A man who is cutting contact with his family and choosing to spend Thanksgiving with his former brother-in-law is being berated by Reddit users.
In a post shared to the Am I the A******? forum on November 17, a Redditor using the handle brithavx explained that his sister Tory had married his friend Brendan in 2018. "Brendan is now like my brother, we are that close," he wrote.
However, in 2020, Tory left Brendan for another man—and the original poster hasn't spoken to his sister since.
His parents took Tory's side in the break-up while brithavx took Brendan's. This caused a rift in the family and after brithavx made disparaging comments about his sister sleeping around, his parents stopped speaking to him altogether. Last year he spent the holidays with Brendan's family and is planning to do the same this time.
His post has received over 13,000 upvotes and more than 4,000 comments since it was posted a week ago. After reading the man's story, Redditors settled on a verdict of "Everyone sucks," meaning there are no winners—only losers—in this situation.
How To End a Family Feud
More than a quarter (27 percent) of Americans are estranged from a family member, according to research conducted by sociologist Karl Pillemer for his 2020 book Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them.
In a survey of 1,300 American adults, Pillemer found that 10 percent were estranged from a parent or child, 8 percent were alienated from a sibling and 9 percent had cut contact with an extended family member, such as an aunt, uncle, grandparent or cousin.
Researchers and family therapists believe familial rifts are becoming more common, with studies suggesting that more children are cutting off their parents.
Unhealthy dynamics between siblings can also affect a person's mental health long after childhood, whether it's down to competitiveness, bullying or controlling behavior.
Laurie Poole, a counselor at The Montfort Group in Texas, said relationship breakups can be difficult for the whole family.
"Each person brings their own feelings to the mix," she told Newsweek.
"Being in the middle is a no-win situation because family members often want allies and will pull others into the conflict for support."
In situations such as the one described by Redditor brithavx, Poole said communication was the only way forward. However, it's important not to keep going in circles with complaints.
"In any conflict, each individual wants to feel acknowledged and heard, even if others disagree," she said.
"I'm not sure that the poster feels his position was truly understood. Instead, he was told he should be able to overlook the betrayal of his best friend, which he can't do even now.
"I'd encourage brithavx to have a heart-to-heart with his sister—with a therapist present if possible—to talk about how he was affected by what happened. This entire family needs family therapy, there's a lot more going on here than the story tells."
'Either My Sister Isn't Invited or I Don't Come'
In the Reddit post, brithavx, who is 28, said he was annoyed at first when his friend Brendan began dating his sister. However, the relationship brought him and Brendan closer together and brithavx was best man at their wedding.
He described Tory and Brendan's breakup as "reality TV-type s***" that left him and his parents "incredibly upset." His mom and dad decided to support Tory, though. Not long afterwards, brithavx stopped talking to his sister and went low contact with his parents.
The issue escalated when brithavx refused to attend Tory's second wedding, later in 2020. "Me and my dad had it out over it," he wrote. "My mother tried playing peacekeeper for the family. My parents then started giving me the silent treatment."
When the holiday season of 2020 rolled around, brithavx wasn't invited to spend time with his family. His parents said it was because he was "going out a lot during COVID" and they didn't want him "spreading diseases."
"My exact response was 'if you are worried about catching diseases from other people. Shouldn't you be more worried about Tory. I mean she's the one who likes to sleep around.'"
Since then, his parents have refused to speak to him unless he apologizes to Tory. "I responded with a Bible verse about adultery and how they support it. I was berated again and we hardly spoke until October of 2021," he said.
Brithavx now spends the holidays with Brendan and his family, as he refuses to be around Tory while his parents refuse to cut her off.
"I'm not putting up with [my dad's] s*** anymore," he wrote. "Either my sister isn't invited or I don't come."
Brendan's family have also got involved. After Thanksgiving last year, Brendan's mom posted on Facebook about "family being those you choose" and tagged brithavx. The poster's mom saw the message, which sparked another argument.
Although Redditors didn't approve of Tory cheating or the parents' ultimatum, many took issue with brithavx's attitude.
"It's obvious that you're deeply embroiled in and enjoying all the DRAMAH!" said dekebasswood.
"You're refusing to accept your sister's decision to move on from her marriage to your friend."
No-Manufacturer9125 wrote: "Sending his parents bible verses and saying his sister is spreading disease. Grow up dude."
Wowjrumba commented: "There are some serious misogyny vibes from the post. Even not liking his friend going out with his sister in the first place? She's not property, she's a person."
Cocomilo agreed, saying the Redditor "is hyper involved and judgemental of his sisters romantic relationships. This behavior seems so unhealthy and intense."
SomeoneYouDontKnow90 said: "The fact is that you have no idea why your sister's marriage fell apart.
"You weren't married to Brendan. Just because he's a good bro doesn't mean he's a good husband. Your sister made a decision, and you should respect it already."
Newsweek has reached out to brithavx for comment. We could not verify the details of the case.
If you have a similar family dilemma, let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.