It’s a two-fer, united by weddings and people who won’t let a subject drop and need to be told, flat out, NO.
#501: Hiya Cap!
I’ve got a short and not-so-sweet one for you:
My grandfather passed away earlier this year. As it happens, my fiance’s aunt was getting married the same weekend of his funeral. I, of course, elected to spend time with my grieving family rather than leaving them to go celebrate a joyous occasion.
Aunt called me to express her condolences, but mostly to kind of whine about me missing the wedding, and to tell me that I should still “stop by for dinner.” Because having a wedding dinner with people who never met my grandfather between the sessions of his wake is exactly what everyone would want to do, amiright?
When this woman inevitably brings up the fact that I missed her wedding at future family functions, would it be terribly rude of me to respond with something like, “I’m sure you’re sorry you weren’t able to pay your condolences to my family at my grandfather’s wake, too?”
For the record, Fiance’s mother and sister both came to the wake.
I Don’t Even Know What to Call Myself For This
Dear I Don’t Know:
On the list of “good reasons to miss a wedding you’ve RSVP’d for even though the bride & groom have spent lots of time on seating charts and given final numbers to the caterer:”
Said wedding takes place in the middle of a family funeral. DEATH HAPPENS.
If your fiance’s aunt never brings this thing up again, I hope you can forgive her somewhat for putting her foot in her mouth during a time when she had a ton of stuff going on and was pulled in many directions. “If you have time and feel up for it, you are welcome to join us for dinner” was very likely a sincere, heartfelt offer, but it was one almost guaranteed to be refused. Chalk it up to a stressful day, foot-in-mouth disease, not really knowing what to say, feeling guilty about having a happy occasion on such an occasion of grief, whatever and hope for the best. (Have a lowered opinion of her due to the whining, but let the whole thing go if you can).
That’s if she never brings it up again. IF.
If she does bring it up again – whining about how you missed the wedding, wondering why you couldn’t stop by for at least a little while, letting you know how much it bothers her, etc., she is showing some very unflattering colors. In that case, here is your script:
“I was very sad to miss your wedding but I am happy with my choice.”
She will stammer out something. Stay silent until she stops talking. The message you want to send is, unequivocally, “I am okay with you being sad about this. I am not okay with guilt trips.” If she really won’t stop talking, say that out loud. “It feels like you are fishing for an apology or wanting me to feel guilty in some way. I don’t.” Keep “We should stop talking about this” up your sleeve.
Short declarative sentences. No explanations or apologies. It takes practice, but that stuff is power.
#502: Hey Captain Awkward and team,
I have a question about negativity surrounding upcoming events. I met my significant other through online dating, and after almost a year together we got engaged, and the wedding is set for December. . I’m thrilled! My family is thrilled! His family is thrilled! My friends are thrilled! well…. except for one.
This is a good friend, (though not my nearest and dearest) who is being, uh, pessimistic, whenever future plans come up in discussion recently. He is not usually pessimistic about life, tends to have an overall positive outlook in fact, but any time my upcoming wedding, or plans after that come up, he instantly turns to “are you sure? you’re moving too fast! Are you positive you’re ready to commit like that with him? Given his personality I suspect he will _______ later, watch yourself!”
Now given my awesome supportive friends, if one of them has criticized someone I’ve dated in the past I’ve been inclined to listen and at least take a second look, usually they have good reason. In this case though… This friend is not as close as many others, all of whom approve strongly of my fiance and of how we work together. This friend also did not voice ANY of this concern until after we were engaged. Finally playing in, this friend and I also have the very slight history that he asked me out in the past and was turned down. I thought we were past it and that he was fine with the understanding that while I like him as a friend, some fundamental religious differences made the idea of dating severely unwise. I can’t help but wonder though if the gloom and doom being professed about my relationship isn’t slightly related to that.
My question is, how do I deal with this friend socially for now? The warnings have been expressed, acknowledged and considered, but now I wish that they, and the concerned looks, would stop, particularly given that he seems to be in isolation in this worry. Avoiding him socially is not really an option, he’s in multiple of my social groups, and it’s not a friendship I wish to lose, moreover I feel like pulling away would result in a “see! I told you so! I told you he’d make you leave your friends!” even though that is not at all the case, my fiance highly approves of me being myself, doing my own thing, and socializing with whomever I choose! You can’t force someone to be happy for you, can you?
Stop raining on my parade!
Dear Stop Raining:
I recommend total bluntness at this point. You’ve tried soft-pedaling it and it’s not sinking in.
Wait until he says something weird, and then just say it: “Okay, at this point your continued ‘warnings’ & ‘concerns’ are just weird and annoying. I need you to keep them to yourself from now on. Thank you.”
He will be totally taken aback, probably insist that he’s just trying to help, whatever. It will be super-awkward.
To whatever he says, you say some version of “Once upon a time I appreciated the caring sentiment if not the substance behind your warnings. At this point, it just feels hostile and controlling. Please stop. Thank you.”
He’ll go away and lick his wounds and then come back and be cool. Or not. But you are not wrong to stand up for yourself.
The jilted Aunt doesn’t ever have to feel good about the letter writer missing her wedding.
The “helpful” friend doesn’t ever have to feel happy about his friend’s upcoming nuptials to Not Him.
The Letter Writers just need these people to knock off the bad behavior. Feel anyway you like! Stop doing this crappy thing you’re doing!
If the Aunt & the Friend take the admonitions seriously, apologize, and stop what they are doing, a good relationship is possible sometime in the future. The Letter Writers can start the Bygones Clock and let the past be in the past. Having someone tell you “Hey, you’re out of line here” doesn’t mean “I HATE YOU FOREVER,” it means, stop doing that thing so that we can continue to relate to each other in a positive way. It also means “I think enough of our relationship to tell you directly what needs to happen. If I didn’t care, I would stay quiet as a first step to cutting this off.”
If they won’t stop digging the hole they’re in, the relationships will be ruined, but not because y’all stood up for yourselves.