He Tried to Have an Affair with Me, Now Wants Me at His Wedding?


When you’re invited to a wedding via 5 a.m. text

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

A bride bathed in neon pink light on the dance floor, dances with her face down and hands up mid-motion

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.

—Anonymous

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.

—Liz Moorhead

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Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her sons.

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  • Amy March

    Why did he invite you? Because he’s a terrible person who wants to keep you as a side option and he isn’t worth the time or thought it took to write out this letter. To avoid him popping up again, block his number, email address, and social media.

    • Jess

      I have said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again, the Block feature is the greatest gift you can give yourself.

  • CMT

    I don’t know that there’s an actual question in here, but I think in general, declining any 5 am text message invitation is a good rule of thumb.

    • He’s ALWAYS only calling ’cause he’s drunk and alone ;)

      • Cassy

        That song is soooo good thank you!!

  • Violet

    I’m sorry, he didn’t really invite you to his wedding. He was feeling bored, lonely, annoyed with his fiancee, whatever, and so decided to try to see if you were still an available outlet to him. Since you’d already done such an excellent job explaining why you wouldn’t be having any more to do with him, he had to pick a pretty radical thing to say to get your attention. This was not an invite, it was a desperate flail. Don’t give it any more weight than that.
    *Obviously I can’t actually read his mind, but whatever.

    • Larkin

      This! If I had to make an educated guess, on some level he was hoping you’d respond with something like, “OMG, you’re getting married??? No!!!! Let’s meet up and talk about this.” He either wants you there as a backup, he’s an emotional vampire who wants to feel loved and wanted by lots of people even if he’s not planning to actually act on it, or he wants an excuse to back out of his wedding. And you don’t want to be part of any of those scenarios.

    • Liz

      Agree 100%. In his mind, there was some tiny chance you might have responded “Stay there, I’m on my way”. You can’t keep this guy from being a terrible person, but you can not be involved. Ugh.

    • sofar

      Nailed it. He is flailing. He is manipulating.

      The only thing you can do with these kinds of people is to not give them what they want.

  • emilyg25

    This guy is an asshole. Cut off communication and if he contacts you again, ignore it. You owe him nothing.

    • emmers

      I feel like it’s “don’t feed the trolls.” If he reaches out and continues to never hear anything back (maybe because you’ve blocked him, maybe because you’re not responding, he’ll eventually stop.

      I’ve had exes who know I’m married but continue to randomly reach out, and this seems to be the most effective. No/minimal response, block, repeat.

      • Violet

        Behaviorists call it extinction through planned ignoring. Basically, even negative attention is more appealing than no attention at all (particularly if they’re bored/understimulated). Even getting a “No” response feels good enough that they’ll try again at a later time. I’m pro no-response, all the way.

        • Sarah

          So true. I’ve been on the other end of this situation (though not to this extreme, just wanting to contact an ex for whatever weird emotional reason) and I can verify that even a negative reaction is better than no reaction. Any response whatsoever will trigger just enough of a brain chemical boost to make it worth it. No response will make the person lose interest must quicker.

      • emilyg25

        I’m a big fan of Gavin DeBecker’s book “The Gift of Fear.” In it, he writes that if a stalker calls you 50 times and you finally pick up on the last call, all they learn is that it takes 50 tries to reach you. You have to just completely ignore them. Forever.

        • AP

          This realization was HUGE for me in finally closing the door on my ex, who loved to call over and over until I finally picked up. He tried different voicemail tactics too, to see which one would get me to call back. It took a psychologist friend pointing out the pattern for me to get it. Blocking his number, email and Facebook was the only thing that worked.

    • MTM

      She made reference to a professional connection…perhaps that’s why he’s not completely cut off?

  • Cleo

    “New phone, who dis?” is a perfectly appropriate response to any text message he sends in the future.

    You did the right thing, LW. Proud of you!

  • laddibugg

    Just a question about the URL (I always look when I read APW at work)…an ‘ex’ what? Hm.

    • Violet

      Ex-entanglement, I’d say.

  • Emily

    HAHA A fling from college messaged me out of the blue after no contact for years (on a major holiday). After a few messages my last sarcastic words were, “…well get some therapy sessions in. Or go dig up some old girl friends. Same difference.” We all know we these guys are doing, no reason wonder about it. Or not to laugh about it.

    • LAinTexas

      I have caught an ex from college (approximately eight years ago now) following my Instagram accounts within the last year and had to block him on both. Like, why? Get a life, dude.

  • Mrrpaderp

    LW absolutely did the right thing. In fact she’s so incredibly 100% right that I wonder why she felt enough uncertainty to write this letter, especially if, as it seems from her last paragraph, she’s talked to “many” friends about this and they’ve all supported her. I mean, look, exes and “what if” people pop up sometimes. You roll your eyes and shut it down or ignore. But that isn’t LW’s reaction – she’s in this confused, emotional spiral. Why? Liz ‘s last paragraph addresses this really well; LW can take this opportunity to give herself any closure she needs about this guy.

    • emmers

      I thought this line was perfect: “Don’t let this text message kick open a door that you’d long ago carefully closed.”

  • Jessica

    What a piece of garbage. You did the right thing, LW.

  • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

    What a shame for the poor lady marrying him.

    • Jess

      That was my thought, too. Like, LW you did the right thing, strength to you to continue doing that. Dude, you’re a jerk.

      Wife-to-be? Oh, honey, I’m so sorry for future you.

    • I am sorry for the wife-to-be too. She might very well have absolutely no idea that her fiancé keeps women on the fringes just in case he decides he wants to “switch trains” at a moment’s notice. And the LW totally did the right, smart thing to stay out of this and protect herself.

  • anonforthis

    Yeah….had a guy that I had a connection with 15 years pop up out of the blue….at 2 am. That went nowhere (I knew something was up)…and three weeks later…there’s an engagement announcement.

    My mama was right: nothing good happens at 2 am.

    • CMT

      Unless you’re in a position where you want 2 am booty calls! I’m not there now, but I have been there and done that.

      • Nothing worth more than 6.5 minutes of actual mental energy happens at 2 am?

  • Amandalikeshummus

    I think sometimes with relationships that don’t blossom, we idealize The Connection with a person. Since things don’t get a chance to play out, you never learn what it’s really like to go on a twenty hour road trip with them or wait for them to leave work late for the ninetieth time, ect. Youth seems to also make The Connection feelings seem more important than they seem in later relationships. I totally have an ex with whom I exchanged intense emotions, but would also have been a terrible choice for a longterm partner (even without the fact that he’s not generally attracted to women).

    It seems like LW is all set doing the right thing and all, but I say this as reassurance that doubts or whatever comparisons can’t be trusted as some follow your gut response.

    In the end, while connection and love are important foundations, relationships are made by the work we put into them.

    • emmers

      Exactly. When I start to feel uncertain, I remind myself that that person had their chance.. and we/they couldn’t make it work.

      • CMT

        I’ve had that mantra on repeat lately.

    • AmandaBee

      Yeah, if LW is wondering why she keeps having a reaction to this dude, I’d bet this could be it. It’s easy to idealize relationships that only ever existed in our heads. You gotta realize that the fantasy was never real.

  • Abs

    I mean, I think there’s a slight chance that this wasn’t actually a bid to get LW back into his life. It might just have been him trying to re-narrate a story that had been making him feel kind of bad (like: oh man, remember that girl I treated really shittily a while back? well that’s not what happened because we were always just friends oh look she’s even coming to my wedding so it’s all fine). I’ve been involved in dynamics like this before.

    But honestly it doesn’t actually matter, because either way he’s just using you to get some emotion that he’s craving, without any actual regard for you as a person. So whatever he’s looking for out of this–Liz is right: don’t let him in, because there is nothing there for you.

    • Violet

      I just… via 5 AM text message? Naw. If it were him trying to justify poor past behavior, LW would have made it to the “real” invite list that he had to jointly compose with his fiancee, and then send out paper or email invites.
      But yeah, either way, doesn’t matter.

    • emilyg25

      “either way he’s just using you to get some emotion that he’s craving, without any actual regard for you as a person.”

      Yesssss

    • Amandalikeshummus

      Oh yeah, people totally do this. I have an ex who acts like we are totally still friends so much that I’ll run into mutual friends who ask about him and I’m like, “We haven’t talked in over half a decade…”

  • LAinTexas

    “Loving someone completely is risky and it takes work, but the risk and effort are what make it worthwhile.”

    This.

  • Anna

    Simpatico is nice, but it doesn’t hold a candle to honesty and respect.

    Wow, this. I have a relationship that I’ve recently consigned to the past and I needed this reminder today. Whew.

    • Molly the Bean

      This was my favorite line, too.

  • From having only this letter to go on, I’d say this guy sounds like someone who is charismatic and charming and has some (a lot?) of narcissistic/self-focused tendencies. He seems like he needs a lot of attention (kibbles) in life, and I’d guess he might also be the type that likes having a bunch of female “friends.” I’d even guess that he might jump into a new relationship before ending the last one. Maybe he even knew that the LW was in a relationship and happy and he just wanted to re-start something to mess with her and keep her a little on the line, just in case…

    But that’s all speculation based on a letter and what I’ve seen in my life. What does seem clear, though, is that he isn’t treating people (neither LW and his long-time girlfriend/fiancée) with respect. LW, good call on cutting contact the first time and not attending the wedding. And the fact that he was very disappointed and unimpressed that you’re getting married makes it pretty clear his intentions were self-focused.

  • archaeopteryx

    It doesn’t matter how connectiony / hot / etc etc someone is, if they’re trying to get with you behind someone’s back, you have all the information you need to know that they’re not worth your time or emotions.

  • suchbrightlights

    This dude is whack and you were smart to get him out of your life. A+.

  • toomanybooks

    Oh hi apparently I missed this yesterday and I’m getting to it kinda late and I have some things to say:
    Screenshot everything and send it to his fiancée. Tell her everything. Now I’m all for “sometimes you don’t want to throw people’s lives into disarray and it’s better not to tell them.” But I think this is a perfect situation to tell the partner. I think she’d want to know he was planning on running around on her/running away with her for someone else and apparently already thinks their relationship is boring. I don’t really see this being a happy marriage for either of them and it’s best if they (she!!) can dodge this bullet. Also if this is a pattern for him there may be other people he’s cheated with for all we know!

  • anon for this

    I have a…weird person from my past, and at one point I said I felt like I was being haunted because he would just know when the weird and vulnerable moment would be to show up. And my therapist basically confirmed that that’s what this kind of person (maybe not actually abusive, but emotionally manipulative) can do. And, it’s SO FRUSTRATING because I know, deeply, that I do not want to be with this person. And yet it still totally throws me off, and makes me question everything. I felt so much more empowered when my therapist said “oh yeah he’s gonna keep showing up, you’ve just got to block his messages and figure out how you can be prepared to handle it.” (He’s not actually stalking, my safety is fine, it’s someone who is adjacent to my social circle). You’ve got this, he sucks, I am deeply sorry.

  • Pterodactyl111

    Good job getting the heck away from that hot mess, LW.

  • GoldenCompass

    Oh boy was this letter answer hard to read. I was in an LTR with someone with this MO, and the letter really does spell out how some people, even if they’re not sure why, are always keeping someone on the back burner. It’s just sad all around, and what an annoying text that is so clearly putting the burden on you for his weird cold feet emotions.

  • Lilknottygirl

    I have one of these in my life too. Tried to hook up with me behind his gf’s back while they were living together, didn’t speak to me at all for the duration of my 4 year marriage and then came crawling out of the woodwork when someone in our social circle told him my marriage had ended. I have a boyfriend and he has a serious girlfriend-he always does-but he’s not letting any of that stand in his way. I ripped him a new one about his behavior a couple months ago and he apologized and then proceeded to resume the exact same behavior last week. Everyone here is right, the only viable course of action is to totally cut off communication.

  • Alison Lysakowski

    I’m going to take this a huge step further. This may seem difficult, but I highly recommend you attempt to inform his girl. Do you have any way to contact her? She needs to know. Even if it destroys their engagement. She would rather know now. It’s not gossip and it’s not tattle-telling and it most def is your business since you know about it. Please don’t stand by and let him just do this behind the scenes. Do what you can to inform her.