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I am a recent graduate from a school in the United States that has a large number of international students. During my time there, I became friends with someone who I will refer to as "Suzy." Suzy and I became close by spending time playing a popular video game together, and we eventually graduated and both moved to a similar location for our post graduation jobs.

The problem began when Suzy broke up with her boyfriend. After breaking up, Suzy began suggesting that we should get married so that she could retain her ability to stay and work in the united states. I am uncomfortable with this for a number of reasons, not the least of which is fraud.

I have tried suggesting that I am not comfortable with this, but she usually just laughs it off and brings it up again later. She is very good at avoiding any attempts of serious discussions about this matter by sidestepping direct questions and changing the subject. How can I communicate to Suzy that I am not comfortable with these questions? My overall goal is that she will stop asking me to get married, and that we will stay friends.

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    Is she just joking around? If she always evades serious discussion on the topic, how do you know she’s serious about it? – Lawrence Apr 19 '18 at 14:46
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    Just to exclude this option explicitly: are you 120% sure she's not interested in you romantically? – Federico Poloni Apr 19 '18 at 16:41
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    The premise of the question sounds a bit odd. You say she broke up with her boyfriend, which implies they weren't married. So if not being married wasn't a problem before, why would it be a problem now? – kasperd Apr 21 '18 at 18:27
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Yeah, fraud is what I call "Not a good thing". The feds aren't pleasant about that particular one.

She apparently won't talk seriously about this, so follow her lead: don't talk seriously about it. She mentions getting married to commit visa fraud, you treat it the same way: as a joke. "haha! Yeah, that'd be hilarious! We can do prison time together! We could have matching cells, too..." "We could do that, but my parents demand 6 cows, 2 sheep, and a ferrari before they sell me off for visa fraud. I think I can swing the livestock..." "Wow, a 'male-order' wedding...". Let her decide to be serious about it - as long as you approach it with the same level of levity, or even more, she'll understand that you don't take it seriously.

I'd add that she could be joking about this, albeit a poor and long-running joke. Taking this too seriously, if it is indeed an attempt at humor, may risk your relationship as well. Enjoy it, have a laugh, and keep in mind that until you both sign a marriage certificate it's all just talk.

@fr13d has made an excellent point that I would like to add: Just be careful about how far you play along so you don't miss the opportunity to say a quick and earnest "no" to her.

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    Please use comments for clarification or suggesting improvements. Comments other than those are subject to deletion. – A J Apr 21 '18 at 12:43
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Suzy, you need to listen to me for a moment: I don't feel good about this idea and neither do I support it now, nor will I support it at any point in the future. You have to talk about this with someone else.

This leaves no room for being misunderstood and if she is trying to "sidestep" it you can simply continue to say this. It might feel a bit rude, but what she is doing is rude and she won't stop because you have shown that she can simply sidestep the issue and bring it up again. She is trying to grind you down until you break and agree to her plan just so that she will stop pestering you with it. It won't stop by itself, so you have to tell her this.

This is also the nice thing to do because you state that you won't change your mind and that she will have to search for someone else who is more willing to agree. By clearly stating that you won't break you show her that the time she would have spent on trying to persuade you will be put to more efficient use from her perspective by searching for someone else.

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    I agree that it's direct and leaves little room for misunderstanding here. However, I'm not sure this would ensure the continuity of the friendship. – avazula Apr 19 '18 at 15:38
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    I'd suggest not saying "You have to convince someone else to commit this crime with you" – Azor Ahai Apr 19 '18 at 23:21
  • I would add the reason to I don't feel good about this idea: It's fraud – Jan Doggen Apr 23 '18 at 10:12
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Sorry to hear you're in this situation. Trying to stay friends with someone can be difficult when you are being pressured into something you don't want to do.

You need to be honest with her. You state that she is very good at avoiding any type of serious discussion about this topic, but the key is to try and create the opportunity to have this conversation, even if it means making yourself a little uncomfortable or pressuring her in return. Emphasize that you are not interested in doing this, and if you are comfortable enough in sharing your reasons, you can do so at this time as well (Personally, I would recommend against doing this as it gives her an opportunity to argue against your reasons).

The key would be to ensure that she verbally acknowledges that you are uncomfortable with the question, and explain that while you do want the best for her and hope that she can find a way to retain her ability to stay and work in the US, that her repeated questions are straining the relationship.

While it hopefully never gets this far, if it gets to a point where you need to cut off your connection with her entirely because of this issue, you should explain this as well. Don't skirt around the issue with phrases such as "Maybe" or "That doesn't sound like it would work", or provide excuses. Firmly, but politely, remind her that you are not interested in doing this.

If you've already tried all of this and you were very firm about it, unfortunately, she may simply not be the type of friend who is willing to take "no" for an answer, and you may have to reconsider this friendship. If she gets offended or stops being your friend over this issue, you should think about whether she ulterior motives behind becoming your friend. The best solution in these cases would be to reduce all interactions with her until she moves on and (hopefully) realizes that you two can still be friends without this issue getting in the way.

7

If you did get married, what would your reasons be?

I assume "getting my spouse citizenship" would be a benefit rather than a primary reason.

List the reasons that you would have to get married. Then, tell her if she brings the topic up again, you'll be walking away. If she sidesteps, continue to talk about it no matter what. Marriage is a big deal, fraud aside. Let her know that you won't tolerate her joking/not really joking pressure. As much as you sympathize with her problem (and please let her know that you do) you are not the answer to it. Period.

After this conversation if she talks about other things, engage. If she talks about this walk away, after you warn her.

My strategy in these situations is an attitude of cheerful firmness. If you get mad or annoyed, other people do as well. I set the rules of engagement, stick to them, while remaining as cheerful as possible.

You can't actually make other people be or feel a certain way. A heartfelt talk where you really talk to her about her situation and that you are not going to be the solution to it, where you empathize, NOT avoid, and talk it out, ending with you stating that her joking about and bringing it up when her need is so raw and real and you CAN NOT be the solution, makes you uncomfortable. And now, here are the rules if she does bring it up.

Either, a) you will not answer her or respond in anyway or b) you'll be walking away from the conversation for a minute.

Then, do that. If she gets mad or asks about it, you cheerfully say, "we've talked it out, I'm doing what I said I would. You're choosing to bring it up, I'm just keeping up my end."

And have a new topic of conversation ready IMMEDIATELY.

Rinse and repeat.

It sounds as though she's spotted you out as a person who caves to social pressure. And she's doing what she thinks might get her the desired result.

As to whether you will still be friends, that's up to her. It's not up to you. All you can do socially is set the terms of engagement (oooh no pun intended) and stick with them. People will get angry when they don't get what they want, but you cannot control that, unless, of course, you always give people what they want for fear of them getting angry or rejecting you. This may be the way you generally deal with the world, but make it clear that it will not be the case in this instance. Please don't get married just to be polite.

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I have tried suggesting that I am not comfortable with this, but she usually just laughs it off and brings it up again later.

Am I right to guess that the situations where she can avoid a serious conversation by changing the conversation are when you are the one that brings up the topic? A conversation that begins like "Hey Suzy, I'd like to speak to you about that wedding thingy". With this start, she knows the conversation will be unpleasant, and what many people do when they see something unpleasant coming is to avoid it. You also know that the conversation will not make you comfortable because you know Suzy is in a rough situation (visa issues are very stressful) and you want to keep your friendship, so that's easy for you to let Suzy deflect the conversation and not insist too much.

What I propose is that next time she talks about wedding, play along and ask her very seriously about the wedding details:

Suzy: I love [city] so much. Going back to [country] would be awful. What about marrying me so that I can stay in the US?

Sleepytime: Great idea! When do you want to get married? Actually, what about marrying in your country? I always wanted to have a different wedding.

Suzy: Sure, that could be fun.

Sleepytime: Good. How many kids do you want? My mother would love many grandchildren. At least 5. Speaking about my parents, you know they are [religion]. So, before we can marry, you should convert to it.

Suzy: err, wait a second...

You can adapt to your and Suzy's personal situation. That way, you make Suzy realize (if she hadn't already) that marriage is a serious business, and a serious discussion is necessary. In addition, she cannot easily avoid the conversation as she started it, especially because you show interest in the topic. After that, you should be able to make her understand that you think her idea is a terribly bad one.

An alternative: there is a possibility, since you already tried to start a conversation about the topic and tell her it makes you feel uncomfortable, that she already knows that fact. As she knows you will never take the wedding proposal seriously, she proposes you half-jokingly and avoids serious conversations about it, because there is no need to have one. Then, when she brings up the topic next time, you can take it as a joke:

Suzy: (...) Hey, what about marrying me so that I can stay in the US?

Sleepytime: Are you kidding?

Give her a few seconds to answer. If she says she is serious, go with my first idea. Otherwise,

Sleepytime: You know, I don't find this joke very funny. You are my friend and I'd love to have you stay in the US, but that kind of things are not my cup of tea.

and continue with a normal conversation. If you take that road, you may want to have a friendly conversation about her visa issue.

5

The problem began when Suzy broke up with her boyfriend. After breaking up, Suzy began suggesting that we should get married so that she could retain her ability to stay and work in the united states. I am uncomfortable with this for a number of reasons, not the least of which is fraud.

Suzy knows exactly what she is asking you to do, and you know you want this relationship to continue even if she is putting pressure on you. She hopes to wear you down. To put it bluntly what other choice does she have in her own eyes.

So you are being very naive to think she is not 100% aware of where you are and how much it means to you. The real question is are you prepared to help her come to terms to the situation she is in, and will she go through the steps to apply for immigration status where she can stay.

People will use friends and family in these situations, but how much are you prepared to be involved, and if this is in the open will it break your friendship with her? That is the real make or break question.

So to put this into effect, you should have a conversation with Suzy about how she can change her immigration status, and what are the choices. This is always a hard thing to do, but you need to make it clear what your position is, and that you know she knows this, and you are prepared to help her as far as you can. Of course she may well reject your offer, and get angry etc.

In the end it is not your problem, and you can only help as a friend. It is always important to know this.

Another strategy is to get someone who has gone through the process successfully involved, to help them through their struggles, because often there are issues that are not being shared which will effect everything else, but they maybe reluctant to share about.

protected by Community Apr 20 '18 at 7:19

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