“My Fiancé Will Take My Name When We Marry, And Now His Parents Won’t Come to Our Wedding”

My fiancé and I are getting married and he (plus our future children) will be taking my name. His parents are so upset over this that they are not coming to our wedding. We had a pretty good relationship with them before this and I am honestly shocked at the reaction. What do I do? — What’s In A Name?

*You* do nothing, except continue with your wedding plans and supporting your fiancé. It’s his job to manage a relationship with his parents and it’s up to him to do – or not to do – anything regarding his parent’s behavior. If I were he, I’d probably send a note to my parents expressing disappointment in their decision to miss my wedding, but to let them know that I’m very happy in my decision to marry, to take my spouse’s name, and to give our future kids’ her name, and that when they’re ready to accept that, we welcome their presence in our lives. From there, it’s really up to them how to proceed – the ball will be in their court, so to speak. This doesn’t negate the pain their behavior might cause your partner (and you), and you can – and should – certainly support your fiancé through navigating whatever emotions he might be feeling and how he might express himself. You can also ask him what he might need from you and how best you can support him.

I’m 24 and had one of the most important experiences of my life this year that has forever impacted me. I’ve dealt with so much social anxiety throughout my life and have finally been able to overcome some of it, thanks to my good friend, “John.” I can finally talk to strangers or people in public without as much anxiety/fear. John and I went to the bar on Christmas and he asked out this guy, “Roger.” Then on New Year’s they were “officially boyfriends” and we all three celebrated New Years together at the bar.

Things occurred that night that convinced me that they were officially over because of the level of anger I saw in both of them. I shouldn’t have assumed that and I sincerely regret it. Later that night I messaged Roger and told him I was sorry about everything and hoped he was doing alright. I also told him I thought he was really attractive. I told him “I’m sorry” (fearing it wasn’t appreciated) and he said “it’s okay” like it was no problem. Little did I know that he and my friend, John, had made up and were both in bed together. I don’t understand why neither of them texted me and explained they were together again after I said those things.

The next day the three of us went out to the bar again and were having an amazing, fun time. We went to another bar together in my car. I nearly remember everything from that night up until John telling me that he was going to drive which I agreed was safer and I don’t recall anything after that. I woke up a few hours later at my house and, apparently, I had blacked out (my first experience to do so). I really don’t recall drinking more than the usual amount, which is strange.

John texted me hours later saying “we need to talk.” I assumed it only had something to do with my telling Roger that I think he is attractive. At the bar they had acted like nothing had happened and I assumed John didn’t know about my messaging Roger. Well, not only was he upset I called his boyfriend attractive – which I completely understand – he is also accusing me of touching his boyfriend sexually at the bar. I would never do that, especially to my best friend who means so much to me. I would never do that, let alone to someone I barely know, and in public, as well.

John said not to message Roger about the situation. Well, I didn’t listen because I was furious I was being accused of something I wouldn’t do. Roger said I touched him and literally had my hands “deep down” there. Then he blocked me. I asked John why he didn’t confront me about the messages calling Roger attractive, and he told me Roger didn’t want any drama, which I find suspicious…

I don’t know what to do. John is the only friend I have, and I care about him a lot. — Don’t Remember Being Handsy

For someone who is in the wrong here, you don’t seem to be as humble and apologetic about your mistakes as you should be. Reaching out to Roger to tell him how attractive you think he is when just hours earlier you believed he was your best friend’s boyfriend is pretty low, and I’m not picking up on the appropriate level of remorse from you (and I suspect John isn’t either). You’re also very defensive about your behavior the last time the three of you went out, claiming you’d never act the way you’re being accused of while also admitting you blacked out and don’t remember the second half of your night. Even your admission about the amount you drank is defensive (“I really don’t recall drinking more than the usual amount, which is strange.” It’s actually not strange to not recall things when you’ve had enough to drink to black out.)

Your whole tone is laced with suspicion – you even say that Roger’s desire to avoid drama, which is the reason John gave for not confronting you about your messages to Roger, was “suspicious.” Is it, really? Are you suggesting Roger had ulterior motives here? Are you implying that he’s to blame for your blacking out? That he lied about your putting your hands down his pants? Look, maybe he *is* lying, but nothing you’ve shared here suggests that it’s all that far-fetched that you crossed a boundary. You already crossed one when you told him how attractive you find him, and you admit to drinking enough that you thought it was safer for someone else to drive. You also say that you struggle with social anxiety. It’s not such a big stretch from all of that to imagine that you drank too much and behaved very inappropriately.

I would issue a heartfelt apology to John for your behavior – both what you can remember and what you can’t. I’d tell him how important he is to you and how much you regret betraying his trust and doing anything to jeopardize a friendship that means so much to you. Roger has blocked you, so you can’t reach out to him and you need to respect the boundary he’s put in place. With luck, John will forgive you and this can be a learning lesson for you. We all make mistakes. Even the most socially adept among us make missteps navigating relationships. But when we do, it’s so important to acknowledge our mistake and to make appropriate amends. You’ve misstepped here. You need to take responsibility, make a heartfelt apology, and give John some space to accept your apology and/or let you know what he needs from you to move forward.

I also think it’s a good idea to focus on building your social network so that John isn’t your sole friend. If anxiety is still keeping you from exploring potential friendships, seek out help for your anxiety (counseling, a support group, and perhaps even medication if a doctor thinks its warranted). Joining clubs, organizations (a LGBTQ one could be a great option!) or classes that interest you and bring you in the company of like-minded people would be good ways to meet others. Pursuing friendships from a place of respecting others and their boundaries is essential.

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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. Spot on advice.
    LW #1 – this is your partner’s problem to manage. Unless you’re making demands on your partner to change his name (e.g. do this or I won’t marry you, or do this or I require a vastly unequal prenup) you’ve done nothing except unintentionally challenge outdated expectations.

    LW#2 – you tried to flirt with a friend’s boyfriend right after they had a fight. That was pretty shitty of you, trying to partner up on your only friend’s (not quite) ex. What did you think was going to happen? Did you think at all about your “good friend” and whether he was OK with your behavior before you did that? No. Then knowing that you fucked up, you didn’t apologize. You’re trying to make yourself the hero of this story, trying to justify crappy, selfish behavior. I can see why John would want to keep you at (more than) arms’ length right now.

    Also, you understand that drinking say, 7 drinks over the course of a long night versus 7 drinks within two hours is going to affect you very differently right? I’m going to bet that you tried to alleviate your anxiety by drinking more in a shorter period. BTDT – not a good outcome.

  2. Dude, even if John and his boyfriend had broken up on New Year’s, why the hell would you come on to your best friend’s ex at all, let alone the same night you thought they broke up? That is just not cool. That action alone is full betrayal category.

    Listen, I’m incredibly socially awkward as well and have made quite a few missteps in my day. I’m also a recovering alcoholic, who has had to make amends for actions I don’t remember doing more than I’d like to admit. I’ve done things that I know I would never do sober. But you what? I still did them. I still had to face the consequences. And that’s just it- you have to make amends; you have to be sincerely sorry (and honestly, you should be mortified. I’m not judging you- again, I’ve done my own things to be mortified about). You have to accept what you did, apologize in the most sincere way you can; and then accept the fallout. And no, I’m not calling you an alcoholic because you blacked out once (you might be, or this is just a one-time lapse in judgment, that’s up to you to decide). But no matter what, it was a profound lapse in judgment that there might be no coming back from. I’m sorry. Life sucks sometimes when you screw up. And you did screw up. You have to own it. That’s the first step to potentially fixing things (though it might be too late). Good luck.

  3. LW #1: this is actually a common occurrence in Japan when there are no male heirs in the bride’s family. And taking your partner’s surname is a personal choice that parents don’t need to be consulted on. I’m sorry his parents have their feelings hurt but they really just don’t get a vote. Carry on and have a lovely life together.

    LW #2: Hie thee to an AA meeting. I know you think you don’t have a problem but you also don’t want to develop one.

  4. LW #2 —
    You state how dependent you have been upon John in living with your social anxiety, yet you have repeatedly treated him horribly. Keep it up and you face a future without John. You need to admit you were wrong and apologize. You also need to admit that you are an alcoholic and seek treatment. Know that had John not pushed to drive your car, that you risked a DUI, death, or causing a fatal accident in the condition you were in. That you were willing to drive just minutes prior to blacking out should be taken as the huge warning that it is.

    You twice in two days hit on your best friends bf. Own that.

  5. From LW 1: “Thank you for the advice. We did what you said. My fiancée told his parents that our door is always open, but their decision remains the same for now. We are fortunate that his siblings are supportive and plan to celebrate with us. I’m really proud to be marrying him.”

  6. Prognosti-gator says:

    LW1 is one of those situations where I wish it was the subject of the letter that wrote in instead of the LW. LW seems to be handling this completely right, but the parents are the ones who need a good talking to. They’re so worried about what they perceive as a slight to the family, that they’re willing to completely blow up the family over it. In trying to “protect” it, they’re the ones destroying it.

  7. I just want to add for LW2 because i don’t believe it’s being said enough…if what Mark is saying is true (and we have no reason not to believe him) then you SEXUALLY ASSAULTED him! Being too drunk to remember does not exonerate you from touching someone intimately without their consent.

    The fact that you keep focusing on them not telling you that both knew about your inappropriate text makes me think that you don’t understand the severity of your actions towards Mark. Beyond hitting on him minutes after his “break up” with your supposed best friend, you then assaulted him days later.

    You should feel ashamed and embarrassed. You should be apologizing and humble rather than trying to blame them for your behavior. You should be looking inward and finding solutions where you don’t exhibit this behavior towards anyone again in the future (AA, etc.).

  8. allathian says:

    LW#1: Congratulations on your engagement and marriage. I hope you have a lovely wedding and can celebrate in the company of people who love you and don’t try and manage your lives. I’m sorry your fiance’s parents are behaving so horribly towards you.

    LW#2: You need help. It’s a wonder that John’s willing to have anything to do with you at this point, you’ve treated him and his boyfriend or boyfriends (I’m not sure if “Roger” and “Mark” are the same person or not) so appallingly poorly. Being so drunk that you blacked out and had little control over your actions is not an excuse, presumably you made the choice to drink so much. Unless, of course, someone spiked your drink, which is not out of the question. It happened to me once, I went to a bar and had drunk half of one drink, when I turned my back on the glass for a while, and shortly later when I’d finished the drink and was thinking of dancing for a bit, I could barely walk; I was very lucky that I had two friends with me who made sure I got home safely. But that was after one drink rather than seven. Face up to the fact that you assaulted Mark.

  9. LW#1
    My wife’s maiden name is way cooler than my last name. I thought about taking it, but a) it’s ethnic and I didn’t want to co-opt that, and b) my wife wanted to take my last name.
    Anyway, a lot of older generations feel strongly about perpetuating a family name. And a man taking on his wife’s name would be considered a clear rejection of his father and family.. I’m not saying that’s right, but I hope the fiancé tried to convince his parents that the name change is not directed at them.

  10. Odd that a man changing his name is seen that way but a woman doing it isn’t…..

    1. Chicago Dame says:

      Interesting, isn’t it.

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