Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Should I Keep My Toxic Friend in My Wedding?”

It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in three sentences or less, because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go. Today we discuss dating before a divorce is finalized and how to deal with toxic friends.

I have been friends with “Jessica” since elementary school — 16 years and counting. However, I’m beginning to realize that as much as I value the history and shared memories of our friendship, she hasn’t really been all that great of a friend to me, especially in the last few years. She’s really harsh with words and her only response when I got engaged last year was a running list of complaints about how she isn’t engaged yet. Then, this past summer when I found out I was losing my job due to some really shady actions by my boss, had a close family member diagnosed with cancer and was having a minor meltdown, her response was “at least you’re engaged.” While I do love my fiancé dearly, I think there is more to my life, such as a career and family, and I guess I expected more support from one of my oldest friends.

Needless to say, my patience with her started to wear thin this past year. I made one last ditch effort, and vowed to be the best friend that I could be to her, thinking maybe because I wrapped up in all of the problems in my life and was neglecting her, she was acting this way. That plan crashed and burned. She continued to make it hard to be friends with her, even claiming that it was partially my fault she forgot a mutual friend’s birthday. All my frustration built up until one night I had one too many drinks and sent a mean text message to her, which I profusely apologized for the next day and explained that I had been hurt by her actions recently and sick of the way I was being treated. She responded that I needed to give up my “fairy tale” like images of friendships and grow up.

At this point, I would really like to cool off from our friendship or end it altogether, but there’s a big problem — she’s supposed to be in my wedding that’s quickly approaching. I am not someone who likes drama, so for the sake of everyone else in the wedding party, I would to include her as long as she’s still willing to be a part of it (although she hasn’t really contacted me or answered my texts/call since the fight, so it’s still up in the air). Then, after the wedding’s over, back off from our friendship. I really don’t know if that would be the right thing to do and I could really, truly use an outsider’s advice on this topic. — Bridal Party Woes

 
If you’ve already decided the friendship is over and she’s obviously got issues with you, why on earth would you want her in your wedding? Only have her in the wedding if you want to try to work on your friendship, and if you do, reach out to her and do just that — work on it. If you’re truly over it, then release her from the duty of being a bridesmaid, wish her well and be glad you don’t have to deal with her self-pitying drama.

I’m married but have been separated for nearly a year now and have no plans of getting back with my husband. Recently, I started a new friendship with a man. We aren’t in a relationship but I can’t say what we really are. We only talk on the phone or text. He has expressed feelings for me and includes me in his plans for the future. Although I know I will be getting a divorce soon, I don’t want to jump into another relationship until the current door closes. As a result, I’m hesitant to express my feelings to him. My heart aches at the thought of him being with someone else. Should I tell him how I feel? — Between Two Doors

 
Express your feelings but explain that you aren’t interested in acting on those feelings until your divorce is finalized. In the meantime, his friendship means so much to you and you hope he will find it in his heart to wait until you are emotionally available, but you understand if he isn’t able to promise that to you and that’s a risk you’ll have to take.

I have a college friend, “Jackie,” whom I talk to everything about. My biggest problem is I am not sure she is a healthy friend. I give her sound advice on her problems but when it comes to me she seems to pick the wrong advice to give. For example, she’s had a problem with every guy I’ve ever dated but she can’t seem to tell me why. Recently, I broke up with my boyfriend and she gave me a lot of tough love. She told me to get over it and that he made it clear he was done when he broke up with me so there was no use in talking to him again. Well, I did end up talking to him to gain a sense of why we broke up. In this meeting we worked it out and ended up getting back together after we both realized how much we missed one another. When I told her, she replied how shocked she was and then immediately started criticizing him. Now she’s mad and won’t talk to me. My other friends expressed how happy they were that we are back together and how he’s a really great guy, so I don’t think Jackie’s “concern” is warranted. Even my roommate who knows us both best said that she was really happy since she even started to miss him around. Is Jackie reacting normally? Should I keep this sort of friend around? — Contaminated by Friendship

 
Jackie sounds toxic, and is likely jealous of you (or jealous of your boyfriend for being your significant other…). You don’t necessarily have to dump her, but I’d definitely keep her at arm’s length and quit confiding in her so much (or at all). If that doesn’t work, MOA and be glad you have other friends who’ve got your back.
 
*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.

46 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Lindsay July 22, 2011, 8:45 am

    I had a friend who was considering dropping a bridesmaid from the wedding. Wendy makes valid points, and it’s best not to have someone you don’t want to be friends with in your wedding. But it does create a lot of drama. More practically, it would make the numbers uneven in the wedding party. And it would “release her from the duty,” but would also mean that she’d bought a dress and possibly more (shoes, hotel room, plane ticket) for nothing, so I doubt the friend would look at it as a nice gesture. Not to mention if other bridesmaids or friends were relying on this one to share a room or ride to the wedding (if it’s long-distance). My friend was already stressing enough over the wedding, so she chose to keep the friend in it to avoid piling even more stress on and creating unnecessary drama. It all depends on the circumstances, I guess.

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      SpaceySteph July 22, 2011, 10:02 am

      Your friend and LW sound a little selfish. I don’t want this girl as my friend but to avoid drama I’m not gonna tell her til after my wedding. Besides, if she doesn’t come then my maid of honor will have to pay for her own hotel room.

      Seriously? Don’t make her travel, show up to a bunch of events, give you gifts, and waste any more of her time just so your wedding goes off drama free. Although, I totally feel you on the even sides. I know that if I had 6 groomsmen and only 5 bridesmaids it would RUIN MY WEDDING. Whatever.

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        parrt July 22, 2011, 11:54 am

        uneven number of groomsmen and bridesmaids = ruined wedding?
        the shallowness is astounding.

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        EB July 22, 2011, 1:04 pm

        my god even IF it did equal ruined wedding, ruined wedding does not equal ruined marriage. I get that a wedding is a really important day in a person’s life but it is just that, a day… ONE DAY in your entire life.

        Dear all past, present, and future engaged LWs,
        Please start planning your wedding around your life instead of planning your life around your wedding.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph July 22, 2011, 1:20 pm

        “Plan your wedding around your life instead of planning your life around your wedding.”
        When I get married, I will make this my mantra.

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        ForeverYoung July 22, 2011, 1:20 pm

        I think she was being sarcastic

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        EB July 22, 2011, 1:32 pm

        I know; that’s why I said “even IF” 🙂

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        parrt July 22, 2011, 1:21 pm

        all engaged LWs should watch the How I met your mother episode on marshall and lily’s wedding, and subsequently observe that it did not matter. The 6 or 8 hours you spend at the wedding are a minute fraction of your life.

        If “memorable pictures” are more important to you than experiencing life along with all the “bad stuff” then you are a phony and also will never be happy.

        seriously if your wedding is picture perfect to the last detail, nobody is going to give a shit. It will be forgotten. People were probably falling asleep because of all the perfectness

        However if a pig breaks in, and runs loose during your wedding, it will cause some chaos, but it will be forever memorable. People will be telling the story of how a pig broke loose at your wedding for a long time.

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      • avatar

        HmC July 22, 2011, 8:32 pm

        “Please start planning your wedding around your life instead of planning your life around your wedding.”

        Replace “wedding” with “significant other” and you’ve also got some pretty great advice!

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      • EscapeHatches

        EscapeHatch July 22, 2011, 1:34 pm

        Pretty sure SpaceySteph was joking…

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      • avatar

        Fancy Pants July 22, 2011, 1:46 pm

        Yeah, I’m 15 months away from my wedding. I have 6 bridesmaids and he has 5 groomsmen. So I guess we’re just cruising for a ruined wedding head on? Good to know.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph July 22, 2011, 1:51 pm

        Yup. It’s right up there with choosing “I Honestly Love You” as your song. Divorce in 6 months.

        Also, I am totally kidding. In case that has escaped notice.

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      • avatar

        Fancy Pants July 22, 2011, 1:47 pm

        Yeah, I’m 15 months away from my wedding. I have 6 bridesmaids and he has 5 groomsmen. So I guess we’re just cruising for a ruined wedding head on? Good to know.

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      • avatar

        Amber July 22, 2011, 12:07 pm

        I agree, who wants to put all that effort in to a wedding they’re not wanted at? And really no one but you is going to dwell on the fact that you have an uneven number of attendants. Who really cares as long as they are people you WANT in your wedding!

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    • avatar

      El July 22, 2011, 11:24 am

      What’s worse…temporary drama because you dumped a bridesmaid who was treating you like crap, or permanent photos of your wedding day that include someone you’ve grown to hate?

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      • katie

        katie July 22, 2011, 9:03 pm

        oh so true! i just recently got rid of all the pictures in my place of an ex-friend.. not, like maliciously, but i had a bunch of new pictures printed from the past year and I consciously replaced all the ones with the one girl in them. It feels really good not to look at her all the time and be reminded of those terrible things that happened between us. i couldnt imagine having to look at wedding photos like that. they would be ruined for me.

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  • avatar

    bluesunday July 22, 2011, 8:47 am

    LW3-If this was Degrassi, Jackie would be in love with you.

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      kerrycontrary July 22, 2011, 9:36 am

      That’s what I was thinking!

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      EB July 22, 2011, 1:18 pm

      damn, i wish i were canadian.

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      Lamia July 23, 2011, 7:12 pm

      Oh, how I miss that show sometimes

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    SGMcG July 22, 2011, 9:00 am

    LW#1: As a bride, you can make anyone you want a member of your bridal party. If you don’t want Jessica in your wedding anymore, you can always rescind the offer and assign the role to someone else – that’s how I fulfilled my first tour of bridesmaid duty. The sooner you’re able to do it – the better it is for you since you have more time finding a substitute if you want it.

    LW#2: The only way to find out what you guys really are is to ask him. There’s nothing wrong with saying that you have feelings for someone, but you don’t want to act on them until the ink on your divorce papers dries so you’d like him to wait. If he feels the same way and wants to wait for you then it’s another avenue available for you post-divorce. If he doesn’t, then you can decide how you wish to proceed from there. There’s no real harm in asking.

    LW#3: If you don’t want to be her friend, you don’t HAVE to be her friend. Some friendships last a lifetime – others are there for you during certain phases in your life. If you don’t see any value in your friend, either in the past or in the future, DON’T be their friend anymore.

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  • avatar

    ReginaRey July 22, 2011, 8:50 am

    LW#3 – I rarely disagree with Wendy, but on this one I’m leaning more toward the opposite point of view. People break up for a reason. What was the reason you and your boyfriend broke up, and has that problem been remedied? If it was an external problem that has now been alleviated, then perhaps your relationship has been given fresh life.

    But if it was a clash of character, values, personalities – core parts of you or him that are not going to change – then perhaps your friend Jackie was warranted in warning you against getting back together. Her approach certainly could have been better, but “tough love” is sometimes exactly what you need to give you friend in order to help them through a break-up. A healthy break-up includes cutting communication totally from your ex, which Jackie suggested, and which you didn’t do.

    My advice may not be popular, but I think that while Jackie could have handled it better, she wasn’t totally off her rocker. Your other friends may be glad that you guys are back together, but neither of them were in your relationship. And maybe Jackie is a more observant, savvy friend who’s willing to tell it like it is! Sometimes two people really seem like they SHOULD be able to work out, but for whatever reason just aren’t right for each other. I think instead of being concerned about your “toxic” friendship, you should be concerned about evaluating whether or not you’re still going to face the same problems you did in your relationship the first time around, whether you can get past whatever it was that broke you up, and if you’re ignoring key red flags that say “we’re not right for each other.” If so, you’re headed for round 2. And let the purple thumbs commence!

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    • avatar

      bluesunday July 22, 2011, 9:06 am

      I’m not going to thumb you down, but I think the real red flag about Jackie is that she disliked ALL the LW’s boyfriends. It IS possible that Jackie’s super observant while the LW and all her friends have tunnel vision, but I think the simplest explanation is often the best, and in this case it would be that Jackie’s just jealous. Of whom, I do not know. Did I use whom correctly? Again, I do not know.

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      • avatar

        ReginaRey July 22, 2011, 9:52 am

        Yeah, I think that Jackie disliking ALL of the LW’s boyfriend is probably not a good sign. But I tend to play devil’s advocate, because you never know. Plus, the drama with Jackie aside, I still think the LW needs to be discerning and smart when evaluating whether getting back together with her boyfriend was a good idea, and if it will work the second time around. People break up for a reason.

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      • avatar

        EB July 22, 2011, 1:27 pm

        This is also from the LW’s POV… while I am more inclined to believe Jackie is jealous or at least hypercritical, I have found that when a person has bad taste men they tend to have consistently bad taste in men. I say this as someone who spent a solid five years of dating alternating btw arrogant d-bags and “fixer-uppers”…

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph July 22, 2011, 1:32 pm

        I agree with you RR. Its hard for us to judge from here, but LW3… do the things Jackie said about your exes and current bf make sense? Was she right at all? You mention that in this one instance you went against her advice to meet up with him and ended up getting back together. But if she was bashing him… are any of the things true?
        Maybe she isn’t very tactful, maybe you don’t like tough love… but how often is she right? If she’s been right about past boyfriends being jerks or cheaters or whatever (and there is some reason they’re exes, right?) then maybe she’s also right about this guy but its gonna take one more heartbreak before you see it?

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      • avatar

        MiMi July 22, 2011, 3:00 pm

        excellent point, Steph
        Maybe Jackie’s advice was the “wrong” advice because that’s not what you wanted to hear, LW.

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    • avatar

      ktfran July 22, 2011, 9:51 am

      I agree that most of the time, people break up for a very good reason and that most of those times, the reason will never be remedied.

      However, there are times, especially in young relationships, where people lack the communication skills to properly address problems. In these cases, I think it is possible to get back together and have a healthy, long lasting relationship. As long as communication is worked on.

      Heck, I had a boyfriend, things got a little weird between us and we broke up. I few days later, we talked about it and aired out our concerns. A year later, we were engaged.

      Communication is key. It sounds like the LW had a good talk with the boyfriend and worked things out. It also sounds like her friend is jealous.

      Then again, I don’t know any of the parties involved, so I could be completely off base. I just wanted to play devil’s advoate to your response.

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      lemongrass July 22, 2011, 10:54 am

      I agree with you here. Many women have poor taste in men, especially when they are young and haven’t developed proper self esteem. After all, if they were all great relationships, wouldn’t you still be in them? I am not a “yes man” and I don’t tell my friends what they want to hear, because I am their friend and I care about them. My husband’s best man even mentioned that about me in his speech at our wedding.

      So yes, Jackie could be jealous, but it could also be that she loves you so much that it pains her to see you make choices that she can see will hurt you.

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        HmC July 22, 2011, 8:38 pm

        “After all, if they were all great relationships, wouldn’t you still be in them? ”

        That just isn’t logical. Young, *healthy* people in relationships often grow apart. You date people, you learn about yourself, you grow up. Sometimes the people don’t grow the same way, especially if they started out super young. Break ups, especially when you’re younger, don’t necessarily indicate that one of the parties had poor choice due to low self esteem. I’d go so far as to say it sometimes takes even more maturity to recognize that something isn’t working and have the strength to end it.

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    • Heather

      Heather July 22, 2011, 12:32 pm

      ReginaRey, I am inclined to agree. Obviously, the LW’s friend might just be petty and jealous, that’s completely possible. However, I’ve seen it happen more than once where two people get back together who really shouldn’t. And others feign happiness for them because that retains the status quo of the group, so to speak. While some people are sitting on the sidelines watching the possibility of more hurt feelings, so they get fed up and kinda just blow up. Not the best way to deal with it, but I can see that possibly being at play here.

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    • avatar

      Amber July 22, 2011, 1:51 pm

      I would tend to agree if her other friends hadn’t responded positively that the two were back together. I think it would help if we had more examples of ways that Jackie wasn’t supportive. I think it’s also very easy for friends to look at others relationships and say why are you doing that idiot? Sometimes we have to learn for ourselves. As long as the LW#3 isn’t going to Jackie to complain about everything wrong in the relationship and therefore making Jackie tired of hearing it, I think you have to sort of have a I’ve told you that I don’t agree, now let’s get on with being friends attitude. And really I don’t feel like we have enough information to really tell any of that from her letter. From the perspective of the letter Jackie is being a little whiney, but no story only has one side!

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark July 25, 2011, 2:27 pm

        I agree with Regina here. Hey, it could very well be possible that Jackie didn’t like ANY of the LW’s boyfriends because they have ALL been idiots of jerks. My best friend, for instance, constantly falls in love with loser after loser and its exhausting.

        I’m not toxic — I just wish she would do better. Mainly for the very selfish reason that I am more than weary of endlessly hearing her all too predictable tales of woe. Meanwhile I have many other good friends that do have great significant others, so it’s not all about me being jealous either.

        Actually, my best friend has briefly dated some really cool dudes, but sadly only seems to get seriously involved with the ones that are clearly trainwrecks…

        I suppose it could be damning that other friends are thrilled that LW3 and he man are now back together, but who knows? All of these other friends could just be doing the rah-rah-you-go-girl types of reactions that pop up (all too often in my opinion) on this very website…

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    ForeverYoung July 22, 2011, 10:15 am

    LW 1 and LW 3,
    I think you both need to think about this – being friends with someone for a long time is not a commitment to remain friends with them for the rest of your life. Friendships are no different than any other relationship – they require nurturing, and one person can’t be the only one carrying the weight. If you are in an unhealthy friendship – MOVE ON.

    I know it’s hard, i’ve done it twice, and each time it felt like a huge burden was off my shoulders. You wouldn’t take such negative/verbally abusive/unhealthy behavior from a boyfriend so why take it from a friend? You still need to be respected. When I was evaluating whether to pull the plug on the friendship, how long we had been friends was only 1 factor. I couldn’t let the guilt of wasting years on a friendship stop myself from being happy now or in the future. Those years were already lost, sunk costs, and I wouldn’t get them back by continuing to torture myself.

    It doesn’t have to be a big dramatic blow up, you can either pull the fade out (my personal favorite) or if you feel it deserves a personal conversation just let them know that you love them and hope the best for them, but for now you need to spend time apart to work on your own issues (a therapist might not recommend it, but I always like blaming “break ups” on myself…sort of the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’)

    People change – and the sooner you accept that the person you played with as a kid is quite different than the person who is not treating you right now the happier you will be. Sometimes you just outgrow friendships, and it might be depressing at first, but years down the road hopefully you will be able to look back and realize that you have great memories of that person while still being really happy they are no longer in your life.

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    • mandalee

      LW1 July 22, 2011, 10:54 am

      Thank you for the advice ForeverYound and Wendy! A little back story on my friend, she lived locally to my wedding location nd hadn’t bought a dress and I was purchasing them for everyone so it would have been no loss to her. There was no hotel purchased, because I was covering that also, along with hair, etc. Since I wrote Wendy this letter, this friend has caused even more drama in my life- spreading lies about me, stalking me on Facebook and leaving nasty comments, among other things. Thankfully, she bowed out of my wedding and my life in a three sentence e-mail in a tone that summed up why we shouldn’t be friends.

      I always have been afraid to cut ties with any of my old friends and tend to see people “how they used to be or how they could be” rather than who they are at the moment. It was a big learning moment for me.

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      • avatar

        ilovelamp July 22, 2011, 1:20 pm

        Oh come on, now you have to share the three sentence email. please??? (with identifiers changed to protect the innocent, of course)

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      • katie

        katie July 22, 2011, 9:07 pm

        yes, please?!?

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      • mandalee

        LW1 July 22, 2011, 9:19 pm

        LOL I would love to share the exact email because it was insane but there’s too many identifiers in it to do that. To summarize it was something along the lines of what a mistake it was to call her out for being a bad friend, and told me” she would take her friendship awesomeness and pour it into her true best friends wedding and wished me luck on finding myself in therapy, which by the way Im not in. Then signed it *not ur maid of honor anymore*. And we’re 27. Needless to say my wedding party is happily uneven without her presence.

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        SpyGlassez July 22, 2011, 10:47 pm

        Stupid thumbs too close together! I was trying to thumbs-up this.

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        ForeverYoung July 22, 2011, 1:22 pm

        Thanks for the update! I didn’t learn that lesson until I was 21. I just couldn’t understand how these friends I had gone through so much with could treat me so terribly and I kept waiting for it to go back to the way it was, and most of the time it doesn’t. Good riddance! Sounds like you will have a much more peaceful wedding planning process, good luck.

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      • courtney89

        courtney July 22, 2011, 1:31 pm

        Best of luck with your wedding LW1. Sometimes friendships are not meant to be saved, but she might still come back and realize how difficult she has been and apologize to you, but you will have a drama free wedding which every bride deserves!

        I think I would have had a hard time taking someone out of my wedding, especially if there had been expenses already, but if there was someone I didn’t want standing next to me anymore on my big day, I would have done it and made sure they knew the reasons why.

        As to LW3..
        I also think maybe your friend is a little selfish/jealous. I know myself, my best friend was with her boyfriend for like four years, and they have broken up a few times in the past year, but he was her first and she always had a soft spot for him and even though she kept going back to him, I would tell her “it is clearly your decision, and I just want you to be happy, but I don’t think he deserves you.” and I also told her to cut off all contact and delete his number and everything last time they had a fight.. I hope that doesn’t make me a bad friend?!!!!!

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      • landygirl

        Landygirl July 22, 2011, 1:33 pm

        Thanks, I love updates!!

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      • avatar

        kerrycontrary July 22, 2011, 1:35 pm

        I’m glad to hear that things worked out well!! You seem to be one of the more rational bride-to-be’s that write to Wendy. Best of luck with your wedding.

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      • avatar

        Amber July 22, 2011, 1:53 pm

        it’s good to hear it worked out! sorry for the loss of the friend, but it didn’t sound like in the end it was a healthy relationship at all.

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      • katie

        katie July 22, 2011, 9:14 pm

        LW1, atleast it didn’t go how i heard a story on the radio… this radio host was a long distance bridesmaid (maid of honor, actually, i think), and was supposed to be planning all these things, then flying to each individual thing (baccherette party, bridal shower, and then wedding). she was planning them with the other matriarch of honor, and this lady was apparently crazy and demanded all the very very fancy invitations, and food, and venues JUST FOR THE BRIDAL SHOWER. like were talking a winery, with catered food and fancy invites. i dunno, to me, it was ridiculous. so this lady decides that she cant afford to just be a bridesmaid (dress, hair, ect) and pay for half of all these parties, and fly out there to be there. so she emails the bride and tells her how she unfortunately wont be able to make it to the bridal shower because its to expensive to throw it and be there and the freaking bride just thanked her for pitching in to throw the party!! she didnt even care that her maid of honor wouldnt be there. i couldnt believe it. so long story short (kinda, haha), the bride somehow learned that this lady was talking on the radio about her troubles with the wedding, and this host had said how she would just rather not even be in the wedding anymore on the air and stuff, so then the bride was just like fine you dont have to be in the wedding… and after she had paid for the dress and everything, AND the bridal shower, she was kicked out.

        it could always be worse!! haha.

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  • avatar

    Kat July 25, 2011, 3:04 am

    LW3: I think the letter could be fairly biased. “I always give her good advice, but she never gives me good advice.” Most people think their advice is good when they dispense it, unless they’re evil manipulators who have it in for you. My point is: how objective are you being here? If my friend breaks up with her bf, and I think he’s a tool, I’ll tell her my opinion of him. If they get back together, I’ll congratulate her. It’s not my place to tell her about my opinion about her unhealthy relationship unsolicited. So it’s in bad taste for your friend to complain about your bf now that you’re back together, but your other friends might actually share her opinion. Ask them what they frankly think of your bf and don’t hold their answers against them if they think he’s no good.

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