Dear Captain Awkward,
I’m in a bit of a mess, which is not my fault but stands to destroy my whole wedding.
There is a lot of background and I’ll give the short version. It all revolves around a girl I know called “Gwen.” I recently discovered Gwen has been telling people she doesn’t really think I’m autistic. I get that a lot from strangers, but it hurt to hear it coming from someone who I thought was my friend. I don’t know if Gwen thinks I’m faking my disability or if she thinks I am just too stupid to realize I’m not autistic. I first heard about the possibility I had autism in a mental health professional’s office, and I had three professional opinions leading to my diagnosis. Gwen has decided I’m not autistic because once we were at a restaurant and I asked if she was upset. At the time, she told me she wasn’t upset. But now she thinks this is proof I’m neurotypical. I have a great amount of difficulty reading facial expression, and I have about a 20% accuracy at it which indicates some pretty serious deficits. Before I found out she used this as an excuse to “undiagnose” me I had thought of this incident as another example of my poor expression-reading.
And it’s ironic, given that many of our friends don’t believe Gwen actually has a disability. She has OCD that she says prevents her from working, and I have no reason to disbelieve her. I defended her whenever people suggested she was making excuses, which makes it especially hurtful that she is saying the same thing about me. She does a lot of things that I feel are irresponsible, like spending all of her money on frivolous things and then whining to our poorer friends about being broke, or refusing to take any college classes except for choir. She thinks she’s going to be a singer although she’s not willing to put any effort into it outside of class, and she’s on academic probation because she drops all of her classes that aren’t fun. My fiancé, “Patrick,” says that Gwen is majoring in “hanging out with friends.” She’s on disability but she makes her father pay $200 every month for her hair. She lives with her fiancé in her grandmother’s basement and has no motivation to finish school, get a job, move out, or do anything to advance herself. Despite all her problems she can be very nice sometimes and I always tried to be friends with her.
She’s also a source of a lot of strife in our group, where everyone gets along with each other and the only person who really has a problem with anyone else is Gwen. She’s very religious and has announced that one of the Christian men in our group of friends is not really a Christian. Gwen was once banned from coming to our usual hangout place for complaining about interracial couples in the group. Her racism and religious discrimination is so bad that she is angry at my friend “Nina”, who is a black pagan in a relationship with a white man, and refuses to let her come into her house because Nina uses the phrase “Oh, my gods!” instead of “Oh, my God!” Gwen insists that this is offensive. I was told that she decided to stop hanging around Nina’s boyfriend when he started dating Nina.
Most of our friends play role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and Call of Cthulhu, but we have to censor ourselves with Gwen is around. She has severe demonophobia so bad that hearing the word will make her have a panic attack. We occasionally accidentally trigger her, just by mentioning a show that features demons without discussing the content, or by using the word “possessed” in a context that doesn’t refer to demonic possession. Gwen once refused to come over to my house unless I turned all the books on my bookshelf around so she couldn’t see the word “demon” on any of the spines. I understand it’s a genuine problem but we’re going crazy trying not to piss her off, because she made her fiancé, “Tim,” stop hanging out with “Steve” when he accidentally mentioned ghosts around her. To her, this is never an accident. It is always done on purpose. She won’t seek help for it because “good Christians don’t read about those things.” She doesn’t decide to stay away when we’re playing D&D or watching movies she may have issues with, which creates bigger problems.
The problems have reached a head. NO ONE in our group wants to hang out with her anymore, even the people who were fighting the hardest for people to accept her (“Lola” and her boyfriend, “Milton”), because she’s causing problems and being a brat. To make things more complicated, Gwen’s fiancé and my fiancé are brothers. At first I was happy, but lately she’s been very annoying about the weddings. Patrick earns a lot of money and we’re spending what we could save up by the wedding date, about $12,000. Gwen annoyed her parents until they took out a $25,000 loan for her wedding, which she feels she’s entitled to because her parents ruined her life by divorcing. She kicked Lola out of her wedding because Lola doesn’t like to dance. Lola was relieved because the requests Gwen makes of her bridesmaids are ridiculous. Lately Gwen has taken to telling me my wedding will be awful because I don’t boss my bridesmaids around, I’m spending under the average cost of a wedding, and I don’t have a wedding planner. I told her I couldn’t afford the latter, and she smiled and said in a snotty voice, “Well, I don’t have to pay for mine.” Gwen is, by the way, one of my bridesmaids. So are Lola and Nina.
Lola was completely fed up with Gwen, and when Gwen complained about being broke Lola told her to stop spending $200 to dye her hair every month. Gwen was angry at Lola for calling her out. Nina’s boyfriend got into a fight with Gwen when she said she didn’t understand why every person didn’t believe in Jesus. Then Gwen posted a status on Facebook complaining about how liberals call Republicans racist for not liking Obama. Lola commented on the status, pointing out that the Tea Party has had a lot of racism-related scandals, and then she pointed out that Gwen complains about Obama because “he only got elected because he’s black” and says that his wife “looks like a gorilla.” Gwen deleted the comments and had Tim complain about it to Milton while she unfriended Lola. Then Gwen contacted me and asked if she and I could go for bridesmaids dresses without the others, because Lola was “bullying” her and she doesn’t want to see her. (Lola has, by the way, apologized to me, but I think something like this would have happened eventually anyway. She is willing to be civil to Gwen for my sake and didn’t intend for Gwen to get this upset. I have never known Lola to start fights or create drama, and I’ve known her for almost ten years. She’s normally passive but she just can’t take any more of the bullshit.)
I’m okay with making two trips for dresses, but I’m worried about the fact that Gwen can’t get along with my other bridesmaids long enough to do something like this. It has bad implications for how well the wedding will go. She’s also told other people that she doesn’t want to be in my wedding at all and that she’s angry Patrick asked Steve to be his best man instead of Tim. That’s not really any of her business, but Patrick has three brothers and Steve is his best friends. Tim has also not asked Patrick to be his best man. At this point I don’t want Gwen in the wedding either, but I’m worried that she’ll wind up being in it anyway because we are both being polite. To my face she always says she’s excited about my wedding. Our friends are perfectly fine with me throwing her out of the wedding at this point since she’s causing drama and I’m trying to prevent drama, but for one thing that makes me feel like a bridezilla, and I also don’t know how my Patrick and Tim’s family would take it. I want to make sure they know I’m not trying to cause drama, and I know Gwen will badmouth me to them. I want advice on how to resolve this issue, because even though Gwen is clearly causing a lot of problems I feel like things might only get worse if I tell her I’m cutting down on the number of bridesmaids.
Not into Drama
Dear Not Into Drama:
I have no magic fairy dust to make Gwen stop being such a jerk. By choosing to keep interacting with Gwen, you are choosing to subject yourself to her jerkiness. Kick her out of your wedding and out of your life. Stop inviting her to play your demonic role-playing games. Just imagine a future where you never talk to her again, and then make that future happen.
Oh, you’re marrying brothers? (That’s weird. Why is your fiance’s brother marrying that total asshole? Seriously. Why would he do that?) So you’ll run into her at family stuff. So at family stuff you say “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Thanksgiving!” and then you spend most of your time in a different room. I’m sure she’ll follow you and make a stink and try to start some shit, so you look at her while she’s saying the stuff and when she pauses for breath you say “Are you done now? Ok then.” and you go back to what you were doing.
If other people ask “But why did you kick Gwen out of your wedding? Why aren’t you talking to Gwen?” say “Because she was acting like a huge jerk and I got tired of it.”
Give her an African Violet with a note that says “I find our friendship to be soulsucking and exhausting, so let’s call the whole thing off. Good luck in your future endeavors.” You’re going to tell me that it’s not that simple, but seriously, it can be that simple if you want it to be. She has no power except the power you give her.
That pretty much covers it. It is absolutely your choice to not be friends with her anymore. If you choose to keep interacting with her, you are choosing to live in her bizarre world and act in her little drama society.
46 thoughts on “Reader question #85: You can just stop being friends with people who annoy the shit out of you. Seriously. Really. Truly.”
I have a sincere question: LW, why are you friends with this person? What does she add to your life, other than misery?
Life’s too short to deal with people like this. It is your wedding, and while one may have to make concessions to avoid strife, one also does not have to put up with toxic people, and Gwen is toxic. Cut your losses.
Wow. Wow, wow, wow.
I feel like there are three things going on in this story that need to be discussed.
The first is a raging epidemic of the Geek Social Fallacies. Happily, it sounds like LW and her friends all finally decided to go to the local clinic and get some antibiotics for that particular Socially Transmitted Disease. Congrats on realizing that a racial and religious bigot should not get to dictate the behavior of a racially and religiously diverse group because she finds other peoples’ interracial relationships, religions, and hobbies to be “offensive” and “triggering”.
The second is WEDDINGS, oh lordy. It’s clear by Gwen’s escalating behavior and her unbelievable litany of grudges, complaints and status-seeking bullshit surrounding her wedding that she really, really wants to turn her wedding into a referendum on who really Loves And Supports her, her relationship, her behavior and attitudes, etc. LW, she will do this (and consider your own wedding part of the apotheosis and the fucking triumph of her life that she wants her wedding to be) no matter how you handle it. Look, she’s already pissed off about imagined slights. You can honestly do nothing right in her eyes at this point.
Thirdly, you’re both marrying into the same family. Awkward. I’m gonna break from Captain Awkward’s advice at this point and say that you and your fiance should assess the bridesmaid situation, because kicking her out of the wedding could cause the drama to spread into his family. The two of you need to present a united front of “this is how we are handling our wedding, everyone” and deal with this stuff as a team, because until your brother-in-law divorces his future ex-wife, this is gonna be how you will have to handle every situation including Gwen. “This is how we are handling Thanksgiving, everyone”. “This is how we are handling the baby shower, everyone.” Etcetera. Keep in mind that you can’t guarantee all your in-laws will like you if you try and put up with Gwen, but it may be that you can’t avoid keeping her in your wedding. Assuming that happens, just keep in mind that you’ll be spending the actual day of your wedding pumped full of a magical mixture of love, stress, cake and champagne, and no ex-friend / sister-in-law can harsh that mellow. Just cue up this song at the reception: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4wh0wkpXV0 and have a great time!
See, I know crap about weddings. I agree with you that a united front is helpful (it sounds like her fiance is also on Team African Violet, btw).
So the question is, how bad does someone have to suck before you can just unilaterally kick her out of your wedding? Worse than Gwen? The thought of someone worse than her is making my eyes physically twitch inside my head.
And I’m glad you called out the “That triggers me…” behavior. It’s really controlling.
In this particular situation I feel like the main questions become, “What are the fiance’s family dynamics like?” and secondarily “How soon is the wedding?” If the offender is one-tenth as offensive as Gwen and not a future in-law, then damn, totally kick ’em out of the wedding party. But as Copcher says, this situation is a bit more complex than that.
Basically LW and her fiance need to figure out whether kicking Gwen out of the wedding would be tantamount to opening a second front in the drama war.
Also, re: “that triggers me” – I think Gwen might well have some real, serious problems that include OCD triggers she is unable to really control. One of the serious issues that come up in dealing with a person like her is when she starts to use the language of social justice and disability rights to assert things like “don’t refer to your religion in my presence”. Or trashing interracial relationships freely because that’s just, like, her opinion, man. It is controlling and it’s very bad behavior.
The problem here is that Gwen cannot really be kicked out because she’s going to be a relative and the LW is going to be stuck dealing with her for a long time (or until Gwen’s fiance sees the light and dumps her). There will probably be far worse and longer lasting drama explosions if Gwen is dumped/kicked out at this point than there would be with anyone else. Which is why I would lean towards appeasing her ass, because being in a constant drama war at every family gathering really bites. It’s not just a case of shitty friendship any more.
until your brother-in-law divorces his future ex-wife
AHAHAHAHAHA. *SO* much love for this, and it’s 100% true.
Wow, this situation sounds like it really sucks. You definitely need to get this person out of your life. I maybe wouldn’t give the African violet with the note, but explicitly stating “I am not going to hang out with you because you make me feel really crummy and that is not okay” is important.
What I think gets hard for some people (including myself) is the need to explain why you don’t want to be friends with someone to the point that it satisfies them, because you don’t want to feel like a jerk. But that’s not your job. Judging by what you say about her, I’m guessing you won’t be able to explain this to her satisfaction. She will likely suck you in by explaining how you and everyone else are actually the toxic people and it’s not her fault so you really are a horrible person for not being friends with her and kicking her out of your wedding. That will not be helpful at all, so don’t bother with it. One little explanation at the beginning maybe (like the “you make me feel crummy and that is not okay”) but then that’s it. If she bugs you, leave the room, hang up the phone, walk away from the computer, whatever. Don’t be intentionally rude, but also don’t put her feelings ahead of your well-being.
In term of how this will affect Tim and Patrick’s family, you could talk to Patrick about it. He might have some suggestions on how to deal with the family fall-out, and it would be really great if he was supportive of your decision. If the rest of his family doesn’t have a problem with Gwen, it could turn into a them against you kind of problem, so it would be useful to have someone who can say, “No, actually, Gwen can be really impossible to deal with. LW has stopped being friends with her and she’s allowed to do that. Don’t gang up.”
This is truly excellent advice. When you have this conversation with Gwen, you will need a script, or at least a theme. She’ll invite you to discuss your feelings/desires, and you do not have to do so.
Something like the “you make me feel crummy, and it is not ok” is your theme. Don’t engage in discussion of that.
And, enlisting your fiance is a wonderful idea.
Think of it like when a stranger (a dude) asks a woman for a date. “No” is the end of the sentence; she doesn’t have to explain why. You don’t have to explain why.
ah, the first test of a new marriage? the wedding. everyone has a certain amount of shit that goes down with a wedding. we had a lovely celebration, but that didn’t stop my father-in-law from bringing his mistress instead of his wife, or my brother from bringing his new dog to the rehearsal dinner (and asking the restaurant to keep the dog in the basement since it was too cold to leave it in the car – michigan – february – go figure). you know what, though? awesome stories later. you should hear me spin it at parties, it’s an experience.
do you have someone who can tolerate her behavior and not kill her? i had a sister-in-law who became my “handler” for people that were difficult. she was AWESOME. when you go out with the other bridesmaids, come up with a strategy. then laugh her away, my friend, laugh her away.
my 2¢. keep her in the wedding, ditch her as a friend. honestly – there is a huuuuuuuuuge divide between needing accommodations and being off the deep end. let’s not encourage her, shall we?
Can I ask a question – how old are the people in question? A lot of this stuff sounds like teenage BS. I was shocked when I found out you were all planning to get married – the shenanigans described in the letter made me think you were all in high school.
And Michelle Obama looks like a gorilla? That on its own would be enough to make me African-Violet this person.
I’m going to be less kind than the other commenters here, and just tell you outright that my eyes started crossing as I read this thing.
I just wanted to echo the Captain’s awesome advice that, yes, IT IS THAT SIMPLE. Seriously, just WALK AWAY. Life is too short for all this crap. You could be hit by a bus tomorrow. And don’t shake your head and argue, “But!” when I say that – I want you to sit down and seriously think about the bus that could kill you tomorrow. Imagine it’s unstoppable speed, the driver’s horrified expression as she tries desperately to apply the brakes, the roar of the engine, how hot the metal will feel when it strikes you, how time will cease to matter and much it will hurt and then, nothingness.
That could happen. Or you could die ten thousand other ways. It happens every day. So now, look at Gwen and ask, “Do I really want to waste any of my precious seconds on THAT thundercunt?”
Why is the cut direct so difficult for people? I will never understand.
I have to echo Aliana here, I could barely get through the letter. Frankly? Shun this person. Your fiance can do what he must when it comes to his own family, but you should just excise this person from your life entirely.
I didn’t get through the whole letter. Seriously, you do not need to be this miserable in your life. You deserve it.
I add my voice to the chorus of “She is not a good friend, you don’t have to continue to be friends, you are still a good person if you unfriend her.” Gwen may protest that you are being mean and cruel, but we here at Awkward Enterprises are backing you up: she is not someone you should spend time with, and it is an okay, normal-human thing to limit your exposure to her.
But also, she cannot possibly ruin your wedding. Well, she can “ruin” it in the way that many people are acculturated to consider a wedding “ruined”: someone is mean, someone wears the “wrong” clothes, the cake melts, the groom is late, whatever.
The only way your wedding can be truly and forever ruined is if you don’t get married or if some fairly major tragedy occurs during it. I’m talking DEATH levels of tragedy. Heck, if someone goes into labor at your wedding, that’s an awesome story! If the food is terrible and the caterer ends up ordering pizzas, awesome story! If the sound system fails and everyone ends up karaokeing the first dance song, awesome story! If Gwen pitches a fit and stalks out because the buffet is not to her liking, awesome story AND she’s gone for the rest of the wedding! DOUBLE-WIN.
It sounds like you really want Gwen out of your wedding party, and that is totally legit. You would also like to not be in HER wedding party. So here’s one way you can approach that (AFTER you talk it over with your fiancé):
“Hey, you seem super stressed with planning your wedding, and I have to admit that I’m pretty stressed with mine. I’d like us to both not be each other’s bridesmaids because we’re just stressing each other out. Of COURSE you will still be invited to the wedding itself, but I want to ease your burden of responsibility. This way, all you’d have to do is come and have a good time, and I hope that I would be able to do the same at your wedding.”
Or just stay in each other’s bridal parties, and repeat after me, “I don’t have the energy/patience/time for [bridesmaid activity] but I’ll see you at the rehearsal dinner!” Being a bridesmaid doesn’t actually have to entail all that much work. The Cap’n can tell you!
Aye, aye Commander! GREAT gentle and graceful way to back down from all the wedding BS. I feel that all that relates to the weddings needs to be removed from the equation, and then disentangling this toxic bitch from your life becomes just about the fact that you are no longer friends and not that YOU ARE RUINING HER WEDDING OMG YOU HATE ME FOREVER WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME!?!?!!! No sane adult woman can manage to have this kind of sane adult conversation about separating a friendship in the ramp up to wedding, and she definitely does not qualify as sane.
This extracting needs to be done in stages or you risk getting your face melted off by her crazy. Take the Commander’s advice, gracefully withdraw from her bridal train and at the same time gently boot her from yours, and after the weddings are over, have a sane adult conversation (possibly one sided) that removes her from your friend group and take the Captain’s great advice on how to deal with her in family situations. Ideally, you will only have to see her a couple of times per year after that.
I’m not actually in her bridal party. I asked her to be in mine because it would seem awkward if I asked Nina and Lola but not Gwen, the only other girl in our group of friends. We were going to ask Tim to be a groomsmen so it would have been a pretty obvious slight. I thought I could deal with any bullshit she threw out like I usually do: ignoring her when she’s being obnoxious. But she’s kind of forcing me to act differently now.
Mostly being a bridesmaid involves trips to Hot Dougs. If you’re doing it right.
This script/suggestion of Commander Logic’s to get her out of your bridal party (and get our of hers) is excellent.
Original poster, this Gwen person is toxic, toxic, TOXIC – just reading about her frightens me. Keep as far out of her circle as possible! It’s OK to not be friends with people, and it’s OK not to be friends with your family members or your in-laws. It’s nice if everyone can be polite, but it’s OK to be polite and DISTANT.
I think that script is exceptionally wise because when you’re dealing with a selfish and controlling person like this one of the most useful approaches you can implement is emphasizing how the split can benefit *them*. Gwen obviously doesn’t care how her actions affect others, but if this downsizing to invited-to-wedding-but-not-a-party member is cast in a light wherein it is helping her comfort levels than she is less likely to pull a drama bomb.
Obviously a break is necessary at any cost and what is really important here is the LW’s comfort levels, not Gwen’s, but this really is a terrific tactic for damage control.
Gwen is going to be a bitch to you whether she’s in your wedding or not. She’s going to bad mouth you, your life choices and your wedding whether she’s a bridesmaid or not. So if you’re going to have to deal with that either way, it might as well be while she’s far away from you.
That’s what I’m saying!
I’m the letter-writer. I’d like to clarify a couple points.
1. I’m not close friends with Gwen. But she is always showing up where my friends are, so I had to learn to deal with her. I thought for a while before the shit hit the fan that she was getting better, and I didn’t realize she didn’t like me because she’s usually nice to my face. I should have guessed from the way she talks about other people behind their backs. Or maybe I was missing social signals, being autistic and all. I don’t know. Some of the more awful things she was doing, like calling Michelle Obama a gorilla, I didn’t know about until post-meltdown.
2. She hasn’t hung out with our other friends for a month or so, because she’s very angry at Lola and feels as if she’s being persecuted. Everyone seems glad to be rid of her, but I am not rid of her yet because I still have to see her in certain circumstances. It’s also not clear whether she eventually plans on hanging out with my friends again.
3. I’m not sure how my fiance’s family feels about Gwen, and neither does he. (He, at least, is with me on the diching her front.) I know if they heard she was doing this stuff they would be very irritated at her, but she is usually just playing with her phone the whole time at family events so they haven’t seen her bad side. I’m planning on talking to Patrick and Tim’s sister and asking her opinion, since she’ll be more likely to know how everyone already feels about Gwen and will probably inform their mother about what’s going on. I’m mostly worried that Tim will stop talking to Patrick, but Patrick says that if Tim is being controlled by her to that extent it’s TIm’s loss.
4. I’m 22. My fiance’s 29 and the rest of our friends fall in the 22-26 age range. Gwen is 25 but she acts much younger. The rest of us don’t usually suffer from this high school drama bullshit. Lola and I were discussing how this might be punishment for not participating in such drama in high school even. But that’s part of my problem. I have no experience with this kind of issue and I am terrified of having to handle it. When I have to confront people I sometimes lose part or all of my language skills (I can talk, but my primary method of communication is the computer, and I have nonverbal episodes under extreme stress).
I appreciate the comments. Even the ones that are slightly critical of me are helpful, and I know I should have spoken up and said something before now. What’s sad is that I didn’t because I was afraid of creating drama. Drama came to me anyway. And the whoever mentioned that Gwen will be bitchy whether I kick her out or not–thanks, because that was actually an excellent point that got me thinking.
And by the way, YES. She has some serious entitlement and control issues. If Tim hangs out with us without Gwen, she almost always calls and makes him come home.
Hey darlin’. I’m gonna respond to your points one by one.
1 – You are not to blame for not knowing what sort of person Gwen was right away, and it is not a blameworthy thing to have her in your social group. I get that you didn’t choose Gwen to be a member of your friend tribe, but she’s there anyway. She is not your friend, and yet, she is tribe. That can be a trial.
2 – It kind of sounds like the tribe has spoken with regard to Gwen, and they don’t want her around anymore. Groovy.
3 – WHOA there! Now this may seem a little critical, but bear with me, okay? As much as it might feel like a good plan to “out” Gwen as a bitch to her prospective family, it really, really isn’t your job to police that. If you talk to Sister and Sister’s like “Gwen’s the BEST!” what would your follow-up be? Smack talk? Not awesome, because that makes YOU the bad apple. If you talk to Sister and Sister’s like “I cannot BELIEVE Tim is marrying her!!!” there is still nothing for you to do in this situation. Tim wants to marry her, and there’s very little to be accomplished by you making it a “family vs. Gwen” situation. They probably already know, and putting yourself in the middle of that screams drama to me, which is not what you seem to enjoy. My $0.02 is to just let Tim do what Tim is gonna do.
4 – You do not have to confront Gwen verbally. I promise. Not because you have special anxieties or freeze up in confrontation, but because, as a human, you get to decide how you interact with people. If you do decide to enact the de-bridesmaiding conversation I posted up there, you are TOTALLY WITHIN YOUR RIGHTS to send it as an email. If Gwen calls you or confronts you in person, please have a card ready with this written on it: “I can’t communicate verbally with you now. Please email or IM me.” Then repeat (handing her the card or reading it off the card or having someone else read it off the card for you) until she either acquiesces or says “TO HELL WITH YOU” and leaves you alone. Which is what you wanted! HUZZAH!
You cannot change Gwen’s behavior. You cannot change anyone’s behavior, really. But you can set boundaries and object when those boundaries are crossed. You are doing SO well! I wish you all the best of luck!
Yes, yes, yes and yes. Fiancee needs to be the one who gently and carefully feels out his family on the subject of kicking Gwen out of the wedding. If it is even important at this point to kick her out of the wedding, I don’t know.
Also echoing the fact that it isn’t your fault Gwen is around, Not Into Drama!
And yes, NID you’re doing well with this delicate situation. Your wedding will not be ruined, seriously if you feel nervous about this please reread what robiewankenobie said about her wedding. It’ll be fine!
I didn’t mean that I was going to tell the sister everything, just that I was hoping she could give me some advice on the issues. If my fiance wants to tell his sister the gory details that’s his call. I really don’t want to badmouth her, because I don’t want to make her life miserable or cause more drama, and I don’t want to make myself look like a trouble-maker. But my fiance suggested his sister would be a good person to go to for advice. And if anyone says something positive about Gwen, I wouldn’t immediately go, “Noooo!!!! She’s evil, EVIL!!!!” Because that’s really not cool and I don’t feel the need to make everyone agree with me. Also, it’s surprisingly hard for me to verbally contradict someone. It usually comes out, “But…she…uh…” And it sounds really pathetic. I just want people to understand, if I kick her out, that I did it because it was necessary. If I’m asked by their grandmother I’ll probably just leave it at that.
have you responded to her request to have a separate fitting? you might want to say that you understand if she’s not going be comfortable in the wedding party. tell her that you want to know that you want her to enjoy herself at the wedding. because you do (even if it is only to make your new brother in law happy).
I already told her yes to the other dress fitting, but the store we were going through only has dresses below her size and she’s going to have to order it anyway. She’s not ordered anything yet so she won’t be in trouble financially until after I decide what to do about her.
Okay, so you want advice from Sister, and this is actually a good thing and good impulse! People LOVE being asked for advice. I was just unclear on what the issues were other than Gwen being terrible, so bad on me! 😉
Good, non-catty questions for the sister can include
“Gwen is stressed with her wedding and making it difficult for my other bridesmaids. We don’t want to rock the boat for Tim, so how would you recommend we act?” or
“Can I ask you a bride favor? Can you be my wingwoman for handling Gwen? I’m not as good at social stuff as you are, and I’m a little out of my depth. (cue explanations if necessary)”
Oh! Or if Sister is a good ‘un, see if you can pull a swap! Sister in place of Gwen! And then only blood relations and REALLY GOOD FRIENDS are in your bridal party. Because that’s how you and your fiancé want it. That is all the explanation a normal person needs.
I just want people to understand, if I kick her out, that I did it because it was necessary. People don’t need to understand squat. I know you’re going to be related to her, but this is your wedding, and more importantly, your life. You get to decide who is given an honored place in it.
It would be kind of mean to ask the sister to be in the wedding. She just went through a nasty divorce. But I have another cousin I could potentially ask, if Gwen leaves the wedding and Tim stays in.
Hm. I don’t know your Future-SiL, but that seems unusual to me. Unless FSiL is super bitter about all marriages now, it seems to me that she would be happy to support you and her brother in yours. Even more! Since she knows what a trial a bad match can be, so if she supports you guys, you know she REALLY approves. What I’m saying is, it’s not rude to ask anyone you care about deeply to be in your wedding party; it’s supposed to be an honor. Which you can decline! But still an honor. I mean, it’s probable that you’ve talked with the family already about this and I’m stepping all over your boundaries, but as my final $0.02 (FOR REALS. Girl’s gotta have enough change for the soda machine), I heartily endorse gently broaching the topic with FSiL.
Now I’m SUPER DONE. COMMANDER LOGIC, OUT.
LOGIC TO THE RESCUE. I was in class all day, thanks for being so goddamn sane.
And this is likely a little off-topic, but on the subject of Gwen’s demonophobia, for which she does not get help because “good Christians don’t read about those things” and she has major panic attacks when people mention demons, ghosts, etc. – in contexts that do not include summoning them – it’s called THERAPY. Girl needs help, because while she can ban books about these things in her own home, and she can choose not to be around while people are playing D&D or whatever, those words and concepts are not going to go away. Not a ghost of a chance. (See what I did there?)
But really truly, NID, I hope you can get away from this girl. As someone said above, she sounds very toxic.
She used to be afraid of knives (afraid she would go crazy and hurt people with them, which I understand is common for people with OCD), but she got over it with a therapist forced her to deal with her fear by washing knives. Her therapist suggested gradually reading material dealing with demons or something to that effect, but she refuses to listen to him, allegedly because she’s a Christian. To be fair, her panic attacks are very real and terrifying, and I do feel sorry for her, but the rest of us can’t really be responsible for it. Because the mention of the word hell is enough to do it, and I’m so scatterbrained that words like that slip out of my mouth around her. And she doesn’t really decide to remove herself from places where she will hear those words, so we’re expected to accommodate her. I’m disabled myself and I really think accommodation is important, but this goes so far over the line that it was driving people bonkers.
You might want to leave “soulsucking” off that African Violet note. It’ll probably just trigger her.
“Cthulu says we can’t be friends, and also, he’s been thinking about you a lot.”
“Satan says you have a toxic personality.”
Maybe you could just serve pea soup at the wedding, or a rich devil’s food cake?
I feel for you, I really really do. Everyone’s right in that there is nothing she can do at/to your wedding to ruin it. She can try, but it would only show her up to be the controlling jerk she is. (and I’m kinda secretly hoping for that option, I love it when people out themselves publicly as assholes)
I like the idea of talking to your future sister-in-law. If you’d like to invite her into the wedding party but you’re still afraid she’d be upset because of her bad divorce, talk to your finace, or even your future mother in law about it. They’d have a better idea of how she’d feel about the whole thing. She might actually be a bit sad about not being included. True story, my sister’s getting married end of the year and originally she didn’t ask me to be a bridesmaid because she thought I ‘wasn’t in to all that stuff’ and would say no but I was a bit hurt that she thought that I wouldn’t want put stuff like that aside for her on such an important day. Some chatting later and I’m a bridesmaid and she’s happy she’s got her sister standing up for her on her wedding day.
You could make that a part of rejecting Gwen too. ‘oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize I had hurt SiL’s feelings by not including her, we want to keep the wedding party balanced…’ and go on a bit about how she’s obviously not comfortable being in the wedding party because of not getting along with the other bridesmaids and you don’t want to stress her out for her own wedding and instead, ask her to do a reading or something similar for you during the ceremony. If you’re having a Christian ceremony (or if you’re just cool with it) I’m sure she, as a good Christian, could help you find a very nice passage in the Bible to celebrate your love for Patrick. This way, there might be less family drama ’cause she’s not completely left out of the wedding festivities.
Although, if you can’t get her out, I’m seriously hoping you can get your other two friends to plan a bachelorette party at a really awesome haunted house. ‘Cause I’m mean like that sometimes. 😀
I find her “Christians don’t do that” excuse to be… well, an excuse. The priests who perform exorcisms clearly do have to read up on this sort of thing and there are also plenty of passages on the Bible about it. I think, more than anything, she is using it as an excuse not to confront the fear because it is so strong within her and this is something I do understand can be hard to control. Fear is fear and it can be difficult to overcome (I have an online acquaintance who has a very similar phobia to zombies. Even the word gives her panic attacks so my friends and I have to kind of throw “DON’T READ THIS” stuff on our conversations when zombies come up.) but if she’s done it once with a therapist for a fear then it can probably be overcome again.
And… apologies for the tangent. ^^; It’s not even your responsibility to bring this up with her since you’re breaking ties/limiting contact, so I realize I’m kind of taking up space on your post by rambling about it.
Oh Jesus Christ, I got halfway through this letter and went, “Dump the motherfucker already.”
Okay, so given how intertwined your lives are, that’s easier said than done. But her actions? Reek of controlling, borderline (if not outright) abusive behavior. Notice how all of her triggers are designed to go off in group and/or public situations? Or how she instills guilt over completely innocuous actions or words? (Does she ever make an effort to control her own reactions, or the onus always put on all of you?) She insists that your disability is nonexistent (a ploy to humiliate and undermine you, while establishing her intellectual authority – i.e. “I know what is actually wrong with you”) but takes no responsibility or criticism for her own – including living off of government and family aid. These situations are designed to ensure she is the center of attention, while simultaneously attempting to control everyone around her. Yeah, she might have genuine issues, but you know what? Her problems? Not your problems.
My suggestion is that you sit down with your fiance, discuss the potential repercussions you see coming out of this, and then design a plan of action. But honestly, I think this is going to only get worse.
So, my sister has some issues with her sister-in-law that pale to the point of whiteness in comparison with this circus, but there’s one thing that may be helpful. She (eventually, about 6 months after her wedding) started speaking up, gently, about some of the shit her SiL pulls, and it seems that the family just needed someone to say it out loud. It hasn’t fixed very much regarding SiL’s behavior, but it has made my sister feel A LOT better about some of the family dynamics she observed with her in-laws, and now she feels she has support when she needs to challenge SiL on something.
Point being, simply by speaking up about how Gwen’s behavior impacts YOU, and how YOU are severely unpleased with it, may prompt your family-to-be to line up behind you, more than you realize.
NO PROMISES! But often, people just don’t want to go first. Much like the buffet line at a wedding.
What strikes me is that Gwen doesn’t really like or enjoy being around you or your other supposedly mutual friends — you’re just “friends” by habit, because that label got put on your relationship before you really knew each other, and neither of you has looked in the eye what a bad fit this friendship is. I mean, Gwen clearly doesn’t respect you, or she wouldn’t run around saying you’re not autistic when you are, and she doesn’t share your beliefs on a bunch of pretty significant issues.
The former is always a problem. The latter doesn’t have to be if you can agree to live and let live, base your friendship on the interests you do have in common, and kind of keep the other stuff at the periphery. Even if you can’t enjoy your political and/or religiuos differences (because your opinions are too diametrically opposed on issues you feel too strongly about) as long as you can both agree that you won’t speak disrespectfully of one another’s beliefs (or people/things that represent those beliefs) or try to convert one another, you can still have a great friendship.
However, it’s clear that you and Gwen are never going to be that way — mostly, because while you are tolerant of Gwen’s opinions and/or her right to have ones that are different than yours (as shown by the fact that you kept trying to be friends even when she espoused views you find reprehensible), she just doesn’t have that in her (as shown by the fact that she’s always trying to make you and your friends speak and act as if you shared her opinions, on the grounds that being exposed to anything else is traumatically upsetting to her).
Now, the reason this is worth saying (you obviously know it), is that it offers a different (yet I believe honest) way to present your “breakup” that is not about you not liking her. And while I agree you shouldn’t have to explain to anyone why you just don’t want to be friends with someone anymore, since there is family involved here you will still have to see her around, you will be asked why, and how you handle the question will have affect how unpleasant things will be.
So anyway, instead of saying you don’t like Gwen, you can say you have come to accept that being around you and your friends and some of the interests, attitudes, and opinions the rest of you share is genuinely upsetting to her, and that is why she is always trying to dictate your behavior. That you understand she’s not trying to be a jerk, it’s the OCD that makes her need everything “just so” around her. But it’s become clear there are certain things she needs her friends to be, and while you’ve done your best to be that for her, you’ve never really succeeded, you’ve realized you’re never going to, and you’re worn out with trying. So while you’re sorry about that, because Gwen is [list of whatever fine qualities Gwen does have that have made anyone put up with the horror show you’ve described], and you wish her the best, you think Gwen needs to find someone who can be what she needs without having to stifle who they are, so you’re taking a big step backwards. (And because of that, you think it’s probably doesn’t make sense to be in each other’s weddings).
This may sound extreme, but I really don’t think you should be getting married until you learn how to draw some damn boundaries. Life is full of offensive, annoying, bullying, etc. idiots, and unfortunately you will have to interact with them, work with them, are possibly related to them, and may marry into a family with them.
YOU NEED TO LEARN HOW TO DEAL WITH THIS IN A WAY THAT DOES NOT UPEND YOUR ENTIRE LIFE AND CONSUME ALL OF YOUR ENERGY, OKAY?
You do not HAVE to be friends with anyone and I would highly recommend you not having a big ole’ confrontation with her about ending your friendship. Why on earth would you ask this woman to be in your wedding?! You can be polite and pleasant, not invite her to stuff, and always be “busy” when she tries to pin you down for a conversation. Learning how to wriggle out of conversations with people like this is one of life’s great skills. If you’re having this much trouble feeling obligated to be friends with someone so toxic, then you should look into seeing a therapist to learn how to handle confrontation and stand up for yourself.
One of the issues with toxic people is that you have friends, co-workers, or even family in common. It is easy to imagine all the ways Toxic Person is going to try to mess up your relationships with everyone. It’s scary. It becomes a reason for not jettisoning Toxic Person.
Please know this: anyone else who matters sees Gwen for what she is. They may pity her or fear her, but they get it. They will take her machinations for what they are. Do what needs doing.
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