Q: I’m a bride-to-be and I’m having trouble with my maid of honor. I love this woman very much. She was my best friend in college and my roommate when we both moved to a new city four years ago. We really have been through a lot together. And I should mention I’ve really shown up for her in the past few years when she was going through some tough stuff.
So fast-forward to my engagement. Admittedly at first, I talked about wedding stuff a whole lot. After a month or so, she was acting outwardly annoyed so I apologized for obsessing and made the conscious effort to not talk about anything wedding when we were together. I figured I would only mention anything if she asked. Five months later (after nothing being said on her part), after many cocktails, she asked me why I never talk about it. At this point I was really hurt that she hadn’t asked me how things were going but I wasn’t going to start that conversation while we were drinking so I just brushed it off. After two more months of radio silence on her end I asked her if she was still interested in being maid of honor. I said something like “I know you’re having a tough year and don’t have a lot of money to dedicate to a wedding. If you don’t want to be MOH, I totally understand. There are no hard feelings. But I don’t think it’s fair to either of us for you to take on MOH if you don’t really want to do this.” But she insisted she still wants to do it.
She offered to plan the bachelorette party. Yay! And don’t get me wrong, I’m so thrilled that anyone would offer to plan me a bachelorette party. I’m really trying not to be high maintenance about it. But then she basically asked me to plan it, and I paid the up-front costs for everything. Still fine. I’ve even said that I don’t have to have a bachelorette if she doesn’t think she can handle it or doesn’t want to. But she insists she wants to, but then doesn’t do much and acts really annoyed whenever I try to talk to her about anything.
I’ve read a lot of articles about what a MOH is “supposed to do.” Most feedback I’ve gotten is that the only thing they technically have to do is show up on the wedding day in the dress and smile for photos. Which is fine. But as a best friend, I’m really hurt that she hasn’t once asked me how I’m doing with all the wedding stuff. I’m still making a conscious effort not to bring it up because it’s clear she’s just annoyed by it. Not only has she been totally disinterested about my wedding but our whole dynamic has changed. She hasn’t asked me to hang out this entire year. It’s always me reaching out to her. She also just has a more bitchy demeanor toward me. And despite how she’s been acting, I’ve still really made an effort to be there for her because she IS having a tough year. And although my feelings are really hurt, I do understand where she’s coming from. I’ve actually spent the past three weekends at her place being her support through some minor health issues.
I just don’t know what to do. She clearly doesn’t want to be MOH but she keeps insisting she does. I’ve spent last ten months of my engagement trying to navigate this. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been trying to enjoy as much as I can with my fiancé. But, how she’s acting is just really hurting my feelings and putting me in my head about everything. I’m really getting to a point where smiling through it and brushing everything off is exhausting. Especially after how I’ve shown up for her in the past. I really want her to just step down since she clearly isn’t into it. This is just putting a real damper on my engagement, as much as I’m trying not to let it.
Again, I just really don’t know what to do. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!
Well, at this point, removing her from the role won’t solve anything. This isn’t about being maid of honor, this is about being a supportive friend. Knock her out of the role and those friendship issues will still exist, or even be exacerbated.
It sounds like whatever your friend is going through is leaving no bandwidth for other folks’ happiness. Which is admittedly not great. Ideally, friends would have room and energy for all of the different good and bad life stages we’re all individually going through simultaneously. But practically, it just doesn’t always work that way.
Whatever it is she’s going through, it’s gotta be hard to listen when your big complaints are about scheduling cake tastings or, “I’m so stressed about the guest list!” Wedding planning is really, very hard and has some real struggles, but they can sound like champagne problems depending on where you’re at yourself. I’ll cop to sometimes feeling this way when friends are stressed out by the house-buying process—a truly stressful experience with loads of potential problems! That I would frankly kill to be able to have! My own crappy feelings about it are my own, and I’ll acknowledge that and wrestle with it. But it doesn’t change how I feel. I’m sure your friend wants to be maid of honor (she said she does, take her at her word), but that doesn’t make it easier to deal with any other conflicted and complicated emotions swirling around in there, or whatever other strains are on her time and attention.
But before we decide that’s what’s going on, be reflective. Is this a sudden and unexpected change? Or has your relationship always been one-sided? You mention all of the ways you’ve been there for her in the past. Is this a friendship that’s usually been mutual, or is she always asking of you without giving back? If this is typical for her, then it was unrealistic to expect a wedding to change her. And now that you’ve had your light bulb, you can step away from this suck on your energy.
If instead you think about it, and this is really unlike her, then assume she’s going through something. And that hopefully, maybe, this means this is a short-lived blip, that your friendship will go back to normal after the wedding (as much as it can after she’s put you through so much hurt).
In the meantime, find someone else to gush over wedding details with. It won’t make up for your friend’s lack of involvement. But, at least you’ll have a place for all of your (honestly, very reasonable) wedding planning energy and excitement and angst. And if that works, and you can find a way, really lean into being there for your friend. It sounds like you’re already trying, but be introspective here. Has your bitterness over her lack of involvement made you pull back?
In a perfect world, we’d all be able to look beyond our own circumstances to be wholly there for our friends. But sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. Make sure you’re not guilty of the same, so focused on your own situation, your own experiences, the way your friend is treating you, that it stands in the way of being there for her.