Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Do I Have To Let My Bridesmaid Bring Her Deadbeat Boyfriend To My Wedding?”

I am getting married next May (I cannot wait!!!) and “Carrie,” one of my closest friends is going to be a bridesmaid. She’s very sweet and beautiful and I couldn’t imagine having another friend be a bridesmaid. With that said, she’s dating the lowest piece of man I have ever met. They are constantly making up and breaking up. He’s been arrested numerous times for drugs, as well as for hitting her and other women. He’s currently in a rehab facility where he will be until November.

With Carrie being in the wedding, I know that she will most likely want to bring him along as her date. Am I allowed to tell her that I do not want this delinquent there? Am I obligated to allow her to bring him? I am allowing others to bring husbands, boyfriends, and dates.

Please let me know what to do because I feel like I am in a bind with this and don’t want to be a total bridezilla (which I haven’t been up until this point according to everyone involved in the wedding). — No Delinquents, Please


If this were a guy you merely didn’t like, or even had a strong aversion to, because he’s annoying or he’s cheap or he once told you you remind him of Margaret Thatcher, then I’d say you’d still be obligated to extend a wedding invitation to him, if only by adding “plus one” on Carrie’s invitation and expecting that she’ll choose him as her date. But knowing that this dead-beat has hit Carrie in the past makes him more than just an annoying or ill-mannered man, and that’s where you have a personal dilemma, isn’t it?

By allowing Carrie to invite whomever she wants as her date to your wedding, knowing she’ll probably invite him, are you sending a message that you support his presence in her life? That’s really the most important thing here, I’d say. Surely, you know that you’ll have a wonderful time at your wedding, no matter who may end up there as a date of one of your guests. But giving an implicit message of approval is what I’d be most concerned with in regards to Carrie bringing this loser to your wedding.

So, how can you get around sending that message without denying her the privilege you’re granting all your other guests (that of bringing a date of their choice)? Well, first of all, don’t send out any invitations until you’re much closer to your wedding date. May is 11 months away. Carrie’s boyfriend is in rehab until November. A lot can happen before you walk down the aisle. Maybe, by, say, March of next year when you’re sending out invitations, her loser boyfriend will be ancient history. Let’s hope so! If not, then what you can do just before you send out the invitations is privately explain to Carrie that hers will say “Plus one,” and that you hope in bringing a guest of her choosing, she’ll be able to celebrate and enjoy your wedding day as much as you will. Let her know that while you anticipate she’ll bring her boyfriend, you do not forgive him for how he’s treated her and you continue to hope she’ll make better personal decisions in the future.

Even by saying this, you risk hurting her feelings and pissing her off. But if that risk is worth it to give Carrie the message you want to give her, then go for it. If you’d rather keep things drama-free between the two of you as your continue planning your wedding, then I’d wait until after the honeymoon to tell her how much you detest her boyfriend’s behavior toward her. At the very least, wait about 9 1/2 more months before you send out invitations and hope to God this isn’t something you even have to worry about by then.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

70 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Judy June 14, 2011, 8:06 am

    My thing is if he is in rehab maybe by the time you wedding comes around he will be a new person and you might even like him. I think everyone deserves a second chance and if you’re girlfriend is willing to give him one even after beating the crap out of her maybe you should be the supportive friend and also think about giving him that chance too! You still have enough time after he gets out of rehab to see if he changed.
    Good Luck on the marriage and may you both be happy and blest!

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      silver_dragon_girl June 14, 2011, 8:53 am

      Why do people always jump from “hit” to “beat the crap out of?” There’s no excuse for either, but still. They’re quite different.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        LTC039 June 14, 2011, 9:00 am

        If he’s “hit her & other women” it might be more than just a slap, esp. if he’s been arrested multiple times for it. Some people use hitting instead of beating, its just about preference.

        Link
      • avatar

        silver_dragon_girl June 14, 2011, 9:02 am

        I know, but in this case all we got it “hit her and other women.” Which is bad enough, don’t get me wrong, but doesn’t necessarily equate “beat the crap out of.”

        I like accuracy.

        Link
      • avatar

        Judy June 15, 2011, 7:33 am

        Thank you LTCO39
        It was coming from a place where I know what it’s like to be in that kind of relationship, It took me five years to see that I deserve better, but then after I broke it off he went in and got the help he so needed and today he is a diffrent better person, I am just saying if someone wants to change they can. but like always there has to be someone that takes it personal.
        It’s what I feel and I do have the right to say what ever the heck I feel.

        Link
      • avatar

        Judy June 15, 2011, 7:29 am

        Lord! God knows I didnt know you were the comment police. Sorry next time I will run it by you first.

        Link
    • avatar

      Bostonian Thinker June 14, 2011, 9:07 am

      It seems like she HAS given him many chances. They have broken up many times. Also, second chances are for when a guy forgets a date nad stands you up, not being psysically violent. In that case there are no second chances.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        SweetChild June 14, 2011, 9:43 am

        Totally agree. No second chances for violence. One time is one too many.

        Link
    • avatar

      Meg June 14, 2011, 10:25 am

      It’s not that I don’t believe people can change, but I do think that the easiest way for people to change is to get out of destructive patterns in their lives. An abuser isn’t going to learn to interact with women in a healthy manner by staying with the woman he has habitually abused, just as a victim isn’t going to learn to be treated well by the same man who has abused her. Especially since the letter alludes to a pattern of abuse (toward both the friend and past partners), this guy has a long way to go. He needs to figure it out on his own, and maybe one day he can have a healthy relationship. That said, from what is indicated in the letter I have a very hard time believing that this particular relationship can be salvaged.

      Sure, LW can forgive this guy as can his girlfriend/LW’s friend. Forgiveness is generally good for all parties involved. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that she has to stay in a romantic relationship with him though, or even stay close friends. That’s not her job, and I personally don’t think it would be good for anyone in the situation.

      Reply Link
    • avatar

      redessa June 14, 2011, 12:04 pm

      Sure, he can have a second chance, with someone else! If he comes out of rehab a new man, then he can try and have a clean slate with a new relationship. But I would think (and I could be wrong) there’s too much baggage between him and Carrie to ever really put it all behind them and move on in an entirely healthy way. Hopefully, he’ll figure that out for himself in rehab.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    Debbie June 14, 2011, 8:39 am

    I think there are certain things that don’t deserve second chances and beating up a girlfriend falls into that category. That’s great that he’s in rehab, but even if he changes, I wouldn’t give a second chance to a guy who hit my friend. I just couldn’t trust it wouldn’t happen again.

    I agree with Wendy’s advice here, and worst case scenario, LW might have to politely deal with him at the wedding for her friend’s sake.

    I think it’s wrong, though, to go further and demand that to be a supportive friend, she must forgive him and give him a second chance. There are many minor mistakes that can be made in a relationship where we all need forgiveness and a second chance, but abuse is not one of those. It’s a huge deal-breaker and there’s no obligation to forgive and forget it.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    kerrycontrary June 14, 2011, 8:52 am

    This is really tough and I think Wendy gave great advice. Just wait it out and see what happens. I agree that telling your friend what you really think of her boyfriend (if you havn’t done so already) is really risky, but if she is as kind and sweet as you say she is then hopefully she can accept the message you are trying to get across. It’s probably because she’s so kind and sweet that she got hooked up with someone who takes advantage of her, maybe their time apart will do her some good.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    TheGirl June 14, 2011, 9:00 am

    Its definitely going to be tough to exclude him if he’s still around at that point. I think Wendy gives very good advice here. Wait it out, and if they are still together, just tell your friend that you are concerned about her and you think she deserves better. If she still wants to bring him, just make sure you have someone large and very level-headed (level-headed is key – you don’t want to get anybody riled up) on hand to make sure he doesn’t start anything. Hopefully he won’t be drinking since he will have just gotten out of rehab six months prior.

    Oh, and THANK YOU for the plus ones. I still just think that’s the classy thing to do at a wedding.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    silver_dragon_girl June 14, 2011, 9:01 am

    Ugh, this is a tough one. I wouldn’t want that guy at my wedding either. However, if you purposely exclude him, you risk alienating your friend and losing a bridesmaid at the last minute. Not that losing a bridesmaid is a big deal in the scheme of things, especially when domestic violence is involved, but still.

    And yet, it’s your wedding. I’d wait, like Wendy says, until you’re ready to send out your invitations and see how things lie. I’d start by ASKING your friend if she plans on inviting Scuzzy McSkeezeball to be her date. For all you know, she may be anticipating this conversation and have decided NOT to invite him. They might be broken up (for good!) by then. Anything could happen. However, you should probably just work under the assumption that she’ll invite him. Definitely ASK first, though. Then you could go with a polite, “I know you love him, but I don’t. You’re my friend, and I don’t like the way this guy treats you. I would prefer that he not come to the wedding.”

    To soften this, you could maybe finish with something gentler. Tell her that if she *does* bring Scuzzy, you’ll accept that and be a good hostess, but you would just prefer if she didn’t, if only to keep drama out of the wedding. Make sure to broach this topic when the two of you are alone together.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      utopiaballroom June 14, 2011, 10:05 am

      “However, if you purposely exclude him, you risk alienating your friend and losing a bridesmaid at the last minute.”

      Yep. I came here to say something similar.

      I’m not saying for sure that this guy is a classic abuser/manipulator. BUT, if he is, and the bride-to-be says he’s not welcome at the wedding, that would be a good opportunity for him to whip out some classic abuser jedi mind tricks, like the “it’s you and me baby against the world” tactic.

      It’s really painful to see your friend behave in ways that (from your perspective) seem so, well, dumb. And (speaking from personal experience) it’s equally painful to BE that friend, looking back after the mental fog has cleared, and feeling like the second biggest asshole in the world for being so stupid/not listening to your friends and loved ones. Kudos to you for wanting to do the right thing. You are an awesome friend.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        twiglet June 15, 2011, 1:57 pm

        agree agree agree.she might really get punished, one way or the other, if he is a psychodramacharmer type.LW could tell her friend in confidence about how hard it was….every little wake-up call counts….

        Link
    • avatar

      LTC039 June 14, 2011, 9:12 am

      I agree with this. Honestly, I don’t think I could be as nice…I worry that the guy will get drunk at the reception & cause a scene. I think that would be my biggest worry & also the friend would not enjoy the wedding as much because she’d probably spend the whole time worrying about how he’ll react to, well anything. But I guess that’s her perrogative…However with a guy like that, if this were my wedding, I would talk to my friend in a nice way, but I’d probably tell her I don’t want him there. & if he has gotten all those arrests, I think the friend should understand at the least! (But I know that would be in a perfect world, & not reality.)

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    Mainer June 14, 2011, 9:10 am

    “Listen, I know you like the guy. I know he is making efforts to get better by going to rehab. Maybe he’ll be a better person this time next year, or maybe you two won’t even be together. But if you do bring him, and that little SHIT RUINS MY SPECIAL DAY, I SWEAR TO GOD I’LL SHOVE A BAG OF COCAINE UP HIS ASS AND CALL THE COPS!! Okay, sweetie? Great. Now, what do you think of this flower arrangement?”

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      TheOtherMe June 14, 2011, 11:36 am

      Mainer, I ♥ you.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    Nadine June 14, 2011, 9:19 am

    I am not sure if this is the most mature option, but if the goal is just to ‘make sure Skuzzy McSkeezball isn’t at the wedding’ then could the LW say her fiance has a problem with him? I know that my boyfriend would never want an addict with a violent history towards women anywhere near me or his family, especially on his wedding day. I know this doesn’t get the point across that LW doesn’t approve of Skuzzy, but it might do until, as Wendy says, after the honeymoon when she can focus on this.
    Maybe Carrie will meet a nice, sober guy at the wedding, and Skuzzy can crawl back to his cave.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      Guy Friday June 14, 2011, 12:08 pm

      If my fiancee ever tried to pin that kind of thing on me — particularly if she hadn’t discussed it with me first (and you don’t mention explicitly that the LW would have to) — I’d be LIVID. Suggesting that the LW pawn off the blame on her fiancee completely ignores all of the serious implications something like that has. For starters, if this bridesmaid is going to react poorly to the suggestion, who do you think she’s going to soften the blows for: the best friend who invited her into a special place in her wedding, or the fiancee who likely doesn’t have a special relationship with the woman? And is the anger and resentment really going to stop after the wedding day? What if this bridesmaid continues to resent the fiancee for overstepping his boundaries (which, come on, if he had written in and asked if he could tell his fiancee not to invite her bridesmaid’s boyfriend, most people would be ripping him for) and is consistently hostile toward him? And, really, what happens if this bridesmaid calls him out and asks the LW to support her in front of others? Is this LW going to continue the lie by bashing her fiancee, or pull punches and lose the friend anyway? It’s a LOT less drama if the LW fights her own battles here.

      Personally, LW, I think you’re essentially screwed on this one. I agree that you should wait and hope your friend dumps him on her own, but if they’re still together around the time invitations are sent out, I think you need to suck it up and accept that he might be there. The downside to openly inviting significant others of your guests and not limiting things in that way is that you have to trust your guests not to bring people you don’t want there. Honestly, though, don’t get involved. I disagree with the analysis that your inviting him is a tacit approval of their relationship. I mean, seriously, it’s your wedding; who expects you to have time to micromanage things like that? It’s almost certainly going to be viewed as you just extending plus-ones to everyone as a courtesy, and anyone who tries to suggest that his being there equals some stand you’re taking on him as a person is ridiculous.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    Laurel June 14, 2011, 9:20 am

    Send your Save-the-Date cards earlier and then your actual invitations closer to the wedding. This way you will still let people know to keep that time frame open while giving time for Scuzzy to get dumped.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      TheOtherMe June 14, 2011, 11:38 am

      Unrelated. When I read Scuzzy, I my mind I thought SCSI.
      ( the geeks will get it )

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        TheOtherMe June 14, 2011, 11:39 am

        Well, maybe only the over 30 geeks…

        Link
      • avatar

        VioletLover June 14, 2011, 5:36 pm

        Nah, Megatokyo makes a joke about that.

        Link
      • avatar

        _jsw_ June 14, 2011, 11:30 pm

        I got it. Of course, I fit that demographic. 😉

        Link
      • avatar

        TheOtherMe June 15, 2011, 8:29 am

        Even more so since yesterday 😉 happy belated bday Joe

        Link
  • avatar

    Valerie June 14, 2011, 9:27 am

    I think that if you want to talk to Carrie about her boyfriend’s behavior (if you haven’t already), you could wait it out and see what happens, as others have mentioned, or you could talk to her about her boyfriend now, without bringing up the wedding at all, since the wedding is still almost a year away. Now might be an especially good time to see how Carrie is feeling about her relationship with this dude, especially since he’s away in rehab, and to let her know that you’re worried about her, without bringing the wedding into it. This way, if she does decide to stay with the guy, she won’t be blindsided if you want to bring up having him at the wedding as it gets closer to sending out the invitations. Or you could just send her invitation to “Carrie and Guest,” and she’ll likely get the message. Hopefully Carrie won’t feel alienated and will still want to your bridesmaid, and if she still chooses to bring this douchnozzle to the wedding, just be polite, but don’t feel like you gave to socialize with him at all. Who knows, since Carrie will be busy with bridesmaid duties all day, he might not even want to come! And at the very least, he’ll be separated from the wedding party for most of the day.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      Laurel June 14, 2011, 10:36 am

      That’s a good idea to talk to her about it now, outside of the context of the wedding.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    TECH June 14, 2011, 9:40 am

    It’s understandable that you disapprove of Carrie’s boyfriend and his behavior. But you cannot tell your wedding guest who they can or cannot bring as their date. Like Wendy said, maybe they’ll be broken up by next year. And privately, you can gently and respectfully say you do not approve of him. But again, it’s not your place to monitor who your guests bring as dates. As long as he doesn’t cause a scene at the wedding, you will probably be so preoccupied by other things that his presence won’t really matter all that much.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      LTC039 June 14, 2011, 9:45 am

      Ehh, technically she CAN tell her guest who to bring or not to bring. It’s HER wedding, she’s footing the bill. Whether the friend gets angry or not, that’s a different story, that’s the risk you take. But she definitely has full right to monitor guests & their plus ones! Especially ones with a violent track record!

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        Quakergirl June 14, 2011, 9:49 am

        Agreed. She can’t tell her friend who to date on her own time, but she definitely can say “please don’t bring a violent addict to my wedding.” And in this case I feel like that’s not an unreasonable request. Obviously I wouldn’t say it like that, but the general sentiment holds.

        Link
      • avatar

        Riefer June 14, 2011, 10:45 am

        If she sends an invitation that says “Carrie and guest”, she cannot dictate who that guest is. She can certainly tell Carrie ahead of time that she would prefer her not to bring the douchebag. But you’re hosting an event, it’s not “yours”, it’s for your guests as well. If you tell them they can bring a +1, they can bring whoever they choose.

        The only ways around this are:
        – don’t allow her to bring a +1 (this is almost as rude as dictating who her +1 can/cannot be)
        – don’t invite her to the wedding (obviously not the path the LW wants to take)

        Someone above had a good suggestion, that she talk to Carrie beforehand and voice her disapproval. Then when she sends out the invite, mention that she’d prefer her not to bring him. But that’s the best she can do. Even that might be pushing it, depending on how her friend takes it. Any of the other options are definitely going to make the friend mad.

        Link
      • avatar

        LTC039 June 14, 2011, 10:57 am

        UMM, in this case, the event is HERS. It’s HER WEDDING, not a big bbq party at the local community pool. Yes, in most cases it wouldn’t be right for the bride to tell her bridesmaid which plus one she can’t bring, BUT this guy is an abusive drug-addict with multiple arrests, I think this situations COMPLETELY merits a ban from her wedding. **HER** wedding, not her guest’s wedding.
        She should talk to her, but if she doesn’t want this guy to show up, she has full right to say that. Sure, she’ll risk her friend getting angry & possibly withdraw from the wedding party, but that’s up to the LW.

        Link
      • avatar

        Riefer June 14, 2011, 11:12 am

        When you host an event, you are giving it at least in part for the people who are your guests. People aren’t buying tickets to sit there and watch you celebrate yourself. If they were, you could do whatever the hell you wanted. If not, you have a responsibility to your guests, to ensure that they are comfortable and having a good time. If you can’t do that, then don’t have a wedding. This is how we end up with bridezillas.

        You can’t “ban” anybody from the event, except for people who aren’t invited. When you give an open-ended “plus guest”, you don’t get to choose the guest. If you want to choose the guest, you have to put the guest’s name. That’s how it works. You can’t say “Carrie minus douchebag plus other guest”.

        I’m not saying this is how I want it to work, I’m saying this is how it DOES work. You don’t think her friend will be mad if the LW bans her boyfriend from the wedding? I think the LW’s point is to try to find a way to get out of having the bf there, but NOT make her friend mad. That’s why banning is not a solution to the problem.

        Link
      • avatar

        silver_dragon_girl June 14, 2011, 11:28 am

        I’m with Riefer. Hostess etiquette says you have a responsibility to make sure your guests are enjoying themselves, comfortable, and taken care-of. If you say “plus one,” they can bring whoever they want. It would be really rude to say “plus one as long as it’s not Bob.”

        HOWEVER, that responsibility includes ALL your guests, and if Bob is a multiple-convictions addict, you have every right to take steps to prevent him from coming because it would make ALL your guests uncomfortable. The problem comes from juggling both aspects of hostessing.

        Guest etiquette, meanwhile, dictates that you DON’T BRING someone you know the hostess/most of the guests wouldn’t like. That’s equally rude. Hopefully Carrie knows this and will save everyone a lot of awkwardness by just not inviting the skeezeball.

        Link
      • avatar

        LTC039 June 14, 2011, 11:28 am

        But she also indicated that she does not want this guy at her wedding at all…& yes, in the sense that you can’t put “plus one” & then determine who is allowed & who isn’t, I get that, but as her friend, she can be open & honest & say “I don’t want this guy at my wedding at all” She could just not give her a plus one on the invitation, even though it’s a bit passive aggressive, the LW should understand seeing as she’s the one that’s been on the receiving end of this guy’s rageful domestic violence acts. But in general, the LW can invite/not invite who she chooses (that would lead to the not giving her friend a plus one). That’s what I was referring to. Like I said, in another case, yes it would be bridezilla, but in this case, she has every right. & no, people aren’t paying, she’s paying for the people to celebrate her marriage, so yeah, it kinda is about her & her husband-to-be & if she doesn’t want to risk that day being ruined by some crazy violent ass, then it’s entirely up to her. I certainly don’t blame her at all, & neither should her friend!

        Link
      • avatar

        Riefer June 14, 2011, 11:37 am

        LTC039, I agree with you that ideally the LW would find a way not to have this idiot at her wedding. But she’s trying to not make her friend angry. Giving everyone else a plus one and not giving her friend one will probably upset her, because it’s definitely rude, and as you said it’s also passive aggressive. So it’s not going to help in this situation.

        The only thing she can do is put the plus one, and then privately speak to her friend and tell her that she’d prefer not to have the bf there. Anything else will be even more likely to upset the friend.

        Link
      • avatar

        LTC039 June 14, 2011, 11:43 am

        In that sense, you’re absolutley right. I hope the friend can understand, as silver_dragon_girl stated, & refrain from bringing him as her plus one. I guess in this case, as what the LW wants to accomplish, that’s all she can hope for.

        Link
  • avatar

    LTC039 June 14, 2011, 8:45 am

    Unfortunately, when it comes to friends & their s/o’s it’s very difficult to get your point across w/o making your friend think you’re being judgemental, unsupportive etc…I’ve been there. I lost a friend bc she was dating this dirt bag that used to lie to her ALL the time, people would see him out at a club after he told her he was going to sleep, then tell her, & she’d just forgive him. He was even violent! He would grab her & pin her against the wall or car & scream in her face etc…I told her I didn’t like that she was letting this asshole walk all over her & always stated my disapproval (I was worried about her!) Well that completely ended my friendship with her. She dated the guy for another yr and a half until they ended things. We are civil now, but NOTHING like we were before.
    I think Wendy’s advice is good, just tread carefully when entering the topic of her boyfriend. BUT at the end of the day, it’s your wedding & he is a violent person, I certainly wouldn’t want someone like that at my wedding. It’s a tough choice, but it’s yours to make.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    lemongrass June 14, 2011, 10:20 am

    I have a similar situation- I’m getting married next month and my best friend and MOH is dating someone quite similiar. However I feel it is my job as her friend to let her know that the way he treats her is unacceptable. I have voiced my opinion to her many times because if you can’t get the truth from your friends, who can you get it from? They are still on and off, there is nothing I can do or say that will stop her from making her own decisions, but I can choose to not see him or have him in my life. She hasn’t asked if he could come, likely because I would say no way in hell. Not because I want to deny her the right to have whomever she chooses in her life, but because I would like to grant the same right to myself.

    The LW’s friend can live one night without this guy and if the LW is truly friends with this girl, she should be able to have a frank conversation with her about her boyfriend and how he treats her.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      SpaceySteph June 14, 2011, 1:51 pm

      “I have voiced my opinion to her many times because if you can’t get the truth from your friends, who can you get it from? They are still on and off, there is nothing I can do or say that will stop her from making her own decisions…”

      I think the best thing to do is to voice your whole opinion once. Tell her what behavior you see that concerns you, why you think she deserves better, and then shut up about it. As you say, you can’t stop her. So once should be enough. Then you go back to being a supportive friend, shoulder to cry on, etc. Although I think the wedding gets a special second mention using the verbage Wendy suggests, but I think voicing your opinion multiple times when she has obviously shown no interest in adhering to it is just a friendship ruiner.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    SGMcG June 14, 2011, 10:20 am

    Rather than outright disapproving this guy in your bridesmaid’s life (although I think most of us would agree with your assessment about him being the lowest piece of man), perhaps you can merely question his presence on your day before the invites are officially sent. Does the wedding have an open bar? Ask Carrie how her boyfriend’s rehab is doing and if the open bar will affect his recovery. Do you have child attendants, like a flower girl and/or ringbearer? Mention to Carrie that you don’t want to disclose the personal history of the plus ones, but one of the parents of the child attendants insists on it and ask for her advice how to do it with regards to her boyfriend.

    By expressing your concern through bridal neurosis, she may get the hint about his presence at the wedding, and hopefully the relationship overall. If they are still together after his rehab AND the holiday hoopla, be sure to leave a more direct hit of the cluebat on the invite envelope and put “Carrie and Guest”. That way you have an opening to initiate a conversation when you ask her who she’s bringing. If she says she’s bringing him, take that as an opportunity to express how you don’t like how he treated her, how you are concerned for her overall, that you’ll support her no matter what she decides and ask if, for this one day only, could bring another guest to the wedding.

    Good luck with your friend and your wedding. 🙂

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Meg June 14, 2011, 10:20 am

    I agree with everyone who says that the bigger issue is the friend and her well-being, rather than the wedding. I know it might not sound good to those who often say things like “it’s your wedding- you can have things however you want that day” (paraphrasing) but a wedding is just a party. Sure, it’s a big one and an important milestone/memory in your life, but even if Scumbag makes a scene, it’s not going to change anything about your marriage. I understand wanting to avoid a scene, or even the bad Karma of having such a jerk at the event, but the bigger picture is more important.

    I’d start with a conversation soon with your friend, saying how you are concerned about her, how she doesn’t seem herself/happy, asking what she’d say to another friend whose boyfriend has acted as hers has. Voice your concern, but make it clear that she is in control and you have her back whatever she decides, whenever she decides it. Pushing her to do something she’s not ready to do will only push her away from you and closer to him- trust me, I’ve been there.

    As far as the wedding goes, I agree with Wendy’s advice (especially if you have already laid the “I’m worried about you” groundwork). That said, depending on their relationship, if they are together I’m guessing it would be really hard for her to not invite him. Not bringing him to an event he feels entitled to attend (and as her boyfriend, he’d probably feel entitled in this case) would either make him angry/possibly violent toward her, or have a “you and me against the world” effect as someone said earlier. Neither of those are options you want for her.

    I don’t think there’s a good way for her to not bring him if they are still together, so the tactic should be slowly nudging her to end things- more for her own long-term good, than so your wedding goes smoothly. That will just be a bonus. And as frustrating as it is, she needs to come to that decision on her own terms. The best thing a friend can do in this situation is to make objective observations of her friend’s situation, and let her know that she will be there whenever the friend wants to make a move.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    spaceboy761 June 14, 2011, 10:31 am

    I say that your wedding invite list is a fairly trivial concern since your close friend is DATING AN PHYSICALLY ABUSIVE DRUG ADDICT. Any concern about your weddings takes a distant back seat to Carrie’s well-being. Her boyfriend has established a pattern of abuse and she seems to be going right along with it.

    I would do the politically correct thing and say that the rehab process works wonders, and everybody deserves second chances, and blah blah blah, but the truth is that this guy has been repeatedly abusive with multiple women and repeatedly fallen back into drugs. The odds of him entirely reforming after a single trip to rehab are next to nothing.

    My point is this: Do anything you can to split up this couple. Stage an intervention, involve her family, whatever it takes. When Carrie comes home with cuts and bruises again, you will feel like you were the one hitting her because you had the chance to get her out of this relationship and did absolutely nothing since you were too afraid to hurt her feelings. If your friendship is strong enough, she’ll come around.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      plasticepoxy June 14, 2011, 11:39 am

      I think this is great advice. It’s a hard path, and the LW would understandably be concerned about her friendship along with a number of other things, but I believe this is an option worth considering, speaking from personal experience.

      I dated a physically and verbally abusive alcoholic for ages, my self-worth dropping in relation to the length of time we were together. It wasn’t until my parents gave me an ultimatum that I realized how bad things were. It’s amazing the things we can become accustomed to.

      I knew he had hit girls before me, but I didn’t find out until I was too scared to leave him. Knowing that he had hurt other girls (I’m not talking about beating the crap out of anyone, but slapping around, shoving, etc) made it very hard for me to stand up for myself and look out for my own needs.

      It took my parents taking a stand to get me to realize how serious things were, how big of a mess my “relationship” was. I wasn’t scared to be on my own; at first I chose to look past all the problems in the interest of giving him another chance (whoo boy, I fell for his lines of being mistreated in the past, hook line and sinker!). Then felt stuck because I had set a precedent. He made me feel terrible for asking him to leave each time I made the request. I tried to break off the relationship for 4 of the 5 years, each time getting more and more desperate. Knowing other people thought I should leave him helped me get the strength and courage to force him to leave me, as well as the support I needed so much to make that happen.

      Maybe LW’s friend needs to see how serious other people think this is before she’s willing to take a stand and live her life for herself.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        plasticepoxy June 14, 2011, 11:45 am

        I wanted to add that I don’t think this will be easy, or that the LW should feel any responsibility if she attempts to show her friend how big and scary this is, and her friend disregards her concern. But telling her friend that she is not comfortable with such a violent and unpredictable person being at her wedding, and/or that she plans to reach out to her friend’s family, could be a very strong message.

        Her friend may be cowed or under his influence, but now is the time to show the friend what her life can be without her boyfriend in it, since he’s in rehab until November (I assume he’s away at rehab, not in a day-program that keeps him near LW’s friend).

        Link
      • avatar

        AKchic June 14, 2011, 7:02 pm

        They always do that, don’t they? They play themselves off as the victims instead of being the perpetrators. My first husband insisted he was always the victim but because he was a big male and our state is very female protective, he would always get the short-end of the stick. He would always say that he wanted a woman who wouldn’t “fuck him over like that again” or “hurt him like that” again. They guilt the women into treating them like gold to prove that not all women are “like that”, like they claim they had before, so you get accustomed to catering to them; then they isolate you slowly and start treating you worse and worse until it becomes the normative behavior. By that time, you are used to it and can’t really leave, for whatever reason. Kids, finances, credit, pets, your own life, etc. It’s sad because it is so cyclical and so predictable and the women involved with these jackasses refuse to see it, refuse to believe it because they don’t want to “hurt” the scumwad like “those others” have done in the past, when he’s the one that was the problem the whole time.

        Link
    • avatar

      LTC039 June 14, 2011, 11:03 am

      That would be awesome, but there’s only so much you can do other than physcially locking Carrie in a room & keeping watch 24/7. All those things are great ideas, but if Carrie wants to she can just run away & elope with this guy. It’s interesting because the more people try to break them up, the closer they’ll get, under false pretenses, as a commentor mentioned above he’ll turn the manipulation on with the “it’s you & me against everyone,” & her friend will most likely fall for it thinking “oh he loves me so much, even with everyone hating him, he still wants to be with me!” That makes him more attractive to her.
      If she hasn’t gotten the message already (after being hit by him mult. times), she probably won’t ever get it.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        spaceboy761 June 14, 2011, 11:50 am

        The major convenience here is that abusive asshole is currently locked in a room and being watched 24/7. Now is the time to reason with her without abusive asshole pulling his manipulative crap.

        Also, the Romeo & Juliet effect isn’t as strong as people make it out to be. Sadly, none of this is guaranteed to work, but the alternative of just letting Carrie walk back into a lifetime of abuse is insane. You have to give it your last, best effort right now.

        Link
      • avatar

        LTC039 June 14, 2011, 12:29 pm

        Oh yeah, in abuse cases, of course. I know I would feel horrible if my friend ended up in the hospital or dead bc I was “too worried ab our friendship” to do anything about it. I guess she’ll risk losing her friend’s confidence & such, but you’re right, it’s def. worth it. HOPEFULLY the friend doesn’t respond in a resentful way, but seeing as she’s put up with this dirt bag for so long, I’m leaning towards yes…

        Link
  • avatar

    kdog June 14, 2011, 10:44 am

    God this is a hard one. My best friend had a boyfriend for three years (thank GOD they have since broken up) who was horribly emotionally abusive. After seeing him berate and humiliate her in public the first time I met him I ripped him a new one. Maybe not the best route, but he was screaming at her in the middle of a New York City street and she was obviously so brow-beaten by that point she just cried and took it. God, just thinking about that guy makes me angry. The idea of having him at my wedding just would NOT work for me. Still I know that I would have wanted to be as level-headed as possible and I think Wendy’s advice is on point. I would also let her know that if he pulls anything at the wedding he will be quickly escourted outside.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Sarah June 14, 2011, 11:36 am

    I’d like to think there’s a no tolerance policy to men who physically abuse your friend. Wedding invites, any invites, any form of courtesy etc etc. Its one thing if the dude is just a loser. A loser boyfriend you invite to your wedding and make sure you’re other bridesmaids keep him away from the bar or the microphone. But welcoming a man who has hit your good friend and has a history of hitting women….why is there the pretense of familiarity when abuse is involved??

    If my good friend or sister wanted me to invite an abusive boyfriend, the boyfriend wouldn’t so much have to worry about whether or not he’s “invited to my wedding” so much as whether or not I’m “outside of his house with a baseball bat”.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      Meg June 14, 2011, 1:00 pm

      Have you ever been in this situation though? I really wish it was this clear-cut- it should be!- but when I was in the place of the LW’s friend, before I was ready to leave, this sort of reaction pretty much made me pull back from the friends who were trying to protect me and feel more isolated with the abusive ex. Ultimately the choice to leave has to come from the person in the abusive relationship- not from outside. The best thing outsiders can do is reinforce that 1) the person deserves better than his/her current relationship (and in my case, that my “everything is fine” act wasn’t convincing) and 2) the friend will be there with emotional and tangible support when the time comes, so s/he is not alone.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        spaceboy761 June 14, 2011, 1:33 pm

        So basically the plan is to do nothing until Carrie winds up in the hospital and then react?

        Link
      • avatar

        Meg June 14, 2011, 1:57 pm

        It might feel like doing nothing insofar as one wants to do more, but breaking the abuser’s metal hold definitely isn’t doing nothing. Someone’s a whole lot more likely to leave permanently once they start to believe she deserves better- and that’s a whole lot more likely to get through with a constant message of “I see that you’re not happy,” “I see how you look scared to go home late,” “many people are worried about you,” “you’re welcome to stay in my guest room if you need a place to stay,” etc. Forcing the issue when a victim isn’t ready to leave is more likely to cause her to cut you off, or at least not feel comfortable telling you what is going on, which means that when she might be thinking about leaving she won’t feel like she has the support to do so.

        I really did run away from my friends for a long time, to the point that when I did get out of the relationship I worried they wouldn’t take me back, because I had missed so much of their lives and treated them badly. Once I realized that they still wanted me to be apart of their lives, it got a whole lot easier to move on from that part of my life.

        Link
      • avatar

        Meg June 14, 2011, 2:02 pm

        “once SHE starts to believe she deserves better”

        I should proofread.

        Link
      • avatar

        fallonthecity June 14, 2011, 1:46 pm

        Well… I hate to write a comment like this, but I guess I’ll go ahead. I know people don’t behave like this in “enlightened” communities, but where I grew up, the outside-his-house-with-a-baseball-bat mentality was/is alive and well, and works. Dude beating up on his girlfriend/wife, and she doesn’t have the sense to leave? The woman’s dad, brothers, uncles (and if she doesn’t have a family, her friends’ dads, uncles, brothers) will see to it that the dude keeps having “accidents” until HE leaves. I’ve never heard of anybody killing a wife-beater, but they’ve definitely been whooped up on. I hate to condone vigilante crap like that, but, uh… I don’t know how effective law enforcement is when it comes to domestic violence. And I am NOT saying that the LW should beat the crap out of Carrie’s boyfriend. But I guess I am saying that I might at least think about beating the crap out of him if I were in LW’s situation.

        Link
      • avatar

        Meg June 14, 2011, 2:01 pm

        I understand the desire to do this. I personally can’t endorse violence (both in general terms- even in justified situations such as this, and because of the risk of someone’s support system ending up in jail) but I definitely know where you’re coming from.

        Link
      • avatar

        fallonthecity June 14, 2011, 10:23 pm

        It’s a good point about someone’s support system ending up in jail. What I described is most definitely not how things work in most places… and ideally you could call the cops and have the abuser arrested, and the law would take care of it.

        Link
      • avatar

        Sarah June 14, 2011, 3:28 pm

        I have not been in an abusive relationship and I don’t know your experience but with the women I know who have gone through it they say that their friends and family’s intolerance to this violence is what gave them the confidence to change their circumstance.

        Link
      • avatar

        Meg June 14, 2011, 3:56 pm

        That makes sense, but in my case it was “intolerance” meaning continual insistence that I deserved better- not just not inviting him places. Before I was ready to get out, not inviting him somewhere just meant that I “couldn’t” go, if that makes sense, because I didn’t want to face the fight about why I had to go without him. You can’t force someone to leave by taking a hard line. You can give her the courage to leave by helping her see the situation from your perspective, rather than her own (which is the one he’s given her).

        Link
      • avatar

        twiglet July 8, 2011, 6:02 pm

        yes i agree if you have to choose- missing out is less pain… *shivers* I am so lucky now.before an ultimatum would have just made me stay at home I guess. Yuk.

        Link
      • katie

        Katie June 14, 2011, 9:07 pm

        ok, I want to know though (because I have never had to deal with this kind of situation): is there anything that your family and friends could have told you that would have made you immediately realize what was going on and leave your abuser?

        i feel like there isn’t anything that someone could say to a person being abused to make them instantly “get it”. so, really the only thing that friends and family can do wrong is to allow the behavior to be “ok”, and for me that would mean in any way associating with said person.

        Link
      • thatswhat-she

        Meg June 14, 2011, 11:50 pm

        For me personally? Two things might have gotten through to me, but they were my own particular issues- the first was that just because I had moved in with him (I wasn’t raised to “live in sin”) didn’t mean I had to stay with him and marry him. The second, bigger one was that I wished someone told me my “everything is ok” act wasn’t convincing. I really thought I had it all together and it wasn’t until things ended and everyone said they were relieved because they’d been scared for me that I realized people knew.

        People said he was a jerk, people said they couldn’t stand him, people said he was a loser/deadbeat/liar/etc- but no one said they knew how he was treating me and that they didn’t think it was ok. Would that have immediately gotten me to leave? Probably not. But I would have had a much shorter time convincing myself that it was ok to tear down the facade of “I’m strong, I can handle this.”

        Link
    • avatar

      AKchic June 14, 2011, 7:09 pm

      I agree with you. After being the “survivor” (that’s what they are now calling it, which is irritating, but I’ll go with it for now) of spousal abuse and attempted murder by my 1st husband, I have no problems with being the first one called when some guy hits a friend or family member. Even the sisters I don’t talk to can call me. I have special “treatments” for guys that sexually assault women (during a beating or not) and you don’t want to know what I’d do to anyone who would touch a kid.

      Any guy involved in a “domestic disturbance” involving one of my friends or family will be lucky if the cops show up before I do. I have a no-tolerance policy, and my male friends know it. So do my female friends for that matter, since physical abuse goes both ways.

      Reply Link
    • katie

      Katie June 14, 2011, 8:42 pm

      i am totally with you. your boy hit you? he is not ever allowed in my life again, because he did that to you. hell, i have gotten that mad at boyfriends who just SAID mean things to my friends! i have very very high expectations for the people i surround myself with, and that kind of behavior would never fly, and a wedding invitation? maybe one cold day in hell…

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    Belongsomewhere June 14, 2011, 3:24 pm

    This is a really tough situation. When I just saw the title of the post, my thought was that the bride should allow her friend to bring whomever she wants unless the potential date might do something obnoxious at the wedding (like argue with the bridesmaid at the reception or show up drunk or high at the ceremony). But since this guy has been abusive, and the bride obviously wants to protect her friend, I think she should have a conversation with her friend about the relationship, explaining that she worries about get safety with this guy. I think that by framing the discussion. That way, her friend will find it harder to find fault with the conversation. The bride could say that she’s a little uncomfortable with having a guy who has treated her close friend so badly at her wedding–for her friend’s sake, and because, if she thinks it’s safe to say such a thing, she can’t in good faith say that she is in full support of their relationship. If it’s really important to her friend that this guy comes with her to the wedding, and this friendship is as important to her as it seems to be (judging by the letter), this might not be the right time to make a stand as big as banning him from the wedding. If she feels like there would be a big hole in the wedding if her friend were to refuse to come because she can’t bring her boyfriend, she should let him come, but she should express her concern to her friend. (Sorry for any glaring typos–my internet is out and I typed this whole thing on an iPhone.)

    Reply Link
  • katie

    Katie June 14, 2011, 8:29 pm

    wow. this is a terrible situation. I dont know how I would react to this, because I know that myself and all my friends are way to strong to let this happen to them… but, if it did.. i think that myself and my other friends would stage some sort of intervention. away from wedding-related stuff, and just calmly explain how we will not condone what this guy is doing to her anymore. i would hope that the girl wouldn’t, as others have said, take this as more reason to stay with the guy, but if that does happen, you cant really do anything about it, can you? all you can do is tell your friend you support her and love her and she deserves better. if she is a good friend, she will value your opinion and maybe leave the guy. if she is an idiot, she wont take it that way. and what is there left to do? call her family, i guess. but then thats it. you cant go and physically take her away from this guy. after that was done, the wedding problem wouldn’t even be a problem- he is obviously not invited, period, end of story. and while that may mean that your friend wont be there standing next to you on your big day, i think that it is much more important that you dont “accept” his behavior in a way, by letting him come to the wedding, or having anything to do with your life in general. if my friend had a boyfriend like this, i would literally walk out of the room if he ever showed up to something. he would not be allowed in my house, allowed to my events, ect. and hopefully one day when my friend leaves the guy and figures out what was really going on, she would thank me for taking a stand and not just letting it go because we are friends and I didn’t want to upset her. stand up for your friend, because it seems like she cant right now.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    twiglet July 8, 2011, 5:59 pm

    love wendy’s advice.

    Reply Link

Leave a Comment