We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the moment they realized they had a toxic in-law, and they shared their wildest and most heartbreaking experiences with in-laws who had major red flags. Here are some of the most shocking responses:
1. "Not me, but my mother. My mom got married for the second time when I was in high school. Her in-laws expressed disapproval of her because she was divorced with kids. The icing on the cake is the in-laws' daughter was also divorced — but her husband is very wealthy (like millionaire-wealthy), so 'it's okay because he has money.'"
"Once my stepdad said my mom was the one he wanted to marry, they got on board, but they still treat my brother, mother, and me like second-class citizens and worship their son-in-law solely because he's got money. Like, who does that???"
2. "My mother-in-law made a 'this is your life' photo album for my husband's 40th birthday; this was in 2006, so real photos still were very much a thing. We were married and had been together 15 years and had a baby — yet neither myself nor our baby were featured in a single picture."
3. "My father-in-law is a piece of work. I'd been told by my wife while we were dating that he was kind of a jerk, but I figured I'd try to have a relationship with him. After all, I was in love with his only daughter! When I asked him for his permission to ask his daughter to marry me, he said, 'I'll think about it,' and never said another word. I asked anyway after talking to her family about it and gaining their approval."
"To this day, he never calls my wife unless he needs something and our son has only met him a handful of times — but, it's always our fault."
4. "My husband, our then one-year-old daughter, and I had plans to meet his mom and her boyfriend for dinner about an hour away. A few days leading up to dinner, our daughter became very sick and dehydrated. She ended up doing outpatient IV fluids for her dehydration the day of the dinner. My husband called his mom to let her know what was going on, and that we wouldn’t be able to make it to the dinner, and she flew off the handle saying we were selfish, and she should have expected this."
"Mind you, we had never missed out on plans with them before. The woman is straight nuts."
5. "Pay attention to your S.O.’s parents' marriage. My soon-to-be ex-mother-in-law hated that her husband had no interest in anything she was interested in. Now that he’s gone, my soon-to-be ex-husband and her do everything together. She finally has the 'husband' she always wanted — and I’m getting a divorce."
"If I had paid more attention to how unhappy she was in her marriage, I wouldn’t have been so surprised that once she was a widow, she would make sure that she came first in my husband’s life."
6. "I always struggled with my mother-in-law (been with my S.O. 20 years). But, when my son was born 10 years ago, it got truly awful. At my baby shower, she kept talking about taking him to stay with her four hours away for 'the summers.' She would never respect our boundaries around rules, bedtimes, and parenting styles. Worst of all, when she was around our son, she would take some pictures to post on Facebook and then ignore him or act like he was an annoyance."
"After I gave birth, she altogether stopped talking to me when visiting. When he was around six, there was a particularly awful visit with her, and after, she asked my husband why he seemed upset through text. He took the time to carefully explain our boundaries and concerns in a thoughtful, kind way. She responded in turn by insulting our marriage, our parenting, and our son. We went no-contact almost five years ago, and we now have peace."
7. "My husband told me that two of his previous relationships ended because of his mother. I naively thought I would be different because parents love me! The first few years were quiet when she thought I wouldn’t last. Once it became clear I was sticking around, it started becoming ridiculous. The first big one was when she wouldn’t speak to my husband for a month because I didn’t let her enter a bathroom stall before I did."
"There were two empty stalls, and I guess I was supposed to let her enter hers first? She proclaimed that this was so bad that she wasn’t sure she would even be invited to our wedding. My behavior clearly indicated my hate for her. It was the first of a million things. We are not in contact now."
8. "My in-laws are great, but my brother-in-law is a piece of work. Thinks he's a Rockefeller or a Vanderbilt when he's very much not. When my husband and I got engaged seven years ago and started to plan our small but nice wedding, he became jealous, so he orchestrated an over-the-top proposal for his now-wife (who, mind you, is his fourth) and planned an extravagant destination wedding for them BEFORE ours (and, again, this was his fourth wedding."
"He couldn't even let his brother enjoy his only engagement and wedding without attempting to totally overshadow it. Insecure little man."
9. "My mother-in-law never said anything rude to me. She just did odd things, like offer a vacation to my husband and one of his brothers (she had three sons) when I was pregnant. I said my husband couldn’t go away when I was seven and a half months pregnant with twins. I was scared. I was in the hospital a lot for high blood pressure. The babies were fine and so was I. But it’s weird she asked him then. She also sold her house and told my husband (her son) and not her own husband."
"She’s just passive aggressive drama — easy enough to ignore after time. Confusing at first. At least she’s quiet about it."
10. "The first time I met my future mother-in-law, she tried setting up my now ex-husband with another woman right in front of me. She made comments about how she always thought he would end up with someone who was a model — which I was not. Once we were married, she gave me acne medication as a Christmas gift. I didn’t have bad acne at all. She'd also come over and rearrange my dishes in the cupboards without me knowing until I opened the cabinet to get something. She had no concept of boundaries."
"Throughout, I was always respectful until finally, she crossed the line after I divorced her son. She caused a lot of drama between my ex and me in regard to our daughter and had the nerve to remind me she is the 'grandparent,' insinuating she was also a parent to my daughter. Things became so bad in the way she treated my daughter that I finally had to cut her out of her life. She tried playing my daughter against me in favor of her son. She would stir the pot to get her son and I into arguments. I no longer have contact with her nor my daughter's father. It’s been more peaceful that way."
11. "Mother-in-law and I always had a great relationship, until I had my son born a week before lockdown. We were living with her at the time. Cue passive-aggressive comments, insinuating I don’t know how to look after him, etc. It was bad. We then moved away when my son was 4-months-old. Very recently, like a month ago, my father-in-law died very suddenly in his sleep. MIL and FIL divorced 30 years ago, haven’t spoken since, and she’s never had a nice word to say about him."
"She then decided that rather than supporting her son who was devastated, she would blame everyone for her not finding out straightaway (my husband wasn’t ready to talk and knew she’d make it all about her). She blamed my FIL's wife for my husband and FIL not spending enough time together (she’s just lost her husband of 28 years, zero respect), INVITED HERSELF AND HER FRIENDS to his funeral, and generally just behaved like an absolute pig. My husband and I are still in shock over the way she behaved, so we’ve gone low contact. I’ve banned her from my house as I just can’t deal with her toxicity anymore."
12. "My father-in-law called his at the time 15-year-old daughter, who I considered my little sister, a 'slut' and apologized to ME (19 at the time). He saw the anger in my face and proceeded to apologize to the wrong person."
"Obviously, a lot has been added to the list of things he's done throughout the 13 years I've been around."
13. "My 'mother-in-law' (husband's aunt who raised him) is a horribly rude and very self-centered person. When she belittled my husband in front of my entire family, talking about 'what has he accomplished in his life' while he was being an amazing stay-at-home dad to our two-year-old at the time, I completely lost all respect for her."
"She’s never done anything to earn back my respect and has done nothing but dig herself a deeper hole in my book."
14. "My husband’s entire immediate family (parents, stepparents, and brother) and some of the extended family all believe I had something to do with my husband’s unexpected and accidental death. They refused to speak to me, hug me, or provide me with any kind of comfort or support. They were accusatory and passive aggressive when we had to plan his memorial. They refused to have a viewing with me, and when we had his memorial, they had 'their side' of the room. None of the immediate family would so much as look at me."
"It’s been about 20 months since he died. The last communication I had with anyone was around the first Christmas after, when his brother sent me an email asking for his suits, dress clothes, and shoes. All of them loved me so much when he was alive, so this came as a massive, massive shock. Some say death can bring people together, and for his family, it did. His parents could finally get along, because they had a common enemy: me."
15. "Thankfully, we never married (dodged that bullet), but we do share a child. The first of many signs I should have paid attention to was when his father asked how would we address the world when we are out and about as an interracial couple. Instead of being concerned about our happiness, he was concerned about the outward appearance."
16. "She wasn't even my mother-in-law at the time — just the mother of my boyfriend, and we had barely been together for a year. I was a high school senior, and my then-boyfriend was graduating from military boot camp. Obviously, his mom planned to attend the graduation, and so did I. I was just casually talking to him on one of his allowed phone calls and said I'd pick up an extra shift so I could afford the flight, and he insisted he'd pay for my plane ticket because he wanted me there more than anything. I told his mom to let me know what flight she books so I can book the same flight and let her son know how much it was, since he wanted to foot the bill, so I wanted to be cost-considerate. She starts BAWLING. Full-on loses it, and then accuses ME of being a gold digger."
"Mind you, I had been employed since before he and I were even dating and paid for most of our dates because he basically only worked during the summer. It's been 10 years since that conversation (we've been married for three years), and I still never got an apology or any acknowledgment. Oh, and she also missed our wedding after begging us not to elope and have a real wedding, which we did, but only his extended family came."
17. "My husband and I have been together for 10 years, and I’ve known his family for nine of them. We don’t live nearby, so we only saw them once or twice a year for a few days each time. I thought we had as good a relationship as possible under the circumstances. Five years ago, we went to them for Christmas. I said something that annoyed my brother-in-law at dinner, and suddenly, the entire family was shouting about how obnoxious they find me. My husband stopped them and said I was family, to which his father replied that I am not a part of their family."
"We left right away for a friend’s house, but our phones were blowing up with insults and abuse. We had to block them on everything. After a year of no contact, my father-in-law developed cancer. Now, my husband calls them once a month and visits for a day or so a couple of times a year because he doesn’t want his dad to die with zero relationship. They’ve never apologized, and my name is not mentioned."
18. "Before I married my now ex-husband, his mom pulled me aside and told me that I wasn't good enough for her son. SHE MEANT IT. I should have known then that my relationship with her would be toxic as hell, but it took many years of trying and growing up before I realized it was her, not me!"
19. "My mother-in-law asked my nephew why he was mad at her because he wasn't interested in playing with her. He said he just didn't want to play. She then asked if he hated her. When she was holding my three-month-old, who started crying, she said, 'Why do you hate me?' This reaction to a baby crying or a toddler not wanting to play with her is daily and constant. My child won't be subjected to it."
20. "You know your in-laws are toxic when they give you unsolicited advice and get mad when you don't follow it. Or, when they just straight-up try to talk you into doing something that benefits them and not you. My mother-in-law does both of these, and she tries to run other people's lives so she can feel in control and be in everyone's business. She's super nosy and gossips about everyone, so my husband and I don't tell her very many details because we can't trust her."
"She will even go behind our backs and get information from our kids. The worst part is that she thinks she's smarter than us, and we don't see what she's doing. We are looking forward to moving far far away."
21. "I had only met my in-laws twice before my husband and I got married (we lived in a different state than they did), and my MIL had seemed nice based on those two brief interactions. The night of our rehearsal dinner, she loudly complained to anyone who would listen that 'after tonight, he [her son] won’t belong to me anymore. He’ll belong to HER (meaning me).' Yikes, for so many reasons."
"I came to realize in the months after that she truly did see him as some sort of being she had a right to/over, and she actually perceived me as a threat to her family system. I’ve had therapists sit with mouths open in shock when I tell them some of the bizarre things that woman has said and done."
Do you have a wild or shocking story about a toxic in-law? Tell us about it in the comments below. Or, if you prefer to remain anonymous, feel free to use this Google form.
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.