Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Morning Quickies: “My Friend is Mad That I Skipped Her Bachelorette Party”

I’ve just read your article where you mentioned that showing up to your friend’s events was the best thing you could do as a friend. What if showing up to a friend’s bachelorette party would upset a mutual friend who had been excluded and not invited to the party? We have all three been friends for twenty years and met at the same school. The friend who is having the bachelorette party is annoyed with me for not going to her party. Was I wrong to skip it because I didn’t want to upset the other friend who had not been invited? I know that if it was I and I saw the other friend had been to the party, I would be hurt, and, after twenty years of knowing my friend, I would think that she would behave similarly in regards to me. I felt very conflicted, but I didn’t want to upset my friend who hadn’t been invited. — Pissed Off The Bride

I mean, you had to know that skipping your friend’s bachelorette party would hurt her feelings, just as she had to know that excluding you mutual friend was going to hurt her feelings. You all made choices that you must have known would affect certain friendships, and now you’re dealing with the consequences. Was it “wrong” for your to skip the bachelorette party? Not necessarily — not if you were prioritizing your excluded friend’s feelings over the bride’s. But now the consequence is that the bride is hurt. And, frankly, I don’t see how you can explain your absence in a diplomatic way. You skipped her party because you felt more loyalty to the excluded friend. You didn’t show up. And now that friendship is fractured, just as whatever friendship remained between the bride and the excluded friend is fractured. Showing up is always important for friendships you want to maintain and foster. But knowing which friendships are most important to you and how best to prioritize them as conflicts of time, attention, and loyalty arise is just as important.

I never met my father, but about three months ago he messaged me on Facebook and attempted to contact me via phone and messenger. I didn’t answer the call. I asked my husband for his opinion and he said I should not talk to him, so I blocked my father’s number and I blocked him on Facebook. Recently, I asked my mother-in-law what she thinks and she said I should make the effort to talk to him and not to hold a grudge against him. I’m so conflicted — I don’t know what I should do; part of me wants to talk to him and try to forgive him, but then I feel like it would be best to not talk to him. I’ve never met him and my mother has told me that he treated my brother and her badly, but since I don’t talk with practically anyone anymore from my maternal side of the family, I don’t know whom to believe. What do you think? — Fatherless Daughter

 
Well, all you really know for sure about your father is that you don’t know him, you have never met him, and he missed your entire childhood. You really don’t know why that is. And because you don’t talk to your mother’s side of the family, I’m inclined to think there might be some trust issues and dysfunction in your family that would make any stories you might have heard about your father impossible to fully believe. You do know one additional thing about your father now — he’s trying to get in touch with you. Do you believe that counts for anything? Are you interested in hearing his side of the story and why he’s interested in talking to you now? Do you have support in place to help you through any emotions you’ll surely have in talking to your father? Does your husband respect whatever decision you might make and does he have your back? It sounds like your MIL does. And, in that case, I think the best-case scenario of talking to your father (getting some questions answered and maybe even possibly starting a later-in-life relationship with your dad) probably outweighs the worst-case scenario (feeling hurt, angry, confused, rejected, and offended – not just by your father but maybe by your mother, too). If you think you’re up for those mixed emotions and have the support in place to help you through them, do consider talking to your father. If you aren’t in a place in your life to adequately handle whatever talking to your father might bring up, you are under zero obligation to give him any of your time and attention.

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24 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Bcamber May 30, 2017, 8:34 am

    LW#1: why was the third friend excluded? This is essential information.

    LW#2: stop asking for other people’s opinions and do what YOU think is right for you.

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  • avatar

    MoeP May 30, 2017, 8:39 am

    #1: I would have gone to the party. I also would not have been angry at a friend who went to a party I was not invited to feel like it’s an issue between two people and two people only, unless there is a real sense of cruelty going on.
    #2: Rather than asking people what to do, what do YOU want to do? I think it is important to have people around you supportive of whatever choice you make and also to be aware that he may end up to be a disappointment and to be clear about boundaries with this guy.

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  • Portia

    Portia May 30, 2017, 9:25 am

    LW1: I’m trying to figure out why you placed your one friend’s feelings over the other. Do you consider yourself better friends with excluded friend and/or see her being in your life longer? Is there a history of the excluded friend reacting very poorly to any whiff of exclusion? Honestly I’ve had some friends who react poorly to any perceived exclusion (even if that’s not what was going on), and those friendships don’t last long (at least for me). But it’s not really clear from the letter why you made the choice you did and I think you need to reflect on that more.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. May 30, 2017, 9:37 am

    I’m having trouble with the friend who gets mad when someone doesn’t attend her party. People are allowed to decline invitations.

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    • avatar

      LisforLeslie May 30, 2017, 10:28 am

      If she said “I’m not attending because you didn’t invite mutual friend” then it’s more clear that the LW made a choice. If she simply said “Oh, I’m so sorry, but I won’t be able to make it” then the bride should accept it graciously.

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    • avatar

      Northern Star May 30, 2017, 10:33 am

      Maybe she told her “friend” WHY she didn’t go—it’s a definitely a personal rejection, not “I can’t make it because of scheduling, costs, no vacation time, etc.” I suspect the LW’s friendship with the bride is going to cool off.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros May 30, 2017, 6:03 pm

      I was thinking about that, too, but I sort of assumed that she either told her why or it was clear she COULD attend but chose not to. But yeah, if the brides has no clue that it wasn’t just a time conflict or something, then she’s being unreasonable.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark May 30, 2017, 11:22 am

    LW1) Yeah… I feel I need to know more about WHY the other friend was excluded… Frankly, you seem rather slow if you truly DIDN’T see that this would result in hurt feelings… I dunno, your tone just has this curious oh-gee-golly-how’d-this-ever-happen? tone that I find rather confusing…
    .
    LW2)) I’d meet him. Worst case scenario? He’s a jerk and its a very short reunion. That could be disapppointing, sure. But I’d find that much easier to deal with than an unending game of “what if?”

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  • avatar

    Rangerchic May 30, 2017, 11:27 am

    LW2 – listen to your mom when she says he wasn’t a good person. My daughter could have written your letter. My husband adopted her when she was 3 – so she knew her bio dad for the first 2 years but doesn’t remember him and that’s all fine and good with me. My daughter and I have had frank discussions about why he wasn’t in her life, about him in general. He wasn’t a good man (abusive). The difference here is your father has contacted you and the bio-dad to my daughter has not. I’m not sure what she’d do either because I know she is curious. And not to say people don’t change but I would consider, why now? Why contact you after all this time? If you have a good relationship with your mom, talk to her about it and get her input. Maybe she can elaborate on how he was a bad man. If my daughter chose to meet her bio dad, I would be apprehensive but it would be her choice and I wouldn’t be angry. It is a tough choice though, good luck.

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    • bittergaymark

      Bittergaymark May 30, 2017, 11:33 am

      Eh, if her mother is such a lousy person the LW no longer even talks to her — I’d say her mommy dearest’s testimonial is questionable at best.

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      • avatar

        LisforLeslie May 30, 2017, 1:00 pm

        For all we know the mother was abusive and vindictive and made it impossible for the father to see the child. I say if you feel you are able to set appropriate boundaries with people in general, then it might be worthwhile getting the other side of the story. However, I would take it with a grain of salt, everyone is the hero of their story. If you are not able to set boundaries with people – if you’re a people pleaser and find you have difficulty saying “no” and setting limits, then I would probably leave it alone. If your father is a manipulative user, then you’re setting yourself up.

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  • avatar

    Janelle May 30, 2017, 11:34 am

    LW1: You all sound terribly immature to be honest. I chose a friend, however the uninvited friend was silly if she would be mad about you attending. Again, all immature.

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    • avatar

      Sketchee June 15, 2017, 3:49 pm

      Seriously this is very theatrical. If LW1 is concerned about this issue, the answer would be to encourage Not-Invited-Friend to talk to Host-Friend. That conversation belongs between the two of them. A host gets to choose a guest list.

      I believe that instead of trying to solve their problems for them, we’re better off encouraging friends to solve their own issues with direct and caring conversation. Encourage Not-Invited-Friend to have a direct conversation seeking to understand and sharing feelings without blame or criticism.

      And rather than play hero, show concern while encouraging them to involve themselves. They have a two-way friendship. And LW1 has two two-way. Avoid the triangle

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  • meadowphoenix

    meadowphoenix May 30, 2017, 11:48 am

    #2: More relationships can enrich your life but they aren’t a need. The question her is can you trust your mother to accurately say what happened (I could trust my mother, but I also had experience with my dad’s…flightiness)? Frankly, I couldn’t have a relationship with someone who treated my mother or brother badly (does your brother remember this?), especially when it was their responsibility not to, but if you want to talk to your dad, you want to. Figure out if you can deal with the fall out.

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  • avatar

    saneinca May 30, 2017, 11:56 am

    LW1, you should have attended if she was a good friend. It was the bride’s choice to invite who she wants to for her shower/marriage.

    You don’t have to take sides. Whatever the issue might be, that was between the bride and the excluded friend.

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  • avatar

    wobster109 May 30, 2017, 1:03 pm

    LW1 – You don’t mention any outright feud between bride and other friend, so I wonder if it was a space issue? For example, did the bride plan a spa day at a location that had a max of 6 people?

    In my opinion a friend who is being insulted or treated outright badly needs your loyalty, but not a friend who is being treated politely and neutrally. I think you were wrong to punish the bride for not considering your other friend to be among her besties. You can ask the bride to be polite and civil to someone you care about, but you cannot demand she consider someone her bestie.

    Yes, sometimes being not-invited is an insult, but this isn’t it. If you were the only one in your class not invited to a reunion, that is an insult. If you were the only one in your family not invited to a cookout, that is an insult. If you, along with dozens of other friends, are not among the 10 or so besties invited to a bachelorette party, then it’s nothing personal.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros May 30, 2017, 4:36 pm

      That’s a good point. Not everyone can be invited to every event. If my friend bailed on my party out of solidarity for another friend who wasn’t invited, I’d assume that just meant they didn’t value our friendship as much.

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  • avatar

    Fyodor May 30, 2017, 1:58 pm

    LW1, you are in the wrong. It’s not your decision who she invites. If she doesn’t invite the third friend, friend #3 has no right to expect you to boycott in protest, and you aren’t obligated to do so. By boycotting over who she invites, you have chosen to intervene in their conflict on behalf of friend #3. You should have stayed out of it and now you have to deal with deliberately alienating your friend.

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  • avatar

    Fyodor May 30, 2017, 1:58 pm

    LW1, you are in the wrong. It’s not your decision who she invites. If she doesn’t invite the third friend, friend #3 has no right to expect you to boycott in protest, and you aren’t obligated to do so. By boycotting over who she invites, you have chosen to intervene in their conflict on behalf of friend #3. You should have stayed out of it and now you have to deal with deliberately alienating your friend.

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  • avatar

    Fyodor May 30, 2017, 1:58 pm

    LW1, you are in the wrong. It’s not your decision who she invites. If she doesn’t invite the third friend, friend #3 has no right to expect you to boycott in protest, and you aren’t obligated to do so. By boycotting over who she invites, you have chosen to intervene in their conflict on behalf of friend #3. You should have stayed out of it and now you have to deal with deliberately alienating your friend.

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  • avatar

    Fyodor May 30, 2017, 2:04 pm

    I wonder how old these (LW1) people are? They sound really young and immature, particularly the (A) expectation that you boycott an event over someone’s non-invite and (B) not understanding why this boycott would be insulting. But she says that they’ve known each other for 20 years and met at the same school (I read that phrasing to mean high school or college).

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  • avatar

    ele4phant May 30, 2017, 2:11 pm

    LW #1 – I mean she has a reason to be mad, or at the very least hurt.

    You picked your other friend over her. There’s no way around that, no way to explain it so it won’t hurt.

    Now, perhaps you made the right choice, but regardless, there’s no get out of jail free card here.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros May 30, 2017, 4:35 pm

    LW1: Personally, I try not to let other people’s conflicts influence how I treat them. So, I wouldn’t have boycotted an event I was invited to simply because they were feuding with another friend. You clearly chose to insert yourself into their drama. If your friend would be angry AT you for attending, then that’s childish. I’m sure her actual hurt came more from not being invited, rather than an expectation that you’d skip out on it. I think in the future, it’s best to stay in your lane and let people deal with their own drama.

    LW2: I think you need to stop relying on other people to tell you what to do. It’s one thing to seek advice, but the purpose is to hear other perspectives, not to make the decision for you. You’re talking about two different extremes. Why are the options ignoring him forever and forgiving him? Why can’t you just have a conversation with him and play it by ear? If you don’t want to be in contact further, then stop. If you do, then do that.

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    • avatar

      Hannanas May 31, 2017, 6:25 am

      Exactly! (x2)

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