Q: About a year ago my close friend broke up with her boyfriend. I think she was reeling from the breakup, so she made a couple of rash decisions involving men while they were apart. Flash forward a few months to when they got back together. She called me and asked me not to disclose any of the stuff that had gone on during the breakup because they weren’t discussing what happened while they weren’t together. Of course, I thought, I’m not going to go gossiping to him about her. Anyway, despite this supposed “silence” on the breakup, the boyfriend was now pumping me for information about her. He’d say things like, “I know she slept with so-and-so,” or, “It’s fine, I know she was sleeping around.” Finally, one night after I’d had a couple of drinks, he began poking at the topic again. This time, he started on about how he knew she had slept with one of his very close friends. She hadn’t. I told him that he needed to talk to her, but mistakenly added, “Anyways, she was dating a different guy then, so she couldn’t have.”
I knew I’d crossed a line, and when my friend and I talked about it, I was very open about that. I feel, however, that her boyfriend clearly had unresolved issues with these relationships and I was being dragged into it. We settled it and moved on. I helped him pick out an engagement ring, he proposed, they asked me to be a bridesmaid, I went to help them pick out venues and participated whenever I could.
Then, a few months later, my friend asked me out to dinner to tell me that she couldn’t move past the fact that I betrayed her by telling her boyfriend what I’d known, and that she didn’t want me to be a bridesmaid, but hoped I could still come to the wedding. She said I didn’t support them as a couple and on and on. While I know I shouldn’t have said what I did, I feel as though this is really unfair. Now I’m conflicted about whether or not I should go to the wedding, since I’ll probably be resentful of the fact that she really hurt my feelings (no one wants that at their wedding), or whether not going is rude and something I’ll regret later.
—The Fired Bridesmaid
A: Dear FB,
Whoa. Before we jump into the wedding invitation (we will, I promise), we’ve got a whole lot to talk about.
First off, please know: You weren’t the wrongest here. Slipping that detail was maybe wrong. But it was wronger for your friend to rest the security of her relationship on whether or not you blabbed. And possibly wrongest of her partner to falsely make some sort of don’t ask, don’t tell policy, and then egg you on (while you were drinking!) until you finally broke and gave him a clue. These people clearly have a whole lot to work through about honesty and trust, and whether or not they really are okay with whatever occurred during their break. And none of that, not a single piece of that, is about you.
Which makes me think this canceled bridesmaidship isn’t really about you either. You’re the scapegoat here, and it’s easier to take whatever weird, unsettled feelings they have and (instead of acknowledging that they’re about one another and wrestle with that) pin them on you. Make them about your “betrayal,” and pretend like making you step down solves everything for everyone. But, nope. It doesn’t.
You mentioned some resentment, and you should tell your friend about it. Let her know that being asked to step down as a bridesmaid hurt your feelings. That you regret what you said, but you didn’t intend to say it, and you resent that this drunken slip is being painted as betrayal. You may even want to bring up the rest of what I was saying up there. Tell her, “Hey, I’m worried that this whole sordid mess means there’s some stuff you guys need to talk about.”
And, honestly, how she responds may help you figure out how to handle this wedding invitation. Maybe she’ll be really receptive, and apologize, and things will be shiny and happy, and you’ll want to go to the wedding.
Or maybe it’ll suck. Maybe she’ll be defensive, and count the whole conversation as just one more reason to be pissed at you. Then I’m guessing you probably won’t want to be at that wedding.
Before you even try to figure out if you should go or not, talk to your friend. Depending on how that conversation goes, it should be pretty clear if you should. And if the answer’s no? Frankly, you might be better off.
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