Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I RSVP’d with my plus-1 for a wedding that is tomorrow. My live-in boyfriend stormed out last night in a fit of rage (not uncommon behavior for him, unfortunately), so now I am left to decide. Do I go alone? Do I not go at all? Can I take my 18-year-old son as my plus-1? The invite was addressed to me and “guest.” If I don’t go, do I let the bride know at this late date, or does it really matter?
I honestly don’t think my presence or absence will even be noticed at a large wedding, but still want to follow the rules.
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You must go; if it were my wedding, your son would be welcome in your boyfriend’s place, but people are so funny about this stuff that everything risks offense.
For example, if you go solo, then you waste your boyfriend’s paid-for meal and leave an open chair. If you bring your son, then he could be considered an uninvited guest. Clear it with the bride beforehand, and you’re pestering a bride and putting her on the spot.
See what I mean? Even if you act straight from an etiquette guide, you'll still be subject to the wrath of hosts who don’t care what the books say.
So, I say bring your son – “and guest” allows it, and empty chairs rankle.
But enough deck-chair rearranging: What are you planning to do about the Titanic? As in, that emotionally abusive relationship you’re in? Are you ready to get out or get help?
Carolyn: Your second paragraph is exactly what is jumbling up in my mind.
Normally, I don’t make social commitments for this very reason – because the “Titanic” is liable to happen at any given moment, leaving me to back out. We had a big talk a while back and he promised to stop doing this, which is when I sent the RSVP. Lesson learned – again.
Yes, I know this needs to be addressed, possibly by a locksmith one of these times, but I just don’t know if I’m ready to give up. This happens so often that now it is an eye-roll vs. tears. I do love this man; I’m just, well, worn out.
Wedding Guest again
I do hope you reread your question. You love him, OK – but do you love yourself? Enough to know you deserve loving, respectful treatment? Continuously, not just between rages?
You say you’re not ready to “give up,” but that implies that he’s trying. What evidence says that? Is he working even a third as hard as you are just to keep this thing together? And what do you get when you succeed – screamed at so often you don’t accept invitations anymore?!
This is what isolation looks like from the inside. You see it as your choice, to be pragmatic and avoid things that upset him, but it’s actually he who is in control, using his temper to keep you in line. Your assurance that it’s just an eye-roll to you now? You’re gaslighting yourself.
If a loved one were in a relationship like this, you’d be horrified. Please, please, see this. Take care of yourself. And don’t take my word for any of this: 1-800-799-SAFE.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.