Can I Trust My Fiancée’s Relationship with Her Close (Male) Friend?


He's coming to our wedding and everything

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

two men and a woman jumping

Q: My fiancée and I met in 2016. When we both first started dating, she made it very clear that a very recent male friend of hers (“Dave”) had a crush on her and they had kissed following a date, but she told him she wasn’t ready for a relationship. They had known each other for two months by this point.

After we had gone on several dates, she mentioned to me that he was very jealous of me, and she was trying to appease him and reconcile the friendship she once had with him. As time went on, she stated that Dave was ignoring her and she thought best just to leave it there.

After six months, we both moved to another country. At this point, she and Dave started communicating by email, etc., on a weekly basis, with Dave sending songs and photos, and them both frequently liking each other’s Facebook posts, etc. I did ask about why she had such a close relationship with a person that she barely spoke to when she lived in the same city, and she stated that they had some common interests and that was all.

Following our engagement, my fiancée stated she wanted a small wedding and would not invite many of her friends that she had known for more than a decade. I understood that she wanted the guests to be people that were very close to her and me. I accepted this, however, then she invited Dave and he accepted. What am I to think? I trust her, but it seems as though there are many warning signs here. I have asked her about this, and she has asked if I trust her or not, and if I do, there is nothing to fear. I do trust her, but it strikes me as very odd that she would invite him—a person she has barely known in person very long—to our wedding, following leaving out many of her close friends and family.

—Anonymous

A:

I get really irritated really fast by the, “Don’t you trust me?” question. It sidesteps the issue. It shifts the blame. It makes whatever feels off, into your responsibility instead of theirs. It’s a dodge, instead of addressing what’s bugging you. It’s a non-answer, and it should probably raise a red flag.

The question isn’t whether or not you trust her. Obviously you trust her! You’re with her! But, even trustworthy people do crappy things sometimes. And what’s more, sometimes trustworthy people lie to themselves, so they don’t even realize they’re being dishonest with you. And sadly, sometimes the people you trust just flat out don’t deserve that faith.

I mean, listen, don’t let any of that freak you out. I don’t know your partner; I don’t know what she’s up to. It’s likely everything is completely above-board, they’re just friends. But if the odd closeness of their friendship, the unresolved romantic feelings and jealousy, and the fact that he’s being included in a small party of her nearest and dearest is all not sitting well with you? There’s no rush to get married.

You guys have known each other, what, a year tops? There’s nothing wrong with putting the wedding off a bit while you figure this out. There’s something here to address—whether it’s some feelings for this guy that she’s not acknowledging to you (or even herself, maybe), or the fact that she won’t talk things through with you, or just your own gut feelings. Whatever it is, it’s something for you both to handle—not for her to push back on you as a trust issue.

Here is a better question. Do you trust yourself? Because it sounds like you should.

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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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  • SarahRose472

    The title seems pretty inaccurate? Nowhere (printed) did LW say that this Dave was her ex-boyfriend. It actually makes this confusing to read, because with how the letter starts I was expecting there to be some bombshell where LW finds out the truth, e.g. Dave was actually her boyfriend and not just a friend she kissed once…

    Advice is on point as usual, though. :)

    • Her Ex-Casual Date?
      Her Former Kissing Partner?
      Her Old Spit Swapper?

      • Jess

        “Dude that seems to be in her life an awful lot for someone she doesn’t care about”?

      • PeaceIsTheWay

        Sounds to me more like “her friend who has a crush on her.”

      • stephanie

        LOL YES. I opted for “Her Close (Male) Friend?” but I really like “Old Spit Swapper”.

    • stephanie

      Hey! Than you for pointing this out. After this question came through, we had a super lengthy staff chat about the whole situation that was all about exes of ours, and I think that’s how it ended up in the title. Changing now!

  • “then she invited Dave and he accepted.”
    This line makes me think that [possibly] the invitations have already been sent? If this is so, delaying the wedding due to fidelity concerns is going to be a little more complex and severe…If however the wedding invitations have not gone out, then Liz’s advice should be doable without any gigantic obstacles. Obstacles still, but maybe not gigantic relationship-crushing ones.

    • emmers

      I mean- better awkwardness now than divorce later, though I totally agree that things are simpler pre- invitations.

    • NolaJael

      This may not be a formal paper invitations kind of wedding. Since there are multiple countries and a small guest list, they might be in the informal head count stage.

      • By “invitation” I don’t necessarily mean paper invitations…I mean inviting people. If you’ve already invited people, even by word of mouth, you’re going to have to explain to everyone you’ve invited that the wedding is called off/delayed/whatever. That’s considerably rougher than being in the pre-invite stage.

        • Amy March

          But still potentially completely worth it if the alternative is forging ahead with uncertainty. And it isn’t that hard to send an email saying “the wedding of Jane and Joe will not take place as scheduled” to the 30 people on the guest list.

          • Yes, sure. Delaying now is better than divorcing later on. But I wouldn’t exactly say “it isn’t that hard to send an email”. In physical steps, no, but the emotional steps…

          • emmers

            I totally hear you. It would not be a fun thing to do.

  • Ashlah

    I agree with Liz that, regardless of whether there’s anything going on between her and Dave, something is going on in your relationship that should be addressed prior to marriage. Along with everything else, it’s strange to me that she seemingly invited Dave to your small, intimate wedding without telling you. Couples usually discuss the guest list at length and agree on the guests. I would be very frustrated if my partner invited someone to our wedding without discussing it, particularly if we were having a small wedding, and especially if my partner were aware of my uncertain feelings about said guest.

    • Agreed! A lot of planning goes into a wedding (even a small one), and to just add to the guest list without checking in with each other seems odd.

      • NotMotherTheresa

        Full confession: My husband and I did not actually check in with one another regarding every person on our guest list.
        BUT, that’s because we’re both relatively introverted people with tiny families, so we were pretty much both able to invite every person we’d ever been friends with and still come in at 100-ish guests. It’s actually precisely BECAUSE the LW writer is planning a small wedding that the whole ‘not checking in with one another’ things seems so odd! I could see Dave not coming up in the discussion if both people were just sending invitations to every former third grade classmate and Dairy Queen coworker from 2002, but if you’re cutting Aunt Gina and Grandma Edna from list to keep it pared down? Yeah, you should probably talking about that guest list in a bit more detail!

        • Good point. I think the important thing is that it worked for you, and you and your husband were okay with that. Unfortunately, LW seems to be caught by surprise, so that’s no good.

    • AmandaBee

      Right? Our guest list wasn’t *that* intimate (70 ppl is small by wedding standards but still a big shindig to me) and we still mutually agreed on guests before inviting them. That alone is a communication breakdown worth hitting the pause button to reassess.

    • clarkesara

      This is a great point. I have two “exes” (especially if you use the term “dated briefly, maybe slept together, it didn’t work out, we ultimately became good friends” to mean exes) coming to my wedding. One is an extremely close friend of many years, and the other is a mutual friend of my FH and I who introduced the two of us. I can’t imagine trying to sneak either of these people onto the guest list. They immediately came up in an open and casual way when we decided who to invite.

  • Cleo

    When I saw the title of the post, I was all ready to say – “Hey! They really are just friends! It happens!”

    I am very close with my high school boyfriend – he’s one of two or three people I see every time I go back to my hometown. He’s super hot (an actor) and gives the best bear hugs. He also is like my brother (now). The sexual tension ran its course long ago and now we just enjoy each other’s company.

    With Dave…this seems like a different situation. They only kissed once, are in a getting to know you phase of their friendship, there wasn’t a lack of attraction to blame for them not getting together, but the fiancee said she wasn’t ready for a relationship. The sexual tension has not run its course and in fact, it feels like it’s ramping up.

    I’m with Liz – “Don’t you trust me?” is a terrible, blame-shifting question. LW sounds like s/he knows something is afoot and doesn’t want to uncover it. Trust yourself, Anonymous. This all smells fishy to me.

    • NolaJael

      Same. I’m friends with most of my exes, but I’m still respectful of (changed) boundaries and my husband’s feelings. I feel like weekly private correspondence would cross a line in all but the most generous relationships.

    • Angela’s Back

      high five for high school ex-bf besties! sadly, mine is not a super hot actor, although he is a super smart physicist.

      • Amy March

        But is he single?

        • Angela’s Back

          single and sleepless in San Diego, get it girl :)

          • Amy March

            Sigh. Let me know when he moves to the East Coast!

      • Cleo

        “super smart physicist”

        This is sexier to me. Seconding Amy…single? haha

      • NotMotherTheresa

        Dang, how are y’all getting these super hot, successful ex-bf besties?!?! Mine’s an overweight construction worker who occasionally wears dresses! I mean, he’s super awesome and all, but yeah. Nobody is really standing in line for the hookup on that one!

      • AtHomeInWA

        Mine is a super smart chemist! Twinsees!

    • Sara

      Its interesting to me that she told Dave she wasn’t ready for a relationship, and then jumped in with LW. I understand why Dave froze her out when they were in the same city if that were the case. The fact that the fiancee and him rekindled their friendship online, independent of other people while she currently lives in another country (where she might feel lonely or isolated) makes ME feel nervous.

    • I had the same reaction to the title, and agreed. I don’t think sexual tension with a friend is necessarily a red flag (obviously comfort zone on that one = YMMV). But deflecting your partner’s concerns or insecurities? Not cool.

    • Jess

      Yeah, I think the title is a bit of a misnomer. This isn’t an ex situation, it’s a “The words my partner tells me are different than how she acts about this person” situation.

      I tend to believe the way people act over what they tell me.

    • NotMotherTheresa

      Yes!!! My husband and I both invited exes to our wedding. We’ve had dinners with one of his high school girlfriends. We bought a boat from another high school girlfriend of his. My high school boyfriend once offered to loan me the money to cover my mortgage when he found out the fiance and I were having a rough patch financially. I honestly consider it a red flag when people DON’T stay on at least decent terms with most of their exes.
      This, however, is waaaay different!
      My husband and I were together eight years before we got married. By the time our wedding came around, not only had any sexual tension long gone away, but those exes were no longer remotely the same people they were at 18! The former homecoming queen was now happily married with three kids. The former cheerleader was now a wealthy socialite in the city, three hours away. The rebellious football player with long hair and a fast car was now an overweight construction foreman. Being jealous of one another’s exes, at that stage in the game, would have been absurd.
      This…is like, the opposite of that. I’m not even 100% sure what her and Dave were to begin with, but whatever they were, it definitely sounds like they’ve only been growing closer.

  • Hm, I will say I’ve definitely been that person in the past…that person who enjoys having other people on the hook, basking in being the object of affection from more than one person, creating my own little rom com. It took some growing up on my part to understand that this desire of having your cake and eating it too (getting married to an awesome guy and having this exciting crush at the same time) is not just some Blockbuster movie, but people’s actual lives and emotions. I’m not saying this is the case here, but all that to say that you’re not crazy for feeling a little insecure here! I’d also be curious to know about the age range of your fiancé, because it sounds like she may have a little growing up to do in this department.

    Liz is right—”don’t you trust me?” is like responding with “don’t YOU love me?” when you ask “Do you love me?” It doesn’t answer the question at all and just flips it around to you.

    • yvanehtnioj

      100% agreed. I spent a decent part of my twenties happy to have “back burner” guys — people who made it clear that they would be very happy to be with me, that I wasn’t interested in dating but was content to have to shower me with attention. It was a shitty move by an insecure person, and it sounds like that’s what’s going on with LW’s fiancee. Except, inviting him to the wedding is a bridge too far, and not just as regards her fiance’s feelings. It sounds like she’s actively trying to mess with this other guy’s emotions instead of just bask in his admiration.

      • idkmybffjill

        Yeah – like… not putting intentions in her head, but I could see a little part of her thinking, ‘wow what if he causes a scene” and sort of getting high of the drama of it.

  • K.

    Is your fiancee particularly susceptible to flattery? I’ve known people (both women and men) who honestly just really, really like to have friends around who are attracted to them even if they are in relationships, because the ego boost is frankly a bit intoxicating and makes them feel good in the moment. They tend to think that because *they* don’t have feelings, it shouldn’t matter to their partner. But it ends up being hurtful to both the partner and the friend, especially if maybe subconsciously, she kind of likes that he’ll be “pining” after her at the wedding…even if it’s in no way reflective of her own feelings for the guy.

    Even if this doesn’t ring true or seems out of character for your fiancee, I don’t see why you couldn’t bring it up again with the perspective of, “Hey, so this is a dude who was crushing on you and, by your own admission, very jealous of our relationship less than a year ago. How is it a good idea for anyone that he be at the wedding?” She may also just be thinking that he’s over it now that there’s distance, but doesn’t realize that it could potentially be uncomfortable for you and hurtful for him.

    • NolaJael

      YES. I have a friend who craves sexual attention. It’s like an addiction. She loves her 10+ year partner, but continually jeopardizes her long term relationship to flirt with anything that moves in the hopes that it will flirt back.

      • Erica G

        I have a friend that has this exact problem too! Doesn’t mean they are dishonest or unfaithful!

        • ART

          True, but it can still be hurtful to their partner. Or it can be totally fine with their partner, but it’s something worth having a mutual understanding about.

    • Second this

    • idkmybffjill

      This is me. I’ve gotten alot better at not entertaining those relationships but it’s still kind of innately part of me! Gotta get GOOD at boundaries if this is a temptation for you, imo.

  • Sara

    The question ‘don’t you trust me’ always makes me immediately suspicious.
    To me this reads that either she’s stringing Dave along or she’s getting cold feet. There’s nothing wrong with close male friends. There’s nothing wrong with close male friends who may have crushed on you (I have one or two). But boundaries are important, and if you’re feeling uncomfortable, she shouldn’t make you feel guilty for feeling that way. She should be willing to talk things out and figure out how to include you into this friendship or at least illustrate how its not a threat beyond “you should trust me”

    • Amy March

      Exactly. The way you demonstrate that your dude friend you kissed once who had a crush on you is now just a friend is by acknowledging that this is obviously a situation subject to misinterpretation and then talking about it.

      I keep up with a close male friend from law school about this frequently and as far as I can tell his wife is totally fine with it, because he shares my emails with her (not as an oversight mechanism, just like a hey here’s a cool link Amy sent) and he takes my phone calls when she’s around and puts me on speaker, and just generally behaves in the unshady open way you do when there’s actually nothing to hide.

      • Eenie

        My husband has another woman’s face tattooed on his body (and it looks nice!). She’s lovely, they have a wonderful friendship, and I’ve never really worried about it because they’ve never given me a reason to.

      • idkmybffjill

        “generally behaves in the unshady open way you do when there’s actually nothing to hide.” THIS.

  • Violet

    So much wisdom from Liz today, I can’t take it. Couple things:
    1. 99.99999% of the times I’ve been a shitty person, I was totally lying to myself about it to rationalize whatever bad choice I was making. So yeah, sometimes we’re not even lying to another person, so much as lying to yourself, and then we turn that into telling them the truth. Especially if in this case, there’s been no physical contact in, it’s going to be that much easier for fiancée to justify that she hasn’t done anything to warrant a breach of trust.
    2. “Don’t you trust me?” is a conversation-ender, either way it’s answered. You want a partner who is willing to hear out your concerns and work through them with you. The trust question effectively makes working things through a sign of mistrust, which is counter-productive.
    3. People try to make sense of the world around them. We just do; we can’t help it. When someone invites a supposedly not-that-close friend to a small wedding, we’re gonna search for an explanation. I don’t care how much you trust the person, you just are. And barring a reasonable explanation being given to us, we might conclude something nefarious. This is normal, and I think it is well within LW’s rights as one half of this partnership to know what the explanation is. Whether he trusts his fiancée or not. It’s kind of mean-spirited to deny someone an explanation and tell them they should just trust you. And FWIW, *not* giving a reason to a perfectly reasonable question is exactly the kind of thing that would make someone feel pretty wary and, dare I say, mistrustful.

    • lottie

      Loosely related to this week’s question, #1 gives me some insight into my interaction with a recent ex who I consider(ed?) a good friend. We ended things this summer very amicably, as we were each moving to opposite sides of the continent for career/life goals that weren’t totally compatible but had enjoyed one another’s company while we were in the same place. Four days before I was leaving to visit him across the country (ticket booked 1 month ago), he told me that he had started dating someone 2 months ago and it was really serious. I am pissed for a lot of reasons, but I’ve been struggling to understand how he could possibly have thought this was ok. (Not to mention what on earth he told his gf, given that I was supposed to stay with him and he followed up the information with “I want you to meet her!” so she knows something about me, but what, god knows.)

      In any event, this helps me see that he was probably lying to himself (he claimed he had hoped it wouldn’t matter when he told me, which I thought as stupid and fake) to avoid the obvious discomfort in telling me, which likely spiraled into lies to others. I don’t know how this will shake out in terms of our friendship. BUT it’s a reminder that 1) lying occurs for a reason and 2) that exes may not know what’s happening (doesn’t appear to be true in LW’s case, but if my ex’s gf had concerns about our communication, part of the story is that I was in the dark, even if I think our texting/emailing/calling was reasonable for friends).

      • Sarah

        I had a very similar situation. I met a guy when we were both living on the East Coast in the same city. He was pretty upfront with me after a date or 2 that he already loose plans to move to California in 3 months time (no job/ apartment lined up). We dated exclusively, and I really enjoyed hanging out with him during that time. I kept my expectations low, but I sort of hoped in the back of my mind that he might stay- not necessarily FOR ME, but just because he didn’t have any firm plans in place. Well, he didn’t. And we both decided we weren’t really up for long distance, so we parted on good terms.

        And so it stayed for a year, where we’d email/ Facebook back and forth every few weeks at a very low-key level. I was looking at grad schools during this period, and several of the best ones in my subject area were out in California. So while I was out there visiting schools, he offered to let me stay at his place and we could hang-out and catch up. It wasn’t until I got there- with no real options for back-up housing- that he told me that he was dating someone else pretty seriously. It was a very awkward week to say the least, and I haven’t really talked to him since. I also wondered what his new GF must have thought.

  • Mrrpaderp

    Agreed that “don’t you trust me??” is not a caring response. When your partner comes to you with a problem, you listen. You ask questions. You try to understand what the issue is so you two can navigate it together. You don’t shut down the conversation by launching accusations (which is what this is), being defensive, and turning it around on your partner.

    Maybe nothing is going on with Dave, we internet strangers can’t know. But something is going on with fiancee. She’s not acting like a team member. LW might have more luck if s/he starts the conversation by asking fiancee about the apparent communication breakdown rather than focusing solely on Dave.

  • NotMotherTheresa

    I’ll admit, when I first read the title of this, I was instantly thinking “Oh my gosh, what is it with people who get so freaked out by exes?!?!”, because after all, my husband and I both invited exes to our wedding, and it wasn’t a big deal in the least.
    This, however, is different. Way different.
    I’m going to completely sidestep the whole matter of “How close with an ex is too close”, because honestly, I don’t think that’s the biggest issue here. The biggest issue here is that I feel like you two aren’t ready to be married to one another, period.
    If you met in 2016, you have, at most, known one another for a year. In that year, you never learned exactly what the relationship with Dave even was. You two didn’t have enough communication about your VERY SMALL guest list to know that Dave was on that list. She has never provided you with any concrete answers about Dave. Yes, I share your concerns about Dave, but more importantly, I’m concerned that you two don’t know one another well enough to be getting married yet.
    I’m not saying your fiance isn’t wonderful. I’m not saying she’s cheating or anything like that. I’m not saying that you two don’t have a very wonderful future together ahead of you. What I am saying is please, slow your roll. Take another year or so to get to know one another. Wait until you BOTH feel like you have a pretty good grasp on all of the weird nooks and crannies of the other person’s life.

    • Cleo

      such good points!

      I would also say, couples counseling might be a good thing for them if they need help learning how to communicate with each other, or some guidance in that respect.

      But this might be a situation where just being in the relationship would do magic.

    • Yeah, I opened this up all ready with a “if you’re jealous of her relationship with her ex, examine what it is they’re doing together you’re jealous of, and ask fiancee to put the same time / do the same activities / share the same secrets with you, and see if that eases the feeling”. But this is not that situation.

  • Amy March

    I think this is a really good reason not to rush into marriage! You’ve barely been together a year, much of the time involved a significant change in your lives by moving overseas, and invitations are already out and accepted? Who knows if you have reason to be concerned, because you’ve rushed ahead without figuring that out. Quickly moving from dating to marriage can be great, but pushing past doubts into marriage isn’t.

  • An interesting read!

  • BSM

    … Is this letter real?

    • stephanie

      Yes! Liz has received follow ups from the LW.

      • toomanybooks

        Ooooohh

      • MTM

        Can this be another article? Follow ups on Ask APW? Would LOVE to know how some of these turned out.

        • BSM

          Ask APW: Where are they now?

          • MTM

            Yaassssss

  • JC

    If the “don’t you trust me???” line is brought up, I think it’s worth pointing out that it usually means a line has already been crossed, even if it’s not “cheating.” Unnecessary secrecy is crossing a line. Not considering the other’s feelings is crossing a line. This came up in my relationship when he got too drunk to take care of himself one night. It was a “nothing happened” scenario, but also a “you need to be more responsible, and that crossed a line” scenario. Liz is right, “Don’t you trust me???” shifts to blame to the non-responsible party, and it also tried to boil all of a relationship’s complexities into a cheating/not-cheating framework, and it’s not healthy.

  • toomanybooks

    My read on the situation is that Dave thinks he’s in friend zone and he’s lying in wait to pounce, and the fiancée is ignoring this because she probably picks up on it on some level but likes hanging out with him because someone who’s trying to get with you in such a passive way is probably doing everything he can to play up common interests & flatter and agree with you a lot (some would say “she likes the attention” but like – sure, who doesn’t like having a friend who magically seems to have everything in common with you and whatever)….

    But even if the fiancée doesn’t have any malicious intent or feelings for this guy, I do feel like the situation is definitely suspicious with Dave and personally, if I was the LW, I would say it was a dealbreaker that he couldn’t come to the wedding. How did he even get invited in the first place when the LW has a problem with it?

    • Her Lindsayship

      “someone who’s trying to get with you in such a passive way is probably doing everything he can to play up common interests & flatter and agree with you a lot (some would say “she likes the attention” but like – sure, who doesn’t like having a friend who magically seems to have everything in common with you and whatever)….”

      I super appreciate this even-handed assessment of that situation. Well said.

      • Gaby

        Ditto. A little light bulb went on in my head after seeing such a common phrase be reframed in a much more forgiving way.

  • Erica G

    Ok, my biggest issue is she wasn’t interested in a “serious” relationship with Dave who she had also only just met, but then immediately started seriously dating LW… and now they are living in another country and getting married… All within a YEAR? I think everyone in this situation needs to take a step back and evaluate their choices.

    Now, she may have only told Dave she didn’t want a relationship in order to get him to stop trying to date her, and to let him off easy so they could stay friends. The whole “friend zone” thing pisses me off, but I could see a dude reacting in that way.

    And who knows, maybe they are totally mature & rich, fancy, jet-setters who just like to go off and live in foreign places and throw impromptu elopements… when you frame it that way it sounds much more glamorous.

    But LW, if you are concerned and she’s brushing you off, counseling is probably the least that you need to do, and at most, postpone the wedding a bit if you feel uncomfortable with the dynamic of the relationship.

  • While I think LW’s fiance not communicating in a respectful way is the biggest issue here, as a sidewise suggestion it may be helpful for LW to spend some time with Dave. Giving everyone involved the benefit of the doubt, having a couple group Skype calls, shared email threads, etc. could help dispel some of the weird vibes around this guy.

    • Anon for this

      This is great advice. Getting to know a close work friend of my husband’s and developing my own relationship with her helped dispel the insecurities I had about their relationship. She’s a great person and I’m glad he’s got her in his work life. She and I even became friends on FB and loan each other books now. It took a while for me to get there, though. The key was that they were both completely open with me and welcomed me into their friendship. If they’d tried to deliberately exclude me or make me feel like an outsider, it would have signaled a huge problem. And the few times I felt like my husband was crossing boundaries (usually frequency of texting, etc.) we talked it over and he changed the behaviors that made me uncomfortable. Anything less is a red flag for me.

  • PeaceIsTheWay

    While I agree asking if LW trusts her was not good communication on the part of the fiancée, overall I am more sympathetic with her than Liz and most commentators. I do think it would be inappropriate and hurtful for her to maintain a friendship with someone who wants more than friendship – even if she isn’t attracted to Dave, at all. If I were LW, that is the convo I would have with fiancée: “I’m worried that Dave might still want more from you than friendship. Can we please talk about why this is or isn’t the case, and work together on some ways to help me feel better?” That takes LW’s trust of fiancée out of the equation. If Dave IS attracted to fiancée (I personally think that could be a stretch, from this letter) hopefully fiancée will realize that growing a friendship with him is neither fair to Dave nor to her future spouse. Nothing to do with whether LW trusts her. However, if Dave is legitimately just a friend, it would still be partly fiancee’s responsibility to reassure LW and to assuage LW’s jealousies… but in that case I do think LW will have to do part of the work to respect fiancee’s friendships and, yes, trust her. To my eyes, the only sketchy part of her whole history with Dave is that he was reportedly jealous of LW when they started dating. Liking Facebook posts is in no way suspicious, and there’s no rule that says your oldest friends have to be your best friends.

  • S

    I agree with everything Liz and everyone else has said (What’s this guy Dave’s deal? Also your fiancée needs to sort some stuff out by herself and with you!) but I want to gently push back on this: “The question isn’t whether or not you trust her. Obviously you trust her! You’re with her! But, even trustworthy people do crappy things sometimes.” I’m not just being a nitpicker here; I think it’s important to acknowledge that it’s more than possible to be in a relationship with someone you don’t trust, and if you’re having those feelings of, “I trust you! I just don’t trust other people to not corrupt you!” or “I trust you! I just know everyone makes mistakes…” or “I trust you, you’re just giving me reasons not to!” or, “I trust you…BUT….” that maybe you need to really sit down and ask yourself: DO you trust your partner? Her throwing the question at you is evasive and blame-shifting counter-productive (and shady) and the conversation with her needs to be her telling you WTF is going on with Dave, but I think whether or not you do trust her needs to be a conversation you have with yourself. Don’t walk down the aisle with someone you don’t trust, Dave or no Dave.

    • Jess

      I fully agree. This is a situation where it’s entirely appropriate to say, “In this particular matter, I’m concerned. I’m not sure if I can trust what you’re saying on this and we need to talk about that.” if you don’t trust her.

      Trust is not an all-or-nothing status, and it’s not permanent, or something that can erase/cause behavior. It also doesn’t mean that our whole relationship is erased if I don’t trust you right now. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you or feel comfortable about believing you about other things. It doesn’t mean that I’ll never trust you again. It just means that there is something going on that has made me a uneasy around a topic and I may need more reassurance or proof or validation.

      It’s ok to not trust your partner sometimes. As long as they respond in a way that is reassuring and trustworthy (or admit that they were not trustworthy but will work on it… and then do with proof), it’s not the end of the relationship.

      • TheHungryGhost

        This, this, this, THIS. Trust is not given and received 100%
        at all times, and I hate it when people talk as if it should be. I trust my
        boyfriend 100% NOW. When we started dating – maybe like, 60%, because he seemed
        like a decent guy. When I was in love with him, 80%, cause I still had my
        insecurities about an ex of his. It didn’t mean I loved him less because I was
        building the trust…

        Now it’s 100% – in fact, he’s annoyed that I DON’T remember
        his phone password because I can’t sort things out for him when he’s yelling
        from the other room. But if he changed it, changed his behaviour to me, refused
        to communicate with me about those things? It would start slipping, 99, 98, 97…

        Trust can also be area-specific. With money, I don’t think
        my boyfriend and are even capable of being less than 100% honest about money.
        Romance would be a different area entirely though.

  • AtHomeInWA

    The question is not whether or not you trust this person. The question is whether or not this person prioritizes your relationship with one another. Protecting your new baby family should be your fiance’s priority over this friend and making sure this friend is handled in such a way as to make sure she doesn’t damage the new marriage should be paramount.

    If I were in your shoes I’d want to here “yes, I can see how that could be uncomfortable, but I want to have him here because of [some very good reason], so can you and I meet him for dinner some night to talk about it? Maybe if you two meet/ hang out/ meet his new girlfriend/ etc you will be comfortable having him there.” This is, of course, followed with the important part “and if after [a reasonable effort to create a meeting of the minds] you still are not comfortable I’ll step back from the relationship some and ask him not to attend after all.”

  • Kelly

    In response to a lot of other comments… first, I don’t think getting engaged within a year is automatically a red flag, having done it very successfully myself (we are also a little on the older side of traditional engagement timing and I feel with life experience comes knowing what you really want and what is really a good fit). Second, having also invited an ex (and his girlfriend) who attended our wedding, I’m inclined to say, if he’s being invited to the wedding and is willing to attend, there’s not much to worry about. Because I feel like there’s a bigger issue at play if there is awkwardness and avoidance.

    But. I also recognize that’s an emotionally adjusted, rational response and not everyone is able to be that honest with themselves or their partners. Bottom line is that they need to have an honest conversation about all this and recognize it’s an issue that needs to be addressed before they can move forward. I agree with a lot of other commenters that it’s not ultimately about trust, it’s about openness, honesty, and clear communication with this person who is supposed to be your PARTNER. If you can’t do that, you aren’t really ready to get married.

  • EF

    yeah most of this is that this is way too fast to be getting married.

    but setting that aside, as always, i want to speak up for the people who have extremely close friendships with male friends (or, people of the gender they are attracted to). my best friend is dude, someone that a decade ago i found attractive, someone who has been a good friend, then a great friend, then like a brother for that decade. he was my best man. and though it shouldn’t truly matter, partner is way supportive of this friendship. and bestie? he’s serious with an awesome girl now, and i am way way hoping that she’s the one (as it were). and in turn, she has close friendship with guys, too.

    so it can totally be fine and work, nbd.

    but you gotta trust each other. and you gotta respect each other. and i’m not sure any of that is going on here.

  • ART

    The weirdest part for me is not inviting close friends and even family, and then inviting Dave-who-I-only-really-know-on-Facebook. I can’t seem to get myself into a sympathetic headspace around that one point.

    • It’s possibly “Dave who’s my only real friend becauses I’ve moved to another country and no one else has put effort into staying in touch”. It’s amazing how moving even a short distance can just kill someone otherwise long term and close friendships, because suddenly making plans involved effort and organisation, but those same people would be very upset if they though not being invited to the wedding was about their behaviour, rather than it being a small wedding.

    • I wonder how close the fiancée actually is to friends and family… Does she have any real, healthy long-term friendships? Maybe she is someone that just cuts ties with others easily (and starts relationships very quickly), both of which are their own concerns…

  • Elizabeth

    Best advice on this I got from a friend: If you really care about the person you’re in a relationship with, you should be acting in a way that doesn’t make them wonder or worry.
    As an early 20 something I thought this was stupid because I can do whatever I want!!!!
    Now that I’m older and married I realize how true this is. in a way it’s maybe less about what’s actually going on, and more the way she’s gone about it that is the issue.

  • Pingback: Can I Trust My Fiancée’s Relationship with Her Close (Male) Friend? | Wedding Adviser()

  • Ella

    I’ve been in the situation where a friendship with a guy was making my bf uncomfortable. At first I did have the “don’t you trust me?!” reaction. The thing is, he does trust me, but that doesn’t make his discomfort unreasonable. He can know nothing is actually going to happen and still feel insecure about how close I am with someone. (All good now, FYI.)
    I’m inclined to trust the fiancée on her intentions with the friend, but she still needs to address LW’s feelings. E.g. by acknowledging that jealousy is not an absurd reaction here, prioritising making him feel validated and loved, getting to know “Dave” all together. And “I trust you not to cheat but I don’t trust that you’ve been 100% honest about this friendship” is valid, and doesn’t need to be a dealbreaker.

  • I think there’s a few things going on here. Firstly, as others have pointed out, going from “not ready” to “ready” seems to have been about who fiancee was ready for, rather than something changing within herself. Dave cutting her off is almost certainly him interpreting that as having been lied to in order to put him off. Whether it was or not, it’s something that fiancee needs to consider in her interactions with him; Dave thinks fiancee either lied to him, or lied to herself when she got with LW.

    Secondly, LW doesn’t mention why they moved to another country. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume from the absence of reason it was driven by something in LW’s life, rather than fiancee’s: LW’s family, work, study, long held aspirations… That is a huge step to take with someone else for both members of the couple. If you’re the instigator of the move, you probably have some level of local network set up already, so it’s easier to make new friends and get to know your new surroundings. If you’re the follower, all you have is your partner. All your friends are their friends, and that can be really hard, especially if you’re used to having your own people. Who do you talk to when you want to vent about your relationship, or express how homesick you are, or how difficult this new culture is for you to fit into? You don’t want to upset your partner, because then you’re well and truly cut off, so you reach out to someone back home, someone who was wholly yours. A not quite ex is a very easy person to have that connection with, and online is an easy way to share common interests and ignore all the things that drive you mad about each other in real life (maybe you both love photography, but Dave things washing up is women’s work – there is no washing up online, so suddenly that issue goes from real to theoretical because you just never bring it up).

    Let’s say everything is above board with Dave, who really does just see fiancee as a friend. In that case, LW needs to address what’s actually causing the jealousy. Is fiance neglecting LW to stay in contact with Dave? Is she sharing things with Dave she isn’t with LW? What emotional need is not being met that’s causing the jealousy, and can fiancee reasonably meet it?

    Maybe Dave is still into fiancee. He’s taking advantage of her loneliness to rekindle a connection between them, and has cajoled her into inviting him to the wedding so he can pull a Graduate moment. In that case, LW needs to address the fact fiancee’s emotional needs aren’t being met, and she’s reaching out to other people for them, who are exploiting her vulnerability for their own ends. What can LW do to help fiancee build her own support network in their new country?

    Third scenario is fiancee knows she’s wandered into an emotionally sticky place and is in denial about it, which is why she gets defensive when asked. Maybe she loves the attention, and she’s persuaded herself no one is getting hurt. Maybe she feels guilty for hurting Dave and is trying to meet his emotional needs as well as everyone else’s. Maybe she really wasn’t ready for a relationship and the couple is barrelling towards marriage because she hopes that will make her doubts go away. Maybe she’s naturally inclined to be poly but doesn’t know how to have that conversation. LW and fiancee need to step back from wedding planning (even if they don’t officially put it on hold yet) and have some long heart to hearts about fiancee’s feelings about the progression of their relationship so far.

  • idkmybffjill

    Oh man. I was so this girl when I was younger. I think I did a lot of lying to myself about the nature of relationships, and alot of people’s feelings would get hurt because I wasn’t honest with myself. It took an ex saying to me at one point, “we shouldn’t be talking like this if you’re seriously dating someone” to snap me out of it. I was really grateful to have learned that lesson before I met my husband. I don’t know that I crossed the line into emotional affair….but I do think I had some inappropriate friendships with people who had feelings for me.