Ask Team Practical: Friends vs. Fiance

It’s Ask Team Practical Friday with Alyssa! And, more than that, it’s the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend (we’re even taking a three day weekend here at APW), so we’re all in a good mood, right? Right! Today’s question is about what to do when your Fiance dislikes some of your friends, and it has opened up a world of discussion in my household, so I’m fascinated to see what you all have to say about it. For me, it begs interesting questions: how much do we have to honor the self that our fiance was before we met? How much control is appropriate to exert over our partners lives? How does growing and changing effect our friendships? So let’s discuss, and then I’ll meet you at the barbecue. Happy long weekend, Team Practical!

My quandary is the definition of ‘nearest and dearest,’ and compromise and when to make it.

My fiance strongly dislikes one of my best friends from high school. Honestly, he dislikes my entire small group of friends from then. I have remained very close to them in my mind – we all live in the same city again and act, well, basically the way we did in high school. But honestly, none of us have much in common anymore, and we only actually see each other every two months or so. They’ve all been less than supportive as I’ve built this business with my now fiance. Also, I frequently have whole conversations with them where they fail to ask me a single thing about myself. My fiance sees this and hates the way they treat me. I have had these thoughts, but never verbalized it, and hearing it from him is a big dose of the truth that I wasn’t quite ready to take.

The friend he dislikes the most came to my birthday party recently, and he and the people he brought with him nearly ruined my day—they can be just foul-mouthed and disrespectful. I don’t want to risk that for my wedding, which happens only once and involves more than just me. My fiance is basically saying that he doesn’t want to allow my less-than-thoughtful friend to attend our wedding. The thing is, until actually contemplating our very real upcoming wedding, I had basically assumed this group of friends of mine would be my wedding party. I always thought I was so lucky to have a group of old friends who I’ve know for 14 years, half of my life!

My fiance’s concerns take us beyond just the wedding and into life together, marriage together. He doesn’t want to have these foul-mouthed selfish people around our future children, around his gentle grandmother, and I completely understand and agree. Do I say something to my friend and explain why I’m not inviting him? Do I allow these friends to slowly phase out of my life as I phase into a new leg of my journey? I don’t want them to blame my fiance. I don’t want them to hate us, I hate to be hated. They assume that they are going to be a major part of this big life step for me, but even there I think they are doing it in a selfish way. The particularly disliked friend said, when I told him of my engagement story, that he wishes that he was loved romantically as much as I am, and that he’s excited about more engagements because it’s pressure on his own boyfriend to marry him. I don’t want my wedding to be something that he uses to reflect on himself so much.

~Puzzled Bride

Personally, I think there’s a point when you’ve been friends with people for so long that they cease to be just friends and become family.  And family, while wonderful, are annoying.  They have stupid habits, they say things that make you roll your eyes and are mortifying and sometimes you really don’t want to be around them.  However, they also have been there with you through thick and thin, will be there for you when times are tough and will support you in the best way they know how.  Even if the best way they know how is not what you need at that moment.  Friends/family/partners are not one-stop shopping.  You get what you can from different sources to fill your soul.  Expecting all encompassing love/support/compassion all the time from one person is an awful lot of pressure on that person…  Let them fall short sometimes, they probably make up for it in other ways.  And if they don’t, then you might need to start trimming some fat.

Regardless of what your fiance says and what social norms dictate a friend should be, ARE they your friends and do you want them to STAY your friends? If your heart says no, then it might be time to start phasing them out. If your heart says yes, then they’re your friends and should be treated as such.  Start by not referring to your friends, whom you not so long ago thought of as your wedding party, as “foul-mouthed selfish people.”  Are these people truly so horrible that you can’t trust them around a sweet old lady or your future children?  If they really are THAT bad, they need to be gone and this letter is moot.

Self-examination is always good when making these big life decisions. You’ve made several mentions of how your friends have reacted to your life changes, but you didn’t say how you’ve reacted to theirs.  If this one friend you mentioned is one of your best friends, why does he deserve that honorific, other than him knowing you since high school?  Was that your “particularly disliked” friend’s only reaction to your engagement story, or is that just the part that you remember?  Because while it was not squealing and fawning and demanding to see the ring, expressing jealousy over your great relationship and wishing they had one too isn’t a sign of a terrible friend.  In fact, it might be the highest (if slightly self-centered) compliment someone can give you.  They want to be loved like you are loved.  They look up to your relationship.

If these people truly aren’t your friends, then you might need to start distancing yourself from them.  Toxic people will just continue to hurt you slowly, you need to break off contact and surround yourself with those who are more positive.  You can confront them about their behavior, but unless you’re hoping for a change, it’s not going to do you much good.

If you decide that these people, and your bestie, truly are your friends and you want them in your life for the long haul, then it’s time to have a talk with your partner.  When you accept someone into your life as your partner, you take the good with the bad.  And sometimes the bad comes in the form of a drunk loud friend who makes you feel like you’d rather wear barbed wire undies than be around them.  He doesn’t have to be friends with your friends, but he does have to respect them because they are your friends.  And he has to respect you for being loyal to people you’ve known forever.  That’s something we should all value in our partners—treating a long time friend well is a little like treating a waiter well. It says something about a person.  Aside from major events, you can have plenty of time to hang out with them without your partner.  Your partner has established that he doesn’t like your friends, one in particular.  Now that you know that, there’s no need for him to keep expressing that.  And your friends can totally tell he doesn’t like them, friends ALWAYS know.  If you’ve made the decision to stay friends with them, then he’s got to respect that. (And the first part of that respect is to stop bad-mouthing them around you.)   Find a compromise in which you stay friends with your high school buddies and he learns to deal with it.  This won’t be the first time that you two face a decision that the other doesn’t agree with.

So what’s the takeaway? If you want to kill these friendships now, don’t invite them to your wedding.  And yes, expect them to take it hard.  If you’re not sure what you want to do about these friendships?  Invite them to the wedding.  See how they act when it matters. Grow apart afterward if you need to.  But there are very few circumstances (outside of say, physical or emotional abuse) where your partner gets to call the shots over who you’re friends with.  Particularly when you’ve loved these people longer than you’ve loved your fiance.

So, what say you, Team Practical?  How do you deal with conflicts between your partners and your friends?  How did you deal with the growing apart that can happen around weddings and major life events?

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Alyssa at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com.  If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted.  Though we prefer if you make up a totally ridiculous sign-off like conflicted and rageful but deeply in love in Detroit (CARBDILID, duh).  Seriously. We love sign-offs.  Make your editors happy.

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  • Richelle

    I’m most struck by Puzzled Bride’s description of how she feels about her friends. It doesn’t actually sound like she likes being Around them or likes how they make her feel. She said her fiances reaction has been big dose of truth. I think you have to listen to that voice and take care of yourself. I also very much agree with Alyssa thatbthis is HER choice, not fiances choice. And inviting them to the wedding? Eek. Tough. But also HER choice. Good luck!

    • agreed. friendship dynamics can be so complicated.

      to puzzled: oldest friends don’t necessarily equal most-suitable-for-wedding-party. the wedding party should be people who can—correction— *will* support you wholeheartedly on what may be (hopefully not) the most (blessedly) stressful day of your life.

      … and I don’t just mean because you’ll need help being laced into that intricate, corset-ie gown.

  • Don’t forget that while friends can be annoying and foul-mouthed when you’re all hanging out in someone’s living room on a Saturday night, they tend to have enough sense to clean up their act when in a formal setting, sitting next to someone’s grandma. Not to mention that Grandma has probably heard it all before.

    And you’re absolutely not responsible for any pressure Friend puts on his boyfriend. Not your business. If you begin to feel responsible for the way all your friends felt about love or marriage, you’re going to lose your mind.

    • meg

      True. Sometimes I’m still thrown by how our rough around the edges friends (who I adore for being rough around the edges) clean up when our parents are around. Our how much my grandma can take, when we get right down to it…

      • Sometimes, grandmas are rough around the edges!

        • Lauren B

          Mine sure is. She’s has that quick Irish tongue.

        • grandmas. hell to the yeah.

        • Julia W

          Today my grandma asked me via facebook what “steam punk” is. I don’t really know… but my gma is hilarious.

  • joannezipan

    When I started dating my husband I had a friend who he really didn’t like. There were things about her behaviour at that time that I didn’t like as well. She did like to wrap every male in the vicinity around her little finger and she would try and do that to other people’s boyfriends too, which lead us to argue more than once. However, she was my friend and I liked hanging out with her so I carried on. In time she met a guy who she really liked and things started to change…he was surprisingly like my husband. They got on really well and her behaviour changed for the better and now my husband and my friend get on very well. Things change, people change and their attitudes change. Just because your partner doesn’t like them now that doesn’t mean he will always feel that way, you shouldn’t give up people who are important to you because of what someone else (no matter how important that person is) doesn’t like them.

    • Kate

      I had a very similar situation. When my now-husband met my best friend from high school for the first time, he hated him. We argued about it a lot. But I stood my ground. I knew the things my best friend did that were annoying, I thought they were annoying too, but that didn’t take away the good parts of our friendship. Luckily my best friend thought my husband was the coolest guy ever and worked really hard on getting to know him. And my friend grew out of some of his more annoying bad habits with time. And now they’re close friends (7 years later, but still…) They even went to Belgium together to visit breweries.

      Moral of the story…people grow up, they change, sometimes that makes them easier to keep in your life. Sometimes it makes it harder.

    • meg

      These are lovely points, ladies. And if you want to give people time to change you need to not CUT them out of your lives, BAM. Though you can totally hang out with them less.

      • joannezipan

        Also my BF from secondary school dropped me after I met the guy she was going to marry. I guess he didn’t like me much, my friend and I are very different. I’m very liberal and she is conservative and in the navy as it the now (I guess) husband. It hurt A-LOT. I thought our relationship was more important than that, but I guess not.

  • Alyssa is so wise, as usual. Ultimately, you have to take a good, hard look at your relationships with these people and decide whether the good outweighs the bad.

    I will add one thing, though – I’m still very close to a group of high school friends (although emotionally, not geographically) and we really have almost nothing in common… And I love that. My friendships from high school have proven that people don’t need to listen to the same music, have the same political views or religion as you, or have the same interests to be good people. Where it can sometimes be tempting in adulthood to seek out like-minded folks and agree with each other all the time, a diverse group of friends can be a much more fulfilling experience because it forces you to get past the superficial.

    • Meredith

      YES!! I also am very close to a group of 5 other girls (women?- are we women?) from high school. Since moving away from our hometown we’ve all gone many different ways in terms of jobs, schooling, political views, religious views, lifestyle, relationships etc etc. And it’s awesome.

      and yes yes yes, to “don’t need to… have the same political views or religion as you, or have the same interests to be good people” One of my closest friends is a very conservative Christian. Her views on many many subjects completely clash with mine. But our relationship (like a familial relationship) isn’t based on common interests or political/ religious views, it’s based on our shared history, love and respect.

      • I feel like I am just now learning this. I have very dear friends from when I was 16 with whom I’ve always (more or less) kept in touch… college/grad school years were tough because our differences seemed especially magnified as we moved away (or didn’t) started dating (or didn’t or got married or had babies), went to school or got a job (or didn’t), voted for different political parties, made new friends, moved away from religion (or towards another).

        Now we are still on pretty separate paths with regard to lifestyle, but our shared history has begun to seem more important than all of our varied choices. Maybe it’s nostalgia, but I do treasure having friends who remember me as an awkward teenager. I used to see it as “I’m SO different now!” or “why did they have to go and change?” and now I realize it wasn’t anyone’s fault, it’s just what happens as you age. And yes – I think it is important to have friends whose lives/ideas are different than your own, as tempting as it is to seek out a like-minded bubble. Even if this means there are times I cringe and make a mental note not to discuss certain topics with certain people. ;)

        (None of these relationships are the toxic, disrespectful kind, though, which makes it easier to reconnect after all these years.)

    • meg


    • FawMo

      Yes to this!

      One of my best girlfriends and I seethe in each others’ direction if politics are touched at all. My boyfriend and I are very political and politically active. She respects that. But, most importantly, and the reason she is my friend, is that she shows up and in a big way. Emotionally she is so there. In the big, bad world of feelings, she’s right there in the trenches with me. At the end of the day, I can get my Big Red Politics somewhere else.

  • Someone

    I think I know how that feels. The family analogy is a good one. My school best friend is like a relative I don’t see a lot. My partner hates her and we fight horribly if left in the same room for any length of time but I wouldn’t miss her birthday party.
    It’s an odd kind of relationship but it works.

    • Yeah. I don’t know that I have any old friends I don’t like being with in general, but my relationship with them is definitely family. They’re my sisters, and it doesn’t matter if sometimes they do something mean or annoying. Our relationship is good enough it allows our mutual quirks. I wouldn’t give them up for anything…

      But that’s evaluating my relationship with them. From the puzzled bride’s description, she doesn’t feel that way. So maybe she should distance herself… only she can decide.

  • None of my boyfriends have ever liked my best friend. They always thought she was too manipulative and mean. But you know what? She made those guys show me who they really were on the inside. She always stuck up for me, even though if you told her a secret that I wasn’t supposed to know, she would tell me anyway. I’ve done everything with her – Vegas, her wedding and subsequent divorce, living together, online dating, college, and now her pregnancy. (Yay!!!). She has become my family. You don’t just throw away that kind of history.

    So, if you really love these friends and they mean a lot to you, you should keep them. Your fiancé will grow to like them, or at least accept that they are in your life. Because honestly, it doesn’t sound like they are that toxic. Self centered, yes, but most people are. :)

  • Ann

    I have to argue for the other side, and say that the wedding can provide clarity and a definitive breaking point for relationships that have no life left.

    I had a similar group of friends, a group formed years ago when we were young and different. A series of wedding-related disappointments from this group made me think back through the years and realize that we didn’t have a true friendship. I spent a night remembering the times they had openly mocked me for my values, not listened to my opinions, then made me feel bad for stating those opinions. And I realized that these behaviors were persistent over the years – regardless of whether we lived together or across the country, were 15 or 30 years old.

    I considered a “break up” and in the end decided not to do anything so dramatic. I invited them to the wedding, but did not ask them for other help or involvement. This seemed perfect, and I am much more at peace with our relationship. We do have a lot of history and I’m glad they were at the wedding. I think their role there was exactly as it should be: not integral to the functioning of the wedding, but representative of the fact that they had been major players in my life.

    • Karen

      This is interesting to me because I’m struggling with the invitation list right now — and I have a few friends I’m on the fence about inviting. Brian doesn’t really understand it, because his friendships are fewer (as well as less complicated), so it’s really just up to me.

      In one case, it’s a couple I’ve grown distant from in past years — we’ve had some drama in the past, but now that the husband and I don’t work together, we just don’t see each other as much, and we’re all terrible at keeping in touch. Mostly I’m annoyed because he’s the first person I told I was engaged (coincidentally — he happened to e-mail me about a work thing the next day and asked what was new!) and he never answered the e-mail. And THAT just brings up the old issues a bit.

      The problem is…if I don’t invite them, I’m worried that I’ve made a grand statement that I’m ending the friendship. The chance for the friendship to just fizzle out on its own (as it seems to be doing anyway) isn’t there anymore.

      Oh, I don’t know. This post today is making me think that maybe we will invite them after all. But I’m very confused.

      • memery

        I don’t think that not inviting someone necessarily means that you’re ending the relationship. I’m not inviting a lot of people that made the first catch-all potential invite list. But we’re trying to have a smaller wedding, so there is an easy answer for people if anyone is hurt that they’re not invited. But I don’t see why you couldn’t use the same excuse — “we weren’t able to invite everyone that we wanted because the space/budget/whatever didn’t allow.” So far so good on my end. I think in most cases the people who you’re on the fence about inviting already know they aren’t on your short list of “must invites,” so it won’t be a shock to them, and also doesn’t have to mean the end of the friendship. It definitely does force us to look hard at our friendships, though — that’s for sure!

        • C.

          I have to disagree, at least in some circumstances. We’re not having a small wedding, but the reality is there are still limitations and we can’t invite everyone we might like to. Some of the people who aren’t on the ‘A list’ (dislike that term) are people I value who could quite feasibly expect to be invited – we catch up regularly, have deep conversations about our lives… It’s just that there’s lot of other people I do that with too, or who have played other crucial roles at various times. I do feel like not inviting some people could be easily construed not so much as “she’s cutting me off” and more as “oh, I guess we’re not as close as I thought we were, I hueass we’re more acquaintances”. Not having a small wedding, it doesn’t help to say, sorry you just didn’t make the top 140!
          Which is not to say that not inviting people has to be this stressful definitive thing, or that you should avoid making these decisions – it has to be done- but it does often get done in genuinely difficult circumstances!

          • Karen

            I guess “sorry you didn’t make the top 140” is sort of what I’m worried about, too! But people’s personalities have so much to do with how they take these things — so I guess what’s tough for me about this particular couple is that in the past they have tended to feel slighted easily. You know, the type of people who get upset that you don’t call more often, and you want to say, “The phone works both ways, you know…”

            Meanwhile, I have another friend who is so flattered that she’s invited — and part of the reason I’m so excited to be inviting her is that our relationship has never had any drama or toxicity at all.

            I can’t tell if this couple’s reaction will be, “Oh, how exciting, and how great that she invited us even though we’re not so close anymore” or “Fine, invite us to your wedding after not calling for a year…” But maybe my decision shouldn’t hinge on stuff like that.

    • I totally agree. I held the opinion for a LONG time that one should be endlessly loyal to one’s friends, and give 100% to his/her relationships with them. But then I started taking inventory of my life, and I realized that a lot of my friends did me more harm than good. I’m sure there are details of PB’s friendships we’re not getting (it sounds like she never addresses any issues with her friends head-on, but instead continually accepts their behaviors, which never gets anything fixed…but maybe she did and that’s just not mentioned in the letter), but if a relationship only makes you feel anxious/resentful/whatever, then you shouldn’t be in the relationship.

      I realized after some time that I had not made any vow to my friends. My family is my family, and my friends will never achieve that title. The same way my partner and I have to keep trying every day, for my friendships to work both sides have to be trying. My closest friendships are important to me, but now I only have a few of them, and none of them are friends by way of history. Lives change, people change, and I’m not going to keep spending time and effort with someone I’m not particularly close to, because in middle school they were my support system. I don’t think anybody should be indebted into a friendship.

      Each of us has friends that the other doesn’t like (though we genuinely like most of each other’s friends), but we figure if it makes us happy, why not? The only red flag is if someone isn’t respectful/supportive of our relationship, because why invite that negativity into our lives? It hasn’t happened with any of our friends, but it’s a situation we’re aware of, and have dealt with within the family.

      But as far as invitations, everyone’s welcome and we’re trusting them all to be adults.

      • anonforthis

        “The only red flag is if someone isn’t respectful/supportive of our relationship, because why invite that negativity into our lives?”

        Yes, THIS. While Alyssa’s answer seems appropriate for what we have of what the advice-requester has written, she doesn’t address this situation. I’ve largely moved my fiance towards seriously scaling back a friendship with another couple that chose to be unsupportive and disrespectful of our relationship (mostly denying that it existed) while he battled CANCER. (He’s now cancer-free!) Trust me, they were awful to ME at just about every turn, and it was very difficult for him to come to the realization that so-called friends who disrupt your relationship and try to drive your partner away (so they can feel more important or because they just don’t want to admit someone new and nonconforming to the clique) are not really showing you true friendship, love, and care. He balked at not sending them a save the date and later inviting them to the wedding because he felt it would be a huge snub/statement of “this relationship is over.” The compromise was that I said it was fine with me to send them a save the date, cards at appropriate occasions, etc., but that we weren’t going to actively socialize with them until he was ready to write a substantial email or have a serious conversation with them about how they’d treated me and our relationship at a very difficult time, and how certain things that had happened (when he was in surgery or otherwise incapable or responding) were not okay with him. Now, if your partner has these sorts of conflicts with *everyone* in your life, maybe your partner has some responsibility, but in our case, my feelings about this couple were legitimized by virtue of the fact that I get along swimmingly with everyone else in my fiance’s circle of friends, and by the fact that this couple has also had rocky relationships with other “newcomers” to their social circle.

        • Ughhhhh, Anon that sounds so incredibly draining! For you and your fiance. Blech. I’m glad you were able to come to SOME compromise there. And I concur with the “Maybe if everyone is saying the same thing there’s an issue” sentiment. If only one or a couple people have an issue, most likely the issue is theirs.

    • meg

      I think that’s my argument here. We had old friends that the wedding proved to be a breaking point with. But we didn’t not invite them. Then? We might not be on speaking terms. We did invite them, they fucked it up (Not in a way that damaged me. It would have been hard to hurt me on my wedding day) and now we’re less close, which is fine.

    • Puzzled Bride

      The clarity you speak of that comes with planning a wedding is so amazingly true! It has allowed me to relate to my parents in a new and wonderful way, for instance.

  • Rachel T.

    It is tough, but I think if you decide you want to keep the friendship because of YOUR feelings about it or decide not to keep it, that’s up to you. I had a similar problem when I moved back to my hometown with my then boyfriend now fiance. My best friend just wasn’t supportive. She kind of ignored him when we all went out together; she was rude and territorial, and so by default, fiance didn’t like her. But she’s been my best friend for 20 years. I called her on it, she cried, we talked it out, and it took a few conversations and a few more times hanging out for things to be okay. Turns out, she was jealous. I’m “moving forward” (her words not mine) with my life and she felt stuck. She felt I was being taken away from her, and that feeling kept her from getting to know fiance and giving him a chance. But now she loves him. Sometimes a conversation is necessary, just like the one between you and your fiance about your friends, to help you come to a new realization. Perhaps your friends don’t realize what they’re doing, and there’s nothing to say that they won’t change (though obviously I don’t know them). It’s worth a try, if you do decide to keep them around, to verbalize how you feel. I think many of us make a mistake thinking we know what the other is thinking and why they do what they do. Often times, I believe we’re surprised by the reality of the situation.

    After all of those years, it may be best to give your friends a chance to change. They may have no idea you feel the way you do, and perhaps they love you more than you realize, even enough to tone it down a whole heck of a lot and just be there for you and excited on your big day.

    All the best!

    • meg

      I think also, your friends are not allowed to like your partners. Sometimes they are just jealous, sometimes they are on to something. Though they are not allowed to MISTREAT them. I’ve HATED friends fiances before (And been right. They didn’t get married thank God.) I told them really clearly why (I had very good reasons) and then backed off. But it damaged the friendship in the short term. By which I mean to say, Fiance’s don’t always trump people that have known us for 20 years or more. Sometimes we’re making a mistake.

      • This is a good point. Also, I want to add, I have a friend who’s partner I don’t like, but the reasons I don’t like him is NOT because of how he treats her. He treats her like gold. However, his personality gets under my skin and I can’t take being in the same room with him for any length of time. I suck it up when it’s necessary, of course.

        Friends don’t have to like your partners, it’s just important that they respect your relationship. And, with that, comes the inevitable question: “Do I dislike this person because they treat the person I love badly, or do I dislike this person because we have a personality conflict that otherwise has nothing to do with the person I love?” I think this applies to both partners of dear friends you dislike, as well as friends of YOUR partner, whom you may dislike.

      • Not that friends are always right but I have to agree that if your friends have always had your best interests to heart and have good reasons to articulate why they object to the person you’ve picked, in this case, then agreed. Friends might have the right of it.

        I called trump card on the guy a friend tried to marry specifically because he was a lying, cheating, manipulative son of hoo-paa and we confirmed it because he was carrying diseases he certainly didn’t get from her, putting her health at risk. And with the temper on him, it was only a matter of time before he became physically abusive – he’d already begun to socially isolate and verbally abuse her.

        But no, you don’t mistreat the person – you just want to get your nearest and dearest the heck away from danger.

  • Karen

    I was struck by this line:

    “I don’t want my wedding to be something that he uses to reflect on himself so much.”

    While I think all of the other concerns are valid, this one seems a little unfair. Don’t weddings always make us reflect on ourselves and our relationships? In a way, it’s good that your friend is comfortable expressing to you that he’s feeling those things about your wedding. I have a friend with whom I keep the wedding talk to a minimum, because I know she’s having trouble keeping her own worries about her singlehood from drowning out her happiness for me. I know her well enough to be able to hear the panic in her head…so I try not to overwhelm her with my joyful engaged-ness.

    • Beb

      I agree! I thought Alyssa’s response was spot-on. I think it’s selfish to expect people to react with unwavering adulation, elation, joy, giddiness, etc. about your engagement. They’re allowed to have feelings about it that may diverge from your script, and they’re certainly allowed to relate your engagement to their own lives. Who knows, this guy could be a bad friend in other ways (it’s not totally clear from the letter), but I think Puzzled Bride needs to cut people some slack. I just got engaged about a month and a half ago, and while most everyone has squealed and hugged me and whatever, I don’t begrudge anyone their own reactions to it. Plus, I’m over the moon about it, so other people’s reactions, while mostly lovely, are secondary to my own overwhelming joy.

      • Puzzled Bride

        Hi! I completely agree, these things can be moments of reflection for other people, but in this case, my friend wants to be in the wedding party so that he can look back over his shoulder and give his boyfriend a meaningful glare to make him get a ring faster. I don’t want to entertain his excitement because it means something big for him.

        • Jeannine

          it’s true that weddings drive reflections of all kinds, but i know that although i never made my engaged friends feel like they had to tiptoe around me, they always made me call my own long-term non-marriage-track relationship into question. they always prompted a round of scary conversations with my partner and internal worries that rarely emerged otherwise. i made a real point of repressing those concerns around my friends–see meg below on the important bit being how we handle the reflections that wedding provoke–but on one terrible occasion, all that effort to be happy for my friends and separate their joy from my worries backfired and my partner and i ended having a knock down drag out fight at the end of a friend’s wedding, replete with my sobbing on my knees in the grass and mutual friends convincing michael not to drive away without me. seriously, special. i’m blushing with embarrassment at the memory. all i’m saying is, it’s a lot of emotional labor to keep from dumping one’s relationship issues on engaged friends, and that effort doesn’t always hold.

          anyway, it sounds like you have a number of issues to work out with this friend that aren’t necessarily the same conversation; but it’s worth it to tell him, straight up, as you did here, it feels like you want to be part of the wedding more because of what it symbolizes for your relationship with your boyfriend than for what it symbolizes for you and me. and that it’s not ok with you. you can either see if he changes his behavior or you can use that occasion to tell him that he’s not going to be in the wedding party. the way he rubs your fiance the wrong way might be a separate question.

      • Susan

        I actually think I get where Puzzled was coming from on this point. I don’t think she was talking about her friend failing to “react with unwavering adulation, elation, joy, giddiness, etc.”–that’s basically turning her point into a straw man argument, overstating it to the point of absurdity. It’s possible that she expects an unrealistic amount of excitement from her friends and that anything short of “unwavering adulation” would feel like a come-down, but I don’t get that feeling from what she’s written here.

        Personally, I have had some toxic friendships with people who really did make everything about themselves, and they were really damaging. Sure, it’s natural to have some reactions to a friend’s engagement that are about you. But it could also be a seriously bad sign if a friend can’t see past their own nose enough to give a few pat words of congratulation or express at least a cursory interest in how the engaged person is doing. It might seem hard to believe that someone could react in a completely self-absorbed way to this sort of thing if you’ve never had a friendship with someone like that, but I assure you it’s entirely possible. Sometimes it’s only when you’re going through a big life change that you notice just how little such a friend really sees you for who you are (or even wants to bother seeing you as a real person rather than their source of validation / emotional dumping ground / etc.).

        Maybe I’m projecting here due to my own checkered past with toxic friendships. But it sounds like this may well be the kind of relationship Puzzled is talking about. I can attest that sometimes it really is for the best to end friendships that are hurting you a lot and not sustaining you in any real way.

        • Puzzled Bride

          Yes Susan, thank you! This is more along the lines of what I was trying to say. Whether you were projecting or I was unclear – you’re spot on.

        • Beb

          I wasn’t trying to overstate Puzzled Bride’s point to “the point of absurdity,” and I don’t think I did. Now that she has clarified what she meant (above), I see her point a bit more, but I still think there is a tendency among the engaged – perhaps not Puzzled Bride – to want to force other people’s experiences and reactions into something that reflects back positively on them and their engagement experience.

          By suggesting that PB cut her friend some slack, I wasn’t advocating that she continue with a “toxic” friendship that is doing damage to her psyche; I was simply suggesting that sometimes, we need to poke our heads out through the fog of self-absorbed, engaged bliss and see that other people’s lives do go on, with all of their flaws, even in the midst of our life changing transitions.

          And my bigger point, which I think stands, is that other people’s reactions really shouldn’t make or break your happiness about your own engagement. If these friends are truly awful people who are making PB’s life worse, then, by all means, she should cut ties. But if they didn’t react appropriately to her engagement news, that’s a different story, and perhaps simply calls for a little perspective on her part. Just sayin’.

    • meg

      Agreed. I think we always use other people’s life events to reflect on ourselves. The trick is how we handle it.

  • It sounds like you’re ready to move on a little bit, Puzzled Bride, but not ready to cut these friendships off completely. Maybe the best way to frame it is that it’s time to start actively pursuing other friendships that are more in line with who you are now. (Been there, believe me.)

    Since your old friends have been important to you for so long, it’s probably worth inviting them to the wedding – but think hard about the wedding party. Maybe it’s right for you to not have a wedding party, or keep it to family – both very reasonable options that no one can (should?) pitch a fit about. Having a sit-down chat about appropriate behavior at the reception could be a good idea as well. If they give you crap at that point for having a backbone and expectations, then you know who to leave off the list. (It’s worth saying that the same goes for your fiance). Plus, some of them may have more to offer than you expect!

    Finally, as an inveterate foul-mouth, I just want to put a plug in for those of us out there who are not jerks. Most foul-mouths can clean it up for a night without too much trouble so don’t give up hope!

  • McSchnieders

    I think what makes this post so striking is that it touches on an issues we all have to deal with at some point in time. Do I still want to be friends with this person? Do I feel good hanging around them? How much does time and history matter? My fiance and I have both had to deal with this issue and it’s a painful one because sadly some friendships are not meant to last forever. People who have been in our lives for years one day became strangers; is because they changed? Because I changed? It doesn’t matter. The fact is that it’s up to you to decide the quality of your relationships. As a historian I deeply value the past but length of acquaintance alone does not make a good friend. Decide for yourself if these people enrich your life; if they don’t well, what kind of friend is that? If they do, they’re worth fighting for.
    My mom gave me advice years ago as boyfriends and husbands became a part of my life and the lives of my friends. She told me to foster my relationship with my friends and not necessarily my friends and their partners as a couple. “You may not like their husband, you may not like their children. But if you want to stay friends with them sometimes it has to just be about the two of you. Double-dates and play-dates aren’t the only way to keep your friendship alive.”

  • I have been the Friend. I wasn’t self-centered to the same point that it sounds like PB’s friends are, but my best friend and I were at very different points in our lives and had very different values about relationships. And we were young, as well, which I think explains some of what went on- she was afraid to address the issue head on, and was also just working out some thyroid problem that were causing her to be majorly hormonal, so I never knew why she was mad, really. All I knew is that for the entire time they were dating and engaged, she choose to spend time alone with her SO instead of come hang out with our group of friends- Every. Single. Time.

    I found out later that he didn’t like me, and I think he had good reasons for it. I was 18- a very spirited 18. I was just starting college, and while I didn’t really party, I had fun, and I had sex with guys, and I didn’t really act like an adult. They were getting married and he was starting a full-time career at the same age. But I think that my friend made a mistake by not addressing the issue at all. I was invited to her wedding, but I was shocked that this was the only involvement I had- we barely even spoke, and while we were going through a rough patch, we had been best friends since we were 12. And in the end, I care about her, and had never intentionally done anything to hurt her, and would have changed the way I acted around her if she had asked rather than simply avoiding the issue. I would have done basically anything to make her SO like me enough to make hanging out fun again, but I didn’t know what to do. I ended up having to tell her MOH to go help her out a couple of times because I could see when she was getting upset about something and I didn’t feel comfortable filling that role because I was so confused about our relationship.

    So, from the Friend point of view- and I don’t know if your friends are like I was, or are really just assholes, but if they are like I was, they might want to know that your fiance doesn’t like them and why. You don’t need to go into depth and have a heart-to-heart if you don’t want to, but knowing what behaviors are making them look bad might cause them to straighten up. Maybe they need that dose of truth as well.

    Then again, maybe they ARE assholes and just need to be kicked to the curb. Your call.

    • Ugh, I’ve been the friend too… My best friend’s boyfriend didn’t like me because I was a little promiscuous at 21… A completely silly reason to hate me, but they broke up after 6 months. BFF and I moved on. :)

  • Milla

    In my circle of close friends (most of whom I’ve had since high school), we have a mostly-unspoken rule that says you put shit aside for important events. Birthdays, weddings, breakups, etc. — if it’s a date or event that should be focused solely on one person, then you put aside your own difficulties and problems and celebrate/commiserate with them.

    I really love this about my friends, even if it doesn’t always work out as much as we’d like it to, because it reminds me that sometimes it’s just It’s sort of become my test for new friends— are they capable of putting aside all their stresses and worries for a moment to celebrate one person? Because I’ve found that the stresses of throwing a party or celebrating a relationship can to bring out the worst in a person (hands up if you’ve had birthdays with large groups that make you never want to eat cake again?). It might be worthwhile to think about the patterns of behavior— are they ever capable of putting themselves aside? You mention that there’s a lot of self-centeredness in how they approach you. Would they even be capable of shifting the relationship?

    If it’s a worthwhile friendship and you think they have it in them, I would confront them, see if the friendship can be salvaged. But if not, then my conflict-avoiding self says just cut ties (which might involve not having them in the wedding party, or even not inviting them at all and pleading small guest list) and move on.

    • I absolutely LOVE this rule. How cool is that?

  • Jo

    C often sees what other people don’t–how a friend hurts me, or how my sisters leave me in tears after a phone call. This means that he often has somewhat low opinions of them, or dislikes them for hurting me. But what both of us know is that he wasn’t there for everything that came before. He wasn’t there for the years of friendship that we built when I was alone and struggling. He doesn’t have siblings so he doesn’t get that weird relationship. But he accepts it.

    His friends are great, but I see the times he’s frustrated with them. I accept that they’ve been there before I was, though, and that the relationship is deeper than I can know. I accept them for who and what they are. I don’t expect them to change. I’m okay to let him have people that I don’t feel the same way about.

    And as to the wedding, after a serious parking garage breakdown, I realized that my friends and family that I’ve known and loved for years and years are going to be the exact same people with the exact same priorities for my wedding. I have to accept that instead of trying to change anything, or I’d be ramming my head against a wall. If I truly love them, from within myself, away from all outside influences, I just accept them. I can ask them to be the best versions of themselves (ie don’t swear at the grandma, which most people have the courtesy to do!) but I don’t expect someone else.

    • meg

      This is a lovely point. Sometimes love is accepting people, shitty parts and all.

    • Puzzled Bride

      Yes, so true! My fiance sees it all, but doesn’t have that history that allows me to give the benefit of the doubt.

  • AnotherCourtney

    As someone who grew up in the same city I eventually went to college in, I had a very similar group of girlfriends I had known almost my whole life. We considered each other to be very close (I was one girl’s maid of honor a few years ago) even though the only thing we had in common was our past. It would probably still be that way except that they never really approved of my (now) fiance. One would twist his words and tell people about “mean” things he said. Another told me directly that he was a lazy loser who would never amount to anything (so completely untrue, it’d be comical if it wasn’t so offensive!).

    One of our blessings is that we moved to another state a couple years ago, and that always helps to put friendships in perspective. I learned that once I was away from the negative personalities of those girls, and especially once we started making friends in our new city who love both of us, I was a much happier person. Sometimes long-time friends DO become family, and I definitely have a person or two in my life that fit that description. Sometimes, though, they’re just bad habits that you’d be better off without. It was a hard decision, but these girls won’t be at our wedding. There are plenty of other people I would rather share it with.

  • I was surprised at how much getting engaged and subsequently married affected my friendships with the girls I’ve known the longest. My college friends were all very happy and supportive. My high school friends, one in particular, seemed to think it was a competition. We went out recently after my wedding and she kept bringing up the parts of my wedding that bothered me the most, even after I told her that those things annoyed me. It also surprised me that no one wanted my help. I’m going to 7 weddings this year, and I’m a bridesmaid in 3. I thought I could help my friends, offer them advice or vendor tips if need be, but I don’t think they want to hear my advice or tips. I know that I didn’t ask for their help, so it only makes sense that they don’t want mine, but it still hurt my feelings since I offered and they didn’t. All in all, I think you can never predict how marriage will affect your relationships, but thanks to Alyssa I will reframe my thinking of them from friends to family and see if that changes how I react to these situations with them.

  • Arachna

    Agree with everyone, I would add that personally if my fiance said he didn’t want me inviting some of my friends (and the friends had not done anything specific and absolutely horrible to him personally) I would be shocked and angry. IMO it’s a red flag. So is trashing my friends. Some friendships drift and you have to let them even though it hurts but that’s not necessarily a good reason to paint them as villains.

    A red flag is not necessarily a big deal – we all make mistakes but I think it’s crucial it be addressed.

    Part of the reason I take this so seriously is that one of my best friends from high school, part of a close group, met and later married her boyfriend in high school (married while in college). The friendships suffered because we didn’t approve and they/she stopped making any effort and that’s one thing I can’t really speak to because I am not objective or know all of the details. However what I do know is that he constantly trashed her parents, she let him at first because she was so hurt and angry at them… and then she wasn’t able to draw that boundary when she tried, so the person closest to her who she was relying on most kept her thinking very very negatively about her parents. Her parents absolutely had their faults but they loved her a lot and if it wasn’t for him I think she would have been able to have a much better relationship with them which I believe would have impacted her life in a positive way.

    IMO he ruined her relationship with her parents for the last half decade, and it’s still very difficult. He’s a good guy who would never admit that’s what he did but the damage is considerable.

    • meg

      Agreed. David’s allowed to have opinions on my long time friends (most of whom he’s also known for decades) but he’s not allowed to voice the opinions very loudly unless something dire has happened (and sometimes even then. I know a dire thing when I see one, and want to deal with it my way). If he started to call shots on my friendships, lets just say he’d have another thing coming…

      The thing is, he knows old friends of mine, and has often known them independently for years. But he doesn’t share the history that I do with them. He wasn’t at the 16 year old girl sleepovers and cry fests. And I think more than that, for my marriage to work, I need to have parts of myself that are not shared, not up for discussion and debate. And my friendships are part of that. Massively hurtful things aside, he needs to let me figure my own stuff out with my friends.

      Not everyone is like that, I’m sure. But that’s my perspective.

      • Itsy Bitsy

        “… I need to have parts of myself that are not shared, not up for discussion and debate.”

        I agree wholeheartedly!! There need to be some parts of you that are exclusively you (imho).

      • kyley

        I would like to exactly this comment a million times.

      • “And I think more than that, for my marriage to work, I need to have parts of myself that are not shared, not up for discussion and debate.”

        Oh this, exactly. This is what I mean when I tell people that the hardest thing about moving right after we got married was that suddenly none of “my people” were around – friends who’d known me and known him before we became an “us.” They’re so important to me and to keeping my marriage healthy.

  • charm city vixen

    As other commentors have said, we all reach points in our lives where it is time to re-evaluate our friendships. There are simply some people who outgrow you, and there are other people you outgrow. I found that as much as I wish we were in the same places in life, we just are not. And I found that the people who simply couldn’t be happy for me are the ones I didn’t want in my life, as I had so many friends who were happy and excited about my new life changes.

    I’m not a huge fan of some of SO’s friends/family members (his brother can be really selfish and hurtful), but I know they will be there through everything as well. So I respect that part of his life, although I don’t always participate in it (he is more than capable of having “boy time” by himself… brothers are harder to avoid!).

    Determine whether these relationships are toxic. If they are, I would not invite them. Can you see them remaining in your life forever? If not, then don’t invite them. That’s my general rule — I don’t want to be showing my future children my wedding album and have them ask who every single person is. I want to try, as much as possible, to include people I’m fairly confident I will remain close to and have them be the community that will surround me after our marriage.

    HOWEVER, if you were seeing them as your wedding party, it seems to me that you can envision them being in your life for a while. If that’s the case, I would tell my SO that everyone brings some sort of baggage into the relationship — ex’s, financial debts, children, etc., and that your friends from high school are not something you are willing to sacrifice. Needless sacrifice like that will only breed resentment between the future newlyweds, in my opinion.

    • Ariel

      I just wanted to say hi! I’m a Charm City native living far far away, and your name made me smile :)

      Also, I have recently had a falling out with a woman who was my best friend for years. She did not at all like my fiance and was not at all supportive of my relationship with him.
      After a lot of reflection I came to the realization that for most of my life I have not valued myself enough to expect respect from the people that I have relationships with. Through relationship with my fiance, this has changed, and I have come to recognize that I deserve to be treated a whole lot better than I have been by the people that I consider my friends. When I started setting limits with my then best friend, letting her know that I wanted to be treated with more respect to my feelings, thought, and values, she basically refused to meet my requests to be treated differently.
      While I agree with a lot that Alyssa said, particularly that old friends are like family in a lot of ways, I think that there is something to be said about not entertaining toxic relationships–whether they be friends, family, or whatever.

      • charm city vixen

        I was hoping other Baltimore natives would love the name :)

        I agree entirely about toxic relationships — for me, it’s important to establish boundaries in EVERY relationship. Part of setting those boundaries is by using communication. It is also important for me to realize that I cannot control how other people act, but I can control how I will act or react to a scenario. (I can’t control you being a sick person for me to be around, but I can control how much of my time I am letting you have)

        For me, I realized that when I was less mentally well, I dated people and hung out with people who were toxic for me, although I didn’t know it at the time. So the boyfriend who treated me like shit (verbally or physically) and the friends who trampled all over my needs and wishes? I thought that they were all amazing.

        As cheesy as it sounds, when I started loving myself and respecting myself more, I chose better men to date and better friends to spend time with.

        Now, I feel like I am at a much better mental space — I am working on respecting myself, my FH totally supports and respects me, and all of the friends I maintain close contact with are happy that I’m happy. All of those toxic people? Long gone or the friendships are long-dissolved… and I hope that they can be happy one day too :)

  • When I started reading this, it sounded like a jealous fiance who just didn’t want his future wife to have practically any friends. And that worried me. I’ve known a few folks like that. Not cool. But, if you’re not really cool with them being your friends anymore either, well that’s a whole ‘nother story. In the past, I’ve had to ditch toxic friends (like the ultra complainers who thought the entire world was out to get them) and friends that I just grew apart from. There’s no shame in that, and it’s great for your mental health, at least after the initial withdrawal. So, if you think that you’ll be devastated if these friends aren’t at your wedding, just invite them. We all have people we worry about as potential guests at our wedding. But, if you are growing apart anyway, and think it will cause too much friction, then don’t invite them.

  • KateM

    I think it is important to note that she did say her fiancé doesn’t like the way they treat her. I think she does need to take stock of that and make sure they are actually being friends. Sometimes, women in particular are so loyal and always there for each other, they miss the fact that sometimes we outgrow friends, or they are constantly bring us down. She said that they didn’t support her starting her business, and if that is her dream, that is a crap friend. If your friend is always making you miserable, or is constantly causing drama, sometimes you may need to distance yourself some, especially if you are like me and overly empathetic. Recognize and address your HTB’s concerns, and ask him to stop. But see where he is coming from, he doesn’t want someone hurting you, bringing you down or ruining your wedding day.
    That being said, invite them to the wedding, but sit down and say “hey your behavior at my birthday was a little out of control and I just want to make sure we are on the same page about my wedding.” Be upfront about it. If your HTB really hates someone, I would say it is going to be a bad idea for them to be in the wedding party, it will cause endless conflict and stress and make both you and him miserable. Not worth it, It doesn’t mean you don’t care about them, but it is his day too. It is natural for your friends to change as you get married and start a family, some of your single friends will drift apart and you may not be close again until they get married, Some single friends love to be the “aunt” and will still be there for you. You don’t have to take drastic measures, it should resolve itself organically.

    • Puzzled Bride

      Um, yes yes. This really resonates for me. Thanks for the words!

  • Rachel

    I completely understand this situation as we are dealing with it right now but on both sides.

    I don’t think you should ask them to be in your bridal party because if they don’t ever ask you about you or seem to care about your needs/wants are they really going to be there when you do need them and when you need help. Are they going to be able to act mature enough to sit through a rehearsal dinner, bridal shower, etc.? I think inviting them to the wedding is fine but I wouldn’t do more than that. Just because you are friends since high school doesn’t mean that they get the golden crown of glory.

  • Ang

    As cliched as it sounds, it depends on the situation. In my case, there has been multiple times where Matt has said a friend is bad news and I ignored him (Because I try to see the best in people and think they all deserve a second chance, while he’s convinced everyone is playing nice til they can get his kidney) Sure enough, that person ends up lying about me, embezzling money, stealing projects, and general backstabbing. He just has good Succubus-dar I guess.

    It could be that the OPs fiance sees things that she has learned to ignore, doesn’t notice anymore, and sees how much it’s hurting the person he loves. Maybe a good step to take is to discuss these things with the friends. “So coming out of left field, here, umm it kind of bugs me that I don’t see you for two months, and when I do, you don’t seem to be interested in me at all. Did I do something? Am I oversharing on my Facebook? WTF?”

    Give the friends an opportunity to understand that you have a problem with the current behavior and the chance to change it. They’ll never make an effort if they don’t know something is wrong, and it’s not fair to expect them to psychicly know you’re unhappy because of them. Them going out of their way to make you feel better shows they do care about you.

  • TNM

    I might have a bit of a different take on this – but I find it a bit troubling that the fiance is basically requesting that the bride cut off all contact with her high school friends, not just for the wedding, but their future lives. Particularly since it sounds like their problem is just basically that they’re kinda jack@sses. And self-absorbed. Clearly, there may be parts of the story we are missing… but if this is all – well, I hate to break it to you, but so is about 90% of the world, at least part of the time (myself included). I can’t imagine making any type of analogous request of my husband, . I might not want to hang out with the friend – and would feel free to express an opinion to that effect – but I would never demand that he not see them (short of abuse/ substance-abuse problems, etc).

    Now if these friends have hurt your feelings with their behavior, or you personally just don’t feel close to them anymore, I’d say of course these are a excellent reasons for YOU to reassess your relationships. Alyssa is totally right that this a decision that you should make. But have you even talked to them about the behavior that troubles you? It seems to me that you may be adopting your fiance’s views more than having these concerns arise organically yourself. Particularly if these are concerns you’ve never mentioned to your friends in the past.

    • Puzzled Bride

      Hi! Puzzled Bride herself here…
      When I said that the issues brought up go beyond the wedding and into our future lives, I really meant that it’s making me think about the bigger picture. Not that he doesn’t want me speaking to them anymore in the future.
      I’m posting a bit more detail below, but thanks for your feedback!

    • Breeze

      My biggest concern here are that these are PBs *friends*, good or bad, and her fiancé is bringing pressure to bear on her to push them out.
      She’s a grown woman, and the decision to move on from important friendships should be hers alone, not one made partially or wholly to appease her fiancé’s aesthetic or other sensibilities.
      An SO can gently raise issues of concern, but if they push or bring pressure to bear on an issue like this – or refuse to “allow” the friends to attend the couples’ wedding – they are ultimately trying to deprive their partner of a significant part of his or her history, support system and social network, perhaps to serve their own sole vision of your future married life. That’s a big loss your fiancé is encouraging you to inflict on yourself, PB, and only you can know whether the benefits of ending the friendships outweigh the losses.
      Very dangerous ground, and, frankly, a Big Red Flag!

  • MamaMelli

    A very close friendship of mine suffered deeply during the engagement, wedding, and first year of marriage. I felt a lot of things the writer is saying– she didn’t listen to the things that were important, or she didn’t try and change how she saw me as a person after I got married, or she didn’t want to contribute the things that I wanted her to contribute to the wedding. And I will say that that wasn’t all that was wrong, but those little things added stress to the relationship.

    We finally talked things out after almost 2 years of not seeing eye-to-eye, and I went back and read some very old emails, and then I realized it: a lot of what was wrong in our friendship was how *I* looked at it. All those things I said up there? Yeah. They’re called “symptoms of poor communication.” I didn’t tell her why I changed after getting married, why some subjects suddenly became private, or how my needs for our friendship changed; I just expected her to magically figure it all out. And, oh gee, what a surprise, she’s not a clarevoyant, so she didn’t!

    Friendships after marriage are challenging, particularly when you’re talking about being married to one best friend and still trying to maintain another best friendship, but all those lessons I learned about my husband friendship should’ve been applied to my best friendship also. If something is coming between my husband and me, we talk about it. I should have done the same with my friendship, and it’s 100% my fault that that conversation took so long to come about.

    • FM

      Yes – Sometimes it is hard to remember that people don’t have the same assumptions as you about how things are in life, or are in just a different place in life and don’t know how it feels to be in your situation. Some people think that if you want to talk about yourself, you will, so they don’t ask you. Some people don’t get that you might not want to share as much with them about your fiance/husband as you did about past boyfriends (maybe because they are an open book, or because they haven’t had the same seriousness of relationship themselves). Some people might take your changes personally, as a judgment on them, or as a threat to your friendship, or otherwise. And some people are just maturing at different paces, to be frank, and it doesn’t mean that the same person won’t be an amazing more mature version of himself in a few more years. Not to say that these are all things a person has to deal with in a friend, but I think it’s an inevitable part of holding onto a friend for several years, that you will be mismatched in life at times, and your friendship can only weather this (assuming you want it to) with communication, acceptance and flexibility from at least one person pretty much at all times. At least that’s my experience.

  • When I first started dating Michael he had some reservations about my high school friends. While I was a laid-back stay at home and watch a movie kinda girl, they were partiers to the max. It stressed him out that they didn’t take care of me when we were out, and that I would make stupid decisions in their presence that I wouldn’t make otherwise. They were terrible influences, but at the same time I kind of needed them as an outlet to make stupid decisions and to learn more about who I am when he’s not around. However I can’t blame him for wishing I was better cared for. I would blame him if he tried to make decisions about who I should be friends with.

    That being said, it was my high school friends who cried the hardest at our wedding. They were the ones who got my mom to do shots of tequila during the toasts and who chatted up my grandmother during the dances. Granted, one of them ended up with her bridesmaid dress up over her head in our honeymoon suite at the afterparty, but Alyssa’s right: That’s family, baby.

    Also, as a sidebar: Michael has one friend who is known to be a bit loud, opinionated, obnoxious, etc. I had never liked him (I’ve come around since), but he was a member of our wedding party regardless. He ended up wasted at both the rehearsal and our wedding. He called my dad by the wrong name and completely offended my mother.

    Guess what?

    We all had a great time. I hardly noticed him while he was there. We’re still friends now.

    Your wedding is super important, but it’s also just one day amongst many. I would be MUCH more careful of the symbolic actions you take with your friends than the real actions the day of, you know what I mean? In my book, the symbolic gestures last a lot longer than anything they might actually do on the day.

    • meg

      Correcto. Wise words, Maddie.

      • ANON

        “Your wedding is super important, but it’s also just one day amongst many. I would be MUCH more careful of the symbolic actions you take with your friends than the real actions the day of, you know what I mean? In my book, the symbolic gestures last a lot longer than anything they might actually do on the day.”

        Would the same advice go for a friend who has a terrible substance abuse issue that he hasn’t acknowledged? This friend is a generally nice guy and friend of the FH — but every time he is around alcohol, he gets absolutely belligerent within minutes and says horribly offensive things to the people around him. He drinks so much he cannot control his own body… including bodily functions. He has called friends of mine that he doesn’t know terrible things for no reason at EVERY party we’ve had, which has led to him being asked to leave, which he later pretends has never happened. But when he’s sober? Sweet, nice, kind, loyal. Also, he’s part of a close group of friends who are all invited to the wedding. What do we do? We don’t want to end a friendship over one day… but we also want to protect our other friends and family… Then there is the enabling issue. But, there is also the not wanting to punish someone for having a disease issue…. We’re at the point where we’d avoid inviting him to regular parties but I worry that not inviting him to the wedding will lead to the end of a friendship and a lot of pain on his part…. sorry to rant… needing to make a decision this week and really struggling.

        • Wow, Anon. That sounds really hard.

          I hope this doesn’t sound silly, but have you tried talking to this friend about your hesitation in inviting him to the wedding? I’m sure it would be a very difficult conversation (and I would recommend keeping it between the three of you) but maybe he needs to hear that his drinking is causing so much of a problem that you’re considering not inviting him. There’s a fine line between processing and shaming, and I certainly don’t advocate for shaming–but based on my experience counseling people with substance abuse problems, it’s likely that he has no idea you see him that way. Maybe he would agree to stay sober for the night, or to stick to a drink limit. Obviously his ability to do that depends on how serious his substance problem is at this point, but it might be worth a try.

          • Anon

            Thanks so much Diana. A friend actually tried that exact tactic for her wedding and he agreed (“no problem!”) and, well, he could barely stand up during the ceremony…. tough situation… :(

  • I might just be cold-hearted, but Puzzled Bride’s email really suggests that this isn’t just a question of friends being a little rough around the edge. They really don’t sound like they provide much that’s positive in the way of a relationship. Maybe that’s totally not the case but I have to wonder why she’s maintained contact with them, outside of the fact that they were all friends in high school. If they’re totally toxic friends and she’s just holding on for nostalgia or a sense of obligation, I say it’s not worth it. If these are actually good friends, PB needs to explain that in detail to her fiance.

  • Puzzled Bride

    Hey there everyone,
    It’s “Puzzled Bride” here. Ha. That name….

    Anyway, I so appreciate all of the feedback! Thank you Alyssa and everyone who’s commented. This all definitely makes me want to examine the friendship a bit more and give it a bit more weight than I was. I was thinking before, ‘how do I not invite him and avoid war?’ whereas now, it’s more along the lines of ‘how do I examine the relationship and figure out where we’re headed?’

    To clear up a few things – the friend is basically just extremely immature And I can see that he specifically acts out around my fiance, which is exactly the behavior that fiance doesn’t like! It’s like fiance doesn’t even know the version of my friend that I like. All that my friend can talk about when he’s around my fiance is his very gay lifestyle, his dad’s very gay lifestyle, the very gay sex he has. It’s like he’s in a competition, he’s showing off. And it looks really really childish. It reminds me of some times in college where I was going through some rough things at home, and I had to tell every single person I met. It was my party line, because I didn’t know how to deal with it inside yet. He also talks about all of this stuff around his own six year old nephew, which is what really put my fiance over the fence in deciding if he liked this guy or not, though he did do me the favor of waiting until my friend was gone before expressing his anger. When my friend’s nephew was at our house learning about what a sugar daddy is and hearing about the three new boyfriends my friend and his own boyfriend had recently acquired for awesome sex, it was completely gut wrenching and uncomfortable and inappropriate in a deep dark way as an outsider. It’s the one thing that makes me actually nervous about inappropriate behavior at a time when you’d expect someone to put their best foot forward.

    Also, in terms of me being selfish by expecting unwavering giddy glee over my own news, I really don’t need that at all. For instance, we have been engaged for two months and haven’t updated our social networking info yet. We’re not looking for confetti to be thrown everywhere we walk in our honor, honest. However, I would love a little bit of that from the people who are ‘closest’ to me, and get a surprisingly small amount. Just a month or so before my fiance asked me to marry him, these very friends were giddily asking me if they would be my wedding party when it one day happened – they just “looooooove weddings!!” When others in the group have become engaged, or have birthdays, or anything, the group has gotten together and toasted the one celebrating. My birthday party that I mentioned – it was in another city, so only my foul-mouthed friend could be there and that was by chance, but some of the others forgot to even SAY happy birthday to me, and since I’ve been engaged (for two whole months), I haven’t even SEEN some of them, let alone had a celebratory drink. And this has been an ongoing theme for the past year and a half, during which my fiance and I have been launching a business together, and hoping friends would come to events we put on (which requires nothing more than showing up and drinking free wine and chit chatting), but have found it’s not the case. We get more support from people we’ve just met through the business who seem to be likeminded go-getters. I honestly don’t think I’m being selfish with my expectations. Especially if my friends hope to be given special roles in the wedding.

    • anonforthis

      PB-Do you think your fiance is sensing some hostility from your friend (the immature one who discussed inappropriate things around the 6 year old)? I am wondering because … well, I’m quite a bit older than most of this crowd; I’ll be 39 in a few weeks. I was married once before, for nearly 12 years, and have two children. But I am bi-identified and have been for over 20 years. I had a gay male best friend who never got over his hostility to my kids’ dad, and who is now repeating the inability to be happy for me on news of my engagement. He is a mature, accomplished, wonderful person, and was a terrific friend to me through many rough times, but I suspect there’s a part of him that is angry (and justifiably so) that I can enjoy all these privileges (like full civil rights) that he cannot, and he takes it out on my male partners. I suspect he also feels, on some subconscious level, that I am being disloyal to the community by opting to spend most of my life with opposite-sex partners as opposed to same-sex ones. Just thought I’d float that in case you think a heart-to-heart with your friend might yield some positive change.

      • Puzzled Bride

        I’m certainly aware of those types of sensitivities – I went to an all women’s college where you just learn about all of that by default, and I have many other friends who are themselves part of the LGBT community or who happen to have parents who are. I don’t think that’s it, but if this all results in a sit down talk, I could certainly keep that in mind. I brought up the issue of sexuality more because it plays into my friends’ constant topic of conversation than because of its implied political side.

    • holly

      I was reading all these comments until I got to yours, and I felt the same way all the way through…you’re just hurt. Why else would you be so focused on the selfish (besides the obvious–they are selfish.) You’ve given them all your love and hope for their good times, and now that your good time is here…they’re totally gone.

      I get it.

      Friends like family are hard to find–so I hope you don’t lose them, but I also hope they endeavor to deserve you.

    • FM

      I don’t know if you have had the experience of watching some of your friends go through stages of maturity and get to a better place? I have watched this – actually more starkly sometimes with my college friends than my high school friends – and let me tell you I am SO GLAD that I stuck through some of their issues and struggles that at times included treating me kind of shitty, because those ladies in their early 30s are the best parts of themselves that at times were masked by immature lashing out, showing off, acting crazy, etc. Not that they’re perfect or don’t still have issues, but just…it is a real blessing to be able to look at a friend you’ve known for 10+ years and think about how you’ve had the honor to watch them grow and change and blossom. Just something to think about.

      But, I do think it is worth talking to your friend about how he’s acting and why and that it seems like he doesn’t feel that comfortable around your fiance and can you guys work on that. And while you’re at it, that you’re hurt that it doesn’t seem like people are as supportive of your marriage and business as they have been for others in the group. It’s good to try to talk about it. And maybe they will step it up once you explain what it feels like from your shoes.

    • meg

      If it makes you feel any better, and less alone, one of my old friends greeted the news that we were engaged with, “Oh. I don’t believe in marriage.” Um. THANK YOU? People are dip-shits. Said person was most certainly not in the wedding party, was invited to the wedding, DIDN’T SHOW UP AT THE LAST SECOND, and um, is still a friend, if not close. By which I mean to say, people are selfish sometimes. Particularly in big life events.

      I’m not justifying this behavior, mind you, at all. For me, I owned up to the fact that this friend couldn’t be counted on… but… shared history is still shared history. And I still love them, abet from a distance. I’m a sucker, I suppose. I also know people grow and change and go through immature and irresponsible patches. That means I want to distance myself now. But they might pull it together later, and the bottom line is I still love them, and am still rooting for them, and I want to be around if that happens.

      Anyway, you’re not alone. We all have friends who act a fool.


      • Puzzled Bride

        Ah, yes Meg, less alone. And Holly, less hurt. I guess that’s a big part of what this comes down to. Thank you for that reminder. These matters of the heart are so freaking subjective and murky, and it’s easy to blow them out of proportion when they’re fueled by emotion. One of the people I would normally use as a sounding board for this dilemma is another friend who is also in the group, and getting married this summer, and about 1 million times more supportive (and mature)… but I don’t want to bring it up with her until I know how I’m going to approach the others. You guys are good. Like a shoulder to cry on digitally. Hehe.

        • Susan

          It sounds like you have your reasons for only approaching this friend after you have some things figured out, and I don’t want to second-guess them. That being said, I think it really might be worth considering going to this friend sooner rather than later. Sometimes having the kind of perspective she could offer–that of someone who knows the other people involved but who you feel you can trust to be mature–is pretty unbeatable.

          I think a lot of the reason there are some very disparate kinds of advice in this comment thread so far is that many of us are informed by our personal experience. I’ve had trouble with toxic, “psychic vampire” friendships, which makes me emphasize the aspect of things where you don’t feel as respected and acknowledged by your friends as we all deserve (all the time, whether we’re planning a wedding or not). Other people have had rocky times during friendships and have been glad later on that they hung in there when things were tough, or had partners who were controlling when it came to their other relationships, or were themselves cast in the role of “problematic friend” either fairly or unfairly. Those of us who are reading your descriptions of the situation out of context have lots of room for our biases to run rampant. But a trustworthy friend who knows more about the complexity of these friendships and their history won’t have to make so many assumptions.

    • p.

      PB – It sounds like your friend might need some someone to help him set boundaries. Perhaps in the future, saying “Hey can we table this conversation until the little one is in bed?” could help. And setting certain boundaries now could help him understand what’s expected of him — both at your wedding and in your life in general.

      While it sounds like the issue is bigger than just ‘will this person misbehave at my wedding?’, one option for this particular issue is to ask for help. Is there someone else in this group of friends who is more mature and who could help communicate expectations for the wedding? My sister has a close friend who can get obnoxious. She was concerned about his behavior at her wedding and shared her worries with a mutual friend of their who then talked to the potentially obnoxious friend about how he wanted to really focus on the couple at the wedding and wanted to have a good time with them and not treat the wedding like crazy house party with free booze — and it worked.

    • It sounds to me like your friends are really disappointing you lately. I’ve had this happen at various times in my life with various friends (and I’ve disappointed friends also). I’ve learned that it’s a long life. People aren’t always in a space to be what we need them to be. I stopped investing in a friendship that continued to be disappointing after several attempts to work on the friendship. I made space for other friendships that were more fulfilling. And then YEARS later, this friend and I reconnected.

      The key was, I stopped investing when it wasn’t working for me. I owned it. Once we become a partner, it’s hard to separate sometimes what’s good for me and what’s good for us. But I have found that when I really think about what is good for me, it is usually good for US. Sometimes my guy helps me see what is good for me and then I decide what to do.

      Perhaps your FH has knowingly (or unknowingly) made you aware that these friendships are not fulfilling to you, that you’re not getting support and that don’t have anything in common with these people. That’s great. I think now you have to own you’re not fulfilled, figure out a way to change it or decide to stop investing.

    • kyley

      I’ve been thinking about this all day. I finally had to come back an comment.

      The thing about friends-that-are-family is that, like family, sometimes they can let you down. I joke that my oldest, closest friend is like a sister, which means she also can upset me like only a sister could! I recently had to have a heart-to-heart with my friend because I was feeling hurt by some of her behavior. And you know what? It turns out she was afraid I had been moving on/didn’t value our friendship as much as I used to, and was also acting from a position of hurt. And I had no idea! A good conversation allowed us both to clear the air, to set some boundaries, to apologize for those hurt feelings, and to reestablish our commitment to our friendship.

      So have that conversation. Use lots of I-statements, make it clear that you value this person in your life, and be firm about the behavior that has hurt you.

      If I were you, I’d also want to have a heart-to-heart with my partner and ask him to respect your friendship even if he doesn’t like the people involved. Because asking that these friends-that-are-like family not be invited to your wedding is, in some ways, asking you not to be friends with them. It puts you in a very uncomfortable position! And if you are ever to make that decision it needs to be 150% your decision, and just like your friends have to support your engagement and your own business, he has to respect your friendships, you know?

      hugs & good luck!

  • Upstate bride

    Hmm, I have to say I was disappointed by this Team Practical post, as I rarely am. My husband-to-be (Jon) has a friend who I absolutely strongly, totally dislike (Mom says not to use the word hate). I dislike her because she consistently oversteps boundaries, because she does not respect me or my relationship with Jon, because she consistently exaggerates her importance in his life, and because she grates my nerves with her every noise, move and opinion. They have been friends for many years, and I know, for better or worse, that she’s not going anywhere. Therefore, I need to deal with approximately 30% of the feelings of ill-will and steam-blowing anger she produces in my head. 30%. Jon and said friend need to deal with the rest of it. My feelings toward this friend are 70% appropriate and justified. If this friend and Jon want to continue their friendship, they need to work together and work with me to find a way to make me comfortable. She needs to step back, establish better boundaries, and respect me. As we move toward marriage, I take precedent in Jon’s life. I do. Not her. At this point, it is primarily her responsibility to find a way to maintain and build a relationship with us as a couple, not my responsibility to find a way to accept her just because she’s been around longer.

    I think Puzzled Bride and her rude friend need to have a conversation with the fiance, and find a way for the rude friend to modify HIS behavior, and find a way for puzzled bride and rude friend to modify their relationship such that the fiance and the bride are comfortable having the friend at the wedding, and around grandma and babies. It sounds like the fiance is completely justified in his aversion to the rude friend, and that the responsibility for modifying the behavior falls to the rude friend.

    I am very, very tired of people assuming that because friends have been around longer than spouses and partners, they are more important. We’re not in high school anymore.

    • kyley

      I’m with you: the friend and the bride need to have a heart to heart, and asap. But I really don’t think it’s fair for the fiance to say that his bride’s oldest friend isn’t allowed/shouldn’t be her friend any more. I think all of this puts the bride in a really uncomfortable situation, where no one seems to actually be thinking about her feelings, and everyone is thinking about their own (which we all do, but shouldn’t, you know?).

      • Upstate bride

        From my reading of Puzzled Bride’s post, the fiance has not forbidden the bride from being friends with anyone. He has simply asked that the rude friend not be included in events that involve the fiance and his family. This is his wedding too. If he has reasons for not wanting to include someone who has been rude and unsupportive and who has a track record of behaving inappropriately at events, he is justified in making that request.

        • kyley

          I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree, b/c if my partner asked me not to invite a lifelong bf, albeit a problematic one, whom he dislikes to our wedding I would be really, really hurt by that.

          • Upstate bride

            Sometimes things that are justified and necessary are hurtful.

        • kyley

          True, but I just don’t see this as one of those necessary actions. A conversation and boundaries are defintiely in order, but to not invite a lifelong friend to your wedding is a pretty huge statement.

          (And my partner has had friends who I profuondly disliked before! I said my piece, and then let it go. And some of them have really hurt him, and some have figured their stuff out. But once I said my piece, I felt like it was for him to decide what was the best course of action.)

          • anonforthis

            Yes, but how would you feel if the “friend” in question acted (at a hospital) like his relationship with your partner was your partner’s primary one when you’d busted your butt caring for your partner after surgery and through chemo? At some point that whole “in sickness and in health” thing kicks in, and you have to recognize that “friends” are not the people you are having sex with and raising children with and buying a house with and whatever else you do that distinguishes your relationship with your partner from all those other ones. All that big stuff can be hard, and that is why one has to put the partner’s needs before those of a friend who justifiably rubs your partner the wrong way. Not everything that’s right is easy, and sometimes we have to make choices about what is worth having–in this case, a wedding where one’s partner is comfortable and feels that the marriage is being celebrated and supported, versus whatever pleasure one gets out of inviting people who don’t support the relationship to the wedding, or sustaining a friendship with someone who disrespects your marriage and wants it to be over. I concede that talking it out and trying to work it out is almost always the best course, but sometimes “friends” don’t really rise to the occasion when they’re called on in this way, and that is when one sometimes has to make a difficult choice.

        • kyley

          Sorry to respond up-thread; I can’t respond to your most recent comment.

          It sounds like we’re both speaking from personal experience, and we’ve had different experience. What you describe sounds truly, truly awful is certainly an issue where you, the partner, get to establish boundaries in a different kind of way than when there is tension largely between the friends only. Does that distinction make sense?

          • anonforthis

            Sure, Kyley, I agree completely. It just sounded to me like Upstate Bride is coming from the same sort of place I am, and, as you recognize, there is a real distinction between what she’s talking about — the so-called friend is essentially waging war against the partner or the marriage — and some people just don’t get along. But there is some in between, too — what if old friends are, for example, racist? As a woman of color who has grown up in largely white communities and dated plenty of white people, I have unfortunately experienced the racism of both a partner’s family and friends. And I am way more willing to help my partner work these things out with family than I am to be patient with good friends, no matter of how long standing. Obviously, every situation is different, but that is why one has to really assess what IS disrespect to your marriage and what is merely people not getting along as well as they might. And I think that PB’s story has enough nuance that perhaps it is not just that her friend is occasionally inappropriate, his behavior also raises a substantial question of whether he supports her marrying her fiance.

    • Yeah, Bros before Hoes stopped being relevant when we made the whole “life partner” commitment.

    • anonforthis

      YESSSSS! Sorry, just hitting that exactly button wasn’t enough. My fiance so often excused or defended the problem couple’s disrespectfulness towards me and our relationship (see above) because “we’ve been friends for 8 years!” Keep in mind all four of us are about 40 years old, so 8 years is not even that long, relative to some of our friendships. But yeah, knowing someone for longer is not what should define your relationship to them, nor should it be a reason to not stand as one with your spouse. I have known my ex husband (my kids’ dad) for 18 years and my fiance for about three, but fiance comes first, no doubt. I’ll always have some friendship with my kids’ dad because he is their father (and we share custody, so we have to get along, as a practical matter), but there are appropriate boundaries limiting that relationship and I work to make it clear, at all times, that the man I am marrying is the most important partner and friend I will ever have.

    • Exactly.

      Part of me, looking back, wishes that my husband would’ve said no to inviting one of my “friends.”

      Leaving father and mother to cleave unto each other applies to friends as well. Your main relationship is with your partner. Not your friends.

    • I don’t think it’s a matter of importance (i.e, “who is more important the friend or the partner”). I think it’s a bigger question of how to negotiate longstanding relationships with this very important relationship. And I think that negotiation stems from knowing what feels right to us as individuals and partners. Sometimes our partners help us become aware of patterns that we’ve been unhappily enmeshed in for years. Maybe they raise our awareness of it and then its up to us to do something about it or not.

      But, I also think there is a difference between a rude friend, or occasionally inappropriate friend, and someone who is toxic to the marriage. In my opinion, the latter is a primarily problem between partners. If my guy continued to be friends with someone who overstepped boundaries and made me very, very uncomfortable, I’d want to know why this relationship was so important to him and then I’d want him to take an honest look at how it’s affecting me (and us) and figure out a way to change it.

      As a partner to my guy, I have a responsibility to take care of myself and decide what relationships are good for me. I also have a responsibility to him if something I’m doing is hurting him. It’s a delicate balance, but it’s necessary.

      • Arachna

        Agreed. I strongly resist the idea of “importance”. No one can make me pick who is more “important” to me, my mother or my sister, my husband or my mother. I don’t think love works that way, at least for me.

        Anyone who tries to make me cut out of my life someone I love and makes my relationship with someone I love very difficult is going to get a lot of pushback from me, hurt and anger.

        This cuts both ways, if a friend is making my relationship with my husband (who I love) difficult – this a serious problem that this friend is going to hear from me about possibly at lenght and some volume.

        However if my husband is making a relationship with a friend I love difficult for me – he’s going to hear from me about that.

        If it goes both ways I’ll probably be annoyed at both and try to work something out, whoever has been more unreasonable would get more pushback.

        I absolutely believe that you have to prioritize your relationship with your partner – there’s almost nothing that I wouldn’t sacrifice for that relationship if it came to that – but I value that relationship because he’d never make me sacrifice something if he could possibly help it, it’s kind of a catch 22, if I’m asked to make what are to me unreasoanble sacrifices that’s a problem with the relationship that needs to be addressed and part of prioritizing the relationship is fixing it when it’s going off the rails.

        I’ve always known which friends of mine my mother didn’t like and she got to express it more than I wanted but she was never allowed to talk trash about them, I would stop her and she would respect that.

      • anonforthis

        Wise words, Heather G. Well put.

      • MamaMelli

        Yes, ma’am!

        I think a good way to look at this is in terms of our moms or dads, because they’re the ultimate in “friends and family.” I have a mom that can sometimes be passive-aggressive, or super-sensitive. My husband has a dad who abandoned him at 2 for an alcohol addiction. They are **totally different planes.** At the root of it, I can still say my momma is one of my best friends and that she cares deeply for me, even if I sometimes roll my eyes at her. Dan does not have that with his father, and probably never will, because he doesn’t feel the love at the root of their relationship.

        That’s really the difference between toxic and noisome. It’s important to not find yourself believing that any relationship with tiny fissures is really just a toxic relationship waiting to happen. I mean, seriously, if that were true, I don’t think any of us would make it to the altar, because ALL relationships have challenges.

  • You perchance remember the judge-y friend from my undergraduate post? I am also conflicted about whether it is worth it to continue the friendship. Since she was my very dearest friend in highschool, I made the decision to keep her in the weddingposse, with the the rationale that if nothing else, she represented a past self. And to be honest, I was still stuck in the mindset that I wanted an even wedding party. Her husband (a groomsposse member) will no longer be attending the wedding because he forgot to ask off work. She did not attend my bridal shower, and she said she might not attend my bachelorette this weekend. The closer I get to the wedding, I realize that I should have politely asked her to step down. There’s no support there for the person I am today, and no real investment in my wedding. If I had it do do over, I would simly give her an invite, and let her choose whether she would come.

    I hope you won’t have the same regrets.

    • Anon for This one (too)

      HE, as someone who went through something similar, definitely deal with this now, and not post-wedding. I have a lot of regrets in regards to something similar, and it caused a lot of resentment, hurt feelings, and bad behavior (on my side, too, for which I am quite ashamed and haven’t forgiven myself for yet).

      This is a hard post for me to read, because while I agree with a lot of what’s being said, sometimes shared history is an excuse for letting people behave badly and walk all over you, rather than a reason for sticking through thick and thin. However, Meg’s approach of giving them space to fail (or succeed), and lowering your expectations is a healthier approach than getting your hopes up.

  • I read this:
    “I have remained very close to them in my mind – we all live in the same city again and act, well, basically the way we did in high school. But honestly, none of us have much in common anymore, and we only actually see each other every two months or so. They’ve all been less than supportive as I’ve built this business with my now fiance. Also, I frequently have whole conversations with them where they fail to ask me a single thing about myself.”

    And that doesn’t sound like friends to me. Do they feel as close to you in their minds? Or are you all just comfortable with the sameness and can’t break out of it? If you don’t have anything in common any more, what’s holding you together other than the past?

    You still act like you are in high school? I had a friend from high school who even after we graduated from college kept trying to relate to me on the same level as when we were in high school and it seriously annoyed me. I’d moved on from high school. I’d grown. I’d changed. And yet he treated our relationship as if we were still the exact same two people. We grew apart and that’s how that happens. If you are growing, your relationship with them needs to grow as well. If it hasn’t grown then I’d wonder why you’re keeping it on life support rather than letting it rest in peace.

    Friends are also supposed to be supportive. Unless there’s a reason such as abuse that your friends wouldn’t support your relationship with your future husband, the person you’ve chosen to spend the rest of your life with, they need to back out.

    I have friends that I can not actually see for months or even years, but we still email and keep in touch on occasion and are the best of friends. How often you actually see each other can be a very small thing. They’ve supported me in my school and work decisions. They couldn’t have been happier for me than when I got married. Those are friends.

    I’ve also had friends who were what I needed at a specific time in my life and then we both grew apart and it’s no real loss because we were what we each needed at the time.

    Not all friendships that were worth having are worth keeping.

  • KJ

    This post is very timely for me. Getting married next month, and the wedding planning process has brought up SO much stuff about reevaluating friendships and the roles that old, conflicted friendships play in my life. One of my closest friends, whom I have been very close to for 15 years, has a knack for cultivating really intense friendships/relationships with people, and then having major falling outs, after which they don’t want to be in a room together. I am more of a slow and steady person – it takes a long time for me to develop close friendships, and I tend to keep those people around for a long time. As a result of the drama that the one friend has stirred up over the last two years, 4 of my closest people (who were also very close with the drama-stirring friend in the past) are no longer on speaking terms with each other. Trying to figure out how to navigate this as we’ve planned our small, 60-person wedding has been tough.

    My fiance is (pretty understandably) over the drama that said friend always seems to stir up with people, and, though he knows better than to actually say it, would really prefer that I let that friendship go. But it is REALLY hard for me to “let go” of someone whom I’ve known for so long, even if the friendship brings way more drama to my social circle than I would care for. Though I still love her tremendously, I have a lot of anger at this friend for the way she has treated other people, and the drama that she has stirred up in the friend group.

    I’m still close to, and have no real conflicts with all of the other no-longer-speaking-to-each-other friends. My frustration is mostly at how difficult it makes it to socialize, and to keep up with each of them individually, since group socializing is not longer an option. Because these people make up the core of my small friendship circle, I’ve decided to forego having a wedding party, a bachelorette party, or any showers, because the people I would most want to have there, can’t be around one another.

    My answer has been to try to shift my energy towards developing new friendships, and to accept that things in life don’t always go the way I would want them to, but it still really sucks. And I still haven’t figured out what to do with the drama-stirring friend.

    Guess I just needed to vent :-/

    • This sounds really hard :( Sending you hugs.

      • KJ

        Thanks…much appreciated :)

    • Puzzled Bride

      Oh man! I can’t imagine. Vent away. Losing out on some of those things that might accompany a wedding – a wedding party, a bachelorette, etc – does stink indeed. I, too, am feeling like I have to shift the ‘norms’ to fit my circumstance, and while I don’t particularly care about some traditions, others kinda hurt. I feel for you, for sure…

    • I have family members that don’t talk to each other. The last time they were in the same space was at a family funeral and they stayed on opposite sides the whole time. We don’t expect them to ever be in the same space again. They all got invited to our wedding though. It was then up to them to decide if they were coming or not. That’s a tough spot to be in.

  • G

    I’ve thought a lot about how to respond to this.

    We’ve had similar issues, with my fiance wondering why I was still friends with a certain person from college. I didn’t ditch her because of what he said, we ended up growing apart on our own (another story entirely). He did voice a few important things that had always bugged me but I chose to overlook. After she and I stopped hanging out so much my brother, sister and both parents all told me she drove them nuts, too, and they never liked having her at the house! So he wasn’t the only one.

    On the flip side, I have some family members that drive my fiance crazy, with good reason. But I don’t budge on those — they’re family. Now, though, we’re sending cards to his cousins that he rarely sees, and he’s back in touch — regularly — with extended family that he had grown apart from. His dad has taken me aside and thanked me for their relationship growing closer. So it goes both ways.

    In the end it’s about talking, as cliche as that sounds. I’m sure your boyfriend is not some overprotective ogre (you probably wouldn’t be on APW if he was) it sounds like he’s rightfully horrified by your friend. Your friend sounds like he’s acting out. Talk to both of them and hopefully, perhaps once your friend settles down in a relationship, you’ll have another couple and a new friend to hang out with.

  • This post really motivated me to do something about my somewhat similar situation.

    I have three friends from high school who I’m no longer close with, but who were best friends during some difficult times in my life. I feel like I need to invite them (and have one as a bridal buddy), but my lady doesn’t understand why since they are barely part of my life at this point. The history is important to me, as is not hurting anyone’s feelings (unfortunately, this still makes many of my decisions for me)–but I’ve been feeling uncomfortable and sad about inviting them when two have never even met my lady.

    All of this is to say that I need to find a way to reconcile these feelings, and I realized after reading this post that, for me, that means spending time in the next year rekindling our friendship. We don’t have much in common anymore, but I’m inspired by those of you who describe fulfilling friendships with people very different from you. I just sent them all an email asking if we can get together soon to catch up. Hopefully, by the time the wedding festivities start, our friendship will feel less…shelved.

    • ann

      i think inviting someone to a wedding (or to be part of your wedding) has a lot more to do with saying, hey! i value you, i appreciate you, thank you so much, and i want you in my life! even if “i want you in my life” doesn’t mean coffee everysingleweekend. these ladies will get what you’re trying to tell them.

      i have a sort of similar situation with two girls i was inseparable with in the early years of high school…i am not particularly close with either of them right now, so i felt weird asking them to be part of the ceremony in some way, even though i felt like i should. my mom pointed out that friendships often wax and wane in surprising ways over the years, and i probably wouldn’t regret asking them to be involved, so i did, and i have to say, as i was chatting with them on the phone after asking them, i felt so happy because it felt so right. it felt like i was telling them, hey! life is busy! we don’t have the same interests as much! but i love you and appreciate you and am grateful for you and still value your support and i hope we keep on goin’.

  • A A

    “Toxic people will just continue to hurt you slowly, you need to break off contact and surround yourself with those who are more positive.”

    YES, definitely! There are definitely some sour apples that you don’t want in your bunch.

    I had a friend from middle school through through college, who seemed to digress in maturity over the years. Not that she had done anything against me (because I was always progressively distancing myself from her so she wouldn’t hurt me), but I didn’t want her personality in my life. It is not worth the “longest lasting friend” title to invite her to our wedding.

  • z

    I realize this isn’t the topic of the post, but it occurs to me that socioeconomic class differences are a huge minefield for some weddings, and it often plays out in the high school friend/later in life friend cultural differences, for people who have taken a different educational path or are marrying someone of different background. It’s not just a money thing of course, because tackiness is available at all price points. Certain behaviors are disruptive or unacceptable in some communities, but appropriate or valued in others, and it’s really hard for people to talk about it. I un-facebook-friended some of my elementary school pals because of all their posts about getting in fights in bars and stuff like that, I just couldn’t stomach it.

    • TJ

      This is the major problem at play when my fiance complains about my friends: they all “think they know too much, have an answer for everything and talk back.” They all have graduate degrees and academic/intellectual jobs, and he just finished undergrad at 25 and works in a bar. I see smaller issues of regional and racial differences at play too. My friends from anywhere north of Richmond are “fat commie lemmings” and he thinks my family hates him because he can’t understand what “ribbing” is (he better figure it out, or it’ll be a long forever for him).

      I just let it roll off my shoulders. Hell, I’m a black Yankee grad student and he loves me just how I am. :) When it comes down to it, they’re my friends and not his; his complaints mirror his own insecurities, not their character flaws.

  • Ash

    Our long term close relationships teach us things. An important thing that getting married will bring up in your relationships is how to stick up for yourself and communicate your feelings. This is a true adult relationship. Can I express things and have you absorb them and make some changes on some level, if it is something that truly hurts me? If not than, good bye.

    If someone that you care about is hurting your feelings by the way they are interacting with you, it is your responsibility to let them know. If you act like nothing is wrong, you are not teaching them the appropriate way to treat you. Your relationship will hopefully get deeper and stronger by you expressing yourself, but if it doesn’t at least you can walk away knowing that you tried.

    • Ash

      And sometimes this means speaking on both you and your partners behalf. “We feel”. You will be surprised at how people will respect boundaries after you are married. It is a hard transition to grapple with, for everyone involved. It might just prove the dissolution of the friendship. Just keep true to your feelings, express them, and things tend to workout organically.

  • ann

    Also: who are your other friends? You say you only see them once every other month or so, and just assumed they’d be your wedding party…but when you look back and see who you actually spend time with and are actually super close with right now, is it them? are you neglecting other relationships just cause they’ve existed for less time?

  • Two weeks post-wedding, and my thoughts on the guest list have dramatically changed. Those friends we were thinking weren’t so important? I think we wish we’d said f-it, and invited them, despite not being so close in the last year or so of life. Those that we did invite that were blasts from the past? Essential. Every last one of them.

    That said: I removed a couple of people from my life, a year or so out of college. It was liberating, because they didn’t being anything good to my life, when the balance of things was considered. I think there is a place for this: removing, and reconsidering friendship, especially when the other person makes no effort. But, my college roommate, who I hadn’t seen since traveling Europe with 6 years ago? So glad I invited her. Her presence at our wedding was perfect.

  • Irene

    I ended up getting stuck right into these comments – there are so many for this post! All apt. One part of Alyssa’s response has been receiving less attention, however – that is “He doesn’t have to be friends with your friends, but he does have to respect them because they are your friends. And he has to respect you for being loyal to people you’ve known forever. That’s something we should all value in our partners—treating a long time friend well is a little like treating a waiter well. It says something about a person.” This definitely strikes a chord with me. I too have a set of long term friends from school, from college, and from other phases of my life. It’s true that we do not all have much in common – and, to be frank – the longer I have known them, the more capacity they have to get under my skin. But from a personal note – I do consider that it is a testament not simply to our friendships that we have stayed friends, but it also indicative of the fact that keeping friends is something that is important to me – in fact, it was one of the major reasons I broke up with my last boyfriend – he had kept so few friends from his past that it worried me that he was the sort of person to whom loyalty didn’t matter much and who didn’t bother to make an effort to keep friends – something that I think should have been a warning signal to me, particularly as he failed to put in the effort to keep our relationship alive. I too have had friend culls and I think it is healthy to get rid of friendships that no longer make you happy – but I do have to question whether you are doing this for yourself, or whether it’s simply that friendships don’t matter as much to your fiance. Now – don’t get me wrong – I think it’s very possible to be a great person without loads of friends from the past – but unless you have that experience and baggage you can’t understand what friends like that are like.

  • Beb
    • I just saw that and came back here to check! Weird.