This is Etiquette Monster, Jezebel’s advice column where senior writer Madeleine Davies gets worked up and starts screaming about manners. Have a question about etiquette? Email Madeleine at your own risk.
Am I a Monster for wanting to cut ties with my toxic best friend before my wedding?
My partner recently proposed and of course there has been a lot of excitement and inevitable wedding planning talk. We want to keep it small, with just family and close friends and I already have an idea of who I would like to ask to be in my bridal party.
I’m a quiet person, I have a more introverted personality and I suffer from anxiety so I want to keep my bridal party filled with friends who will respect that and support me on a very important day.
This is where my “best friend” comes in. She is my oldest friend and we used to call each other sisters. For a while I truly felt that about her, but looking back it’s only because I had such low self esteem I didn’t know what a good friend looked like.
My friend is insecure and very competitive with me. If she perceives that I am receiving more attention than her she will behave in ways that draw focus to herself. It usually takes the form of getting loud and flirting with people that maybe she shouldn’t flirt with—like my younger brothers, dad, or my partner.
She thinks everyone finds her charming and funny and would always say it’s not serious. However after saying that she will usually say something in my ear about how she could tell my brother actually wants her.
As a prime example, on my 21st birthday I begged her not to get too drunk or try to block men from talking to me. We had booked a private booth at a club and were given a drinks discount card. She promised she would behave. She showed up 2 hours late and when she arrived, she took the drinks card and went off with a random guy without letting us know. I didn’t see her again even though she was supposed to be coming home with to stay with me and didn’t answer any of my texts or calls. I was genuinely worried for her safety and when she did finally call I was so upset that she thought it was okay to behave that way. It was our first real fight because it was the first time I ever stood up for myself.
She’s the girl who used to mock me for being flat chested at school in the locker room. She’s the girl who said we were like twins except I was the fat one and that’s how they would tell us apart. (FYI I’m actually thin, just not as thin as her and she was calling me fat to be derogatory, not accurately descriptive.)
I used to just think I was being too sensitive and found excuse after excuse to justify her continued presence in my life. Even though she only called me when her boyfriends dumped her and she was single and never called me when things were going well. Even though when I needed her she was nowhere to be found.
Sometimes she apologizes and I feel like I should forgive her because she’s got her struggles and no one is perfect. I love her but at the same time I feel like she doesn’t really love me back. I feel like if I bring her into my bridal party there is a real risk she will try to ruin my wedding on purpose because she will be jealous that people are giving me attention. I’m sad this is even something I have to think about and feel it says a lot about the crappy relationship we have.
She has already made the assumption she’s a bridesmaid, even talking to me about dresses she’d likes for bridesmaids, etc. I just know if I say I don’t want her there, we will probably be done forever. I guess I’m scared of letting go of my oldest friend who I love and just don’t know how to handle such a sensitive issue.
What would you do?
Dearest Anxiety Monster,
You do not have to make this woman a bridesmaid in your wedding. You do not have to invite her to your wedding. From what you’ve written, it doesn’t sound like she is worth the cost of even the most garbage of catered dinners.
As I think you already know, this sounds like a friendship that needs to end, either now or later. If you choose now, I applaud you for putting you and your partner’s mental and emotional health ahead of the needs of such a petty person. Still, as you mentioned, you’ll need to prepare for drama and do all you can to guard yourself against an almost inevitable tantrum.
To end this friendship, I suggest contacting this woman via e-mail and explaining, clearly and plainly, why you no longer want to interact with her. Don’t go out of your way to be cruel, don’t let anger distract you from your message, but be honest, much in the same way you were to me. Yeah, e-mail might be a coward’s communication, but it will keep her from interrupting you, manipulating you, or blowing up at you. (I mean, she still might blow up, but at least this way, you won’t have to endure her screaming at you over the phone or in your face.)
After you’ve sent the email, if you’re 100% positive that you no longer want anything to do with your friend, block her out of your life. No more texts, no more Gchatting, nothing. If, on the other hand, you’re willing to work on your friendship, say so—and maybe be slightly more delicate, though no less honest while listing your grievances. Write something like, “Your friendship means a lot, but we’ve developed certain patterns that are hurtful to me. I’d like to work with you to break those patterns and heal together.” Sappy? Sure, but there’s a reason couples’ counselors use this kind of hippy-dippy “I feel” language and that’s because it often works.
From what you’ve said, this woman doesn’t sound like the type to accept your invitation to work through your relationship (though maybe she’ll surprise you) or thoroughly consider what it is that you’ve been feeling. If this ends up being the case, well, fuck her. You might love her dearly, but she is not worthy of that love and you deserve better.
That said, cutting a loved one out of your life is easier said than done, especially if you’re dealing with anxiety issues (I hear you, sister) and especially especially if you’re planning a huge, stressful event on top of that. If this task is overwhelming to you, I want you to give yourself permission to put this friend break-up/confrontation off until after your nuptials. Give her a small role in your wedding (a lesser bridesmaid or maybe even an usher) and ask someone—the other bridesmaids, the groomsmen or one of your brothers that she’s always flirting with—to be on watch duty. Their wedding gift to you can be to keep her occupied and away from the limelight. Maybe even enlist a whole freaking team so that when she starts going for the mic to give a speech about how skinny she is or how your dad is in love with her, they can start a dance circle around her that she cannot leave. Alcohol will make this harder and harder, but the help of other, more caring friends should at least get you through the ceremony and maybe even the first part of the reception without her successfully stealing the love and attention going to you and your boo.
Congratulations, Anxiety Monster, both on your wedding and confronting this awful friendship. From where I stand, you’ve got a pretty bright future ahead.