“I Was Invited To My Ex’s Wedding, But I Don’t Want To Go”

Adam, a good friend of mine, who also happens to be an ex-boyfriend, has invited me to his upcoming wedding, but I have no desire whatsoever to go. Adam and I dated about five years ago and broke up because I was 19 and not ready for the type of relationship that he was looking for. We remained close friends, and shortly after, he started dating Debbie, his now-fiancée.

For a while, we all got along fine. Debbie knew Adam and I were friends, but I only saw her a handful of times over the next couple years while I saw Adam on an almost weekly basis. At first, she was never anything but friendly, but after a while, things got ugly: she sent passive aggressive messages on social media and wrote nasty IG stories about me, calling me names and a drug addict, and accusing me of trying to steal her fiancé, among other hateful things. I was upset, and confronted Adam, but he took her side and we didn’t speak for three years.

Six months ago, Debbie unexpectedly dumped Adam, and he and I began talking again, becoming very close. Two months ago, they got back together and eloped in November. He and I still talk occasionally, but not nearly as much as we did when they were broken up. Yesterday, he sent me a nonchalant text message asking for my address so he could send an invitation for the ceremony they’re having in March. I absolutely don’t want to go because I think it would be totally awkward (my first meeting with Debbie after all the time should not be at their wedding).

I called him to say I wouldn’t be in attendance and he was very hurt and said I was his best friend and the first person he thought of to invite. He said if I wasn’t a girl I’d be his best man, and he didn’t understand why I don’t want to go. I’m from the school of thought that exes aren’t invited to weddings unless everyone is very friendly. I mean, isn’t that the norm? I told him I would give it some thought and let him know in a couple weeks. I’m considering going because it means so much to him, but I’m dreading it. Am I being awful if I say that I just don’t want to go? Or should I suck it up and go for his sake? — The Friendly Ex

No, you’re not being awful. If your relationship with Adam is only strong when he isn’t with Debbie and you haven’t actually had anything to do with her since she wrote nasty things about you on Instagram, then Adam is the one who is a little out of line by putting a guilt trip on your for skipping the wedding ceremony. It would be one thing if you and Debbie were on good terms, but you aren’t. If Adam truly sees you as a best friend and wants you in his life, his first thought should not have been to invite you to his wedding, but to foster a healthy relationship between you and his soon-to-be new wife.

He dropped the ball and there’s no reason you should feel bad for not bending over and picking it up. But if you’re interested in remaining friendly with Adam, you could tell him you’re sorry you won’t be able to attend his wedding, but you’d love to take him and Debbie out for a celebratory dinner some time after their ceremony. This way you get to reconnect with Debbie in a neutral setting, and you get credit for supporting your friend’s happy occasion.

But there’s a flip side to this situation and it’s that you aren’t really interested in being “just friends” with Adam. You say you broke up years ago “because you were 19 and not ready for the type of relationship he was looking for.” If that was the main reason for your breakup and you’re five years older now, maybe in your mind you are ready for the kind of relationship Adam was/is looking for and you are disappointed that instead of giving you another shot, he went back to Debbie. After all, until a few months ago, you were both ex-girlfriends of his and you were the one he was spending all his time with.

If there was any part of you that hoped for a romantic reconciliation, it has to hurt that he reconciled with a different ex instead. You need to be honest with yourself and if that’s your frame of mind right now, it’s probably best that you gracefully distance yourself from Adam and his new wife and give them a chance at happiness without the complication of a messy love triangle.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.


  1. ArtsyGirl says:

    LW – All this drama totally comes from Debbie’s insecurities. You dated Adam first, you dumped him and broke his heart, you have been able to maintain a close friendship for years afterward. In her mind she is having to play catch up to you. Now her way of dealing with her feelings is completely unacceptable, but that probably just shows her immaturity. Hopefully now that she is secure in her place in Adam’s life she will settle down and stop being hostile. That being said, if I were in your place I would NOT attend the wedding. No matter how much it means to Adam, it probably would be equally as stressful for Debbie, you are a reminder that he has loved before her. I would send them a very nice gift with a well thought out note attached. You could also suggest that after they get back from their honeymoon that you could all go out as group and have drinks and dinner. It would be best if you could make it a double date so she doesn’t feel like you are honing in on her man. From now on I would make sure that if you are planning on hanging out with Adam, Debbie is always invited. Kill her with kindness if you want to maintain a friendship with Adam.

    1. ArtsyGirl says:

      P.S. Wedding normally equals open bar so I have this mental imagine of Debbie decked out in white drunk and harassing the LW with a rabid pack of bridemaids. There are way too many wedding specials on TV showing how bad similar situations can turn out when liquor has loosened inhibitions.

    2. Double date is a really good idea!

    3. I think all this drama is 100% on him. I had a boyfriend like that who would go out with all these girls multiple times a week and never let me go. He was gaslighting hard-core just like this guy. It’s not right that he sees her a few times a week and this girls only seeing the girlfriend a couple times a year.

  2. Sounds like she needs to get away from the whole situation. Way to much drama!

  3. Oooooh a like/dislike feature- loving it.

    1. I would perfer just a like feature….dislike is a little rude…however, if there is a script or query Wendy could run that could tell her all the dislike ones make it will alert her to trolls like on TF.

      1. Yes, that is the main reason for the “dislike” portion. This way y’all can help me moderate the comments. Let’s just all try to only “dislike” comments that are truly nasty, and not just comments we disagree with (I’ll make a note of that in my weekly wrap-up this week). If a particular comment receives enough “dislikes” it will be hidden. I read all the comments, but as the site grows, there’s potential that I could miss something, so this feature will hopefully help keep things nice around here. If I see that it’s having the opposite effect, I’ll get rid of it.

      2. One thing I dislike about the like/dislike function is that it doesn’t suit the rest of your lay-out.
        The green and red thumbs really stand out, and not in a good way.

      3. I agree! I’ve tried to fix that but can’t figure it out myself, so I hired someone to help me with that and hope he can take care of it very soon.

      4. ArtsyGirl says:

        On a completely random aside – the thumbs up and thumbs down come from Roman gladiatorial battles. The emperor and crowds would signal if someone should live or die based on this gesture, but it was actually opposite from how we use it in modern terms. The thumbs down was actually the signal for life and the thumbs up was the signal for death.

      5. ah nevermind, this isn’t what I thought it was….ignore me.

  4. Oohh, I’ve been in this situation. I broke up with my ex when I was eighteen for the exact same reason, and he started dating a girl and proposed to her about a year after we broke up. We would catch up on the phone every couple of months. He offered for us to go out to coffee so I could meet his girlfriend, and I told him that I would if he REALLY wanted me to, but that I think it would just be awkward, especially since it would be the first time we’ve seen each other since the breakup.

    When I was invited to the wedding, I told him I wouldn’t be comfortable going. He was hurt, and said that at one time I was his best friend and so it would seem weird for me not to be there. I apologized, but told him that if it was his him I had to deal with I wouldn’t mind, but there is his new wife who I’ve never met, and the only people I would know would be his family, who I haven’t talked to since the breakup. I might as well have worn a scarlet “EX” on my chest.

    LW, you’re not out of line for not going. It’s not even just the new couple you have to deal with, but all of their family who probably knows you as a “drug addict” and a “whore” because of the things his girlfriend has said about you. Wendy is absolutely right, this is all on him.

    And, if the only time he’s friendly with you is when they’re broken up, it’s highly likely you can kiss your friendship goodbye if the wife continues to dislike you. They’re going to be MARRIED and living together, and the wife will probably do her best to put a stop to it.

  5. I missed if she mentioned it – but does the bride know Adam invited her to the wedding? If I were the bride and my husband to be invited a woman who I CLEARLY had resentment towards (warranted, or not) I would be livid. I am wondering if the LW is even welcome by both parties.

    Either way, I think the right thing to do is absolutely send your regrets and follow Wendy’s advice. If Adam really considers you his best friend he would have tried to stand up for you to begin with (explaining to Debbie that regardless of all of the personally hurtful things she said, that you are NOT out to steal anything). They are going to have (presumably) the rest of their lives together, Wendy is right in saying that you can try to reconnect with both of them and go from there.

    1. I thought the exact same thing… “Does the bride-to-be know that her husband is inviting someone she obviously doesn’t like?” I think going would be a mistake and that Wendy’s advice is good.

    2. Wolvie_girl says:

      Yes! I thought about this too. She says in the letter that when she confronted him about fiancee’s nasty behavior, ex took fiancee’s side. I’m guessing he shrugged the whole thing off and said LW was either making it up or exaggerating. If that’s the case, he probably doesn’t think it will bother the fiancee to invite LW, but if what LW says is true, this woman WILL NOT want her at thier wedding!

      Dude seriously needs to consider both his fiancee’s and LW’s feelings and comfort level. From what I read, he’s only thinking about himself and what HE wants (to have his cake and eat it too)

  6. I agree, she definitely shouldn’t go. I think someone above asked, does the bride know she was invited? That would make things even worse for the LW. Let the friend know you’re happy for him and you hope he has a wonderful day but you just can’t be a part of it.

  7. Skyblossom says:

    You and Debbie are likely to never be friends. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself and others is to go your own way.

    I wouldn’t go to the wedding and I probably would have very little contact with the couple unless Debbie seems willing to become friends.

  8. Married by Elvis says:

    It’s not the question the LW asked, but these people have no business having a “ceremony.” They eloped last month and are already married. Have a party celebrating your marriage if you like, but spare everyone a redo of your wedding three months into your marriage. That sort of thing irks me.

    1. perhaps the brides family found out and was extremely hurt by elopement? maybe this is to appease family and friends who didn’t get to share the day with them? from the letter you can’t tell how elaborate or low key the ceremony is going to be.

      1. Married by Elvis says:

        Maybe, but that doesn’t make it any less silly. All they’re doing is watching them pretend to get married. Besides, it’s elaborate enough for him to pout about his ex (who he knows his wife dislikes to the point of nastiness) not wanting to go. It’s one more reason not to go. Send a congratulatory card (and a gift only if you want) and steer clear of the rest of it.

      2. It might be silly to you, but to the bride’s family it could mean a lot. Some parents would be really hurt to not get to share that special moment with their children. I definitely agree that she shouldn’t go and he’s out of line in his desire for her to be there. He’s definitely showing no regard for her feelings in this and it seems he can’t let go, which he definitely needs to do. Not that I think he should let friends go because his wife doesn’t like them, but because it’s unfair to the LW to have a friend who doesn’t appear to care about her feelings.

      3. Correct me if I am wrong – but aren’t almost all ceremonies watching someone “pretend” to get married – certificates are usually done through the court, not during a ceremony.

        They also might have had a destination wedding – that’s what my boyfriend and I are going to do. We are going to have a wedding with just four to six people and then a reception for our friends who couldn’t make it. To each his own. Everyone has “business” celebrating their own marriage the way they want.

      4. Married by Elvis says:

        Laws obviously vary from state to state, but having a license alone does not mean you are married. It just means you are legally able to be married. The marriage still has to be solemnized. That’s the law in my state and I expect it is similar in other states. Once it is solemnized (such as through a ceremony), the officiant endorses the fact of the marriage and returns it to the county who issued it.

        And having a small wedding followed by a reception later is not the same as having two weddings.

      5. well, you get the certificate from the town government where you are getting married, then the officiate at the ceremony needs to sign it and send it back to the town. That’s when it becomes “official”.

    2. It may not be as simple as you think. Maybe there was a circumstance that made them need to get the marriage license but they still wanted to be able to have the traditional celebration with friends and family, the cake, the dress, etc and just couldn’t afford to have it then and there.

    3. fallonthecity says:

      I agree. As cynical as it is, I don’t like being sent invitations (always, in my experience, including registry information) to the wedding ceremonies of people who are already married. It always comes across as a solicitation for gifts.

      1. Wolvie_girl says:

        People actually send you wedding invitations with registry information included…already married or not, that is BEYOND TACKY!!!

  9. Wendy, where were you years ago when this exact thing was happening to me!? 🙂 Well, not exactly the same, but very similar. Great advice!

  10. Honestly, I don’t understand how exes can be “best friends”. I just think that both people will always have a little bit more than friendly feelings and it’s likely that one of them secretly hopes for more than a friendship. I have no issue with exes being on friendly terms and hanging out with mutual friends but I wouldn’t be comfortable dating a guy who frequently hung out one on one with an ex.

    If you’re not comfortable going to the wedding, don’t go! And if you really want to keep this guy in your life, maybe scale back the friendship and, like Wendy said, hang out with him AND his wife. They’re a package deal so you’ll need to chose between the both of them or neither of them.

  11. Sad to say, LW, but the friendship is over. I can’t tell you how many really good guy-friends I have lost over a jealous gf/wife. My whole life I have always had lots of friends who are guys – I love hanging out with them (I’m a total tom-boy) and they are a lot of fun. But when a new gf come into the picture (regardless of whether or not I had a past with the guy) the friendship goes into a slow decline, generally ending with a thunk shortly after the wedding. It sucks but that’s what happens when you have to deal with another woman’s insecurities and low self-esteem.

    1. I see your point and I agree that as a whole, women would do a lot better if we learned to trust and respect other women and stopped making them the targets of our own insecurities.

      The problem I see with the LW’s case though, is that it seems like she does want more than a friendship with the ex, so it is actually kind of justified that it makes his wife uncomfortable for them to hang out one on one. (Which doesn’t excuse lying about the LW or calling her names…Nor does it excuse the ex from only making an effort to hang out with the LW when he was broken up with the wife.)

      One other side I can see to this argument is I think a lot of people want their spouse to be their best friend–or at least their best opposite-sex friend. (I can’t address LGBT relationships on this, I just don’t have enough experience to know.) If my boyfriend’s BEST friend were another girl, it would bother me. I should be his best female friend. The fact that the ex said LW was his best friend would really bother me, if I were his wife.

    2. evanscr05 says:

      @karmsgirl: I also think part of that is the fault of the guy, though. Before I started dating my fiance, he told me up front that his best friend was a girl and that anyone he dated needed to be cool with that. I don’t tend to be a jealous type anyway, and I know how much I value my guy friends, so it has never been an issue for me. But if he decides to stop being friends with her, outside of any possible attempts at messing with my relationship (which there have been none; she loves me), it has zero to do with me. She was there first, and I completely respect his need and desire to continue being friends with someone who is so important to him, gender aside. He has that same level of respect for my friends. I think if guys would learn to be up front with the women they date that they have other women in their life who are important to them and if they want to be with them, those girl friends are part of the picture, then perhaps that kind of stuff wouldn’t happen so much. I don’t think it’s fair to the friends.

  12. I agree with what Wendy said. If you’re uncomfortable, don’t go. I would let him know that you are happy for him and wish him and his wife the best, it would be too awkward seeing as how the bride openly bashed you and he took her side. Frankly, I think you’ve been generous enough by even remaining his friend after that. I mean if you meant so much to him, why couldn’t he stick up for you and tell Debbie to quit it?

  13. spaceboy761 says:

    I would go and just cough really, really, loudly during the “speak now or forever hold your peace”. It’s a little known fact, but everybody is entitled to do this exactly once in his or her life. I say go for it!

  14. Adam didn’t have your back when Debbie was attacking you. He doesn’t sound like a good friend to me. Personal attacks, character assassination and name-calling are juvenile and beneath contempt. Furthermore, Adam is marrying someone capable of these things so he condones this behavior. Don’t go to the wedding. Don’t buy the viper bride a present, either. These sound like people best left in your past.

  15. First of all, if he considers you his “best friend”, he’s not going to limit your interaction to the times when his woman isn’t around – you’d be hearing from him on a regular basis, and it would be a give and take relationship – not just him taking it when it’s convenient for him.

    Wendy is right – as usual – and you should politely decline the invitation and send a nice gift instead. I also like the suggestion that you could perhaps get together with him and his new wife upon their return. Maybe you’ll all end up getting along. But I’d be leery of even wanting a friendship with anyone who was slandering you.

  16. I’ve been in your shoes too only difference is I actually went to the wedding. As soon as I got there my ex’s father shouted across the venue, “what are you doing here? Were you even invited?” It was definitely akward. People were talking and making comments and giving looks but eventually his family (and her family) saw that my ex and I really were just good friends and all of our mutual friends were there and it turned out to be a really good time. That said, I certainly understand your desire not to go. It was akward but eventually everyone does move past it. Good luck with whatever you decide.

    1. WatersEdge says:

      Oh man! Rude father! I can’t believe you stayed!

  17. katiegirl says:

    This is my letter, and thanks so much everyone for the comments. I feel a little less crazy for not wanting to be there. I wasn’t expecting him to be so upset by my saying that I didn’t want to go to the wedding, which made me think that maybe I was overreacting to the whole situation.

    To clear a couple things up, they eloped just on the spur of the moment. The reason they are having the ceremony/reception is so that all their family could attend. Plus, they have three children from previous relationships and one together, so they wanted the kids to be there. I think part of the reason that they went ahead and eloped was so that he could move in with her because she works for the DoD and lives in base housing. I do know his family, though not that well. They know our history and have always been very friendly with me, but they’re another reason why I wouldn’t want to go. It would be totally awkward.

    She does know that I am invited, from what I understand, and even asked him if she should send an invitation separately to my sister (also a friend of the ex, but through me) or if we would be coming together.

    Anyways, I am definitely not going. I do like the idea of asking them out to dinner or something like that after the ceremony. We’ll see. Thanks again, everyone!

    1. If you do hook up with them afterwards, I’m sure we’d like to hear how it went!

      And you’re most definitely NOT crazy. 🙂

  18. If you are not comfortable with it, don’t go, whether you still care for him or not. I do agree with Wendy about explaining to him how you feel regarding your attending his wedding. Try to make him understand why you would not be attending it.

  19. Calliopedork says:

    Why do women always think other girls are out to take thing from them? Thanks for the update im glad you found a comfortable way for you to deal with the awkward situation. On a side note why are married people a friendship package, if the wife sucks it should be acceptable to ignore her and vice versa

    1. no.
      but from the spouse angle…
      In other words if my friend thinks my spouse sucks, I am less inclined to be close with her. Because that’s disloyal to my spouse.

  20. From a guys standpoint and having gone though this exact thing myself she needs to bail on this friendship. This guys poor new wife
    has a whole new life ahead of her and to think there is someone waiting in the wings for the right time to pounce on her guy, would stress any marriage out from the beginning. Who needs / wants
    that. Adam seems to put a ton of effort into keeping this “friendship” going Can anyone say plan B on Adams part.

    I have had several (I will call weasels) waiting for my girlfriend and I to simply have an argument and suddenly they are there,
    under the guise of friendship of course, consoling her, talking me down, while trying to get down with her.

    1. BTW, your girlfriend needs to stop playing that game–it’s completely inappropriate for her to go to male friends for comfort (ego validation, backup plan?) if you have a fight. A grown up woman would keep it between you and her, and you should call her on it. As a woman, I can tell you that if she thinks you are cooling off based on her “make him jealous” insecure “I have other options” behavior, she will cut it out. If not–you’re better off without her.

  21. To correct a little misinformation above…in Roman gladiatorial contests, there was no “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” In fact, the Romans drew no such distinction. The gesture was either a fist with thumb extended, or a fist with the thumb tucked into the fingers. Presumably, the “extended” thumb represented the gladiator keeping his head, and the “hidden” thumb was, well…headless. The “extended” thumb hand was often shown upright, but the direction in which the thumb pointed bore no significance to the outcome.

  22. Sounds like some of the posters are right–you sound bitter that he didn’t go back with you, since it sounds like your ego believes that he wanted you all along. Spending so much time with a guy when he is with someone else often leads to an emotional affair or even cheating, so the feelings of his now chosen wife are completely understandable. You should not go to the wedding. Guys can’t take rejection, and being friends with you probably made him lose that early, teen love rejection hurt, but he clearly wants her. And while she should not have said untrue things about you (if they were all untrue), it seems clear your relationship with him was crossing the line in terms of “just friends.”

  23. I dated a guy like this once. He never let me go out with him, but he would go out all the time to see his friends. This girl shouldn’t be hanging out with a married man multiple times a week. And mentioning how she says she’s only seen that girlfriend a couple times a year that’s kind of messed up. The boyfriend in this situation is the a-hole. He’s the one that’s gaslighting his girlfriend. That’s what mine did to me.

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