Surprise! She’s back…

April 7, 2011 | By | 8 Replies Continue Reading

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

Recently discovered your column (it’s awesome) and hope you can help me gain some perspective.

 

I was introduced to my husband by my good friend. She was dating his best friend at the time. She and her boyfriend broke up, but we continued to be friends until I stopped hearing from her. She has always been bad about keeping in touch but specifically told me that she appreciated that I continued to make the effort because she valued my friendship.

 

With that in mind, I emailed or called to ask about her job search and just say "Hi" every 6 to 8 weeks that autumn despite not getting a response. Finally I left a voicemail asking if something had happened to damage our friendship (for which I’d readily apologize had I done something) and expressing that I was sad to be losing her.

 

Two weeks later, I got the kind of formal response you’d send a business colleague explaining she was too busy to be the friend I wanted/needed/deserved. As someone who is also busy, I find that even with my closest friends, months often go by without talking or visiting; I know I was not a time suck for her. Clearly, she had lost interest in being friends.

 

Almost two years later, my husband and I were tallying up the RSVPs for our wedding when his friend told us he was back together with her (and had been for nearly a year; surprise, everyone!) and wanted to know if he could bring her to the wedding. Because of space/money constraints and some late "necessary" invites, we weren’t able to accommodate the request.

 

However, I cannot avoid seeing her going forward as my husband, his friend, and the rest of the crew (who go back to elementary school) love to get together and-and rightly-would not choose to exclude anyone. My problem is that I have nothing to say to her and don’t know how socializing could NOT be awkward, for me, for her, and for the whole group, who know that she dumped me without explanation. However, I don’t want to make this everyone else’s problem. Please advise.

Signed,
Karen

 

ANSWER

Dear Karen,

You have no idea why your once-friend snubbed you. She may have been depressed or stressed about not having a job, about breaking up with her boyfriend, or had a hundred other problems that had nothing to do with you. When we’re dumped it’s hard not to take it personally—-but please, allow for that possibility.

 

If that’s the case, why didn’t she say something or reach out to you afterwards? Perhaps, she felt awkward, guilty, or ashamed.

 

While economic and space constraints are real concerns for any bride, both she and her boyfriend probably felt badly about being turned down. Since he was your husband’s best friend, that may have been a faux pas. Even if there was no way to include his girlfriend, it called for a personal apology or explanation.

 

Plan A – The only hope of making the situation less awkward is by you making an effort to speak to her in order to clear the air. Be the first to extend the olive branch by saying how sorry you were that she couldn’t be at the wedding. Act friendly. See what she has to say. I’m hopeful that you will be able to smooth things over so that the "crew" is comfortable, and you are comfortable being with her and them.

 

Plan B – If this doesn’t work, you can see if your husband and his friend can smooth things over so everyone is comfortable. Perhaps he can talk to his girlfriend.

 

If none of these efforts work, you can hold your head high, because you did the right thing. Any awkwardness should be on her part, not yours.

Hope this helps.

My best,
Irene

 

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Comments (8)

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  1. Karen says:

    It was weird, especially since when we got engaged, to set expectations and avoid drama, we told everyone we know we weren’t doing “and guests” but were including significant others by name. He could have spoken up at any time before the guest list was finalized, or, as you point out, she could have reached out.

  2. Karen says:

    I have plenty of unreliable friends who used to drive me berserk with their flakiness, but I love them and learned to adjust my expectations accordingly. They usually at least call back.

    This girl deliberately burned a bridge, and now it is surely biting her in the butt, especially given she knows the other boys think she’s a bad match for their friend and there are two/all new girlfriends since she left, with whom I have relationships and she doesn’t (although they have heard plenty of stories – from the boys – about how turbulent her relationship with my husband’s friend was for the first 7 years).

    Still, I am surprised she hasn’t said anything to me since I’ve never known her to be afraid of confrontation or doing whatever she believes needs doing.

    But the bottom line is that she’s back, possibly for the long haul, so while exacting my revenge might be sweet, we need to come to an understanding for everyone’s sake. Plus, I really don’t like carrying around such negative emotion; I could put it out of my mind when she was “gone for good,” but it’s weighing me down now.

    Being able to discuss it on this blog and get input has been very cathartic for me. Thanks to all.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been through this – a friend who just stopped being reliable. She wouldn’t answer e-mails for a while and then she started answering them again and making plans with me – which resulted in several stupid last minute cancellations on her part. Eventually I just had enough. I sent her an e-mail saying we weren’t friends and that I didn’t want to keep in contact anymore. Her reply was brief and cold and completely unapologetic. Yeah – she was playing by a different rule book – a delusional one. Some people don’t get that friendship is reciprocal. If someone had treated her the way she treated me, she would have been angry and hurt. Who wouldn’t be? That day she lost not just me but the people I roll with from her life – several potential and very loyal friends. Idiotic.

    People who randomly dump others should be treated like they don’t exist. They need to know what it feels like.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Since the husband’s best friend doesn’t mention he is back with this lady , and they have been reunited for almost a year, til you are tallying the rsvps’ for your wedding, I feel you have no obligation to include this lady. In my opinion she should have reached out to you with congratulations if she has any desire to attend your wedding.
    I find him withholding this info for so long perplexing, then to expect she would included.. that seems odd to me. Perhaps she told me not to mention you.

  5. Karen says:

    Just to clarify, when my husband’s friend asked about bringing her to the wedding (this was 4 weeks prior), we explained the situation we were in, with several distant relatives inviting themselves earlier that week, and promised that once we got all the replies in, if we were under our space/financial target, we’d make room for her. It didn’t happen (had a great response rate and also weren’t able to include some good friends from college, which hurts me still), and he at least seemed understanding, so I have to assume he was.

    It kind of eats at me to have to welcome this person back into my life after the callousness with which she treated me. There are so many people I don’t see nearly enough that it seems an awful waste to spend time with someone I can no longer trust.

    I like plan A but also am not quite sure how to say, without risking causing a new problem, “you hurt me a lot more than you probably realize, I don’t trust you, and it’s going to take me some time to adjust to having you back in my life.”

  6. Camilla says:

    That letter just makes me say “Ouch!” on behalf of the (ex)friend.

    From what you’ve said, I read her as someone who simply doesn’t get “stay in touch or lose the friendship” paradigm, and who got dumped for slacking, without realizing that she was crossing a line.

    It’s not that she wasn’t wrong by your standards (and how hard is it to call back, anyway?) it’s that she’s playing from a different rule book.

  7. Laura says:

    I agree with Irene. It was circumstances that prevented your from including her in the wedding, not a grudge. You have no real reason to feel guilty. She does. Take your cue from her behavior; if she’s acting like nothing happened, don’t broach the subject. If she brings it up, then apologize and explain the situations.

    As my mother used to say: if you move the poo, it starts to stink. Don’t you move that poo!

  8. Anonymous says:

    oo, this story really reminded me of something that happened to me once. it’s good advice. it’s not always easy to keep the moral high ground when you’re hurting but in the long run you’ll have fewer regrets.

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