Is this relationship progressing too fast?
April 24, 2012 4:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm concerned that my friend is putting the cart before the horse when it comes to her new boyfriend. I'd love some opinions.

She's known him for just short of 2 months. He's a decade older than us (we're in our late 20s), in the military and they have communicated through snail mail, online, the phone, etc, and have yet to meet in person. She says he's "The One". He's brought up marriage and said he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. They're considering getting either engaged or married this year. She moved to a larger rental house to accommodate him, and he's moving in with her soon (right after they meet in person).

She said after they're married, they might travel to places like India, Greece, etc, and he's going to see about getting them both a temporary job with the military where they'd each be making over 100-grand a year, provided that they live on one of the military bases in the Middle East for a couple of years. This just sounds a little bit far-fetched to me, especially since as far as I know she has not yet traveled beyond the states, much less to the Middle East.

I see how happy she is and I don't want to spoil her happiness. I like seeing her happy, but I'm just concerned that there are some potential red flags here and that she might be rushing into things. How can you know if someone is right for you if you've only been talking online for 2 months and haven't met in person?

I personally feel that she should slow down the relationship, proceed with no expectations, and stop putting the cart before the horse. But I don't want to be a spoilsport. Whenever I talk to her she has another reason why he's great (his job, his skills, his kids, how they connect, the loving things he says, his offering to help her folks around the house, etc). I don't feel that those things automatically make him "great". I did tell her at first that I thought it would be a good idea for her to slow down a bit, but now I just play along because I want to be supportive.

I just don't want her to get hurt. We don't live near each other so I can't actually be there physically. On the other hand, maybe he'll turn out to really be "The One" (I hope that's the case) and I'm just worrying about nothing. I know it may not really be my business, but she's my friend so I'm just trying to look out for her. It seems like her folks are cool with it. I feel like I'm lying to her about how I feel about her relationship. If they're still together and happy after a year, I'd have more confidence in their relationship and would feel more honest whenever I say, "he sounds like a great guy".

Based on what I have shared above, do you think their relationship is progressing too fast? Or, do you think I'm worrying too much? Also, if you feel like she's rushing, how can I let her know this in a nice way without coming across as a spoilsport? Thanks!
posted by starpoint to Human Relations (41 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
"I'm so glad you're enjoying this, but I am old-fashioned enough to think that maybe you might want to hold off on making big plans until you've had a chance to spend time together in person."
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:05 PM on April 24, 2012 [17 favorites]

You're right, of course, but I doubt there's a way to make her hear what you have to say.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:07 PM on April 24, 2012 [14 favorites]

You don't offer your opinion on this unless you're asked specifically what she should do. This is a life thing where she kind of has to find her own way. If it doesn't succeed, it doesn't succeed. If it does, it does.

And if she is deluding herself, how is your dose of reality going to snap her back into the real world? It most likely won't and it may even hurt your friendship.

So, as tough as it might be, tell her you're happy for her happiness and stay out of it.
posted by inturnaround at 4:09 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Based on what I have shared above, do you think their relationship is progressing too fast?
Definitely, but here's the thing: my opinion is irrelevant. So is yours and everyone else's except your friend.

Or, do you think I'm worrying too much?
Yes. This is your friend's life. She's old enough to be making her own decisions. They might turn out to be poor decisions, or they might not. Either way, what she does is her own business.

Also, if you feel like she's rushing, how can I let her know this in a nice way without coming across as a spoilsport?
You can't. You can support her as a friend without explicitly supporting the decisions she's making, but nothing you can say is going to convince her that you can run her life better than she can. When she tells you about his job, kids, skills, etc., you don't have to nod emphatically and tell her how wonderful he sounds. You can say, honestly, that you're sure she's looking forward to meeting him in person. Or that you can tell she's really enjoying getting to know him better. You can be supportive without being critical.

If this is sounding harsh, I apologize. It could be because I've been in a position similar to yours, and I made the mistake of voicing my opinions and telling my friend I thought he was moving a little too fast. I ended up with a severely strained friendship. He's now married to the woman I thought he was rushing into things with, and their second child was born Saturday. YMMV.
posted by pecanpies at 4:11 PM on April 24, 2012 [6 favorites]

i think they're moving too fast and i think you're worrying too much. sometimes you just have to let people make their own mistakes.

you say you're not close to your friend, have you moved to being primarily mail, phone, internet buddies (or are you guys just internet buddies)? it seems like it would be difficult to navigate telling her not to trust things you can't see when you're one of the things she can't see.

i've met a few partners online - some went good, some went badly. i came out ok from all of it. a lot of people tried to tell me along the way that i was moving too fast or you had to meet someone first to really know them. i either minimized their concerns, outright disagreed with them, or defriended them for not being willing to see things from my point of view.

you can be excited for her excitement and still be practical - "oh that sounds just like a fairytale! if it were me, i'd squirrel away a little money in a savings account just in case i needed a release valve!" encourage her to protect herself without stepping all over her roses.

if this all crashes and burns, just be supportive and loving. that's what friends do.
posted by nadawi at 4:12 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you are right, but the rush of a new relationship (especially at the 2 month mark) is notorious for clouding people's judgment. Despite having the best intentions for your friend, she's likely to not hear anything like what you want to say to her.

I think the best you can do is be there for her (I'm sure you will, seeing how concerned you are about her), and of course let her know your honest opinions should she ask.
posted by ichomp at 4:12 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Everyone does relationships differently. For me, yeah, this all sounds insanely fast. And because they haven't met it sounds like a tonne of promises that haven't (yet) been fulfilled. I would be extremely concerned for her as well.

Your place is very precarious. You don't want to push her away by pointing out the"holy crap you haven't even met the guy and you're talking marriage??" insanity of it all, but nor do you want her to get in to a bad situation or have her heart broken.

Your choice is whether dependent on whether you think her potential future difficulty is big enough that it is worth risking your friendship. Are you worried enough for her that you are willing to possibly have her resent you and end the friendship with you for doubting her man and her new relationship? Because that is what it comes down to. Either you stay silent and she learns this lesson the hard way (or not at all because maybe this IS the one for her and maybe he IS that great), or you speak up and run the very big risk of ending your friendship. IF it ultimately ends poorly there would be a chance that she would remember that at least you tried to keep her head clear about it, so maybe the friendship could be rebuilt, but I wouldn't hold your breath.

Really tough situation. I don't envy you.
posted by gwenlister at 4:15 PM on April 24, 2012

Sometimes when people don't have that much going on in their own lives, or when they are bored and wondering if this is all there is, a whirlwind romance can really be a way to imagine escaping a mundane job, hometown, or all of the other disappointing relationships that they could otherwise be in.

Its really the promise of something different and exciting, and great paying jobs and exotic locales, and not the guy. (Although if you and all of her other friends are in happy relationships, it could be about wanting what everyone has, so tread carefully if this is the case).

Ask her how the day to day is, even if she lives far away, and maybe share ways to make the boring aspects of life exciting, encourage her to take a class while she waits to meet him, or apply for better job. Maybe plans some fun trips with just the two of you so she has other things to look forward to than waiting for a white knight.

Talking about how he is a bad idea will just kill the dream that life can be better, show her she can do it on her own, and he will either become less alluring, or else a happy compliment to her life.
posted by cakebatter at 4:17 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

She said after they're married, they might travel to places like India, Greece, etc, and he's going to see about getting them both a temporary job with the military where they'd each be making over 100-grand a year, provided that they live on one of the military bases in the Middle East for a couple of years.

Regardless of how fast your friend and her beau may be going (and I'm pretty much in the Too Fast But You Probably Can't Do Anything About It camp), this is the one detail that jumps out at me. I've had a few friends with spouses in the military (though not stationed at bases in the Middle East), and I'm surprised by his assertion that they can both get temporary jobs at 6-figure salaries. It's possible that that's factually true -- maybe others can chime in on that score -- but on the face of it it sounds farfetched to me, too, which makes me wonder about the rest of what he's told her. What are these temporary jobs he's talking about? Does she have specialized skills and training for such a lucrative job? Or does he say that the jobs pay so well simply because they're in the Middle East (and thus presumably either dangerous or undesirable)?
posted by scody at 4:25 PM on April 24, 2012 [9 favorites]

"Friend, I completely respect your right to live your life your own way, but I care about you and I have some concerns about your relationship. Would you like to hear them?"
posted by Wordwoman at 4:25 PM on April 24, 2012 [8 favorites]

you should tell her what you think, wish her the best, and then don't worry about it or bring it up to her again. i think that's your duty as a friend.

if it turns out well, great! and you didn't alienate your friend.

if it turns out poorly, she'll (hopefully) remember that you warned her and you'll still be friends.
posted by cupcake1337 at 4:26 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

the only thing you can do is bring up your concerns unsolicited and clearly once. you can only bring them up again if she subsequently asks for your opinion. and maybe once more if they actually do get engaged. otherwise, it's her life to live.
posted by violetk at 4:28 PM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

i took the 100k military jobs to actually mean 100k contractor jobs. i've known some couples in this situation and it's not really far fetched (as long as "temporary" is understood to mean 6-18 months).
posted by nadawi at 4:40 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, of course she's putting the cart in front of everything, but a lot can happen once they meet in person... I'd be a little more concerned if she were marrying him and flying off to the ME tomorrow. So far all she's done is move to a bigger house and plan to move in with him when he shows up. I'd just say "I hope it all works out and my fingers are crossed for you that he's everything you're hoping" and then check in with her the day before and a couple of days after he shows up.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:41 PM on April 24, 2012

It seems sketchy but harmless at the moment. I'd save the "whoa slow down" talk for when she makes riskier plans based on his promises. Right now she only stands to lose some money on rent. If you're really worried, plan to spend extra time with her around the time they meet. That way if she needs a shoulder to cry on, someone to help her move, or a reality check, you'll have time for it.
posted by rhythm and booze at 4:52 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd be less concerned that they're "moving too fast" and more concerned this guy is a serial bullshitter who is already married, incarcerated or about to ask her for a loan.
posted by fshgrl at 4:53 PM on April 24, 2012 [33 favorites]

I would guess that he's lying about large percentages of things, and based on what you've said I would be surprised if they actually met. It seems far more likely to me that something will come up, and then they'll plan a new meeting, and something will come up, etc. She is almost certainly going to have her heart broken, I'm sorry. =/ My advice is to be as non-judgmental as possible so that she keeps you in the loop. The big things are that you have to try to keep her from spending any money on him or going to see him alone. Basically what fshgrl said.
posted by kavasa at 5:09 PM on April 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

I've had a few friends with spouses in the military (though not stationed at bases in the Middle East), and I'm surprised by his assertion that they can both get temporary jobs at 6-figure salaries.

This kind of jumped out at me too. Maybe you could ask it - how their plans sounds interesting, but you're curious what kind of work she's thinking of doing and what (if any) longer-term plans they have in mind.
posted by photo guy at 5:10 PM on April 24, 2012

Yeah, I was just going to say the guy is probably already married. Has she done any kind of background checking on him or is she just taking his word for everything? The idea of going back to the Middle East as contractors seems really strange to me, and I'll bet she has no idea of what it would be like.
posted by mareli at 5:10 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had a good friend in a similar position not long ago - talking for months online, grand plans before they'd even met, increasingly sketchy details coming out (and oh yes, this guy was also in the military, about a decade older than me (15 older than her) and supposedly making hand over fist money on "secret assignments" in the ME) and my friend fell for it hook, line, and sinker. I thought it would not end well. I gently told her so, just once, and let it be. It did not end well. And while I never did the "told you so" dance, it did put a crack in a previously strong friendship, for a couple of reasons that may be specific to us, and may not be (I'll try to keep it less anecdotal):

1) her defensiveness and willingness/need to defend this total stranger/the rushed pace of the relationship - unsolicited; she was bringing him up JUST to argue with me about him - went to a point beyond the pale. And this occurred before, during, and after their "relationship."

2) she was very hurt that I was unwilling to cheerlead destructive behavior. I was pretty clear with her that I had reservations but that I would support her no matter what, but she needed me to be 100% where she was, and I wasn't.

3) in order to keep the "fantasy" going she started to lie to everyone about him, her, their relationship, and the whole 9 yards. Big lies, that hurt other people, and made me question her character. That was the beginning of the end of our friendship although of course there were other reasons/things going on, but this was the catalyst, I think.

If I had a do-over, I would have taken the same stance and approach as I did before, though. How strongly you feel about this and how strong your relationship is with her, as well as what kind of person she is in general, matter a great deal here in whether you should voice your reservations or not. As well as whether you think they'd make a difference and, if they did not, whether it would bother you.
posted by sm1tten at 5:12 PM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

I was just going to say the guy is probably already married

probably? i've met dozens of partners online. i've known quite a few people who also have met many of their partners online. i've never seen this "married guy fleeces gullible woman" trope actually play out. to me it seems like the stories of kids getting kidnapped by strangers, sure, it happens and it's totally terrifying and damaging, but i think it's far more likely that it's two awkward people making plans bigger than their ability to follow through with them (much like most kidnappings are custodial in nature).
posted by nadawi at 5:17 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah also people that are "in the military" do not get to choose where they live. Like if he's "moving" a significant distance to move in with her, um, his duty post would have a few words to say about that. Someone in their late 30s would have off-post housing, sure, but that doesn't mean you can just live wherever you want to. You have to be within a reasonable commute of your post.

If he's not moving a significant distance, then why haven't they met?

Mark my words, move-in date is going to come and go and there will be neither hide nor hair of this guy in evidence.

If he does show up, I'd be extremely worried about physical, emotional, and financial abuse. If at all possible work out a safety plan with her, a word she can say in a phone call to you to let you know that you should call the police, all that kind of stuff.

sm1tten - yeah, anyone that brags about their secret assignments in the ME is full of shit, not least because everyone's assignment is a freaking secret, including the headquarters troops that stay on Bagram and file paperwork all year.
posted by kavasa at 5:20 PM on April 24, 2012 [11 favorites]

Best answer: Here's my take on what's going on with her.

I think she sees this guy as her way out of her boring, lonely, loveless, impoverished life. He is the hero who is going to come save her and fix her life in ways she doesn't think she can do, or doesn't know how to do, or thinks will be too hard and exhausting. I don't know if her life actually IS boring, lonely, impoverished, etc. but I'm willing to bet that's how she sees it.

I don't think it's about this one particular guy I think it's about all he represents and promises. Promises both in the sense of the potential she thinks he has to fix her life, and probably actual promises as well that he makes to her.

Even if he puts forth a parade of red flags and sirens indicating that he is a con artist, a creep, or just very simply a normal guy who will not be able to totally fix her life and be perfect for her forever in every way, I think she will not be convinced by anything you say because it would mean giving up those dreams and the possibility of making them come true that seems so close to her grasp. She may even intellectually agree with things you say and STILL defend her relationship and proceed with it out of not wanting to give those dreams up.

If this is the case for her, I think there's very little you can do right now at the moment, because all those problems are kind of big. And they do take a while to solve, and they are, or can be, difficult to solve. That's why people become overwhelmed.

I would say, don't say anything about him unless it is really acute like you find out he is a child molestor or murderer, or she is about to sign over a huge amount of money to him, etc.

Instead of that, just over time, do your best to be really supportive of her and help her build all those things in her life she feels are lacking, that he fulfills. He might be around for awhile, so if you do this it could really be an investment that pays off. If their relationship does turn out to be horrible 3 years in, maybe by that time she will have made progress on some of these fronts and won't have as much of a need to retreat into escapism and fantasy.
posted by cairdeas at 5:23 PM on April 24, 2012 [16 favorites]

i've never seen this "married guy fleeces gullible woman" trope actually play out. t

Really? I've seen it like a million times. One of my friends met a guy on vacation just last month, they are emailing etc, all is great... till his wife called her at 3am. Wasn't quite as divorced as he claimed. Another friend is in a ldr with a military guy who I would bet $5000 is married too.

Don't even start me on pilots. I live near a big airport and friends have told me that about 50% of the men on dating sites locally are pilots looking to hook up. Mostly all married to a woman in another city.
posted by fshgrl at 5:35 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: She's living a fantasy right now, so early on. She hasn't met the man in person, and things might change dramatically after they do meet. If she's still smitten then, she still will get to know him gradually and one or both may cool off and lose the magical thinking.

If you want her to talk openly to you during the getting-acquainted period, don't say anything negative now. And when she starts talking, listen and ask questions. Trying to persuade her of your point of view could make communication harder. Definitely stay away from anything that sounds like, "I told you so."
posted by wryly at 5:46 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: So we have someone who is nearly forty, probably ready to retire after twenty years service and go into a civilian contractor-type job. Kids, but no wife. Are the kids grown? Did the wife hate the military wife-style and bail? It happens (a lot) but rarely because he's Prince Charming, in my experience.

If he has a military retirement, the ex-wife will be receiving half of it every month (if she hasn't remarried), and minor children will still receive support, too.

This does happen to nice guys - shit always does - but I can count all the nice(i,e. trusting, caring and honest) military guys I know that this happened to on one finger, maybe two. I hope somebody else's mileage varies on that, so please say so if you know so.

I am not tarring all military members with the same brush; I've just seen this movie too many times.

I say your red flags are valid. Be prepared to be a very good friend. Nthing the keep it to yourself now, watch, and please heed wryly's advice above.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 5:49 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Could you maybe find one of those classic women's magazine cautionary tale articles about this type of a story (there must be tons of them) and send it to your friend, saying something like "hey, friend! I saw this article and, I know that Mr. X would never do something like this, but I thought you might be interested." The articles usually have a highlight box that lists ways you can protect yourself from getting taken advantage of, or whatever, and maybe just maybe, it would seem to her like it was coming from a more objective source and might pique her interest? Seems like it might make you come off less of the bad guy if you're not spontaneously bringing up warnings about her man, but conveniently 'thinking of her while you were minding your own business and came across this article....'
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:31 PM on April 24, 2012

Best answer: There's a lot of pretty baseless speculation in these answers.

I don't really think there's anything you can or should do. I mean, yeah if he asks her to send him a large sum of money or something, then sit her down and talk about it. Otherwise.... well, she's definitely setting herself up to be disappointed, but we all do that in dating (most of us less enthusiastically, but it's person by person and relationship by relationship). Whether or not you think he sounds as great as she thinks he is doesn't really matter much. If at any point it becomes clear that he's taking advantage of her then you can talk to her but I don't see how you or anyone in this thread can know whether that is necessarily the case right now. Keep an eye on her, try not to let her make any significant permanent decisions until she's met the guy, and be there for her if it falls apart.

Also, reading sm1tten's answer about a similar experience and the reasons it hurt the friendship: 3) in order to keep the "fantasy" going she started to lie to everyone about him, her, their relationship, and the whole 9 yards. Big lies, that hurt other people, and made me question her character. That was the beginning of the end of our friendship although of course there were other reasons/things going on, but this was the catalyst, I think.

I think this is a good reason not to outright question her judgement at this stage. Because if she's already had to defend him to you, she'll have something to prove and then if things go sour, it will be harder for her to come to you for help or support.
posted by geegollygosh at 6:36 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

If he's for real, then what concerns me is that his plan entails isolating her from friends and family via the jobs in the Middle East (and/or marriage) for months or years. This scenario puts makes her quite dependent upon him; he may anticipate that she would feel too much shame to reach out to others if things go south. In the short term, this isolation pattern may play out by way of circumstances that "prevent" him from meeting the people who are important to her or "discoveries" that he doesn't like them or feels uncomfortable around them, perhaps because they suspect his motives. Once he shows up, can you organize some kind of "meet the friends" weekend on the grounds that everyone is so excited to meet her new man?

I would be especially concerned if the desire for a quicky marriage (which is immature at best) morphs into some "romantic" scheme to get hitched overseas, on a boat or some other place where its legality is potentially at issue. Similarly, "romantic" plans to elope are also a sign that his interest is more about control than about joining his/her families together, especially since many people view elopement as a breach of friendship norms and may feel alienated by it.

You could, perhaps, urge caution in rushing in to marriage on the grounds that his children/siblings/parents should be given the opportunity to get to know your friend. This argument would hold that the couple would be better off, in the long run, by taking steps to ensure that his family, especially the kids, embrace the idea of the marriage and hold no reservations. That way you appear to be invested in the new family's success rather than being perceived as some sort of Debbie Downer crapping on her fantasy.

Your friend should also have the opportunity to meet the children/siblings/parents; since she hasn't even met the BF, she only has his word to go on about his wonderful relationships with these people. The more exposure she has to real people while with him, the more glaring any inconsistencies will become.

You're a good friend.
posted by carmicha at 7:11 PM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

This does happen to nice guys - shit always does - but I can count all the nice(i,e. trusting, caring and honest) military guys I know that this happened to on one finger, maybe two. I hope somebody else's mileage varies on that, so please say so if you know so.

I have quite a few friends who are active-duty military and just off the top of my head, I can think of several who are divorced (a few with kids, most without). While I can't speak for all of them, the vast majority are totally decent, friendly guys - so yeah, they're definitely out there.

The thing is, this line of work is tough on marriages, damn tough. Couples often feel forced to wed before they're ready, dual-career couples (unless you're both military) are very much the exception, you move a lot, your spouse could get deployed with little or no notice, etc. Naturally, plenty of spouses get tired of being the "military wife" (or husband), but their spouse isn't ready to give it up. They can't find a mutually-agreeable resolution so they split. Understandable, but certainly not the same as divorcing someone because he's "hardly Prince Charming".

Back to the OP - I'm gonna agree with geegollygosh, most of these suggestions are way too speculative. Yes I think the relationship sounds like a long shot, but that doesn't mean it's doomed to failure. I will say that she shouldn't make any life-altering decisions until they've met in person, but beyond that why not just let it play out?
posted by photo guy at 7:42 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm surprised by his assertion that they can both get temporary jobs at 6-figure salaries.

Definitely - what? If he's in the military then he doesn't get much say about where he's going or for how long. If he's a contractor, then it makes more sense, but then he's not in the military. Sounds really sketchy to me. There's probably not much you can do though.
posted by naoko at 7:49 PM on April 24, 2012

Do you know his full name?
Have you checked him out on Google/Facebook/LinkedIn/etc.?
posted by blueberry at 8:12 PM on April 24, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all of your answers, wow, very helpful! About the jobs, yes, I believe they are contractor jobs. He will be retired from the military this year and was offered a contractor job. According to my friend, he told them that he will only accept the job if they offer her one as well.

Yes, he is on some social sites, that's how they have been communicating lately.

I like the ideas given in the answers here. I think I'll try to keep an open mind, and not say anything just yet but still be supportive. I didn't consider that if I'm too critical now, she might not feel comfortable sharing with me later on. I really need her to be open with me so I can keep tabs with how things are going with them.

Thanks everyone, I really appreciate it. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it'll all work out for the best.
posted by starpoint at 9:26 PM on April 24, 2012

Response by poster: Oh and to clarify, he's not married, the kids are from a previous relationship which my friend says has ended...I can only hope that he's been truthful with her when he said he's divorced. They will be meeting in person very soon. I don't want to think the worst about a guy whom I've never even met, and I truly hope he's a good guy. I just have to look out for my friend but not overstep my boundaries or offer unsolicited advice.
posted by starpoint at 9:31 PM on April 24, 2012


If you are really concerned, get his name, and invest the $20 or whatever, and start investigating him on sites like Spokeo and other pay for public records search sites.

Don't get crazy about it!!

But go ahead and verify his marital status, his employment (the military) and the like. Not all the information is current on these sites, and I guess if you aren't experienced, parsing what you find (is this that guy? someone else??) might be difficult. It's not totally accurate! But it might either soothe your bigger fears (he's a gigantic liar) and hopefully confirm the bigger points in his story.


This whole thing sounds TOTALLY shady. Your best case here is that your friend is out the rent on the new place and he never shows up in the flesh. Your worse case is he needs to "borrow money" from her to show up, and then he never appears. The worse worsest case is that he does show up, and he's a nightmare.

I say this as someone who married a lovely man after knowing him IRL for 2 months, and dating for 2 weeks. 4 years later we have a 1 year old son and enjoy a great marriage.


Fairy tale endings DO happen, but the situation you describe lacks all the precursors for a happy outcome.

Your friend has been sold a fantasy, however much of his story turns out to be true.

They have not met. Maybe they are both weaving a fantasy??


Support your friend, but urge her to have a Plan B - just in case.

You can simply tell her that it is OK to look forward to marital bliss, but it is wise to have a back-up plan, just in case.

That covers you and her on all fronts.
posted by jbenben at 9:55 PM on April 24, 2012

One last thing I would suggest is, whenever she starts talking about exciting things she will do with him, you can mention things she can do that don't necessarily exclude him but don't *rely* on him. Like if she wants to build this new and exciting life, you can do your best to influence it in a way that the new and exciting life would still be standing even if he weren't in it anymore. And that he couldn't take it away from her. A situation where she wouldn't be dependent on staying with him and she also wouldn't be under his thumb and his control. Just be subtle about it, don't make it obvious that you are trying to influence things in that way. For example if she brings up several ideas you can be kind of neutral about the ones that rely on him, and genuinely enthusiastic about one that doesn't. Like if she brings up the kinds of jobs the two of them are talking about getting, and one possibility is being contractors in the Middle East, and one of them is working for him in a business he says he has, and one of them is something where it's something he suggests but she wouldn't be isolated from family or dependent on him and could make a really good career out of it -- be really enthused about the third one and kind of gloss over the other two. Don't make it appear that you are trying to influence her in a direction that will cut him out her life or make it difficult impossible for him to be in her life because she will resist that.
posted by cairdeas at 10:48 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Really, the one thing you need to tell her is, "Don't make concrete plans with this guy until you've known him in person." Period. Could work out, could be a disaster. (I know one person who married a guy a few days after meeting him. The marriage is still going, but I don't think it would be if they hadn't had kids.) There's a LOT you find out just upon meeting someone, and even more the longer they're around.

Can't imagine plighting my troth to someone I haven't even seen IRL, though. Good god.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:25 PM on April 24, 2012

I don't think it's dangerous at the moment, but I would be wary of what it could turn into. It's honestly foolish to make plans before you've even met the person IRL. You can only really get to know someone in real life, and even then, you need to see them in a variety of contexts, because people show to a different face to their spouse/friends/family/co-workers/etc. I'd gently tell your friend that "While I'm happy for you right now, please remember that once you meet him, he may not be the same person as you imagined him to be. I recommend only making concrete plans once you truly get to know him (not just meet him) in person." I'd say that once, and not bring it up again unless she asks for specific feedback.

I can't find a specific article that you could point her out to, but Baggage Reclaim is my favourite no-nonsense relationship blog. Maybe you can browse through that to find something relevant.
posted by Hawk V at 1:47 AM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Another take on this: she may have some kind of image in her mind of a hot Navy SEAL, but the reality is that he's at least 36/37 (if he went in at 18 and is retiring after 20). When she does meet him in person, chances are really, really good that the dream bubble will burst. I am a contractor, and I spend a lot of my time talking to military guys from other fobs. Sometimes it's really fun, but then when they finally come to my fob, I'm like, oh, yeah, another goofy, unattractive dude. Not that I have a problem with that, but the spark is almost never there.
He might be a creeper, but more likely, he's lonely (especially if he's over here now) and just as desperate for some kind of excitement as she is. More desperate, probably.
Contracting: the jobs in the "Middle East" (Kuwait, Bahrain, Djibouti, etc.) aren't actually in the war zone so you don't make much more money than you do at home. DR (Afgh.) you can make a lot, and not just in security or IT. But it's a big hassle, and they wouldn't necessarily be at the same post. Even if they were, it's not like you can cohabitate over here. Check out General Order 1.
To be honest, I can see why she'd think it's an exciting option, but this life isn't for everyone.
posted by annabkr at 3:30 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have been on the other side of the person my partner's friends were concerned about situation. It was really shitty and created tension (and a sadly permanent rift) where none needed to exist. One thing you might want to consider that nobody's brought up: if you tell her you're concerned about him, *especially* that you're alarmed about him, she's going to feel upset. And she's almost inevitably going to confide in him about it -- they're sharing everything right now and early in relationships there can be a powerful "me and you against the world" sort of solipsism. So, not only may it be awkward between you and your friend if the relationship works out: it may be downright terrible between you and your future friend-in-law if he turns out to be a nice guy. I have never been able to forgive the people who shit-talked me without knowing me, who objected to the idea of me and said such vicious stuff without even meeting me or knowing what I looked like.

In my situation, my then-boyfriend, now husband of five years went through a lot of changes independent of me really fast after we got together: he started working at the most stressful/demanding job of his life, he realized he needed treatment for depression, his chronic health condition flared and he revised some creative goals. To some degree, I think the instability of his inner life at the time and the relative stability of our relationship did drive him to want to get married sooner than if he hadn't been in transition (I know that I, too, found our relationship to be port in the storm of all the change I was experiencing; it's probably why I said yes). On the outside, to everyone, it was the post hoc fallacy: Mr. Sweltering was so fun before he started dating her. His recent not-fun behavior must be because of her! Now suddenly he's not coming to parties, he's sick all the time, he's staying home all the time, he dropped out of the band -- and WHAT THEY'RE ENGAGED?! She must be brainwashing him and trying to control him! She doesn't want him to have friends!

I was totally shocked when I heard that Mr. Sweltering's friends disliked me and wanted to, only slightly paraphrasing, stage an intervention and put him on a freight train away from me if necessary. I hated them, actually (and it validated the reticence and discomfort I'd always felt around them at parties). Mr. Sweltering was even more shocked and hurt because it really meant that his friends were keeping up with the reality of his life: overworked at a new job, depressed, had a creative venture flop, was having a chronic illness flare. Sure, we got married 9 months into living together, very quickly, and I actually bet that had a lot to do with all the instability we were facing and stability our relationship provided in the face of it. I think when we're at a low point, or just a transition point, our hearts can be cracked wide open, and we can be open to heartbreak and being taken advantage of, sure, but we can also be open to wonderful things we'd ordinarily be too cautious to try. Do you think there's a reason your friend is attracted to this kind of relationship, this sort of leap?

I'd suggest just being there for your friend. Before you say anything, ask yourself, "Am I sure?" and remember that you can't take it back and it's likely to reach the guy too (and there is a possibility he'll be around long term -- I know that my husband's nasty friends didn't think so of me; whoops). There's a chance he'll fulfill a relationship trope (I'm sure she knows that); thing is, he hasn't yet. Don't do a pre-emptive strike. The people who tried to intervene in our decision aren't in our lives in any way. That was all they accomplished.
posted by sweltering at 4:30 AM on April 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

Late to the discussion, but I'll chime in.

My cousin was in this exact same situation a few years ago. She met a guy online and was head over heels in love with said guy. They were going to get married, she was going to move to Scotland, start a family, the whole schlameel. Come to find out that he was in fact married, with children, and lied about everything. This sounds eerily similar to the situation my cousin was in. Do like others have suggested and stay positive, but only offer advice if it is asked of you.

Also, you might pick up a copy of Anyone You Want Me To Be. I don't think her "relationship" with this man is headed this way, but it is certainly food for thought.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 5:39 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older What cable modem do I buy?   |   No More Please? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.