Q: Dear APW,
I have a bridesmaid that I love dearly. She is one of my closest friends and I’m so excited to have her at my wedding. I am not excited to have the guy she’s dating at my wedding, or anywhere around me.
Some background: my bridesmaid (we’ll call her Q) and this guy (we’ll call him M) dated exclusively for about two years and lived together for about six months. They were very serious and, though they fought all the time and M was often very mean to her, Q thought that they were on the road to an engagement. Late last year, M made it very clear that they were not. He said some terrible things to her, she ended up sleeping in her car one night, and they broke up and she moved out.
Fast forward a couple of months, now they’re seeing each other again un-exclusively. M is still often mean to Q, and Q tells me about the horrible things he says to her and about her. I’ve come to realize that even though their relationship is toxic and unhealthy, she is not going to stop seeing him no matter what her friends or family say, at least for now.
But I do not want this man at my wedding. I don’t want him at the engagement party we’re throwing, I don’t want him at the rehearsal, I don’t want him at any afterparty. I don’t want him anywhere near me. In addition to being horrible to my bridesmaid (which I hate him for), he’s made disparaging comments to and about my fiancx, he’s made racist comments to a groomsman and close friend, and he’s made sexist comments to me. If it were just about the way he treats Q, I might be able to stomach him being at these events because I want Q to bring whoever she feels comfortable with. But I can’t describe how deeply I hate this man for insulting basically everyone I’m close to. To be clear, he is not invited to the wedding or any events. The groomsman and my fiancx also don’t want him anywhere around. But Q often brings M to parties/events he’s not invited to, especially if she’s given a plus-one. She’s mentioned bringing him to my engagement party.
Q knows about all of the things he’s said to me, my fiancx, and my close friends. She has obviously seen how manipulative and toxic he is in her own life. I’ve been very clear with her about how I feel about him. But she still wants to date him and involve him in big moments, including my wedding. I don’t know what to say to her to make it clear that he cannot be at any of the events leading up to my wedding without offending or upsetting her. How should I approach this topic, and how can I be firm without being mean?
A: Dear Concerned Friend,
You’re in an impossible situation. A common, but impossible, situation.
Regarding the wedding, loop in someone to be the bouncer if he arrives. It might be as simple as letting the venue know that there are some potential wedding crashers, and you’d like someone stationed at the door with a guest list. In this rare instance, do not give your bridesmaid a plus-one.
Then, sit and talk to your friend in advance. Remind her that he’s not invited, and remind her why (in this conversation it might be clearest to stick to the racist and sexist things he’s said, since she’s clearly able to rationalize how he treats her). Then explain that you want to be sure that she doesn’t bring him anyway, because you will have someone escorting guests out if they’re not invited, and you really don’t want to embarrass her by having that situation unfold. Hopefully she hears this. Hopefully she leaves him at home. His behavior, your requests, nothing else has been enough to persuade her. Maybe the idea of public humiliation will.
The bigger, broader, more urgent question of what to do about their relationship? Ehhhh this is where it gets so, so hard. I’m glad that you note that you’ve been clear about your feelings toward this guy, and that it sounds like your honesty hasn’t changed your friendship. I hope (for both of your sakes!) that she starts to see him for what he is.