Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My best friend is planning her wedding, in which I’ve been asked to be the maid of honor. As much as I want to be supportive and so happy for her, I just can’t muster it, as I find her fiance to be an obnoxious, self-absorbed, manipulative glasshat. The wedding party (his groomsmen included) have taken to calling him “The ‘(his name)’ Show,” as he is completely uninterested in anything not directly related to him. Because of this, no one wants to see these two socially as a couple.
She has been pressing lately for a double date with my fiance and me, but we have zero interest. We both would love to see her alone. Do I owe her my honesty? Do I limit seeing her, since he is always around? Do I continue to dance around the subject of couples’ outings? I suspect I need to be honest-ish with her, but how??
Can’t Get Behind It
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How much truth would you want? I am of the say-it-to-me-once-then-shut-up-and-be-my-friend school.
You also have this option, since she’s pressing: “You’re really pushing for a double date. What’s up?” If she in any way admits “no one wants to see ‘us’ socially as a couple,” then you can ask her how she feels about that, and whether she has thought about what this means for them — and if not, why not.
Even if she doesn’t hand you this easy opening, you will need to cop to your bias: “I’ll admit, I find him difficult.” But you can make that sound a lot more like the utterance of a best friend if you also say: “Are you willing to describe what you love about him? I want to try seeing him through your eyes, since I might be judging him unfairly.”
It’ll be tough either way, obviously, and it might be the end of the friendship if she’s not mature enough to see that you’re speaking up because you’re a supportive friend. But I also don’t see a best-friendship surviving such a huge lie of omission.
By the way, the “The ‘(his name)’ Show” conceit is arguably affectionate. Certainly he can be a monster and still have friends, but I’d be more concerned about a guy who has no groomsmen tweaking him, or no groomsmen at all.
Re: Fiance: I have run across very few people, even obnoxious glasshats, with whom I can’t find something neutral to talk about. Does he like the Nationals? Eighties movies? Poodles? Skeet shooting? Find his topic, let him talk about it, ask some polite questions, and don’t order dessert.
Are you in politics? This is impressive in its simplicity.
Plus, I now have a mental image of the Nationals skeet shooting in poodle skirts with Molly Ringwald.
Re: Fiance: I was best man for my best friend’s ill-advised wedding to a horrible woman as self-absorbed as this fiance sounds.
I wish I had said something stronger (beyond my, “Really? Marriage? So soon?”) prior to my friend’s wedding, but that would have been only for my benefit.
Ultimately, you can’t do anything about it. If the friend brings it up, you say something. Otherwise, you be there for her later when she needs you.
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