Welcome to Dear Jane, Jezebel’s advice column.
My girlfriend’s older sister, Pam, is a terrible person who literally keeps having children so that the rest of the family will financially support her. (She has admitted to this. She smokes and drinks while pregnant, abandons the kids once she has them, gives them to family members, and then periodically drops in to claim them again to get money or to treat them like accessories. If she is sent diapers, etc., she sells them.) Pam embraces a very “woe is me” narrative even though she is fully supported and has been given countless opportunities. Her children range from being only weeks old to being three years old.
Here’s the problem: I’m getting married in three months, and we have to invite her. It’s a small event—only 30 people are coming, and it’s in a tiny room at a high-end restaurant. I can’t imagine spending an evening there with four babies. We sent Pam an invitation with no plus-ones and dropped some hints that no kids can come. She then mentioned a few days ago that she’s going to bring her kids. We then told her flat-out that she can’t bring kids to the wedding, and she said, “We’ll see about that.” I then restated that kids can’t come, and she rolled her eyes.
I already know that this woman’s going to show up with her babies. When she does, can I say something along the lines of, “Sorry, but we’re really not equipped to handle four little ones, would you mind going home and we’ll celebrate just us later?”
Her whole family enables her and there is nothing I can do about that. But I don’t want her ruining our wedding by bringing her kids, making the whole event about her, and acting like she’s some poor, put-upon victim. I don’t have a problem standing up to her, but turning away a woman with four tiny children sounds heartless and will probably look heartless, too. What should I do?
Thanks for listening. Hopefully you have some advice for me!
Option the first: Ask the restaurant to deal with it. Show them a picture of her and let them know this is a private party and children are not allowed. If need be, hire a security guard for a few hours just so things don’t get too ugly.
Option the second: Fucking straight up call this person and say “You are not welcome at our wedding if you bring the children, period. I need you to promise right now that you will not bring them or I’m taking you off the guest list immediately.”
Option the third: Tell that bitch “Peeeeeeeace!” Now your wedding has 29 guests which means one less person to not really remember having spoken to even once the entire night.
While I mainly use Facebook for outside-of-work activities, I am friends with lots of professional colleagues on there. Therefore, I sometimes click on things that they post because they are related to my field. Facebook, in its eminent wisdom, has thus decided that I should be seeing lots more that these work friends’ posts. This is how I came to find out that one of my colleagues is going through a messy divorce and custody battle. Like, mental health evaluation and accusations of brainwashing her son-level messy.
We are former coworkers, and should run into one another at professional events a couple times in the coming months. I want to express my support for her in her tough time, but by doing so I would be obliged to tell her how I came to find out. (“I didn’t MEAN to creep on your marriage, I just fell into it!”) I anticipate that you’re going to say that I should keep this information to myself. But on the chance that I should try to reach out, is there something I could say? (I am a straight man and she is a straight woman, if that affects your answer.)
Of course you can offer kind words to her. A lot of people grieve publicly because it’s cathartic. Other people grieve publicly so their lawyer can show the court that they have a soul and friends. Whatever this woman’s reason is, she shouldn’t be surprised that people know what’s going on. She told the world! And if your heart tells you to offer condolences or just a fist bump or whatever, follow your heart. It’s not going to hurt her more than what she’s going through already has.
There’s this girl I met at work. We became friends, then she found another job.
After she left, she made me promise we would still hang out. I said, sure, we will... And then each hang out will end up further and further from the last one. She was affronted I said that, but I’ve done this merry-go-round enough to be honest with myself that work was the only thing we really had in common. But I figured I’d humor her. What could it hurt?
So, we hung out weekly... For a while. Over the course of a year and a half, just like I predicted, those hangouts stopped happening so frequently. And texts take her days/weeks to respond.
All of this was/is totally fine with me. I don’t want to force someone to be my friend or anything and it feels like that’s all I’ve been doing for the past few months.
Except when still in the super duper BFF phase, we made plans. Plans I purchased tickets for. And she was going to pay me back through food and driving us to the event. And it’s coming up soon.
I don’t know how to politely ask if she still intends on going... And more to the point, how do I let her know that I kind of don’t even want to go with her because how awkward would that be when we haven’t seen or have even really spoken to each other since May or June?
I thought about just telling her I have to resell them ‘cause I’m broke and I could make double what I paid for on them. And that is true, and is definitely the polite option, but it doesn’t really resolve the problem at hand.
Got any words of wisdom for me?
This is the text you send: “Hey, remember when I bought those tickets for that event? We haven’t talked about it in awhile and I was wondering if you’d mind me taking someone else?” She will hear this loud and clear. I know you’re broke and eating the expense isn’t great, so decide later if you want to resell one or both of them, but this is the most straightforward way to state how you feel kindly and honestly. Also, they are YOUR tickets. She didn’t pay for either of them.
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