Ending a Friendship
January 9, 2005 9:04 PM   Subscribe

I really am not excited about a friend's engagement and I think it's really stupid and rushed into. They're throwing a party. This is the second time they're trying to throw it, and I have a suspicion (because it was never cancelled before) that nobody even came the first time. I don't even want to be her friend anymore. Do I have to go? More generally, is it at all possible to handle the end of the friendship well?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My best-friend ended his long-term friendship with his other best-friend (an ex) over her engagement and marriage to a complete loser.

I wasn't based on jealousy, but rather on the fact that the marriage was rushed into, a seeming ploy by the groom to get the bride to assume part of his debt and put together after less than a year.

It was a great friendship, fraught with control issues, care and compassion. I don't think it should have ended over this. However, my friend did not keep his mouth shut.

The bride was angry and spoke harsh words. They have not spoken in over a year. All paraphernalia about the apartment which relates to her has been hidden away (though not destroyed). I think it was a mistake.

He also did not want to maintain the friendship any longer, but comments over the course of the last year lead me to believe otherwise.

I would say you do not have to go, but I would keep up the friendship for a while to make sure that you yourself are sure of your decision. If you are at all unsure, I would go, just to keep the communication open. There's no reason to rush away from it.
posted by Captaintripps at 9:20 PM on January 9, 2005

Ooo boy, that's a tough one, anonymous. Have you told her before that you don't like the engagement? Why don't you like it- because there are actual problems with their relationship, or because you just can't understand someone getting married so fast (which happens all the time, and sometimes work and sometimes doesn't)? Big difference. Figure that out. If you don't have any good reasons to object to their engagement, get over it. (on preview: the way Captaintripps' friend probably should have).

But I've strayed from your questions. Do you have to go to the party? Of course not, and seeing as how you don't want to, I don't think you should if you don't change your mind. Is it at all possible to handle the end of the friendship "well"? My guess is, probably not, but if you absolutely want to do it, well then, you should.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:24 PM on January 9, 2005 [1 favorite]

If you don't want to be her friend anymore, then not showing up to the party, and not giving any more thought to this matter, would be the path of least resistance.
posted by bingo at 9:41 PM on January 9, 2005

The path of least resistance is a "bitch" way to go about it and might make you look like the jerk.
posted by Dean Keaton at 10:26 PM on January 9, 2005

No friendship of substance ever ends well. There's just no nice way to say "I know I spent years as your friend, but I changed my mind about you."

So be honest. Don't go to the party. If she asks why, tell her. There's no need to be cruel about it, so just stick to the facts. You think the marriage is a terrible idea, you don't like the fellow she's marrying, you don't want to be sucked into the problems that are sure to ensue, so you think it's best that you just bow out of her life now.

If you and she are at all close, she will likely be incredibly hurt. And it might really suck if, a year or two from now, she runs into real problems in her married life and all her friends have abandoned her. Unfortunately if you don't cut her off completely, it defeats the whole point. On the other hand, if all her friends take a stand before the wedding, maybe she'll come to her senses.
posted by kindall at 10:45 PM on January 9, 2005

Maybe this experience can help.
A former friend of mine ended up marrying the loser with whom she was secretly communicating, but not having any relations with, behind another friend's back.
I was trying very hard to maintain this friendship despite what I thought was really atrocious behavior- ex.-she had asked man #1 to procure some computer parts for her, which he did, and then had man #2 install said parts, then promptly dumped #1 (mainly for money and status purposes- #2's portfolio is quite impressive).
So, at one point, she invited me out for dinner for a 'girls night'. This was after much consternation between us. I showed up, and lo he was at dinner with us. She played it off, saying she was sure she told me to bring my SO along, it was a couples night. I was looking forward to really hashing some things out, and I think she knew that. I think she was also trying to get me to 'like' the jackass.
If I were in your shoes, anonymous, I would go, be as open as posible to the situation, but if your friend makes it impossible and makes your friendship intolerable, as my former friend did, you have no reason to feel bad about not remaining in contact with her. You did your best.
posted by oflinkey at 10:50 PM on January 9, 2005

Someone close to me was in a bullshit engagement-then-marriage that I totally didn't approve of. I made my thoughts known, with respect, and once I'd made my gesture against the unstoppable, I went with the flow.

I attended the wedding, toasted them, visited them at home, tried to be nice, etc. It ultimately crashed and burned but my relationship with the original close loved one is still a good one, thank god. If you are really so sure that the relationship is doomed, then think long-term about preserving your friendship (if it's important to you at all, which sounds questionable). You're not the first to go through this. It *is* in fact one of the tribulations of friendship.

It's pretty much your choice. You can be normal and decent without being approving or even really supportive. But making your true opinion known at least once is key. That frees you of all your pent-up resentment and allows you to continue being a part of your friend's life without living a complete lie. Good luck!
posted by scarabic at 11:03 PM on January 9, 2005

Huh? Unless you're an ex, I don't understand the dilemma or the advice given by others above. You're this person's friend, not her parent. Why should her (bad) personal choices affect you?

A couple of years ago, a good friend of mine was in a very, very bad emotional place, and then he met this girl. She did some bad stuff to him, stuff I thought was really objectionable. Despite this, they were engaged in well under a year. I expressed my concern honestly, fully, and one time, but he seemed committed to going through with the wedding. So I tried to be as supportive and positive about the relationship as I could, though I still privately worried.

Three years later, they have a fantastic marriage, and I really envy their happiness. I was wrong. You might be, too.

My Grandparents married, in their early 20's, three and a half months after they met each other. Their marriage was extremely loving, very happy, and it lasted until the day my Grandfather died.

Your friend is an independent person, fully capable of making adult decisions. Respect that; trust her. Support her now, go to the party, and, if possible, be there for her if or when things go bad.

If you really can't do that, then all you can do is tell her why and then move on with your life.

Obviously, as a friend, you should warn this person if you think she's making a mistake. If she chooses to continue making this mistake, that's her decision. If you really care about this person as a friend, the best you can do is be as supportive as possible; this obviously doesn't extend to pretending to change your mind, but why can't you be polite, go to the party, and keep your personal opinions to yourself for a while?
posted by gd779 at 12:04 AM on January 10, 2005

If you cannot abide a person's betrothed, you cannot be their friend any more. It is as simple as that. The only correct alternative is to remain silent until the engagement/marriage ends, if you survive to see it end.

If you don't do that, you must 'drop' your friend, as they used to say 100 years ago. Other alternatives, such as "talking it over" or "warning" as suggested above, are hateful, ill-mannered, and fruitless.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:35 AM on January 10, 2005

The day before my brother married this biatch he'd knocked up I grabbed him by the shoulders in the basement of the church and said, You don't have to do this. You can support the kid without doing this. You two fight like cats and dogs, isn't that what you've told me every time we've talked since you met her?

He mumbled and shrugged and got married. Kid stillborn. Marriage stillborn too. Lasted a year.

Almost ten years later, we're closer than ever.

My point: I'd say your duty is to warn, but don't expect them to listen. Stick around if you want to be a friend. Once their misbegotten union starts going to shit full-speed, they'll need you more than ever.

But if you're done putting up with your friend's crap, hey, it's a free country.
posted by sacre_bleu at 12:39 AM on January 10, 2005

Go to the party.
Talk to your friend about any misgivings afterwards.

Nothing pushes too people closer together than everyone they know distancing themselves from them.
posted by seanyboy at 2:10 AM on January 10, 2005

Cary Tennis answered a fairly similar question over at Salon last week; I think he did a decent job of it.
posted by hot soup girl at 3:02 AM on January 10, 2005

My friend married a nightmare bitch from hell. Ugly face and ugly disposition. I just grinned and went to the wedding and didn't hang out with him til he left her. When he did I was waiting there for him and we are still great friends.

Love is blind unfortunately but good friends do not come cheap. Value them and their stupidity.
posted by Frasermoo at 3:31 AM on January 10, 2005

If you don't want to be this person's friend anymore simply because you don't approve of the wedding, I'd caution you to give yourself some time to think things over. If there are more reasons than just that, then go ahead and tell your friend that you're not going to the party because you have misgivings about the marriage. Your friend could very well end the friendship for you by getting snarky about that.

I experienced something similar back in college, when a friend rushed into a marriage that I thought was a mistake. I was pretty immature (it was college, after all) about it, and really should have just backed down about my misgivings after I aired them once. Years later, we're still very good friends, and she has a lovely marriage. Sometimes it just takes time to readjust your feelings.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 4:12 AM on January 10, 2005

You're getting a lot of conflicting advice, and I think that reflects the fact that these situations are never cut and dried. There are a lot of factors to consider here.

What kind of relationship do you have with your friend? What are the reasons you disapprove of her engagement? Could jealousy be a factor? Can you tolerate hanging around her betrothed? If it's basically a good relationship and you just disagree with her choice, then I would say air your misgivings once, and then just continue being her friend, although you may want to avoid her financé/husband, or even keep a bit of distance from your friend (i.e., not seeing her as often as before).

But if you've realized that this isn't a person you want to be friends with, then tell her you have other plans for the night of the engagement, and gradually withdraw from the friendship.

I have had two friendships break up over my friends' respective marriages, but in both cases the marriage itself wasn't actually the issue. Yes, I thought the marriages were mistaken, but the real issue was that I decided the two women weren't people I wanted as friends. Friend #1 was an emotionally abusive and controlling person. She dictates her husband's every move and screams at him over nothing. I didn't want to have to watch that, and I was fed up with her similar (though far less extreme) behaviour towards me.

Friend #2 was in the worst relationship I have ever seen (he was most likely a sociopath, she was being physically abused, she was cheating on him, she resented his daughter, etc.) and she seemed to be careening towards mental illness as a result. She could do nothing but bitch and whine about her entire life, would ask me the same question five times in the same conversation without realizing it, refused to get help because she "didn't have a problem", and then after years of such behaviour blamed her friends for losing patience with her.

In both cases I would have remained friends with these women had they been capable of being good friends in return, and just avoided spending time with their partners. In neither case was there a fight or a definite break. I simply avoided them, and they soon stopped calling.
posted by orange swan at 5:39 AM on January 10, 2005

You're this person's friend, not her parent. Why should her (bad) personal choices affect you?

bad personal choices are not completely separable from a personality. Really, a personality is made up of, or anyway, made known by, all the choices someone makes over the course of their lives. If a person continues to make choices and head in directions you honestly can't understand or relate to, there's a reason to reevaluate the relationship.

One thing about friendships is that they can often be based on very little in particular - people who just have been around for a while can become closer than people you really click with but meet randomly at a party and don't manage to stay in touch with. If this friend is one of those "default friends", someone you're close with not because of a deep connection, but because you live in the same area and have similar schedules (or whatever), then perhaps you should just let it fizzle out. If the person's friendship has really been meaningful to you but you're just frustrated by what you consider a stupid move, then I would really try to talk with her.

Rather than lecturing her about why you think she's making a bad choice, try to ask her to clarify why she thinks this is a good idea, and try to really understand her point of view. See if there's something to it that you're missing. It can be really difficult to see from the outside what is or isn't right for someone else, and I have found it quite common that friends' & family's chosen SO's don't really live up to my estimation of who they 'deserve' - but often they turn out pretty happy after all. Often they will be just as aware of the shortcomings but have different priorities (eg, sure he's loyal, but he's boring vs., sure he's boring, but he's loyal)
posted by mdn at 6:04 AM on January 10, 2005

It seems shallow to me to want to end a friendship with someone because you don't agree with a decision they make, no matter how big. So, she wants to get married sooner than you would. So what. She's not breaking the law, she isn't doing harm to anyone, let her make her decisions. You can disagree with her, but if you want to end the friendhsip over that, then the friendship wasn't much to speak of in the first place or you need to let the person be who they want to be.

I have a good friend of mine that is in a miserable relationship with a bitch that I can't stand to be around. It's not my position to tell him that she's a bitch. I'm his friend, not hers. I'll be there for him if he needs me and I'll secretly hope that they break up, but I won't tell him how I feel unless he asks and I won't end my friendship with him because he's in a relationship that I don't necessarily approve of.

Nobody has to agree with the decisions that other people make, but sometimes they should just shrug their shoulders sometimes and move on. You have to decide if you like you liked your friend enough before this started to save the friendship or not.
posted by Arch Stanton at 6:40 AM on January 10, 2005

If you absolutely can't be around the doofus without getting surly, don't go.

I like mdn's "what made you decide 'this is the one'?" approach. Much less chance that your friend will feel that she's being attacked. If this is unworkable for some reason, let her bring it up. If she doesn't, just drop it. If you decide you want to remain friends, tell her you'll be available and keep in touch after the wedding. If you don't want to see her, just drift out of her life. No need to announce you're ditching her.

A few times, I've told friends they were fucking up, talking about it in as Oprah-esque a fashion as possible. This never, ever ended well. Finally I realized I'd been harboring a secret fantasy that after this little talk, my friend would say, "Omigod! You're so right! How could I have not seen this? Oh, you saved my life!" Or some version of that. So it was really my problem. Since then, in similar circumstances, I've been supportive and smiley and non-committal, which is much easier on everyone. And happily, not all my doomy predictions have come true.
posted by vetiver at 6:54 AM on January 10, 2005

One of my close friends was in a similar situation. Her childhood best friend was marrying a person that my friend knew was totally wrong for her. She still participated in the wedding and remained the girl's friend to support her as a person. She told her friend that regardless of whether or not she approved of this particular man, she loved and supported her as her friend and as a person. Two years later, my friend helped her childhood friend and her new baby escape the abusive, horrible relationship that the marriage had become. If it hadn't been for this one person who tenaciously refused to be shut out of somoene's life, this girl would probably still be in abusive marriage. All of this to say, if you really care about this person, no matter how annoyed and disgusted you are at present, you should swallow your ire and remain supportive of the person, if not the relationship. IMHO, that is.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:34 AM on January 10, 2005

I agree with Arch Stanton. I would never, ever volunteer a negative opinion on another person's chosen mate. Doing this is, in effect, forcing them to choose between you and the mate. My mother did this to me and it created a huge rift in our relationship.

People need to choose their own paths in life, and if the path is wrong, they will discover it soon enough. The only exception I can see is if you know for a fact that your friend is being abused or cheated on by the partner.

But to answer your question: I would make up a plausible excuse for not attending the party, then just keep declining invitations until your friend gets the message. Since you already have decided you don't want to remain friends, there is nothing to be gained by sharing your true feelings.

If she asks why you don't want to be friends anymore, I would be honest but try to avoid offering much detail. For example: "I just don't feel that we have very much in common anymore" is a better choice than "I think you're stupid for marrying that jerk."
posted by naomi at 7:45 AM on January 10, 2005

Pretty much what medievalmaven said.

FWIW - I was in a horrible marriage myself once, and I'll never forget the friend who told me, ON THE MORNING OF THE WEDDING, that I was making a huge mistake. At the time I was furious, but he was, of course, totally right and it was good that he spoke up, although he might have done it a bit sooner. It pretty much killed our friendship for a few years, although we stayed loosely in touch.

However, in retrospect, I'm glad he told me what he thought, and when I did leave the marriage, he was one of the people who was there for me emotionally. Your friend, should her marriage not work out, will need her friends, so my advice would be that if you go ahead and tell her that you think she's really screwing up, that you also tell her you'll be there if it ends.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:36 AM on January 10, 2005

« Older Ninja Gifts Wanted   |   Funeral etiquette Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.