. Maybe to her, it seems like you and her husband share an interest that she's not a part of, and that worries her. And she probably feels it's inappropriate for a woman to be interacting with her husband rather than with the two of them as a couple. Add to that an ex-husband who was cheating and basically hiding a secret life, and I can understand why even an innocuous e-mail would upset her. I think that kind of history would make me paranoid about innocuous things, too.

That's why I suggested only interacting with Bill-and-Rita from now on, not just Bill. I suspect that will eliminate any future problems. And if it doesn't, you might consider limiting interactions with both of them.
posted by whitelily at 1:57 PM on January 30, 2010


Nthing that you stop sending Bill emails altogether. Frankly, it is rude of him to expose you to this.

I do not agree that you are 'tormenting' or otherwise doing anything to Rita or anyone else. This seems like normal interaction between adult humans.

In terms of getting the keys back without insulting neighbors, say that you've changed the locks and you're getting keys made on the weekend - and then don't give them another set. Or, just change the locks. But don't make a big thing out of it. I had a formerly good neighbor go batshit on me and I decided it was just better to change the locks then to ask for the keys back.
posted by micawber at 2:30 PM on January 30, 2010


I'm so sorry. This is a crappy situation, but it's not of your making. I don't think you're going to be able to salvage the relationship with Bill and Rita. She seems to have gotten a bee in her bonnet about you (and others, it sounds like), and I don't think you're going to be able to change her mind, because, well, the bee isn't rational.

I don’t like feeling that Rita is suspicious of me when she has no reason to be. She is quite the archetypal sweet little older lady, so I don’t feel threatened or in danger – but I don’t like feeling that there is resentment coming from next door.
...
Part of me thinks this is Rita’s problem and that I should just keep out of it, but another part of me wants to try to figure out a solution.


I don't think there is a solution that allows you to continue a relationship with this couple. If I were in your shoes, I would get the house keys back/change the locks, take Bill off the history listserv without telling him or Rita, and stop interacting with either of them (other than being nice and courteous when you run into them on the street or at a neighbourhood function). No more invitations, no more reciprocal favours, no more contact initiated by you or your husband. It's too bad, but I think this is the course of action most likely to cut down on your stress. Hard to say whether it will cut down on Rita's distress--it might not--but that isn't your problem anymore. And yes, Bill might want to continue being friends with you and your husband, but his life is such that he can't do that with the current partner he's got. And that is his choice to make.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:49 PM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


(Changes in mental function aren't always caused by alzheimer's but can also be caused by brain tumors, stress, injury, substance use, substance abuse, cardiovascular disease, etc., etc., etc., etc. but it sounds like Bill is used to Rita's way of thinking, so it is not a change.)

I think Bill is mis-behaving, sneaking around gossiping to the neighbors about his difficult wife. Seeking sympathy for himself about his crazy spouse who just doesn't understand him sounds like the perfect way to fish for an affair.

(I agree that there is no need for a mailing list to come from an individual. In fact it is quite strange that it does.)
posted by y6t5r4e3w2q1 at 4:24 PM on January 30, 2010


I miswrote about the listserv -- Bill isn't on that, but he is on the newsletter list. That's what he's getting as an email every few months from me.

Its subject line is always a variation on "[Local history group]: Meeting at xxx on xx, sign up now for guided tour of xx." So nothing like "Check out my cool photos!" or some other subject line that could be easily misconstrued.

It doesn't come from an individual -- I send it on behalf of the group. I suppose I could change the "From" address on the outgoing message, but most of the people in the group know me or have met me in real life.

I didn't know Rita had an email address until she sent me this message. Bill isn't a prolific emailer either, but he's more Web-savvy than she is -- I know he buys and sells collectibles online -- and he has sent various newsy emails over the years without adding a CC line that would cue me in to her having an address.

y6t5r4e3w2q1, Bill is head over heels in love with Rita and has never expressed any feelings to us other than a wry shrug at her calling him home. It seems to be something he's willing to put up with, but he certainly doesn't appear to be hinting at the possibility of having a fling. Definitely not with me, for sure -- he's avuncular and amiable, not crossing any boundaries.

There clearly is a larger question in all of this -- how do you stay friends with only one half of a couple, and is it even possible? -- but I'll mull that for another time. For now, thanks, everyone. I appreciate all your input, and will come back soon to mark best answers.
posted by vickyverky at 5:29 PM on January 30, 2010


Okay, I'm not sure I follow-- in your follow-up you write "Rita definitely knows the emails were from me -- she isn't just replying to a random woman's address who regularly sends links to photos of a 100-year-old building" but in the OP you said "Then my husband told me that when he had been out with Bill the week before, Bill had mentioned that Rita had gone through his email and saw a couple of messages from the history listserv. She went ballistic and accused him of having an affair or cybersex, and would not be convinced that the email address belonged to vickyverky next door, despite the clearly innocuous subject matter." If your husband was told she was unable to be convinced the e-mails came from you, why are you sure she knows?
posted by EmilyClimbs at 5:30 PM on January 30, 2010


There clearly is a larger question in all of this -- how do you stay friends with only one half of a couple

Is this what Bill would want?

If "yes" then he is the one who is causing the problem.

If "no" then are you really his friend?
posted by y6t5r4e3w2q1 at 10:09 PM on January 30, 2010


how do you stay friends with only one half of a couple, and is it even possible?

Um, you don't if the other person in the couple doesn't want you to be.

I agree with the posters who say to avoid them as much as possible or only interact couple-on-couple. Whether or not she has dementia doesn't really matter so much as she has Teh Crazy that you can't argue with, especially when she got so very screwed over before by the first husband and on some level has 'reason' to be paranoid. I'm sure Bill has lost many friends because of Rita, he's probably used to it by now. The price he pays for having her and all that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:31 PM on January 30, 2010


how do you stay friends with only one half of a couple, and is it even possible?

Um, you don't if the other person in the couple doesn't want you to be.

Or you do, and it's called having an affair.
posted by y6t5r4e3w2q1 at 7:31 AM on February 1, 2010


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