Should I reconnect with a high school friend by attending her wedding?
January 15, 2010 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Should I reconnect with a high school friend by attending her wedding?

A friend from high school just invited me to her wedding. We have not talked for over 5 years. We slowly mutually lost touch after high school. During our friendship, I often felt like she did not value our friendship as strongly as I did.

My feelings were hurt frequently because she would often make plans with me and cancel at the last minute to hang out with other friends. This happened often and for several important events. During high school, I disregarded this behavior, but after going away to college, my self-esteem improved, and I made other friends.

Recently, she has contacted me on Facebook. I accepted her friend request; and she has sent about 4 messages, but I only replied to one. I think she probably does not suspect how hurt I felt at times when she ditched me. I'm pretty non-confrontational and never mentioned anything at the time.

A few people I told encouraged me to attend the wedding; however, I have no desire to go. Any thoughts are appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
however, I have no desire to go.

Then don't go. It's an invitation, not an obligation. You are free to accept or decline as you wish. It really is as simple as that.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:07 AM on January 15, 2010 [5 favorites]

If you have no desire to go, then don't go. I wouldn't.
posted by amro at 9:07 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you don't want to go, don't go. Do you have any feeling that there was something special about inviting you in particular, or that she especially wants you to be there? If so, that might be a point in favor of showing up and seeing how things go - people do stupid things, and DO grow and change sometimes. But if you're not interested in rekindling the friendship, you don't have to accept an olive branch just because it's there.
posted by Lady Li at 9:07 AM on January 15, 2010

If you want to renew the friendship, go. If you don't want to renew the friendship, don't. It sounds to me from your question as though you don't, but it may help your decision process to see it in those terms and consider it as part of the larger question.
posted by immlass at 9:11 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

When people show you who they are, believe them.
posted by fire&wings at 9:15 AM on January 15, 2010 [12 favorites]

I'll be the odd man out. Go. You may not even reconnect, but you will at least bring this chapter of your life full circle. Clearly, this person does value your past relationship or she wouldn't invite you.
posted by xammerboy at 9:20 AM on January 15, 2010

She sounds a little inconsiderate by nature. It's possible that she's getting better with time, but it may well be that just now she really wants a lot of people at her wedding so she'll feel popular and loved (probably not consciously, but it could be an unconscious impulse). You, of course, have no duty to cater to this impulse.

If she really wanted to reconnect with you, she could send a note or letter. If you want to be an extra nice person, you could take some time -- probably after the wedding -- and find a way to let her know why her behavior was/is not great when dealing with sensitive (most) people. It could be genuinely helpful to her, depending on her personality and her place in her life. But going/not going to her wedding is too imprecise a form of communication to do either of you much good.

Good luck! Good for you for knowing yourself now.
posted by amtho at 9:21 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

As a personal experience, I've found that weddings are a terrible time to reconnect with someone. She'll be busy with planning and performing and dealing with family and numerous other friends, and you'll probably end up feeling more frustrated at her inability to find time to talk with you than anything else. I'd say skip it (claiming a conflict) and propose another time to meet up after her wedding.
posted by slide at 9:27 AM on January 15, 2010 [8 favorites]

I think it depends on what you expect from the situation.

A childhood friend of mine was a lot like this -- we were thick as thieves in grade school, she started flaking on me towards the end of high school and on into college, and by the end of college, I just kind of gave up on her. Then, she also invited me to her wedding.

I decided to go, but tried to keep in mind that there were most likely not going to be any tearful "I'm sorry I kept ducking you and now I want you back as my bff again!" confessions on her part. I was there more for a shared past than anything (and because I'd be in the neighborhood anyway). As I suspected, there were indeed no "you're my long-lost bff please forgive me" confessions, and I just let myself fade away again after. She did look me up on facebook when I joined, and she still will occaisionally chirp to and about me that "can you BELIEVE I still know someone I knew in kindergarten?" and I just inwardly smirk and say "yeah, but you barely talk to me today, so big deal," and go on with my business.

If you understand that this may not be a tearful-reunion thing, but you still want to go, then go for it. If you don't want to, don't. But don't go because you're COUNTING on a tearful reunion -- because that may not happen at all, and if it doesn't you'll feel even more hurt.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:29 AM on January 15, 2010

It sounds like you don't want to reconnect with your former friend or go to her wedding, and not wanting to is good and sufficient reason for not doing so.

If, however, you should decide you want to try to rekindle the friendship, begin by messaging her on Facebeook, and maybe getting together, before you RSVP the invitation. You won't enjoy the wedding unless you mend your bridges first.
posted by orange swan at 9:32 AM on January 15, 2010

Don't go. For two reasons. First, you don't really want to, and basically that should be the first gating criteria to begin with. The second reason is it's just not a good idea to go to a typical wedding to reconnect with a bride (or groom). There are just too many demands on her time during the wedding for her to reconnect with anyone, she'll be lucky if she has enough time to personally acknowledge you at all, forget about any quality time.

Having said that, here are some reasons to go:
- You are happy for them and want to vicariously enjoy the ceremony
- You have friends going and want to go with them
- You want to reconnect with people you know will be at the wedding, but not actively involved in the wedding
- You just like weddings
posted by forforf at 9:34 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't think you have to go to the wedding to reconnect with this person. You could send a card or small gift, set up a dinner, lunch, whatever. But I wouldn't go in hopes that it will jump start the reconciliation. I doubt it will.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:36 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you attend, you might get a "HIIIIIIIEEEEEEEE! I'm so glad you could make it!" + hug + "Oh there's my college roommate from freshman year, gotta go!" You will not get a conversation with her about your friendship. You will not get a conversation with her about anything. She'll be busy and excited and, you know, at her own wedding.

Don't attend unless it matters to you to be present at this event in her life. It sounds as if this friendship is mostly a past-tense kind of thing. That's ok. You don't need to pretend it's still a significant and meaningful part of your life. It's fine to wish her well but send your regrets regarding the invitation, and focus on the good friends in your life now rather than past hurt feelings.
posted by Meg_Murry at 9:44 AM on January 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

I think she probably does not suspect how hurt I felt at times when she ditched me.

Devil's advocate/alternate theory: maybe she does suspect it - people often change a lot in five years after high school. Perhaps she wants another chance at what she feels should have been a better friendship.

Also, weddings are fun, even (/especially!) if you don't know the couple all that well.
posted by rjacobs at 9:51 AM on January 15, 2010

open bar or not?

If you do go, you may reconnect with other friends from that era which might be nice.

But, if you don't want to go, don't go. Send your regrets and a congratulatory card.
posted by vespabelle at 9:56 AM on January 15, 2010

If you were invited, it's likely that other friends of yours/hers from high school were also invited. If you want to reconnect with them, go, but you probably won't have much time to talk to or even see your friend one on one since she'll be so busy.
posted by phunniemee at 9:57 AM on January 15, 2010

Sorry, further data point/anecdote in case it's in any way helpful.

This Thanksgiving I took part a similar reconnect-with-people-in-a-highly-public-way situation (my high school band did a multi-year reunion concert, and I volunteered to stage manage the thing). I had a few hopes and fears before going -- I HOPED I could reconnect with a certain two or three people who'd done a slow or quick fade over the course of high school and after, and I FEARED that I'd run into a couple of "frenemies" whom it had taken me a while to live down.

But ultimately, I took a deep breath and said that you know what, the only thing that mattered whether this was something I was doing for me. If it turned out that none of the people I knew from back in the day were even there, and it was all people from the class of 1979 or whatever, did I still want to do this? The answer was yes, and so I went. As for the people -- I asked myself ahead of time if I had any expectations about any of this, and realized I simply shouldn't. All I could do was react to everyone from the perspective I had now -- if one of the "frenemies" was good and polite to me, I'd be so back, and if one of the long-lost friends gave me the cold shoulder, I was just going to think "well, fuck you too, then," and go talk to other people who WERE happy to see me.

Having no expectations was the wisest course, because I in NO way could have accounted for what did happen (one of the "frenemies," a guy whom I met back in preschool and went through a seriously obnoxious "teenage boys are tools" phase, ended up getting into a great, sincere conversation with me at the afterparty, to the point that I ended up digging out a pen and paper and saying, "okay, seriously, if you're ever in Brooklyn call me and we'll get dinner," and two days ago he actually DID; so I reconnected with someone, but it was TOTALLY not the person I was expecting).

I think the key to whether or not you should do this is: figure out whether there is anything you are secretly "expecting" out of this situation. Now imagine that that thing, whatever it is, is GUARANTEED not to happen.

Do you still want to go? Whatever that answer is, is your answer.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:12 AM on January 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

You can go if you want to reconnect with your other high school friends, but not her. As others have said, you will probably barely get to speak to her at the wedding. However, I've found weddings a great place to reconnect with friends I haven't seen in a while when we are the only people we know at the wedding. Spending the evening huddled up at a table catching up because we don't even know who any of the other people are.
posted by ishotjr at 10:34 AM on January 15, 2010

I have no desire to go

What other answer is there? Facebook is a low-effort, low-impact overture, it isn't like she's done anything special. Aside from my closest friends and family I couldn't tell you who did and didn't make it to my wedding, what they gave us or if they gave us anything, so only your feelings about being there really matter. Continue to more-or-less ignore her on Facebook until she goes away, nothing you say in this question suggests any value in "reconnecting" with this former friend.
posted by nanojath at 10:55 AM on January 15, 2010

It may well be that she's grown up some. High school students act like jerks sometimes, but that doesn't mean they don't figure out later that they were acting like a jerk. I had a friend who said, "boy I acted immaturely in high school and I wish I hadn't been such an ass."

So she may have changed. Just a data point.
posted by bananafish at 10:59 AM on January 15, 2010

I really don't understand people's need to keep friends from high school as if they are family or have some special value that friends from other times do not. Especially if they were unkind in any way. We live long, full lives. That was only one part of your childhood (and a drama filled one at that) and so long ago that it is almost like a different lifetime.

You were a kid a the time, had a friend who was not as into you as you were her, and now you are a grownup with your own friends who you have chosen as an adult. Whatever. Really. You have absolutely no obligation to do something you do not want to do.

Just don't go.

(also, you were both kids at the time, learning about life both making mistakes. It is way past the time to let the hurt go.)
posted by Vaike at 11:23 AM on January 15, 2010

I wouldn't go. But I hate weddings. Probably because of the sheer volume of bridezillas and "gimme!" demands I've had made on me over the years. Now I tend to look at weddings with a rather jaundiced eye, and see them as primarily mercenary events whereby everyone the bride has ever met is invited, just in case they want to contribute to the giant pile o' loot.

(Obviously, weddings for family and close friends are different...I'm talking here about the weddings where you couldn't fit the whole party in a troop transport.)

So me personally...meh. I wouldn't be bothered to break out the uncomfortable shoes for someone I was indifferent to in the first place.
posted by dejah420 at 12:01 PM on January 15, 2010

She may have sent you an invitation hoping you'd send her a gift. Some of the more greedy, rude wedding sites actually encourage people to invite wedding guests they aren't close with in hopes that those people won't come, but will buy a nice present.

I wouldn't go if you don't want to. If you want to reconnect, ask her to do something when she gets back from the wedding/honeymoon. Whether or not she says yes and follows through will tell you whether she actually wants to be friends.
posted by decathecting at 12:12 PM on January 15, 2010

It sounds like a gift grab to me too. Send regrets and a congratulatory note (with no check).
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:37 PM on January 15, 2010

Please go. I lost a lot of friends at that time in my life because I was horribly depressed, and a lot of them probably felt like I "ditched" them too.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:17 AM on January 16, 2010

(Good food + great venue)*open bar + hookup potential
_________________________________________________ = % chance that you should attend
(Length of religious ceremony+awkward speeches)

Note that the bride has little to nothing to do with this calculation, because you won't get to talk to her. And don't bring a gift.
posted by kathrineg at 9:34 AM on January 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Just want to point out that people change a lot after high school, including in the inconsiderateness department. It might be worth thinking about trying to reconnect a little bit, just to see how she's changed and figure out whether you'd want to have the five-years-older version of her as a friend. That said, you're under no obligation to reconnect: just that it could be fun.
posted by sesquipedalian at 4:50 AM on January 17, 2010

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