#258 = #191 + Bridesmaidery

This is a follow-up to this post: https://captainawkward.com/2012/02/15/191-annual-reminder-time-get-your-teeth-cleaned-get-your-eyesnaughty-bits-checked-and-stop-hanging-out-with-crappy-people/

Velociraptor coming through a curtain or tent.
Velociraptor bride: Still v. bitey

Dear Captain Awkward:

First of all, I want to thank you and your commenters SO MUCH for being such kick-ass human beings and providing so much support and insight into the situation when I was so blind to what was going on. If I could, I’d invite you all to a rad internet BBQ and not make you bring your own booze.

The advice you and your commenters gave was wonderful, but I unfortunately can’t follow it now because:

1) Marla and her boyfriend got engaged right after I sent you the first letter, and she had asked me to be her maid of honor a very long time ago.

2) I’ve been trying to have a conversation with Marla about how she’s been treating me because the slow-fade tactic just isn’t cutting it, what with the wedding taking place this summer. Part of me wants to repair our friendship, but a large part of me never wants to see these terrible people again.

3) Every time I try and talk to Marla alone, she either flakes out on plans or brings her boyfriend. I don’t want to have this conversation with him there! It’s getting really infuriating because I’ll show up the restaurant/coffee shop we’ve agreed to meet at, call her to see why she’s late, and she’ll say “Oh, yeah, I’ve just been cuddling and watching TV with boyfriend, I don’t really feel like going out. But soon, ok? Bye!”

4) She’s been sending me wedding-related things to do non-stop despite blowing me off on a regular basis. She has massive amounts of DIY projects she expects me to do the bulk of, and keeps sending me requests for what she’d like her bridal shower and bachelorette parties to be.

5) This speedy wedding makes me really uncomfortable because in the fall Marla and her boyfriend are moving overseas so that he can work a year-long unpaid internship, and before the engagement they had expressed a concern about Marla not being able to get a work visa (she needs to be the primary provider for the first few years).

Captain Awkward, I’m supposed to have coffee with her this weekend in the park, and I don’t know how this conversation will go. Part of me is all “when you’re friends with people for years sometimes you have rough patches and you have to talk it out and move on because you really care about her and not drop people at the first sign of trouble”, but the other part of me is saying “THIS WILL NOT GET BETTER, they will complain that you’re being too sensitive and continue to steamroller over you”.

How do I start this conversation? I’ve never had to ‘break up’ with a friend before and am totally lost about how this kind of ‘script’ should go. What do I say if she says “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me before my wedding/you don’t understand what a mature committed relationship is like/I say those things because I really care about you and I want you to be happy!” If she apologizes, should I try to forgive her and move past this? I want to do this without involving my opinions about her boyfriend/co-dependence/the spouse work visa situation, and want to keep it about how she makes me feel. Coffee in the park seems like a neutral environment to do this in? I really want to do the right thing here, but I don’t know how!

Thanks a million,

Not So Moping Mary

PS: That Sady Doyle link was pure gold. I cried while reading it. Thank you.


Dear Not So Moping:

Thanks for sending this in. We LOVE a follow-up!

Unfortunately it seems you’ve doubled down on your Marla problem by agreeing to be in her wedding. (People, you all realize you can say “no” to that, right? The script is “I am so honored to be asked, and I’d love to be AT your wedding, but I can’t be IN your wedding, I’m so sorry.” And you can also frankly discuss budgets and expectations and stuff if you do agree to be in the wedding. Nothing is the bridesmaid or groomsman’s “job” unless all parties agree that it’s their job. It’s not automatic that you will spend x$ and do y tasks.)

Sadly, I think the original advice still stands: Stop hanging out with crappy people! People who assign you annoying wedding tasks and then flake out on meeting up with you are inconsiderate and crappy! In your own words: “THIS WILL NOT GET BETTER, they will complain that you’re being too sensitive and continue to steamroller over you.”

Here’s one suggested script. Before you use it, I want to tell you:  You can drop out of this wedding entirely. In fact, that is your leverage to ask for better treatment. And since you hate her boyfriend and think the wedding is a terrible idea anyway, it’s not exactly the wrong thing to do. At a certain point it’s impossible to set boundaries without that threat of “or this relationship is over forever” backing it up. So before you talk with her, ask yourself: If there were a magic way to get out of the whole thing entirely, would you want to get out of the whole thing entirely?

Because there is. Here are the magic words. You can email them. “I am sorry, Marla, but I can’t be a part of your wedding. I hope you can find someone else and have the wedding you want.”

And yes, she’ll be hurt and mad and the friendship will be over . But you’ll be totally free of constant engagement with her and you can use the money you would have spent on dresses and showers and stuff to take yourself out of town that weekend and be far, far away and also to maybe change your cell #.

If you decide to stay in the wedding, which, let’s face it, is probably what you’ll do (even though you definitely do not have to), here’s what I suggest:

  • Take the list of assigned stuff and figure out what you are actually willing and able to do, a time-frame, and a maximum budget of $. Type that up somehow so that it’s very clear. And make the list of what you’ll do and spend on the small side, ok? Pare it back to the bare bones.
  • Bring it with you to the park.

Here’s the script.

Marla, I need to talk to you and I need you to listen and not interrupt me until I am done.

I am pretty unhappy with the way you’ve been treating me about this wedding, by assigning me all of these tasks and then blowing me off when I try to meet with you. If you want me to remain a part of this, that needs to stop. You need to return my calls and emails promptly and come on time to all scheduled meetings. Agreed?”

If she agrees and apologizes, continue. If she explains how she didn’t really blow you off and that’s all your fault, remember that you can ABORT ABORT ABORT your involvement in this piece-of-shit wedding at any time. No, seriously. You really can just leave. Even if she will be sad and cry. Even if she says all the stuff you’re worried she’ll say, like:

  • “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me before my wedding.” A wedding is not a license to act like a complete asshole and be immune from any kind of criticism.
  • “You don’t understand what a mature committed relationship is like” Um, really, she says stuff like this? I OFFICIALLY HATE MARLA.
  • “I say those things because I really care about you and I want you to be happy!” This is not actually a good reason to say mean stuff.

Let’s assume she agreed and apologizes, though that is not my actual assumption for what she’ll do.

Okay. Going forward, I want to make sure we’re really clear about expectations. I’ve looked over the list of tasks you’d like me to take care of, and this is what I can commit to (list tasks). I will not be able to handle (these tasks), so you’ll need to find another way to accomplish them. Also, I can spend a maximum of x$ on wedding-related stuff, which has to cover all of it – dress, shoes, party expenses, whatever. So if you want me to be involved, we need to scale down some of these plans or have $y contribution from you or your family to make them work as is.”

The correct answer from her is some version of “I’m sorry I overburdened you/Thanks for making things so clear/Okay, let me look this over and decide what to do.” Because being a bridesmaid is a FAVOR.

If she tries to suggest that you can do or afford more than you want to do and manipulate you into agreeing to more stuff, or takes massive offense at this conversation and gets worked up, you can always say “Okay, Marla, if that’s how you feel you should definitely ask someone else to take this on. I’m not the right person for this job and cannot be the bridesmaid or friend you need right now. I’m so sorry, I hope you can have the wedding you want to.

Actually, that last sentence is a good mantra to use throughout dealing with her. “I hope you can have the wedding you want.

If she apologizes and agrees with everything (unlikely), grit your teeth and get through it all with as much grace as you can, but be prepared to enforce boundaries around money, time, burgeoning tasks, and especially missed meetings.

They’re leaving the country right after the wedding? Hopefully? Yes?

Godspeed and good fucking riddance.

59 thoughts on “#258 = #191 + Bridesmaidery

  1. Ugh, seriously. At some point (that would have passed for me LOOOOOONG AGO) you will get absolutely fed up and say “FUCK THIS SHIT” and you won’t care how she feels about it. I’m being selfish and probably projecting when I say that I hope you hit that point soon, because Marla needs to figure out how to not treat people like crap.

  2. LW, this is from your last letter:

    “I care about Marla, but I feel so put down and often come away feeling terrible about myself.”

    and from this one:

    “Part of me wants to repair our friendship, but a large part of me never wants to see these terrible people again.”

    it’s incredibly difficult to initiate a friend break-up with someone who has such a strong, pushy, demanding personality. or maybe with anyone. it just sucks.

    my own personal friend breakup story:

    i was friends for a long time (like 10 yrs) with someone like this–she was demanding and inconsiderate but i was her best friend and meant so much to her omg!! so i put up with her shit. for YEARS. i actaully had a talk with her once about how the friendship didn’t feel very reciprocal, and she apologized and things changed a bit for a short time and then somehow swung around to the same toxic bullshit.

    finally, i stopped the friendship, but not in a very brave way. not at all.

    i was going to be moving. it was not just an ordinary (stressful!) move, but a hugely-stressful- changing-my-life kind of move. the night before i moved, she called, babbling on about her latest omgdrama, and clearly not giving a shit that i was going thru some stuff myself.

    (needless to say, she did not help me move in any way, despite being able-bodied and local)

    i realized that there’d been so much talking about her dramaz in the weeks prior to my move that i hadn’t even gotten the chance to give her my new, changed, phone number. maybe, unconsciously, i just didn’t want to. i don’t know.

    when i realized this, i thought i’d just take a break from her, and call her when i was ready to talk again. i didn’t want to lose a friend! we’d known each other for years! she was only being inconsiderate because she’d been going thru a hard time! (for 5 years!)

    but as the weeks went by, i realized i just didn’t WANT to call her. i didn’t miss her. i just felt relieved that i didn’t have to deal with her. holy SHIT the relief was amazing. i had no idea how awful that friendship really felt until it was over. this immense burden i hadn’t been fully aware of was magically lifted.

    i had an easy way out, of course. i wish i’d had the spine to end that friendship years earlier. instead the friendship was a long and difficult Learning Experience. i keep having those! dammit!

    LW, using your words with your friend will cause drama, whether you set boundaries about the wedding or cut her loose completely. the alternative is intense bullshit that makes you feel horrible, on an ongoing basis, for however long until she leaves the country.

    how excruciating would it feel to be in that wedding? sounds pretty torturous.

    good luck, whatever you choose to do.

  3. Don’t do this. END IT. You are in no way obligated to do anything for this person.

    I know it is probably hard to watch her make what sounds like a collasal mistake, believe me, I REALLY KNOW. For years now I’ve been wishing for a superpower that would allow me to save other people from their own bad decisions. It turns out, you can’t. Only they can save themselves.

    And you need to save yourself. WALK AWAY. You’re the only person who can end your pain.

    I’ve been a bridesmaid 6 going on 7 times and I’ve had to do exactly 0 DIY bs. I’ve certainly spent my fair share, but at no point has any bride told me I HAD to do XYZ or given me lists of anything. This is not normal and not okay.

    1. No shit. When I got married earlier this year, we had 5 bridesmaids between us. One performed the ceremony, one made biryani and raita, one bought some platters of desserts, one did makeup and one hosted (with a whole whack of people pitching in for the cleanup). Nobody gave more than 6 hours of time (including eating lunch, drinking, joking around) to the wedding prep and 90% of that was on the day of the wedding itself. IMO that’s about the maximum of effort I wanted anyone to expend for it.

      Then again I had the most low-key wedding in the history of ever with potluck and held it out of my cousin’s house, so that might be a factor.

      1. Yes.

        I had what I’d call a fairly ‘big’ wedding, with formal dresses and flowers and stuff. My bridesmaids will have been out of pocket for anything they spent on shoes (I just assumed they’d have some shoes that would go with their formal outfits), and I think one hired a suit. I made and paid for their dresses (and a matching vest and shirt for the besuited one) myself.

        They put the bouquets together with the flowers, ribbons, and florists’ tape I provided. They looked after me on the day, helping with dressing and acting as witnesses and whatnot. One of them loaned her car and acted as chauffeur and gave a speech, the other two read poems as part of the ceremony. One acted as a legal witness.

        It was fun for all of us, and I’m still grateful to them for not only helping me have exactly the wedding I wanted (one where the people I loved read poetry I loved, gave speeches about how cool my relationship with my spouse is, and dressed up in outfits that I planned with them).

        It most certainly wasn’t me expecting them to pay for my party!

        1. I think this is good advice for people throwing a wedding. But the fact is, some people are presumptuous and expect their friends to throw them a big fancy wedding they can’t afford. It happens, and if you’re one of those friends you have to decide if you’re in or you’re out. If you’re out, you’re probably out for good.

          The question is, is it worth it? I was involved in one such wedding and after working for probably 12 hours I started to make snotty comments about some thing or other and my attitude was starting to get bad. The MoH turned to me and said, basically, “look, either do this graciously or don’t do it.” It was timely and needed advice.

          I did it because despite her often narcissistic nature and occasional obliviousness to how much she’s inconveniencing other people, the bride really is a valued and treasured friend. So I sucked it up, climbed back up the damn ladder, and went back to hanging lights.

          In the end the wedding was lovely and it was all worth it because throwing a big fancy wedding for this very wonderful person was worth a lot of unpaid work and hassle. That doesn’t sound like the situation the LW is in, and I’d definitely recommend getting out now.

  4. While it’s great of the Captain to give you a range of options going forward, I want to highlight one troubling feature of the “repair the relationship” script: it contains an ultimatum. Not only that, but it’s an explicit ultimatum. In my experience, once a friendship is at that point, it’s done. It may sail on for some time, with everyone involved quietly resenting everyone else (for being delivered an ultimatum or for being forced to deliver an ultimatum), but that’s just inertia.

    I have to agree with the other commenters. It’s time to jump ship.

    1. I didn’t give a “repair the relationship” script, actually. It was a “I might be able to grit my teeth through this wedding if you stop sucking for a moment” script.

      The repair-the-relationship script is impossible, because Marla sucks.

        1. You were spot on – when you’ve reached the point of ultimatums, the relationship is done.

      1. Have to just +1 this comment because omg YES MARLA SUCKS.

        There is no fixing sometimes, there’s no make-do-and-mend there’s just ugh BROKEN and maybe should go in the rubbish.

      2. Yeah, it sounded more like, “Well, we get that you probably aren’t capable of just giving Bride Marla the big middle finger, so here’s how you get through the nuptials with your sanity and bank balance intact.”

        1. Wait, that sounded mean, not sympathetic. That is, I think that most people have a hard time telling assholes where to go, because, well, most people are not assholes. It’s not like it reflects badly on LW–it’s not working out for her right now, but it means she’s a kind and respectful person, i.e. not a Marla. So she shouldn’t feel bad about that.

          1. Assholes use your own kindness and good manners and respect for the social contract against you, for sure.

  5. My feeling is that, in this situation, doing whatever it is that will bring you the most peace is ultimate. I’m sensing (although it could be a complete projection) that your peace is in “just walk away from this”. When you write asking for help “breaking up with a friend”…does that mean you’re prepared to just be done with it, draw a line, non-negotiable “it’s over, good luck, please don’t contact me again”? Because if you’re ok with that, then please honour it. So if that thought of Never Having To Interact With Marla Again (while kind of heart-clutching, gut-wrenching, fear of feeling like a mean person in the extracting of yourself from this) is the crack of light in the darkness of this toxic relationship then I’d say tune into it and let that be your power and motivation to send an email similar to the Captain’s. Or, if you’d prefer to do it face to face, then that’s cool too. Although don’t feel that you have to. A short, kind, to-the-point email is enough, especially if it’s hard to get Marla to meet you in person and alone anyway (which says all kinds of other things to me).


    The captain is right. You don’t have to do this. You don’t have to be in Marla’s wedding even if leaving will RUIN HER WEDDING. You don’t have to be Marla’s friend even if you’re her ONLY FRIEND. Friendships are a two-way street and being someone’s bridesmaid or maid of honour or whatever is a huge favour that you do for someone because you love them and want nothing more than to participate in what you hope will be one of their happiest days ever. It is not something you do because once, a long time ago, you said you would and now you’re stuck.

    You can say no. You can walk away. You can be the girl that Marla blames for ruining her wedding, and the advantage to being that person is that that person never has to talk to Marla, so who cares what Marla thinks? You can take care of yourself and let Marla think and say whatever she wants, as longs as she does it AWAY FROM YOU.

    Seriously. Just walk away. Marla is not your friend.

  7. I agree with the Captain’s advice, but I just wanted to add that if you decide to stay in the wedding, I suggest you demote yourself to regular bridesmaid. That way when she inevitably starts to push back and ask you to do just one more thing for the eighth time, there will be a new maid of honor who you can point Marla to as the appropriate (in a way) person to unload on. And hopefully you can discharge your duties just by wearing the entourage dress and being told you’re pretty by grandmas.

    1. Good call. “Given your expectations, I’ve realized that this Maid of Honor role is way too much for me to handle. I’d still love to be involved, but as a plain-old-bridesmaid please.”

      Though, secretly…not so secretly…I think anything the LW says is going to make Marla throw a tantrum.

      1. Particularly when, from previous email, Marla appears to have *no other friends*

      2. Yeah, I’m not imagining this is going to make the initial conversation any easier. Just that it would give her someone else to shunt future Marla-drama over to later.

      3. Yeah, there is really *no* way for the LW to leave this friendship covered in glory. Walk away now? Evil bitch who ruined her wedding. Demoted to bridesmaid? INSUFFICIENTLY MOTIVATED FRIEND. Maid of Honour with good boundaries? Bitch who caused Marla huge stress and so much work when ~she promised~! Amazing friend who pulled off a perfect wedding with nasturtium petals scattered over the cake? MARLA WANTED ROSES!

        There is sometimes the urge to be so good, giving, gentle, and kind that even a velociraptor will praise you and let you go graciously. It’s a bad instinct, because that will never, ever happen.

  8. I just finished being MoH at my best friend’s wedding.

    I absolutely hate the fucker she married. Part of it is certainly the “no one is good enough for my best friend!” belief, but most of it is the fact that he is racist, classist, pompous, and generally King Captain of the Douche Brigade. I literally bruised my mouth from biting my tongue during the “if anyone has any objection…” part of the ceremony. Despite loving my friend to bits and pieces, the whole wedding felt angry and wrong and unnatural.

    And I love my friend. I was happy to be her MoH! I was happy to be at her wedding! … But I hated her husband and that took such a stress toll that I spent the week after the ceremony sleeping.

    You hate Marla! Or if not hate, then really, really intensely dislike her. She is also treating you like crap, and her husband is a classist jerk. She is also being WAY more demanding than is reasonable to expect from anyone. She is also blowing you off and treating you like her lowest priority.

    Weddings are stressful when you love both parties. Weddings are painful when you only love one party. Weddings are a hell on earth when you hate both parties, and an entire new circle of hell when you need to be intimately involved in said wedding.

    You aren’t happy, Marla is treating you like dirt, and you will only feel WORSE as the wedding gets closer and closer. Dump the friendship and deal with the drama now, I promise that it’s way less emotionally damaging than going through with the wedding.

    1. For real. I was the only bridesmaid at my best friends wedding, and I LIKE her now-husband and I STILL wanted to be anywhere but their at multiple points during the day. She sort of had a day-long nervous breakdown/temper tantrum and it was just so exhausting to pull her through that. If I didn’t love the girl (and the fiance) I would have hidden until the ceremony started and then got the eff out of there as quickly as possible. I can’t imagine putting myself through all that for someone who isn’t genuinely worth it.

  9. Since she keeps flaking out on meeting up with you, I feel like she’s given you the perfect opportunity to send an email saying everything you need to say. You can even explain in the email that you wanted to tell her in person, but since she’s so busy and has frequently canceled on plans, you couldn’t. And, as an added benefit, that way she can’t interrupt you.

    If you do send an email, you could say that the role of MoH is too much to handle, like Emma and CA suggested above, but I think you should also mention that her behaviour to you has been unacceptable and that you won’t be able to have any involvement at all unless that changes. Because, I agree with what most people said about it not mattering what she thinks, since you want out of her life anyway, but I don’t think you should make it easier for her to put the blame entirely on you and avoid any responsibility.

  10. I actually just did the, “you know what? This is too much right now. I’m so grateful for the honor, but I can’t be your bridesmaid” line to someone who I can’t alienate entirely (due to Reasons), but was enforcing a level of sucking up to her, enabling her, and listening to her “but I’m the bride, so you have to do it my way” crap on all the bridesmaids. It was terrifying to do, but in the end, it worked out. The pressure is off. And one of the important steps to take was realizing, “I don’t care what she thinks of me.” I really don’t. She might think I’m a horrible person for RUINING HER WEDDING (which is my projection, she hasn’t verbalized that to me), but that doesn’t matter, because she’s not an integral part of my life, and she’s someone whose opinion doesn’t matter to me.

  11. The Captain’s script/general advice for dealing with the MOH situation is a good one and is advice you should definitely take (either set clear boundaries for what you’re willing to do or tell her you can’t be the MOH anymore). I’m also on board with ending the friendship before or after the wedding, which should be relatively easy given that she’ll be in another country.

    I will say, though, that both your earlier letter and this one have a tendency to conflate “Marla treats me like crap” with “Marla’s relationship seems weird”. Maybe Marla and her fiance are kind of co-dependent, and maybe it’s weird that his parents pay for them to live somewhere or put her in their will, and maybe Marla should think twice about moving to another country to support this dude during an unpaid internship. But those things aren’t really your business, you know? I mean, if you’re close friends with someone and they’re doing things that seem unhealthy because of a relationship, maybe you try to have a gentle conversation with them about that. But you and Marla aren’t close, and you don’t want the two of you to be close, and conflating “things Marla does to me” with “Marla’s questionable life choices” isn’t going to help you disengage from this situation.

    If you follow the Captain’s advice and try to discuss either your MOH role or your friendship more generally with Marla, please make sure you’ve got a clear division in your head between those two categories. Injecting any judgment about her fiance or her lifestyle into a conversation about how she treats you is guaranteed to derail things.

    1. Oooh, good catch. I remember from the earlier letter that while Marla & this guy moved in after just a few months, they’ve been together 3-ish years, which isn’t exactly careening-towards-the-altar territory and is enough time to figure out how they work as a couple. Speeding up actually getting married because of an international move makes total sense, because being a spouse will HELP with paperwork/visas in a way that being a girlfriend won’t necessarily.

  12. If you must stay in the wedding, I think you should explain to her that you won’t / can’t do anymore maid of honor tasks. Other scripts suggested here are good — anything from “I’m honored, but I can’t be the maid of honor” to “I’ve already done more than enough and I’m done.” Then, she can choose whether she wants to throw a tantrum, expel you from the wedding, and never speak to you again (yay!) or whether she still wants you to stand there during the ceremony so that she can save face & look like she has a real friend in attendance (ugh, but it’s easy and it will be over soon). Just don’t let her manipulate you into doing any more wedding chores for her.

  13. Oh my God, LW, the noise that came out of my mouth when I saw “+ bridesmaidery” is just not describable. Like many people who’ve already commented, I’ve been a maid of honor, twice, both times to people I love dearly, both times with a significant amount of DIY involved, and it drove me absolutely out of my gourd both times. Never, ever again, never never. It’s too much, and it’s too tied up in emotional ties and family politics and all those things that suck for everyone.

    The social contract that Marla is so good at exploiting totally gives you an out if you quit NOW. It is okay to quit well in advance, no matter what Marla would say about it. Keep in mind that this is going to get more stressful, and Marla is going to get more demanding, because that’s how weddings generally work. If you think things are bad now, it’s going to be a complete fucking nightmare by the week of the wedding. If you’re hoping that possibly something will come up that will take the decision away from you and drive you to quit, well, good news! That will probably happen about 48 hours before they say “I do”. Bad news: it will also mean that you have broken the social contract, and now Marla will get to cast you as the villain (whose gets blamed for absolutely everything that goes wrong at the wedding) in her own head. And I’m betting that she will. And she will do whatever she can to make your life hell because you have supposedly ruined her special day.

    QUIT NOW. Sure, it would have been better if you’d never said yes, or if you’d quit before now, or blah blah BYGONES. I get the feeling that you said yes because you wanted to avoid a scene, and you haven’t quit before now because you wanted to avoid a scene, and you’re trying to script this out in advance because you want to avoid a scene. The problem is, Marla is going to make a scene, because that’s what she uses to manipulate people into doing what she wants, and because she undoubtedly knows you want to avoid it. Accept this. There will be a scene. She is going to be loudly hurt, and she is going to say mean shit about you. The only way to minimize the scene is to minimize the scope of the topic: you can’t be the bridesmaid she wants/deserves/etc. and you would prefer that she has the wedding she wants.

    And really, that’s the story here. You can’t be the friend she wants, you can’t be the bridesmaid she wants, and you can’t make her wedding happen the way that she wants. (Probably, nobody can, but that’s not the point.) You’re not actually helping by propping up her faulty assumption that if she makes you feel bad enough, you will magically turn into the friend/bridesmaid/wedding-perfection fairy that she wants. There’s even a significant chance that, even if you don’t do anything to break up with her, even if you do everything you can to make her wedding perfect, that bubble will burst anyway and, instead of realizing that this is her mistake, she’ll take it out on you.

    There is no way to get through this one unscathed, so take the option that will give you (and Marla, too) the least damage. Quit now.

    1. I think PomperaFirpa is right, the scene is going to happen no matter what. So, would it help to face it if you sat down, especially with someone who is good at the snark, and made up a buzzword-bingo card for all the things Marla could say during the scene? (ie: “Ruin the wedding”, “disappointed in you”)

      And then go through and see how many Marla hit after the scene. And cackle with glee that you’ve escaped. Because I’m just evil that way…

        1. Hee, me too. But “quietly amusing myself at the ridiculousness of the situation” is one of my favorite coping mechanisms.

  14. Hi LW,

    I am a mostly-lurker, but I remember your previous letter, and I agree with the Captain, it’s great to hear back from prior LWs! I am sad for you that you wrote back because of these circumstances though. This sucks so much.

    I don’t know that I have a lot of insight to offer here, but I do have a question: are there any other bridesmaids? Because you said in the first letter that you are Marla’s only friend, and you don’t mention any other bridesmaids in this letter. Obviously, you cannot demote yourself to regular bridesmaid if there isn’t anyone else to step up as maid of honour, or I mean, you maybe could, but I don’t think anything would actually change. If there were other bridesmaids, I would suggest trying to delegate a lot (all?) of those diy/planning tasks to them, but I really suspect that there aren’t.

    (And honestly, I completely agree with what seems to be the majority opinion here: RUN AWAY RUN AWAY NOW DON’T LOOK BACK JUST RUN. But we get it that you might not be able to do that.)

    Anyway, I wish you the best of luck dealing with this! Remember that you deserve to be strong for yourself, and you can set boundaries and stick to them, because you are awesome.

    1. I was thinking she should nominate someone else to be her maid of honor and quit, too, but I can see the problem if she is not.

      Ok. So, LW, if you absolutely cannot in good conscience stop maid-of-honoring for Marla (I understand, trust me), I think you need to think of yourself like a contractor. You have been hired to do this maid-of-honor job. The job requirements are: ____, _____, _____ and ______. There can and will be no changes to these job requirements. WRITE THEM DOWN. And then, have her sign them. If she will not, make her a copy anyway and mail it to her. You have said what you will do.

      ****Bridal shower: not your problem. I really don’t get it with bridal showers anyway, but my lovely MIL explained to me recently that a bridal shower is a chance for the female members of the bride’s family to give the bride some things for just her (like, ick, lingerie) and to talk to her about having the sex and making the babies. And maybe her casserole recipe. You are not a member of her family. You are not responsible for bridal shower nonsense. Subcontract that shit OUT. If you’re super helpful, you can contact her mom/aunt/MIL and ask said relative to plan the shower, and then inform Marla you’ve done so and will no longer be involved in the shower.

      1. Actually, showers aren’t supposed to be given by family members. (According to Miss Manners, it’s tacky.) Not that the facts should be allowed to stand in the way of a viable excuse for less Marla-labor!

        1. Well, my MIL says hers was, but she was twenty and didn’t really have a lot of friends. And I didn’t have a shower. And also, who cares what Miss Manners thinks is tacky? We have people getting married at City Hall, in Hats, in matching Hogwarts outfits. She would probably think my wedding- on top of a library, in a red prom dress, with wine I bought myself by the crate and without attendants- would be tacky anyway. 🙂

          1. Actually, she’d probably think that was pretty great. (Miss Manners is awesome.) The reason for the “showers aren’t given by family” thing is that it moves things in a “trawling for presents” direction. It’s one of the few areas where I disagree with her.

      2. My family’s weddings often end up with a ridiculous number of bridal showers (I think my oldest brother’s wife had four…) not because the brides were divas, but because my dad literally has five dozen cousins and the family ethos is materialistic enough that a lot of people feel like they have to give gifts or money for an important event. Also, the aunts all live for family-related reasons to get together and gossip like mad, especially at a newcomer. So they would have been actively upset if they hadn’t had a shower to bring a present to. (In… each of four different cities, counting up to a dozen hours of driving. Oy.) As my mom explained it to me (and my SIL), sometimes your way of being nice to other people is enduring a great deal of stress and tedium to let them be kind to you.

        BUT. That was because the aunts and grandmas hosted the showers themselves, and the maid of honour’s job was to show up with the bride, and keep track of who gave what. My family literally foists gifts on people and gets upset when they can’t do that. So in my mind, that’s the point of a shower–making it convenient for people to do what they’re going to do anyway. It’s not going through a lot of toil stress to basically harrass people into giving you shit.

  15. Love the Captain’s advice, it’s all gold. But I have to say that the best thing is for the LW to quit the wedding, and do it now. As others have pointed out, by blowing off meetings, the LW is free to email Marla instead.

    I love the phrasing: “I am sorry, Marla, but I can’t be a part of your wedding. I hope you can find someone else and have the wedding you want.”

    LW, just use that phrase, over & over. Don’t explain, don’t justify, just repeat it over & over. ‘Marla’ needs to accept ‘no’ as your answer.

    I hate to say it, but any other option will end badly for the LW, and the longer the LW waits to break the news to Marla, the tougher it will be. Doing it now means there’s time for Marla to change her plans, find a new MoH or have a different kind of wedding.

    The alternative will almost certainly play out like this:

    Marla says she’s sorry, and will respect the LW’s boundaries… for a while. But as the wedding gets closer and the stress gets higher, she’ll push and push on those boundaries, always with the impending nuptials as a cudgel. Even attempts to push back, or quit, will be attacked with “you’re ruining my wedding” and “there isn’t enough time to find a replacement for you”.

    1. This is so true! Especially this:

      Marla says she’s sorry, and will respect the LW’s boundaries… for a while. But as the wedding gets closer and the stress gets higher, she’ll push and push on those boundaries, always with the impending nuptials as a cudgel. Even attempts to push back, or quit, will be attacked with “you’re ruining my wedding” and “there isn’t enough time to find a replacement for you”.

  16. Ugh. I totally had a Marla in my life, and I can tell you the same as what the comments have said: the scene is INEVITABLE. And you will be the bad guy NO MATTER WHAT. Because that’s how people who act this way paint things: they are the victim, and you are the giant asshole. If you enforce boundaries, they just try to LOVE YOU and you won’t LET THEM LOVE YOU and whatever whatever whatever. They will talk shit. They won’t be nice about the break. They may come back later and try to weasel their way in.

    Enforce boundaries. Get out now. It will improve your life tenfold–I promise.

    1. Uh, yikes. Pretty sure Marla does not deserve to die. (Also pretty sure you didn’t mean it literally, but … that is what you said.) Although I think we all wish she would learn some respect for others and basic maturity, preferably without ever imposing on the LW again.

  17. LW, I have now read your original letter and this one, and all of the comments. And I still cannot figure something out: why do you want to repair this friendship? What is it about Marla you like? What is it that you are afraid of losing if you stop being friends with her?

    Or maybe you just want a way to gracefully back out of the friendship without her (or anyone else) thinking poorly of you? Because that’s not possible. There is no easy way to end friendships, especially a friendship like this one, in which Marla is already used to getting her way all of the time.

    If you walk out on her, ever, she will have bad things to say to you and about you. THAT IS OKAY. Sure, it sucks, but you know what? We can never be liked by everyone.

    The point is…if you really want to be out of this friendship, it doesn’t matter in the long run what Marla and her fiancee think of you. (It certainly helps that they don’t seem to have mutual friends with you and they’re moving out of the country.) What matters is YOU.

    Part of you knows the friendship is done and wants to walk away from it all. The other part of you…well, I guess I’m wondering why that part thinks it’s okay to have someone treat you like this.

    1. I totally had the same reaction. Why is Marla still around? Why is the wedding a reason to have not dropped Marla or at least set clear boundaries (as was suggested in the previous advice and comments)? So much time has passed and she is still bossing the LW around!

      LW- What is the fear or what is being avoided? Are you afraid of being a bad friend? Are you just avoiding conflict? Do you care what she thinks of you? Are you afraid of being branded a bad friend? (Or a thousand other reasons?)

      And about weddings…In these modern times, I still don’t understand why it’s still a custom to make a bunch of grown ladies, often in their 30s and 40s these days, dress in matching, unflatterring outfits that will be costly and NOT EVER re-wearable unles the bride says you can buy any LBD you want. This was the reason why I had 2 wedding rules: 1) No bridesmaids. 2) Everyone in the wedding can wear whatever they damned well please (and this was a formal wedding!)

      Okay, enough of my side rant. LW- I think you need to figure out why Marla is still in your life and why you accept such terrible and inconsiderate treatment. Is this a pattern in your other relationships? Who else gets away with treating you this way? I am glad you are getting more insight about this. I hope one day you only have kind friends.

    2. Yeah, well said. Also LW, she’s LEAVING THE COUNTRY! She won’t be able to call you once it’s done (phone bills/change your number), and any emails/letters go straight into the junk folder/pile. She’s not friends with your other friends (you’re her ‘only’ friend?) so what can she actually say to damage your other friendships?

      You’re not a bad person for wanting out. Wanting to leave does not make you a failure.

      All of that said, I know the feeling of wanting to repair something that’s already broken. It’s what keeps me in romantic relationships long after I should’ve left.
      Be strong, we’re all rooting for ya. x

    3. This is a terrific point, and one that people stuck at terrible jobs with terrible bosses and trying to back out gracefully so they can get a good reference or not burn a bridge should pay attention to as well. The truth is (and I learned this the hard way): when people show their true colors, believe them. I have only had one bad reference, and it was the one who swore to me up and down she’d be a good reference and didn’t blame me for quitting and CRIED on the last day of my two weeks- and then told prospective employers she’d fired me and I was terrible, to punish me for quitting.

      This works the other way, too! There will be friends who you stick with through good times and bad because you KNOW they are having a bad day today and today they are acting like a jerk but 99% of the time they are amazing and thoughtful. Marla, you are done with. Let her talk her trash about you and move on.

    4. I think sometimes people stay in friendships not because they like the other person, but because they like who they are if they stay friends. “Sure he’s shitty… but if I stay his friend, I am the wonderful person who stays with a shitty friend no matter what!”

  18. Hey LW, I’ve got the feeling one of your main problem with all of this is that you don’t think you can or do not feel capable to stand up to Marla in a one-on-one meeting. Sorry if am wrong. Stop reading now 😉

    Anyway, I did have this problem some time ago: I did not feel comfortable to talk to that one person AT ALL but I had to (long story short ‘n stuff). It made me feel really anxious.
    What helped was
    having someone reassure me
    I hope you have a person in your life that you can talk to openly and who agrees with you that Marla doesn’t treat you in an acceptable way.

    So now, you can make a list of all the things you fear she will say to you. They can be totally unrealistic and ridiculous, write them down nevertheless. Your fear won’t go away so you might as well work with it and make it go away.
    If you feel the list is complete, think of possible answers that are non-committal and feel good to you (CA already provided good scripts), maybe together with a friend.
    Now comes the fun part: you will talk to the trusted person and this person will be Marla. You will say to ‘Marla’ whatever you want to tell her and she will react according to the list. I found that it’s not necessary to be good at acting at all to make this feel real. Especially rehearse those answers you fear the most.

    Concerning reassurance: before and after, and if possible also when you are talking to Marla, have someone nodding kindly at you who is 100% on your side and can reassure you you are not a bad person and remind you that you don’t have to react to her manipulations. Let people take care of you. You deserve it.

    I hope this is somehow useful to you. Good luck!

    1. Don’t know if it’s useful to the LW, but it’s great advice and DAMN useful to me. Thanks!

    2. Even if the other person cannot be at the meeting with you, I can’t emphasize enough how helpful it is to be able to say to yourself, “Team Me person is calling at x:00 so I have an excuse to go,” or “picking me up to get frozen custard at y:00” so even while the scene is happening, you know it is ending soon and you will be debriefing as much as you need to with someone who will tell you that you are not a villain and you are too a good friend and you have not ruined anything.

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