I’m a bridesmaid caught between two friends

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  • TiredandDone
    October 5, 2022 at 2:36 pm #1116368


    I’m writing to look for opinions/advice on a situation that’s approaching. Sorry, long story by the way:

    I have two friends (I’ll call them Barb and Kelly for this story). I have been much closer to Kelly for the last 8 years but have a decent relationship with Barb although I don’t see her as often. Barb and Kelly were friends since highschool and have had their peaks and valleys. Barb was the more assertive (borderline-aggressive) of the two, who always spoke up about what she thought, could get easily offended, and held grudges pretty easily. She was that person who kind of thinks they’re always in the right. Nevertheless, if you were her friend, shew would fight and stand up for you. Kelly was always softer spoken and more of a people-pleaser, although she has grown to set her boundaries more.
    For the last 4 years, the friendship between the two has been waning a bit. Kelly was getting more annoyed with Barb steamrolling or making comments about things Kelly was doing. Sometimes I was present for these conversations and would try to put a comment in to diffuse the situation. Most of the time however, it was just convos between the two and Kelly would vent to me about it, showing me texts. I will admit, there were times when I think Kelly was just reading too much into Barb’s comments, but she would be so upset that I would just keep my mouth shut and listen to her. Clearly it was a sign that Kelly was just having enough after over a decade of being with Barb and keeping all her emotions in. With Barb, we all just didn’t argue back much because Barb would be so defensive, it was just exhausting.
    Things got bad when Barb became pregnant and she, Kelly and another mutual friend (Jen) met up to catch up and have snacks. Kelly had another best friend who was also pregnant at the time and mentioned she was planning her friend’s baby shower. Without a beat, Barb quickly asked if Kelly and all of us could also plan her baby shower. I could see Kelly was hesitant, as was I, but we all felt awkward if we said no, so we agreed. Barb mentioned she would like it in September on a Saturday, which Kelly said it would be ideal if the shower could not be on the 17/18 as her friend’s shower would be the 18th and she wanted to prep the day before. She did mention if there was no choice, then fine. We thought the week prior would be better, so we tentatively put it in our calendars. Kelly started a chat group and we all did some basic brainstorming. The baby shower was not for another 2 months anyway, so plenty of time.
    Kelly is very Type A when it comes to planning, so she took the helm. But she kept messaging me in secret because Barb was relentless with her ideas (ie. what venue, a guest list of potentially 40 people and their kids, etc) and she was getting overwhelmed. Basically kept complaining on how Barb was being ridiculous. She was also prepping to go to Hawaii for a week at the beginning of August, so she had that on her plate. It all crashed when her grandmother unexpectedly passed away. Kelly took it hard. Us, Barb and Jen were intending to meet up again before Kelly left for Hawaii, but Kelly was so overwhelmed with everything, including now the death in the family, that she took herself out. Everyone was understandable and told her to take as much time as possible.
    I told her to enjoy her time in Hawaii and, as Barb was still messaging her about baby shower stuff, said that I’ll encourage Barb to send some things to me and our other friend. Barb would message Kelly one last thing before she left for Hawaii and Kelly told her she would look at it when she got back from Hawaii. (Barb did not know when Kelly would be back, but she was only staying for the week).
    Since it was the beginning of August at the time, I thought to get the ball rolling. I didn’t want to bother Kelly on her trip while she was unwinding, so I messaged Barb and Jen on some things (ie. what were Barb’s preferences for decor) – I ordered a decor package from Amazon, which was set to arrive by the end of August and made some quick email invites, ready to go. Barb also sent me her finalized guest list (24 people about) along with food restrictions. We just needed a venue. Before Kelly left, we were thinking of my building’s party room and left it at that. I was finally able to check it out (while Kelly was gone) and realized that it was too small. I told Barb and Jen about the venue and said I’ll look into it. Jen was planning all the gaming activities, so I didn’t mind. The next day I was really busy at work when Barb texted me and asked if I wanted her to look into venues. I know the mom isn’t supposed to be heavily involved but I made a choice and said sure, let us know what she likes. She then said her other best friend, Kim, offered to help if we need any assistance and I went, that’s fine. Barb then created a whole new chat group with me, Jen, her and Kim to discuss. She found a few a said she’ll look into her potential dates. I wasn’t paying attention that much to the texts because I was working and just let the chat build. When I checked my messages, I was floored: Kim had asked if we were set on a date. She said the 17 would work better for her than the 10 because she had a work thing and was having minor surgery a couple days prior. At this point, I vaguely remembered Kelly’s other friend’s baby shower and text Jen. Jen mentioned it was the 18th. As I was typing a message in the chat to mention Kelly, Barb immediately responded with “Of course we can do that 17th! I’ll look into making a booking now” I panicked and Jen texted about Kelly’s other baby shower. Barb responded with, “Her shower is on the 18th”. I was finally able to text (becuase everyone was writing so fast), that it could be overwhelming for Kelly that day if she’s using it as a prep. Barb basically said, if four of us (Jen, me, Barb and Kim) were there to set up, it will be fine. The plan just went haywire from there. Barb made the calls and set up appointments with the venue for the 17th, everyone else was going “Yay” in the chat, I’m there just astounded and almost in tears about this because I knew how Kelly was going to react and I felt so responsible for not reminding Barb previously about Kelly’s request. Worst of all, that was the day Kelly came back from Hawaii and, unbeknownst to me, Barb had texted her, basically saying “Welcome back! just asking, your friend’s baby shower is on the 18th right?” Kelly was jetlagged, tired and under the impression that we were still doing that 10th, so she immediately texted me going “WTF is happening?” After that text, I got an text in the other chat group from Barb saying she messaged Kelly and asked about the date of her friend’s baby shower and she’ll just proceed with putting in a time for now at least. I messaged Barb, basically saying, “You are still waiting for Kelly’s response right? I feel we should wait for her first. Let me reach out and see if she’s home” Barb agreed.
    I then looked at Kelly’s message and asked if she would be up for a call because I could explain better on phone than in text. She said she’d call me later. Later, In the call, I explained what happened the best that I could. From the issue with the venue to Kim joining in to now. Kelly was extremely exhausted and just said she was done. She had done a lot for Barb, including helping her with her wedding when she was not a bridesmaid, and, to her, Barb not only decided to choose the date she could not do but for her to say “as long as us four were there” it seemed like she was trying to edge her out of the planning. She said she would help me (only) with picking up food and that was it and she would get back to me later.
    So Kelly texted Barb privately, basically saying “I was planning to do this on the 17th but if you’ve already decided then fine. I’ll help with food. ” Barb would respond with, “ok great! no rush. yes, it’s because Kim can’t make it and I would prefer her to be there. and other dates couldn’t work..” This would offend Kelly more.
    Kelly and I live near each other and walk around our area, so I invited her out to just get everything out of her system. She was indeed hurt by the whole thing and angry. She was thinking of cutting Barb out of her life at that point. I told her that I take responsibility for what happened as well – I didn’t remind Barb about the 17th and I just went with the flow and though we were fine until this happened. I also encouraged Barb and Jen to leave Kelly alone for a bit as Kelly was going through a lot and I just wanted to let her enjoy her vacation. Kelly told me that, at least, I defended her by asking Barb to wait. I didn’t feel like I did much but I think Kelly was so mad at Barb, she refused to let me take any of the blame because, in her mind, Barb just went through with it without a second thought, created a new chat group with Kim (and didn’t bother to add Kelly to that chat), in her mind, put Kim’s needs over hers, the list went on. I through in a bone for Barb and said that all of us just didn’t want to bother Kelly until she got back. Kelly responded with, I would’ve resumed planning after I got back but Barb couldn’t wait one week and her shower is a month from now. I partly defended Barb also because, when Kelly gets mad/hurt like this, she makes Barb out like a malicious person who purposefully does these things. In this case, Barb was ignorant and insensitive, in my opinion, but she was not purposefully leaving out Kelly. (I also think Kelly has an “I’m either 100% doing it or not” attitude and she complained to me later that Barb should just “Let her plan it or leave her out completely and not ask in the first place”.)
    It didn’t help that, a few weeks later, Barb kept managing certain things like “Make sure Kim has something to do!” “Oh, do you want me to take over food?” “My husband thinks there will need to be more food – send me your list when your done and we can add to it!” She also asked me to remind Kelly to RSVP and if she was bringing her boyfriend. I was with Kelly at this time, as we were discussing the food for the shower, and Kelly got annoyed all over again at Barb assuming she was coming. In the end, Kelly helped me with the food (we split the costs as some of the materials would go to Kelly’s other friend’s shower) and told Barb she wasn’t coming to her shower. While she left out her bitterness, Kelly explained to Barb that she should’ve made it clear that she could not make the 17th from day 1 and when Barb decided to proceed with the 17th, she did not want to be difficult. Barb countered that she tried but other dates didn’t work and Kelly just responded with, “I know and I just didn’t want to be difficult” and left it at that. I was grateful but also felt guilty because Kelly was only holding back because she knew I would be stuck in the middle of this whole thing. I asked her if she was fine with this and she just said “Ya cause I don’t care what Barb thinks anymore.”
    At that point, Barb would text me for the rest of the time up to the shower asking if I was okay cause she didn’t know that Kelly would not be coming at all. She even called me, asking if I was okay cause she saw I was doing a lot of work. Her friend, Kim, even reached out to see how I was. At that point, I just wanted to hide under a rock and be a hermit/not talk to anyone. I was appreciative of them reaching out to me and said I was fine and that Kelly would be helping me in whatever way she can, which included food.
    Barb didn’t badmouth or complain about Kelly to me. In fact, she never mentioned Kelly at all after that. Kelly would still get Barb a gift for the baby and that was it. Baby shower came and went and Barb and her husband were extremely happy and grateful. They kept thanking me for everything. I admit, I was so tired that day that I barely heard them.

    Now, the final issue for me came when Kelly got engaged recently. She was extremely happy and made me a bridesmaid. I was happy for her and gladly accepted the bridesmaid role. Despite everything, she still had Barb on her guest list but was thinking about it for a while. Then, when we went dress shopping, Kelly informed me that she took Barb off her list. I had a knot in my stomach – I told Kelly it was her choice and Kelly continued to list her bitterness about Barb. Kelly’s not getting married for another year but now all I am thinking is what is going to happen in the future.
    In this whole mess, Barb doesn’t think she did anything wrong. In fact, she thought she was being polite by not reaching out to Kelly as much because she knew Kelly was going through a lot. This is what Jen thought as well. Kelly did take this into account and said, while she understands the intent and that Barb did not mean for this to happen, she was still hurt and it still came off that Barb did not consider her at all. Barb does not know that there is an issue at all currently (although we suspect she’s mad at Kelly for “bailing” on the shower last minute – cannot confirm as Barb has not complained to me about it) and, because of their history, is most likely expecting to be invited to Kelly’s wedding.
    At this point, as a bridesmaid, I’m thinking of the upcoming, save the dates, bridal shower, bachalorette, etc and worrying about what to do if Barb comes to me asking why is she not included. I know I can just say, “go to Kelly” because it’s not my responsibility to say who is and isn’t invited to the wedding but, as Barb believes we are close, I’m wondering if she’ll be like “how can you side with her? did you defend me? etc etc”. I’m also thinking deep into the future as my bf and I are also considering getting married and I was hoping Kelly could be one of my bridesmaids and I’d invite Barb and her husband too (as guests, not wedding party). I had expressed my imaginary guest list to Kelly and while Kelly is not the type to forbid me from being friends with anyone, she did have an implication of “why would you invite Barb after all she’s done.”

    There’s a lot of scenarios playing in my head that’s causing my anxiety to skyrocket. I feel like I have no one to talk to about this. Kelly and her other Bridesmaids are full on against Barb (so they won’t listen), my family said I should just stay out of it and my bf thinks that, while Barb was in the wrong for how the baby shower proceeded, he thinks Kelly is taking things too far and reading too much into Barb being malicious. There has been little advice, aside from “Staying out of it.” and I know I need to. I want to be neutral but I know that I’m going to get pulled in when this explosion goes off.

    So, I reach out to this forum to ask for anyone’s advice or even if there are examples of how I can approach “stay out of it” when the time comes? I am aware that a lot of my ignorance and choices played a part in this situation, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you for listening.

    October 5, 2022 at 3:22 pm #1116369

    ‘stay out of it’ really is the best advice, regardless of whether you think it will be helpful or not. You’ve written endless paragraphs about a bloody *baby shower* for heavens sake.

    Barb sounds like a spoiled numpty and Kelly, while pretty spot on in her assessment of Barb, needs to learn how to say no. This wedding is her chance to finally stand up for herself, so instead of turning it into WWIII whenever one mentions the other say something bland about how you value both of them and don’t want to be involved then change the subject. Running around like a chook with its head cut off trying to make both of them happy isn’t going to work and if you start in that role that’s where you’ll stay, do you really want that?

    October 5, 2022 at 3:25 pm #1116370

    Hi Tired and Done. I can see why you are tired and exhausted. However you are not Done as you keep involving yourself in this dramatic mess.
    I could barely follow and did not read your whole “novel”, but Barb sounds pushy and demanding and Kelly sounds like a people pleaser who tries to do too much and then has to bail.
    At this point who did and said what or who did not do this or that is irrelevant. I hope you all learned lessons from the situation,but now that is over.
    Any continuing issues between Barb and Kelly, including wedding invites or not, are their issues. In fact you need to try to stop solving everyone’s problems, putting yourself in the mix,as you said.
    If you get married and want to invite Barb,Kelly and Joe Blow, that is your choice. As Kelly’s is if she chooses not to ask Barb.
    If either one tries to bring up issues or complaints, refuse to discuss it.
    Simply say, you are both my friends and I am not giving opinions or getting involved. That may result in you getting labelled disloyal,or losing the friendship of either lady. To me that would not be too much of a loss.

    Avatar photo
    October 5, 2022 at 6:56 pm #1116371

    You are tying yourself in knots worrying about problems that don’t even exist yet, and may not ever exist.

    You don’t know that there will be anything to “stay out of” once the time comes. You don’t know how Barb is going to react. She might be fine. You say you think she was mad about Kelly bailing on her shower, but you also say she hasn’t complained about it at all. You describe Barb as “the more assertive (borderline-aggressive) of the two, who always spoke up about what she thought, could get easily offended, and held grudges pretty easily.” A person like that would most definitely have said something to you or others if she was mad at Kelly! It sounds like the slow fade on this friendship is mutual.

    If Barb does come to you, just shrug and say she’d have to ask Kelly why she’s not on the guest list. If she start needling you about choosing Kelly over her, gently explain that you’re friends with both of them and you’re happy to show up for Barb at her events too. Then don’t engage any further. You can’t control how either of these ladies behave or feel, you can only choose your own reactions. You are not responsible for their friendship or their feelings.

    Please don’t let yourself agonize over problems that don’t exist for months leading up to Kelly’s wedding. Don’t tie yourself in knots worrying about your own wedding when you haven’t even gotten engaged yet. That’s bonkers! What ifs can drive you crazy, but only if you let them. You can choose to worry about this, or you can choose to let go of it and deal with it when – if – it comes.

    If you find that worries, about this or other imagined scenarios, consume your thoughts a lot, consider getting some therapy to help you manage your anxiety.

    October 6, 2022 at 7:25 am #1116372

    That’s a lot of detail and background for something rather simple:

    Kelly is fed up with Barb’s steamrolling and selfish behavior. She’s done. She knows perfectly well that her decision means the end of this friendship.

    As far as I can see, there is only one thing for you to do at this time: Decide whether you will allow either of these women to dictate your friendships. If either Kelly or Barb demand you stop being friends with the other – what do you plan to do? Otherwise, if neither Barb nor Kelly make that demand, then you know your time with each will not involve the other. The exception would be for your own wedding/pregnancy events where you would tell them that both will be invited and you’re not getting involved but you expect them to RSVP and commit to whichever decision they make and behave politely and not make those events about them.

    October 6, 2022 at 8:18 am #1116373

    I say this with all the compassion and empathy I have because I too, used to agonize over all the drama and how things should work out.

    You cannot control how other people behave. Stay out of it is the best advice, even if it’s not what you want to hear. I would really recommend caring about 5,000% less about the drama between your “friends” and how this will all play out. They are adults. It’s a fucking baby shower! Jesus, are you sure you’re all adults? This story is so beyond. And I consider myself supremely ridiculous, so it’s something that I think this is beyond silly.

    I read about 2/3 of what you wrote because you need to simplify. Keep It Simple, Silly.

    You choose what you do with your life. If you want to be wrapped up in your friends petty weird drama, go for it. But I bet your bf and everyone else are pretty tired of it all. I am and I just read this.

    Sorry, I’m tired just got my booster and am so over this silly shit in my life.

    October 6, 2022 at 8:23 am #1116374

    If your best friends demand you hate someone else or cut them out, you say, “I’m sorry, I’m not willing to do that at this time.”

    If your friends are so petty that they will cut you off for being neutral, you may not have great friends, and may want to reconsider exactly how far you want to get sucked into this drama.

    Instead of diving straight in, maybe step back? Reconsider what friendship looks like to you.

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I’m a bridesmaid caught between two friends

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