Q: I have recently received a wedding invitation by someone I was involved with in the past. Our involvement was slightly atypical, in that we did not have a real relationship, nor physical contact. We met and developed quite a close friendship. Since the first time we met, we both were aware of a strong connection on different levels, however, he did not start talking about having feelings for me until several months in. After that, he made it clear that he was unhappy about his life, was on the verge of making significant changes, and felt in a sort of void. Among other things, he hinted at wanting me to be part of this new beginning. In all of this, I was quite scared.
A short time after he told me about his feelings for me, I found that he actually had a long-distance girlfriend. When I found out about them I decided to break all contact with him. About a month after I had stopped talking to him—deleted him from Facebook and all—he wrote me a long email explaining that he didn’t want to lose me, that he hoped I could forgive him and would come back into his life, that he was in a major state of confusion but would have never wanted to hurt me, etc. I responded saying that I couldn’t be involved with a guy who had someone by his side, that I couldn’t pretend I was his friend, and that I respected his girlfriend and wouldn’t want to keep in contact with him as it all would be happening behind her back. At that point, any talk of friendship or professional connection would have been a lie, and at that point my feelings for him were growing—staying in that mess would have hurt everybody too much. We haven’t resumed our contact and I understand that is largely because of the choice I made.
Fast-forward to a few weeks ago. I have met someone I am happy with, had zero contact with this other person, and sort of let it all slip away. I got a text recently, at 5 a.m. It was him, telling me he is getting married. To her. And that he wants me to be there. I find this bewildering. I declined the invitation, after informing him that on the same day—what a coincidence, and it is real—I am celebrating my own anniversary with my partner, to whom I am getting married. He was very unimpressed and sounded quite disappointed, but attending that wedding was absolutely out of the question, as I would have felt extremely uncomfortable meeting his wife—and just seeing him again—in that context. I still remember well the things he used to tell me, and I find it very strange how he can ask me to be there, to see him exchange vows with her. I keep wondering why he has thought of inviting me, why he wanted me to be there, given that we are not friends and that we kept no sort of contact. I also can’t help but feeling it is not respectful toward her. I have many friends who keep telling me to be aware because in the future he may just randomly show up again, but this whole thing left me extremely confused. I feel an external perspective would be enormously helpful.
A: Dear Anonymous,
You made the right call. Who knows what he’s thinking by inviting you, but the middle of the night timing makes this extra (extra?) dubious.
This guy isn’t good at being forthright or respectful of the people he cares about. He wasn’t honest with you about having a girlfriend, and honestly who knows what she knew of you. Now he’s texting you in the middle of the night? And is pretending that this text is some sort of wedding invitation? Let me be clear, this isn’t how most folks receive wedding invitations. And I can pretty much guarantee his partner didn’t know you were being slid onto the guest list.
So, why the sudden text? Loads of folks have a bit of cold feet just before the wedding and start wondering about the doors they’re closing. (I get enough emails about that.) But this sounds like a pattern for this particular guy. He’s the brand of person who likes to cover his bases, to have another option waiting in the wings. He likes to have the security and comfort of a long-term girlfriend but also the thrill and excitement of planning a fantasy future with a cute friend. He wants to get married, but also have someone else to text when he’s fighting with his wife, and he needs to know that at least someone finds him witty and dashing. Maybe not consciously, but that’s how it’d play out. And because of the dishonesty, because you can’t trust him, there would never be equal footing here.
He’s gotta pick a lane, and of course that’s scary and hard. He’s got a teeny (teeny, teeny) bit of sympathy from me there. But that’s how it goes, my dude. Loving someone completely is risky and it takes work, but the risk and effort are what make it worthwhile. You’re missing out if, instead of being entirely vulnerable with someone, you’re secretly planning an out, just in case.
I could keep blustering on about “just friends” who aren’t JUST friends, but this guy didn’t write in. You did. And you don’t mention how this text impacted you. Has he sent you spiraling down your own “what if?” path? Has he got you feeling guilty about how things were left, like perhaps you were wrong not to pursue a just-friends-ship? Are you feeling flattered? Curious? Don’t let this text message kick open a door that you’d long ago carefully closed. You’ve been given no evidence that going to a wedding or investing in a friendship with this person would be worth your time. Simpatico is nice, but it doesn’t hold a candle to honesty and respect.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTION, PLEASE DON’T BE SHY!