Dear Captain Awkward,
I have a friend, who is a wonderful person and who I love hanging out with, but she stresses me the hell out. My issue with her is she constantly changes her mind and changes plans, which drives me crazy – which I realize is partly a personal issue, and I’m working on being more flexible, but she goes above and beyond what I think I’ll ever be able to deal with. Right now there are two main issues with her I’m grappling with:
1. I’m a planner by nature, and am the type of person who, when I make plans with someone, put them in my calendar and schedules other things around those plans. This friend CONSTANTLY changes plans, which irks me because then I’ve planned my day /week around our plans that then get changed or cancelled. I know this about her, and have basically told her twice now, “It stresses me out when you change our plans. Please don’t.” Each time she apologizes and says she’s going to be less flaky, but it never sticks. I’m to the point now where I avoid making plans with her unless it’s something I intended to do anyway – i.e., I’ll invite her to an event I’m planning to go to solo anyway, or invite her to group things where I know other people are going, so if she bails it’s not a big deal. But I feel like it’s affected our relationship, as I’m turning down invites from her to go do stuff because it may or may not actually happen, and thus don’t see her as often.
2. In a more recent development, this friend got engaged. I was asked to be a bridesmaid. Reluctantly, I said yes, after deciding saying no and probably damaging our relationship wouldn’t be an outcome I am okay with. But with wedding planning comes, well, planning, and again she is constantly going back on decisions that I think are set decisions, and it drives me nuts. For instance, when I said I would be a bridesmaid, she said she was buying our dresses. Then she said her dad said she couldn’t buy our dresses, and we had to buy our own. Fine, whatever. Then she texted all the bridesmaids that she had decided on an outfit and told us to order it, and to coordinate with each other if we wanted to go a group order (they do discounts on group orders so it would be financially advantageous for us to do so.) But she didn’t help coordinate a group order other than suggesting it. Then the next day she said she was still looking at other dress options. Then a few days later she sent us a text saying she made up her mind, order the first outfit she sent, do it in the next week, and if need be she’d pay for the group order and we could pay her back. THAT SAME DAY, like literally three hours later, she said no rush on ordering dresses, she was still looking. This entire exchange and the fact that I can’t take her at her word stresses me out to no end, and I know this is just the start – there are still many wedding logistics to work out that I will be involved in, such as the bachelorette, and the rehearsal dinner, and the day of the ceremony itself, and I don’t know if I can handle a year of this. Also she’s told us she’d pay for other things, like our hair and makeup, but I don’t know if I can take her at her word or if she’ll change her mind and I’ll be responsible for paying for those things too.
So my questions are this: What are some scripts I can use to reiterate, once again, that changing plans stresses me out? And how can I explain to her that I feel like I can’t take her at her word with the wedding decisions, and she needs to put a stop to that too if she wants me to be a part of her big day?
Dear Reluctant Bridesmaid,
You are handling your question #1 perfectly. You have figured out that she is who she is, you have made the inviting easy on yourself, and the result is sometimes you spend less time together, which, okay? There is a deep incompatibility between you, and yet your love for her moves you to cross that chasm the best you can and enjoy the time with her that you have.
Let’s talk about question #2: Bridesmaidery
What if you got a beautiful card and wrote this note in it and sent it?
“Dear Friend, I’m so happy for you and so excited to celebrate at your wedding, and so honored that you asked me to stand up with you, but I’m realizing that I can’t serve as your bridesmaid. I want you to have exactly the wedding you want, and I’m so sorry that I can’t be there for you for the ups and downs of planning it, but I wanted to let you know now so you can make other plans. Congratulations and love to you.”
Will peace-ing out hurt her feelings and damage your friendship? Yes. Probably.
Is she hurting your feelings and damaging your relationship by constantly changing her mind? YES.
Will there be a friendship left if you have to read the words “rush order your dress/no wait, don’t” one more fucking time this month?
If she asks you why you quit her wedding, can you tell her the truth? “Well, it’s not a secret that we have very different planning styles, and this whole thing over the dress already has me so stressed out that I know this is the right decision for me. I’d love to be at your wedding as a guest and a friend if you’ll have me, but I can’t be a bridesmaid, I’m sorry.”
Will it be easy? No. She’ll try to reassure you that it won’t happen again but you 100% know it will happen again with literally every decision. You asked for how you can make it clear that she can’t keep changing plans if she wants you to be a part of her big day, but even if you make an agreement like that you’ll still end up where you are (stressed out, broke) down the road. She can’t make or keep commitments to you! You already have all the evidence you’ll ever need for how this will go.
Be nice to yourself. Get out of this wedding party.
And, for everyone reading this, one possible answer to “Will you be in my wedding?” is “Oh, I’m so happy for you, but I can’t commit to that.” Or, “Let me think about it – I’m so happy for you and I’d love to be a part of it, but I want to be sure I really can do it before I say yes.” Some people will take that very badly and it might affect the friendship, but the Venn diagram of “people who take ‘No, I’m sorry’ as ‘I hate you forever!'” and “people who will make the wedding planning process a death by 1,000 cuts” has some overlap.