Liked it, put a ring on it, getting grief about it.
April 18, 2012 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Previously a marriage skeptic, now engaged- my BFF is not taking it well and I have no idea how to talk to her about it.

I got engaged last week (yay!) to my boyfriend of 4 years. For much of my life I did not think I would ever get married- not because I wouldn't find a person, but because of Society and Feminism and "It's just a piece of paper" etc. He was also on the same page for much of our relationship. In the last six months or so, we've both changed our minds. We have a great relationship, tons of things in common, he makes me laugh, is so wonderful, all that stuff. We made calls and announcements to friends and family who were very excited for us.

Except my best friend- she lives across the country and when I told her via phone I could instantly tell she was Not Happy About It. I wasn't going to push for her to coo and giggle over ring pics or make her uncomfortable, so we ended the conversation on a pretty normal note. I understand that not everyone loves weddings/engagements/etc, and I chalked it up to her just being surprised or not knowing what to say. The general consensus from past AskMe's (and common sense, I would venture to say) is that if someone does not approve of a wedding/engagement and no one is being abused or otherwise mistreated, you say congrats and let things play out.

Late last night, I get a very lengthy email about how she was angry, upset, and spent much of the day crying about my engagement. She said that she thinks my now fiance is a swell guy and we are perfect together, but that she is upset that I am getting married at all. We became friends when we were 19 and are 26 now. She said that she thought I was once "an innovative thinker" and now I am "just a sheep." I don't feel I was ever very pushy with my previous thoughts on marriage (I have participated in and supported many friends' weddings), just that I didn't think it was for me at that time.

I am very hurt by all of this- I am not a very impulsive person with major life things, so there is no question that this marriage is what I want to do. I don't feel the need to justify that to her, but I have no idea how to navigate how upset she is by all of this (the phrase "I've lost faith in humanity" was used. Really). Did I mention that at the end she said "And I better be your maid of honor?" HELP.
posted by shes_ajar to Human Relations (76 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like she's just upset that you're "ditching her," as she probably sees it. This is a normal feeling to have when people's friends "move on" and do other things. What is not normal is how she is handling it, which is to complain and insult you like a 13 year-old. She'll probably get over it, like most do when some dynamic changes in a friendship. If she doesn't, she's a weirdo.
posted by Patbon at 8:44 AM on April 18, 2012 [11 favorites]

I'd email her back with an "I'm sorry you feel that way. I hope I can still share happy news about the wedding with you." and let it go. She might have been drunk or something.

Maybe she's in love with you?

Anyway, people have strong reactions to weddings and sometimes it's best to give them another chance to behave themselves.

(Nothing has changed about feminism just because you're happy--I don't mean that in a snarky way, but just to help you realize that this is more of a change then "didn't think it was for me"--you had strong convictions against it, and now you don't.)
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:46 AM on April 18, 2012 [18 favorites]

If you don't feel that you need to justify it to her, then don't try. Send back an e-mail that tells her that if she has any questions on how, specifically, you've come to this decision, she's welcome to ask them. It sounds like her e-mail was just a vomiting up of her immediate emotional response. Give her time to feel sufficiently embarassed by that, and provide the opportunity for her to follow up with an actual demonstration of curiosity.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:48 AM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

If this were anyone other than your best friend, I'd say to write her off and just ignore the email.

But if she is your BFF then I think maybe it's best to just give her some space to have and work through her feelings on this. She has a conception of you and she probably now feels that her conception has been betrayed, which is uncomfortable for many people.

It was completely inappropriate to vent these feelings to you, but how you deal with that needs to be separate from the feelings themselves. She can feel betrayed, but that betrayal isn't on you.

This is a tough situation, and I think you should handle it over the phone, not by email. Express your hurt and confusion, give her a chance to apologize or save face, and then set the boundaries you need to set to continue the relationship.
posted by muddgirl at 8:50 AM on April 18, 2012 [14 favorites]

I have no idea how to navigate how upset she is by all of this

Don't. This is her damage, not yours. Either she'll come around or she won't, but it's neither your problem nor your responsibility. In the specific sense, she's upset that you're doing something that she doesn't agree with. In the broad sense, she's upset that you've changed as a person in the last seven years.

Give her time, give her space. If your complete happiness isn't enough reason for her to be happy for you then that's not something you can affect with any ease.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:53 AM on April 18, 2012 [19 favorites]

I'll give you a real answer, but first, I can't resist.

She said that she thought I was once "an innovative thinker" and now I am "just a sheep."

lol. seriously? lol.

Okay, back to the real answer. This is not about you or your choices, actually, so once that sinks in it'll be a relief. There's nothing you can really do To put this in perspective: you're living across the country, you got engaged to a person you both agree is awesome and you're happy. Wow, that's wonderful! So why would she cry all day...

When people project this way, it is because they have things going on in their own lives that have made them sad/feel like a failure/depressed/frustrated/stuck in a rut etc. etc. (some or all of those) and they see a thing they can seize on like SHE BETRAYED OUR VALUES HOW COULD SHE DO THIS! It is 100% not logical.

Do you have indications that her life isn't going as planned in some way or maybe she is suffering from depression? Justifying or defending isn't the answer here, it is very much not about you getting married and a lot more about her emotional turmoil.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:54 AM on April 18, 2012 [20 favorites]

You're getting very good advice here - do nothing.

And I would seriously question my friendship with anyone who called me a "sheep" in response to a major life decision.
posted by DWRoelands at 8:55 AM on April 18, 2012 [10 favorites]

Since she's your friend you need to let her know you're listening to her, but also let her know that the decision is yours, and that she should not cross the line (eg, by calling you a sheep etc)
posted by KokuRyu at 8:58 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hmm. I think you could send a quick response back that says 'I can hear you're upset but I wish you'd been able to sit with these feelings and work through them without sending me such a confronting email. Noone wants to hear they've disappointed a friend, especially with such happy news. Apart from this confrontation from you, I'm happy with my life right now. I acknowldege that you are not. I hope you work these feelings through.' Then leave it.
posted by honey-barbara at 8:58 AM on April 18, 2012 [19 favorites]

This is bizarre behavior on her part and you have nothing to feel badly about. I hope you know that, and that you don't feel you need to defend your decision to marry your boyfriend. A true friend would be happy that you are happy, end of story. I would give her some time and distance to come to terms with this, but absolutely do not feel you need to engage in any lengthy conversation with her about why this decision is right for you. Frankly, it's none of her business.
posted by something something at 8:59 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm so sorry that what should be a wonderful event is marred by the selfish and rude behaviour of someone important to you.

Getting married doesn't make you a "sheep" any more than having a job, owning a car, enjoying dancing, or anything else that millions of people do makes you a "sheep". Your friend is being ridiculous. There's also a fair bit of incongruence between "marriage is bullshit and I hate that you are getting married" and "I better be your maid of honor".

Your friend sounds like a lonely, sad, bitter person, and it would seem that while you've grown she's stagnated. I'd probably limit my interactions with such a person, and I would definitely not involve them significantly in the event they purport to loathe. Don't let this change your happiness; it's all on her, not you. Set your limits on what you are willing to tolerate, and if she exceeds those limits, tell her so and demand better from her. You should not change your plans based on her hangups.

On preview: honey-barbara and something-something have an interesting point: what kind of person feels disappointed by news of something that makes a friend happy? Friends are supposed to celebrate with you and mourn with you, not mourn when you celebrate.
posted by Sternmeyer at 9:01 AM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

It may sound cold, but the minute someone sends me a crazycakes email like that is the minute I step back our friendship.

For me, it's because I have a history of tolerating abusive/dysfunctional behavior and acting like an emotional caretaker to my own detriment. I also have some very emotionally loaded friendships with other women, and sometimes things can get . . . well, a little intense. People act out like your friend did often because they want a reaction. I don't believe in rewarding that kind of behavior because it risks reinforcing it.

I think honey-barbara's script is great. But I think it bears saying that her email was completely fucked up and she was wrong to call you a sheep and she's not acting like a true friend. She may have her reasons, sure--she may be insecure or jealous or threatened or worried about the change in you--but that doesn't give her a right to insult you or call you names.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:02 AM on April 18, 2012 [11 favorites]

I've been re-reading these two statements:

For much of my life I did not think I would ever get married- not because I wouldn't find a person, but because of Society and Feminism and "It's just a piece of paper" etc.


I don't feel I was ever very pushy with my previous thoughts on marriage (I have participated in and supported many friends' weddings), just that I didn't think it was for me at that time.

These seem like very different sentiments (the first actively disparages the institution of marriage, the second just expresses a mild personal preference not to be married). I've known a lot of people over the years who have various levels of disinterest, annoyance, and contempt for marriage; often the feeling changes when they meet a particular person, but just as often people retain their strong position about marriage (it's patriarchal oppression, it robs women's identity be renaming them, it's for breeders, it shifts your politics to the right as you prioritize your own children over society, etc.) through different relationships.

I guess it just looks to me like your own feelings have evolved pretty dramatically from those you once shared with your alienated friend.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against your getting engaged, and it's great you're happy in a way you would never have thought possible once -- but I get the impression your attitude has changed dramatically enough that it's maybe not as surprising as you're making it out to be that your friend is this upset. And considering she is your "BFF" (assuming that means you consider her your best friend, forever) maybe make a little extra effort to help her through the confusion of the dramatic shift you've made in how you feel about this very important cultural norm?

(Also, it's possible she may be thinking she has lost, or is about to lose, her "BFF," if like many married folks I have known you start saying things like "My husband is by very best friend.")

Anyhow, best wishes in working this out with your friend, and with your upcoming marriage.
posted by aught at 9:03 AM on April 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

Sounded like she just had to vent that she lost her pal in this specific point of view, especially when in the end of the email, she tells you she wants to be your Maid of Honor.

I bet she feels like she's lost this monumental connection to you, that you're going to go down the aisle, have babies, and move on and not have this connection to her anymore.

I really like what honey-barbara said. I think it's worth sending such a response back and let your friend sulk a bit but welcome her back when she's put things in perspective.
posted by vivzan at 9:03 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't dogpile on the friend. It really sounds like untreated depression. It's very likely that she feels incredible shame and self loathing for writing that email.

You can either ignore it, abandon the friendship or try to have a real talk with her about it.

Then again, some people are just shitty, but this does not sound like one of those times. I speak as a person who just slogged my way through depression for many years.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:03 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I get a very lengthy email about how she was angry, upset, and spent much of the day crying about my engagement. She said that she thinks my now fiance is a swell guy and we are perfect together, but that she is upset that I am getting married at all. ...

at the end she said "And I better be your maid of honor?"

She's upset because what you're doing is too conventional, but she insists on being the maid of honor? Ha! That just doesn't add up. She wasn't in tears just because marriage is traditional. Everything in this post about "society," "feminism," etc. is a bunch of red herrings. That's all a futile attempt to rationalize complex feelings with academic analysis. Once you clear away the mumbo-jumbo, what's left? She's upset because she's worried she'll lose you as a friend. I agree with the comment that said it seems like she's actually in love with you.
posted by John Cohen at 9:04 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

It can be really, really hard when someone you're very close to get engaged or married. It's not that you don't love them, but it signifies potential changes in your relationship, and change in relationships you really care about are scary.

I was totally freaked out when my sister told me she was engaged - not that I didn't want her to be happy and get married, but because she's a huge part of my life, and there was this instinctual feeling of being anti-change.

If anything, I see her, "I better be your maid of honor" as reinforcing that she loves you and knows that this will pass, but can't help the initial freakout.

Give her time, and don't call her out on this.
posted by mercredi at 9:06 AM on April 18, 2012 [17 favorites]

It's natural for someone's thoughts and feelings to change many times between the ages of 19 to the age of 26. When I was 19 I was a hardcore Christian Randian libertarian. I agree that your feelings about marriage are somewhat of a red herring. Don't argue with her, don't present your rational reasons for getting married. Either she will get over it or she won't.
posted by muddgirl at 9:10 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would be really angry... she wants to be your maid of honor after all that she just said? Were you planning on asking her to be your BFF (before the email!)? If you were, I would tell her that you had been planning on asking her but you no longer think its appropriate as she's made her feelings quite clear and you don't need such negativity spoiling your special day... actually if it were me I'd just reply with "get over yourself" and never speak to her again... but you probably want to stay friends with her?

Is there any chance at all that she was joking? If one of my friends sent that to me and then said they wanted to be my maid of honor, I'd just assume they were being sarcastic and having a laugh but that's just the kind of people they are.

I think the best thing you can do is do nothing, let her calm down and wait for her to make the next move. You can't know what was going on with her when she wrote that email, she might be really regretting it and dreading your reply or she might still mean every word but I really don't think there is an 'appropriate' response to such an inappropriate email. Whatever the reason for her feelings she had no right to dump them on you like that.

Whatever you decide to do, even if you want to stay friends with her, its OK if you don't want her at your wedding knowing how she feels about it.
posted by missmagenta at 9:11 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think the first thing to keep in mind is that her letter isn't really about *you*; it's about how *she feels* on seeing you've changed your mind about something significant that you apparently shared views on before. It's not a common point of view to start with and having a BFF who shares it probably feels really personally reassuring. Now that's gone for her. And having a BFF get married can be hard sometimes as it is, as marriage often signals a deeper inward focus on couple/family life often at the expense of other relationships.

So while some of the wording you're describing reads insultingly, I suspect it's all about feelings that you're changing and may not be able to relate or may not even be accessible rather than any real assessment that you're suddenly a sheep or something.

If she's really a BFF, don't think much about the bristling you may feel at the mean things, and reassure her that you're doing it because it makes sense and is meaningful to *you* ... and that your friendship does and will too. Tell her what you appreciate about her. Ask her to support *you* even if she's not sure about the institution. And if you'd have her be the maid of honor, take her at her word and tell her you'd love to have her be your maid of honor.

If you need to say anything about how mean the letter is, keep it light, don't focus on it ("hey, that hurts a bit"), but right now, it sounds to me like you have so many reasons to be happy that you're likely in a position to gracefully let it go and focus on what you really want -- which I suspect is the continued love, support, and connection with your best friend -- and what will help sustain that.
posted by weston at 9:12 AM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

To me, it sounds like she's grieving about having lost you as an exclusive, unattached friend, and so she's venting about it -- but since you're her closest friend, she's venting about it to you, which really isn't appropriate. Ultimately she's made it clear she thinks your fiance is great and that she wants to be an important part of the wedding, so she's still being supportive of you and obviously cares about you...but this is a big adjustment for her, as she's put an emotional commitment into your relationship based (in part) on neither of you ever getting married, and now she's got to shift with the unexpected change.

I would suggest ignoring all the "sheep" stuff, and just express that you're glad she and your fiance get along, that you're thrilled to have her in your wedding party, and leave it at that -- hopefully as she settles in to the adjustment, she'll let the negativity go, and if she doesn't, then you can act on that when it gets too burdensome for you.

In short: have faith in your friend, engage the positive, and ignore the negative (at least for now.)
posted by davejay at 9:13 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I agree that your feelings about marriage are somewhat of a red herring. Don't argue with her, don't present your rational reasons for getting married. Either she will get over it or she won't.

Agreed. I think she will get over it- surely she'll have to, or the next 10 years of watching friends get married, houses, and babies will be a sore disappointment to her.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:15 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is she, by any chance.. er.. single? I was a lone ranger feminist independent girl with no interest in marriage until I met my husband, the first and only guy I ever bothered to date. He is that awesome that he easily busted my original ideas of singledom being The True Way. I just didn't really want to live without him, and my friends knew we were really close.

When I got engaged and told most of my (single, outspoken, independent-like-me chicks) friends, half of them got really quiet, a few gave halfhearted congrats, and one took me out to lunch and detailed her "concerns." I tried to put myself in their shoes and imagined how I'd feel if my friend decided to go all renegade Ball and Chain on me when I thought things were just fine the way they were. I decided maybe I'd feel a little lonely to be left behind, even if that life wasn't what I wanted at that time. Thankfully, friends are friends and they usually get over it if they're real buddies, and mine did with a little time. They came to my little crappy broke person wedding and made it one of the best days of my life, they were happy for me, and now, years later, almost all of them are married themselves, and the single ones are going off doing awesome stuff as single people.

I agree that you should go easy on this friend. Sometimes people are jealous even if they act like they aren't. Sometimes they feel left behind moving into adulthood and miss those days being 19 and carefree together. Sometimes they just don't realize that people change opinions and it's okay to do so. Sometimes people aren't grown up enough yet to understand marriage yet. Any or all of these might be the case, but if you cut her some slack, I'll bet she'll come around. Unless you're getting married, like, tomorrow, offer to take her out to lunch and try to be understanding. If it turns out she's just a big B and continues to be that way about the whole thing, then maybe reconsider your friendship, but don't be surprised if people's snap judgment emotions get the best of them in the moment when they hear about such a lifechanging event.

And congrats on your engagement! :)
posted by takoukla at 9:17 AM on April 18, 2012 [12 favorites]

I agree with everyone who has said the most important thing about this letter is that it's not about you. Only time and your past experience, I think, can guide you about whether it's about her [and the fact that she's a jerk] or about her [and the fact that she's depressed/otherwise unwell for some reason, which seems like a possibility to me], but either way, it is not a letter that you really have to deal with in the sense of treating it as something you need to respond to. You really ... to me, the response that's required here is not What Do I Do When My Best Friend Hates Me For No Reason?, but What Do I Do When My Best Friend Begins Behaving Erratically?

I would follow it down that path. If this were her usual behavior, I think you'd know by now. If it's not, this is very out of range behavior for a person who's well, to me. It does not mean it's your problem to solve, but unless she has a history of this kind of thing, to me, it smells like something is up and she needs help.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 9:17 AM on April 18, 2012

Personally, I feel some of the judgment here is a bit harsh - no, I don't think the email sounds very nice or sane, nor do I think you need to justify your actions or decisions to her. However, some relationships are conducted at the level of honesty and conviction expressed in her email. Was that normal for your relationship? When you were alone together, did you scorn marriage or people who engaged in it, even harmlessly? Are you generally honest with each other during difficult times, or when you're fighting? Depending on the norms in your friendship, this may or may not be a crazy reaction.

Same thing with the maid-of-honor demand... could be weird manipulation, could be meant to soften the message or acknowledge that of course she's happy for you and her upset will pass. That's up to you to judge.

SO in terms of your actual question, honey-barbara has it right, but I might add something like:

"I'm so sorry that, to you, this feels like a personal betrayal. I will always honor our friendship and I feel very close to you, but this is one way in which my beliefs have changed. I am not being coerced, nor do I feel like a different person. I hope you can come around to understanding this and feeling joy for me."

Good luck! This is tough stuff. I echo what others said - for better or worse, it is so hard to accept this kind of change in a loved one's life. My family has struggled with it quite a bit!
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 9:19 AM on April 18, 2012 [7 favorites]

Did I mention that at the end she said "And I better be your maid of honor?" HELP.

You sure she wasn't semi-horsing around and venting?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:19 AM on April 18, 2012

Wow-- I really feel your pain. My former best friend of 11 years (who always said she wanted to be my maid of honor if I ever got married) stopped speaking to me right around the time I got engaged, over nothing. She always swore in a very snobby tone that she would never get married to her long-term boyfriend because it was "too conventional," but confessed to me on multiple drunken occasions how jealous she was of friends who got to have the big wedding, all the attention, etc.

IMO your friend's actions are very likely related to jealousy, rooted in her own insecurities about finding someone she wants to spend her whole life with, married or not. Having someone who agreed with her about marriage being stupid helped her confirm her opinion that not getting married was the superior thing to do. Now that's been undermined by you, who she knows isn't stupid or sheeplike, getting married and being happy about it-- it means she might have to re-examine her own motives.

Insecure people will do all sorts of wacky, irrational things to protect themselves from having to re-examine their own defense mechanisms.
posted by np312 at 9:22 AM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]

Just wanted to chime in on the "don't call her out on it" response -assuming this can be interpreted as "do not confront her about the email she sent and the things she said in it", I disagree. If you'd like to maintain this friendship once she's adjusted to this little hitch (so to speak), it will help to acknowledge this exchange. You can't sweep away these disagreements if they're not on the surface.
posted by TangoCharlie at 9:22 AM on April 18, 2012

(Just wanted to clarify that I don't think there's anything wrong with being against marriage for one's own self-- but people who cut down their close friends for deciding to get married-- that I have a problem with.)
posted by np312 at 9:24 AM on April 18, 2012

Well, this happened to my boyfriend and his pal. Sort of.

He and his pal have grown up together (now in their early 30's) as atheists. Last year, his friend joined a church and choir and became a christian. My boyfriend was so pissed off and so were the rest of their friends. It turned into some ridiculous argument (despite me advising my boyfriend not to argue about it - but of course he did)

Well, fast forward a few months later - everything is fine. His friend doesn't really talk about religion and my boyfriend doesn't ask about it.

Basically, your friend will probably just drop it and get used to it in a little while.
posted by KogeLiz at 9:28 AM on April 18, 2012

"It makes me very sad to hear that you are so upset. What do you want to happen next? I know it's big news, so if you just want to take some time and then let me know, that's fine too. I'll always be here, as will my love for you and our friendship."
posted by argonauta at 9:34 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I vote to give her some time. I had a similar experience with a friend who got pregnant after being reasonably anti-children (as I am) for a long time. When she got pregnant, I had a very surprising negative reaction (which I never shared with her). It wasn't about her at all, it was just about me realising that I'd unconsciously justified my choices by benchmarking against her, and suddenly my easy justification had gone away. I felt rudderless for a few months, then readjusted and now I dote over her beautiful children very happily. Give her time, let her know that you love her, and give her a big task in the wedding so she can throw herself into the change.
posted by ukdanae at 9:35 AM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]

When I got engaged to my boyfriend of 4 years, now husband of almost 10 years, I was elated. I called my older sister to tell her I was getting married, to which her response was "Great, now I have to get married fast," and then when I began discussing when the wedding would be she told me she wasn't sure she would be able to get off of work. I was telling her a year in advance.

And, you know what, I ignored it and did not address it. This wedding was not about her, or her immediate inappropriate reaction, it was about me marrying the person I wanted to share my world with. To confront her would have given it more attention than it was worth, and would have backed her into a corner. And, guess what, she got over it. She was my maid of honor. Most of her worry was about walking down the aisle and having people look at her (she has some severe anxiety issues I was unaware of at the time). Much of this was displaced. You may uncover the real issue if you give her some space.

So, if you want to retain the friendship, my suggestion would be to either send her a simple reply like "I hear what you are saying, if you have more to say, let's discuss this in person," or simply ignore it. Let her stew in her embarrassment and come to terms with the apology she needs to make to you. I think it's likely she had a few drinks, had a pity party, and sent you an email, but you know her better than us.
posted by fyrebelley at 9:36 AM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

I don't have a lot of patience with people who lack emotional regulation. And I'm not one to molly-coddle someone who's been rude and boundary-blasting. Even is she's a close friend. Hell, especially if she's a close friend! The standards should be higher, if anything.

My response would be short and blunt: "You've chosen to make my decision all about you. It isn't. And what's up with the name-calling? Knock it off. When you're ready to discuss this respectfully, we can talk."

It's OK to insist that friends treat you with respect and care and kindness, and to draw firm boundaries. And you don't have to be overly nice about it. A softer approach than mine might be a better fit for your personality and the situation, but bluntness would be fine, too.
posted by quivering_fantods at 9:39 AM on April 18, 2012 [8 favorites]

I have friends who didn't come to my wedding because they were anti-marriage. I didn't drop them, and it didn't change our relationship. Some people have strong philosophical objections to marriage, and that's their thing.

Of course, I'm also a fairly devout Christian married to a religion-hating atheist, so I'm pretty good at just sitting with the idea that some of the people I love most have a violent antipathy to things that are really important to me.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:40 AM on April 18, 2012

But quivering_fantods is right; her email was way out of line. My anti-marriage friends were more along the lines of "Wish you well, but you know why we won't be at your wedding" than having a tantrum and calling me names.

It's okay for her to hate the institution of marriage. It's not at all okay for her to lash out at you personally.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:44 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

She said that she thought I was once "an innovative thinker" and now I am "just a sheep."

Your friend is very immature.
posted by jayder at 9:49 AM on April 18, 2012 [11 favorites]

Echoing much said, but sounds like she is coming to terms with something she believed linked the two of you in a shared belief system, and is now gone.

Were you considering her for Maid of Honor? If so, I'd reply "Of course, you're my choice for Maid of Honor, silly."

If she wasn't in the running, then it may be a more painful reckoning for her and you, but I wouldn't change your plans because of it. You have grown and changed due to your personal experiences she hasn't experienced. Such is life.
posted by rich at 9:49 AM on April 18, 2012

In the last six months or so, we've both changed our minds.

I agree that you should give her some time to work through whatever she is going through. During that six months, did you discuss your changing view on marriage with your friend? If this whole thing came out of the blue to her and you went from "For much of my life I did not think I would ever get married- not because I wouldn't find a person, but because of Society and Feminism and "It's just a piece of paper" etc." to "Yay, marriage" I can see why her emotional reaction would be "What the hell happened to you?" She should've expressed her opinion in a less insulting and more adult way though.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:56 AM on April 18, 2012

I got married in sort of a stunty way to a guy that I didn't know very well to "make a statement" about marriage. It was one of those things you do in your twenties and I was and am not a real pro-marriage person. That's me. Later on, after we weren't together anymore [we had a sort of complicated dating thing that overlapped with the marriage] he told me he needed a divorce because he had met The One and decided marriage was for him after all. And, that was annoying because I was a True Believer and it looked like my companion in True Believership had abandoned me. And I'm still a True Believer but I'm a lot older and I have a lot of different friends who are married, not married, divorced, in poly relationships, whatever. I'd rather have these friends than take my own personal stand, on this issue anyhow.

Ultimately though, the relationship was a good one, he was and is happily married and I'm genuinely happy for him though there was a period of adjustment. And yeah him telling me about his new relationship was a bit of a sudden realization that we were different people but realistically we had been turning into different people for a long time. And many people do this over the course of a lifetime and it's super normal. It's tough though when you hold core counterculture values together since the pool of replacement people you could fill that slot with is teeny.

And so this is to say that I empathize but even as someone who has been in your friend's position, I think she is making this about her in a weird way. And I'd give her some time to adjust to it, decide if you want her to be your Maid of Honor and, if so, tell her that she's got to manage her feelings about your impending marriage a little more on her own. I wouldn't get into a lengthy back and forth about this, just tell her you understand how she feels but you hope she can be supportive of this new phase on your life and leave it at that. If she tries to draw you into the "But what about OUR relationship...?" stuff it's okay to not engage.
posted by jessamyn at 10:04 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Seconding, thirding and fourthing notion that your friend is actually super jealous and going about telling you by calling you names.

Immature? Yes. Forgiveable? Maybe. I'd give her some time to cool down and then probe, gently - oh so gently - why she had that reaction. Something along the lines of, "I was kind of surprised how upset you were about my announcement. Can you tell me what was really going on?"

If she fesses up to the jealousy, then congratulate her for sharing and tell her that you totally get how she feels.

If she doesn't take the bait, I'd say she wasn't that good of a friend after all.
posted by Leezie at 10:05 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's always a difference between who we are and who we are perceived to be by those around us. This difference gets amplified when we've moved to the other side of the country. You and your friend are both running into that, and it's a shock.

I'm guessing your friend's image of you is stuck in that time when the two of you could see each other more regularly. You're not exactly the same person anymore, and rather than your friend getting subtle, constant updates that your path through life has changed, she's gotten a jolt. And hasn't dealt with it gracefully at all.

And perhaps your friend is going through stuff, or has gone through stuff, that you're not fully up to speed on that is influencing her reaction.

Talk to her. On the phone. Or better, Skype or some video thing. Leave the bridesmaid issue out of the discussion (sheesh!). In fact, chitchat will be more important than wedding talk. Maybe you can reassure her that you're not a Stepford wife-to-be, and you can find out if there's something else in her life bugging her. If you and she can get comfortable with your current status, then talk about the wedding.
posted by adamrice at 10:17 AM on April 18, 2012

Thanks everyone for the very thoughtful answers. I haven't responded yet and I don't know if I will for awhile. The email was giant (far too long to reproduce here) and I do think there were times that she tried to 'soften' what she was saying with some nice sentiments about how much she cares about me. However, there were other much worse things that I did not include in the original ask, such as (TRIGGER WARNING FYI and sorry in advance) that finding out I was getting married was like finding out your priest is a child molester. Very over the top kind of stuff.

After some thought I appreciate the comments that my previous views may be a red herring- it's given me a new perspective on this. I have always been very supportive of my friends getting married in the past and have not made negative comments about anyone who did choose to get married (for those of you that brought up that concern).

My friend and I have always been honest with each other, so a degree of bluntness was to be expected, but I agree with answers which said she may be dealing with something like depression or a life issue of her own. I do not really know what that would be as she's not told me anything is wrong.

Also, I'm not planning on having bridesmaids at all- it's going to be a very small backyard type deal. Isn't THAT going to be a fun conversation?!
posted by shes_ajar at 10:24 AM on April 18, 2012

I think sometimes young women have very intense friendships (not romantic necessarily, just intense in a Victorian way). And when you couple that with a friendship where people have been saying "I'm never getting married!" "Yeah, me either!" and then someone changes their mind, that can maybe feel to the other person like they're being ditched, the vague future where you two would be awesome single ladies together has now become one single person and a person who opted for marriage after all.

Your friend is just having some intense feelings. That's okay. You might say something like "I'm sorry you feel that way. I can totally see how it would be weird to see me go from "No marriage!" to getting engaged. From the inside it felt slow and logical, but... I get it. And I hope you know that even though I'm making this decision, your friendship is still very important to me." and just let her have whatever emotions she's having for a while.

Sometimes it's startling when our friends make big changes that seem vaguely out of character. That's okay, too. She will probably get over it. I would try to be lighthearted about all of this and not put too much heavy meaning on her gut response.

And congratulations!
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:27 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

that finding out I was getting married was like finding out your priest is a child molester.

Okay, with this new information I am leaning towards you writing this person off for a while, if not permanently. This is really fucking beyond the pale.
posted by elizardbits at 10:27 AM on April 18, 2012 [18 favorites]

This post may be relevant to your situation or at least understanding where BFF may be coming from. And I'll reiterate my answer in that post that may explain where she's coming from:

I had the best bestest friend ever. I remember we talked about engagement rings one time and she swore she'd never have one. She thought it was a waste of money (she concluded she'd rather have a new guitar instead of a ring).

Time marched on and she got engaged. And she got a big ol' ring. And I felt a little bit how I think you're feeling. I was actually hurt.

I was hurt because she was someone I didn't know anymore - because at some point having a ring instead of a guitar was ideal - and I missed that moment when she changed. I realized we weren't as close anymore. I was sad.

posted by Sassyfras at 10:38 AM on April 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

she was angry, upset, and spent much of the day crying about my engagement.

Huh? There are very, very few things that one should spend a whole day crying over. The death of a parent, perhaps, but very little else.

She's either in love with you and/or stalking you. And definitely not stable, at the very least.

On preview: what elizardbits said.
posted by Melismata at 10:38 AM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

If she's single then, yeah, she's jealous and she's sad your relationship is changing. I know because I've been your friend (though no where near as buckets of crazy. Comparing you to a child molester? WTF!). It is hard when everyone around you is pairing off and you're the only one that is single. It is hard when your one friend that you thought would never "do that" actually does it too. But you know what? I sucked it up and celebrated it with my friend because THAT IS WHAT YOU DO FOR FRIENDS! You don't try to ruin their happy news, you join them in it.

Her reaction is buckets of crazy. BUCKETS. OF. CRAZY. Comparing you to a priest turned child molester? Calling you a sheep? Her spending an entire day crying over it? God knows what else was said and went on. Whether she is disappointed in your decision or not, that is not okay. There is "blunt honesty" but then there is "Batshit crazy and mean". This all falls under the latter category. Whether she agrees with your decision to get married or not, she isn't a friend if she essentially is trying to ruin it for you. She has turned your happy event and happy news in to a huge drama about HER and how your engagement is ruining HER life. If she really is your BFF then she's grow the fuck up, apologize, and express happiness over the fact that you're happy. If she can't, well... I'd be thinking long and hard about what you're actually getting out of this friendship.
posted by gwenlister at 10:44 AM on April 18, 2012 [9 favorites]

Given the update, I would gently suggest that your only obligation now is to shield yourself from this person, and any further shame-mongering she may attempt.
posted by quivering_fantods at 10:46 AM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

Oy. That IS bad.

Is there a mutual friend you could ask to reach out to her and make sure she's getting help if she needs it?
posted by argonauta at 11:01 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Be kind.

I agree with OnTheLastCastle that when somebody goes on a rant like this there's usually other stuff going on. (I have no idea what exactly.)

Your reply should limited to something along the lines of "I got your email. We're still friends, right?" Do not address any specific points in the rant. If she doesn't mention them again, don't bring it up.

If she's willing to talk about your decision to get married in a reasonable or conciliatory way, and she initiates the conversation, reply in kind to the reasonable and conciliatory stuff, and ignore this email.

You might also want to ask her how she's doing. But wait a bit, so it doesn't seem like a pointed response to the email and don't mention that as a reason for asking.
posted by nangar at 11:14 AM on April 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

Even with the crazy sounding histrionics in your update we have no idea what is going on with this person. As she is your BFF I think the compassionate route is to give her some time to absorb this "new you" and then try to have a conversation where you can tease out what is going on with her emotionally. If she continues to be fighty and hysterical, then yes at some point when you feel it's more draining than you want to deal with you should disengage.
posted by MillMan at 11:16 AM on April 18, 2012

Although I think she went way overboard and was out of line etc etc etc, I can see a LITTLE where your friend is coming from. Ok, anecdata. My best friend and I have both our entire lives been very sure, and very vocal, about how neither of us will ever have kids.

NOW. If tomorrow I called my best friend up and was like, "Hooray, I'm having a baby! Isn't that great?", I am 100% sure she would be upset. Not because she doesn't support me or care about me or want me to have kids, etc, but because all of a sudden, a major aspect of my personality had radically changed out of nowhere. Can you see what I mean here? It's just... weird when someone in your life who has always been so sure about something major flips to the other side overnight. It's unnerving. What else is going to change? Do I even know this person at all? And so on.

On preview, what Sassyfras said. She was wrong to say those things to you, but.... I wouldn't throw her out the window just yet. Give her some space, assure her that you're the same person despite this change, and go from there.
posted by silverstatue at 11:18 AM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]

I agree very much with the be kind approach, if this friendship is valuable to you, you are likely going to need to be the bigger person.

She said that she thought I was once "an innovative thinker" and now I am "just a sheep."

I also think this is pretty immature, even to think it, to say it is worse, to write it down... yikes.
posted by Cosine at 11:19 AM on April 18, 2012

Also, I'm not planning on having bridesmaids at all- it's going to be a very small backyard type deal. Isn't THAT going to be a fun conversation?!

My suggestion - never have that conversation. Don't talk about your wedding plans. If she raises it, be neutral and then change the topic.
posted by amanda at 11:20 AM on April 18, 2012

"Also, I'm not planning on having bridesmaids at all- it's going to be a very small backyard type deal. Isn't THAT going to be a fun conversation?!

My suggestion - never have that conversation. Don't talk about your wedding plans. If she raises it, be neutral and then change the topic."

This. This is what worked for my wedding, we just never brought it up with friends so they never had a chance to object.
posted by Cosine at 11:25 AM on April 18, 2012

Yes, be kind. But also, prepare yourself. She may not respond rationally to any attempt to reach out. She may continue to be hurtful. She may not get past it, or acknowledge it, or apologize for it. It's possible to have compassion, and also to do what you need for your own health and happiness.
posted by moira at 11:26 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Your update makes it clear that she feels deeply betrayed because her BFF isn't the person she thought she was - both the sheep and priest comment underline that. However, I agree with everyone else that her reaction to you is way out of line.

I sympathize with her, I really do - when my best friend decided to get married it threw me for a total loop. But then, we were 20 and I was immature... and yet I still had the good sense not to Say these things to my best friend. So be kind, yes, but also boundaries, because this is a problem with Her, not you.
posted by ldthomps at 11:26 AM on April 18, 2012

I am kind of shocked at all the harsh comments toward your friend. Even if the harshness of her language is not relatable, I think her point of view is absolutely understandable. I think it has a lot less to do with jealousy and more to do with a sense of betrayal. You all in her eyes were an exclusive club. You kind-of decided to leave the club and apparently she felt blindsided. I think your reaction were the tables turned be very similar to hers! I liken it to a leader of some sort who so many people believe in for something, then that leader all of a sudden with no explanation, votes on something he/she swore they were vehemently against. It just takes you aback. You don't "hate" them per se, but you feel like you've lost an ally. That person's shift means your world by no intention of your own, has changed. Things are not as you thought they were. I think that's all this is.

Her issue is more mental than emotional. She still values your friendship (hence "I must be maid of honor"), but she is having a difficutl time wrapping her mind around this new situation. I think you owe her an explanation else she will think all those years of your proclaiming one thing were just lies. She will be even more deluded if you pretend that "my mind just changed out of the blue." I say talk it out, at least give her that. If she still has an issue, take a few steps back and wait for her to come around. If she doesn't, that means that season of your friendship with her is gone. It hurts but it too shall pass. Good luck!
posted by GeniPalm at 11:32 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

If my BFF sent me such an email, I would be shocked, hurt, angry -- I would take several deep breaths, bitch to my fiance, bitch anonymously to AskMe -- and only once I had calmed down, I would reply with an email that said:

Whoa. You seem really upset. That upsets me, because I love you dearly. Can we talk about this on the phone or in person? I am so happy right now but it would make me even happier if we could figure out a way you could be happy for me, because, like I said, I love you dearly.

The key here, of course, is that I really do love my BFF dearly. If you love yours, then ignore everyone here who is advising you write her off or withdraw, and give her a chance to come to her senses

It can be really hard when your closest friend in the world does a 180 and starts pursuing a different path than y'all had talked about and agreed on and planned on throughout the years. Be gentle and compassionate with her. After all, you ARE happy with your life right now. What do you have to lose by showing kindness to someone you love?
posted by artemisia at 11:37 AM on April 18, 2012 [13 favorites]

PS Perhaps I'd tweak that email slightly -- on second read, the third sentence seems a little smarmy. But you get the general idea: emphasize that it's important to you to get to the bottom fo why she's upset, because **she is important to you and your happiness**, the same way your fiance is.
posted by artemisia at 11:39 AM on April 18, 2012

Call her, on the actual phone so you can hear her tone of voice and get a good idea of her stability, and see how she's doing.

She really might have been drunk though, or maybe kidding on the square.

Sorry. This is really not about you and if you don't want to deal with it, that's okay too.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:44 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would strongly suggest simply not responding to her email, as no matter what you write, it is likely to escalate the confrontation. But I wouldn't write her off as a friend. I know that you are really hurt by what she wrote, but if you can force yourself to take the high road, then do it. Delete the email so that you aren't tempted to read it again in the future. Give her a month or two to cool off, then send her an email or call her and pretend like the nasty email never happened. This has worked well for me in the past to salvage meaningful friendships that otherwise would have ended.
posted by tr0ubley at 12:10 PM on April 18, 2012

Here's the problem, she's upset. When she's upset, she will call her BFF. Who is you. The source of the upset. So it is a bit of a catch 22. She has some issues around this, and she unfortunately projected onto you. If you have been friends for years, I would just give it some time and see how it plays out. If she keeps going on and on, that's one thing. But if she comes around, I would forgive her and move on. She probably just felt abandoned and reacted rashly. Life is too short. It'd still be great to have you BFF at your wedding, once she pulls herself together.
posted by Vaike at 12:12 PM on April 18, 2012

Thanks to everyone again. I was very upset this morning when I posted my question- feeling much better about letting her stew for awhile and hopefully coming back to discussing it with her when things aren't so emotional on her end. I've marked a handful of best answers, though really most of them have been helpful. She is my friend even if she is being nutty right now. This has done a lot for my peace of mind and putting things in perspective. If things progress in crazy beyond this one incident I have a lot of boundary setting to do, but I am inclined to think that she had a poor knee jerk reaction.

Thanks also for the kind memails I've gotten.
posted by shes_ajar at 12:19 PM on April 18, 2012

I see her outburst in the same light as I would see parents or relatives telling you not to do anything in your life based on their own extremist ideologies.... you ignore them and do what you want. You are an adult and you're allowed to change your mind about your life decisions. Please don't let people like her guilt out of a happiness in your life, or make you feel like you should be ashamed of it in some way.

I hope if you're able to work past this, she won't impose her stringent ideals on you and bully you for any other choices you make that might not be to her liking. A friend should love you and accept you for who you are in the present, not berate you for who you used to be.
posted by haplesschild at 12:41 PM on April 18, 2012

Hunh? What right does she have to be unhappy about your happy situation? You call that a friend? Dump her now.
posted by pakora1 at 2:43 PM on April 18, 2012

Congratulations! I'm thrilled for you, and so sorry this reaction from your BFF has taken the wind out of your sails. Hopefully you will be able to let this go for the immature reaction it is and not let her poison pen letter spoil your happiness.

I am kind of shocked at all the harsh comments toward your friend. Even if the harshness of her language is not relatable, I think her point of view is absolutely understandable.

I really don't find her POV understandable, personally. No one is denying her right to feel the way she does, though. If the responses (which have actually been mostly pretty mellow) seem harsh to you, keep in mind that's because her behavior is pretty inexcusable.

This girl chose to take all her bitterness, twist it to make it shes_ajar's problem, and put it in an email complete with priest/child molester comparison, and then, rather than sitting on that email or reading it over and realizing how crazy that is, she SENT IT. She spitefully stepped all over shes_ajar's happiness just because she was feeling pissy.

That's truly horrible. When you're best friends with someone, you share their happiness and their pain--but especially their happiness, because that's what you want for your friend, HAPPINESS. The automatic response to a best friend saying, "We're engaged! I'm so happy!" should be an immediate, "Congratulations! I'm happy for you, too!"

Even if you are upset, you certainly don't lash out at your friend and her fiance'--who you know are GOOD for each other. And she compares them to sheep and child molester priests! That's just the worst possible behavior. It's incredibly selfish, childish and akin to throwing a tantrum. I wouldn't act that way toward someone I cared even the least little bit about.

OP, Your BFF needs to stop making this about her and start genuinely putting your happiness first. She needs to find a way to deal with her disappointment over still being single (because that's where it sounds like this is all coming from, sour grapes on her part).

Since this is your BFF, I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume this is not at all typical behavior for her. I would HOPE that she comes back, is aghast at what she's done and apologizes contritely for her behavior. If she doesn't--well, I'm glad you aren't having a maid of honor, because this is not the way you'd want one to behave.

And I'd be considering if this person is really the friend you thought she was. Because if she reacts this way to your getting married, imagine how she'll react if you decide to have kids.
posted by misha at 6:07 PM on April 18, 2012 [10 favorites]

I agree completely with misha. I can only speak for myself really, but I think the vast majority of us have jealous, petty feelings every now and then. That's only human, and those feelings are understandable. I think a lot of us can relate to having had an ugly meltdown over similar situations.

But it's one thing to have a ragey cryfest in privacy, or vent to a disinterested third party, or punch some decorative throw pillows or whatever you need to do to deal with your irrational feelings, and another thing to compose a lengthy letter detailing your horrendous turmoil and heaped with the most outrageously hurtful insults AND THEN TO SEND IT. I can't even comprehend what goes through a person's mind compelling them to do such a cruel thing. I mean the pedophile comment... that's unforgivable in my books.

OP, I don't believe for a second that this is all about feminism and innovative thinking and you becoming a sheep. Feminism is not about buying into some all-encompassing doctrine where marriage is unequivocally BAD. Feminism is about women having the same rights and opportunities as men to live full, happy lives. If being married will make you happy, then as a feminist, your friend should support you in your choice.

If there is something else going on with your friend that is causing her to lash out at you uncharacteristically, then by all means be kind to her. But take care of youself first and don't let her tarnish your happy memories of being newly engaged (by the way, CONGRATS!). On the other hand, has she shown any similar tendencies to bring you down in the past? If so, you may need to let this one go.

Believe me, I feel for you. It was precisely the news of my engagement that was the last straw for a close friendship of mine. I endured my friend's nitpicking and mild snarkiness here and there for decades. When she reacted to my happy news with horror, I finally understood that she didn't want me to be happy, never had, and instead wanted me to be as bitter and disappointed as she was, always. I took a big step back from that friendship and have no regrets.
posted by keep it under cover at 6:57 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

Congratulations on your engagement!

My BFF had a similarly non-positive response to the news that we were expecting our third child ("don't you know how to keep that from happening?"). I was surprised and hurt at first. Then I did what I think most BFFs should be able to do and called her on that bullshit. And she got it - and now she sends #3 the same insanely irritating type of gifts she sends the older two, and is pleased as punch to do so.

Can you do that? Just say "dude, wtf? I want you to be happy for me, not all freaked out and awful. Can you do that or are we going to have to make this A Thing?" You might be surprised. She was (brutally) honest with you - there's no reason you shouldn't be the same with her.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 8:20 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think Sassyfras has it:
I was hurt because she was someone I didn't know anymore - because at some point having a ring instead of a guitar was ideal - and I missed that moment when she changed. I realized we weren't as close anymore. I was sad.

She didn't see this coming. It's awful to be surprised like that by someone you think of as close, because it means she didn't know you as well as she once did. So she's not reacting to your news, so much as to her realization that time has passed, you've grown apart a little, etc. I bet she will come around, adjust to the new reality, and be happy for you.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:34 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm with artemisia and LobsterMitten here. Life is long. Respond carefully to save the friendship, if you can.
posted by salvia at 9:22 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Look, she's mourning the loss of a concept and a life and a set of ideals she had with you. She's questioning herself and her own values. She's questioning yours. She's questioning your friendship. She wonders if you're rejecting her. More than anything she's wondering what this all means for her, which is what people tend to do. And she vented to you because she's your BFF.

And then she wants to be your maid of honor - because she still loves you, you know, she just needed you to know, as her BFF, that she's majorly pissed off/hurt/confused right now.
posted by mleigh at 10:43 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would ignore this friend on the topic of your marriage. I would, instead, let her make the next move and write/call you the next time and then take charge to set the tone and extent of your conversation with her.

I don't find her reaction over the top, nor do I think its mature adult behaviour. I also think that chalking her reaction up to her being single is simplistic and insulting to singles and feminists in general. Single people aren't automatically jealous because, as hard as it is for these married folks to understand, one is not single by default but often by choice. Sane and mature friends are genuinely happy to hear good news from another friend, and I am sorry that your best friend failed you in this aspect. I don't really know you but I am happy and excited to read that despite having strong opinions one way, you have met a guy you want to spend the rest of your life with and have decided to walk down the other path. My heartiest congratulations to you both!

The bottom line is this: You are not "sheep" because you chose to marry someone you are excited to be with and are in love with. You are allowed to fall in love and change your mind. You don't have to justify this or your actions to anyone in the world, including BFFs. You didn't sign a contract with her declaring your feminism to include single-status for the rest of your life. And, I do understand that her feelings are coming from a sense of betrayal but thats the emotional stuff for her to sort out, rather than drag a soon-to-be-bride into it. She is being childish and you are not her parent who has to correct her (I doubt you can "correct" adults anyway). It is ironic and bizarre that at the end of her rant she wants, or rather demands, to be the maid of honour.

This reaction may very well signal the change you are bound to see in your relationship with this friend in the future. This is an excellent time to set boundaries and set the tone of what you will and will not tolerate. And, the latter need not be a lecture in the form of a reply to her email. You can be silent and speak volumes. This is not the same as stonewalling. More of ignoring an adult when they behave as a child, rather than trying to reason with them because, like it or not, we all learn when we want to learn.
posted by xm at 6:53 PM on April 19, 2012

Agree with Sassyfras. It really really sucks when you realize your BFF values different things than you do. I can't think of anything more hurtful when my college BFF seemed to suddenly change very intensely in front of my eyes. In retrospect, she was probably watching me "suddenly change very intensely" too. But I felt like I was still the same, and that she had betrayed me, and left me out. Pretty sure we both changed and left each other out of things, but it didn't feel like that at the time. I didn't write her a weird angry email straight out of a Women's Studies 101 hangover, but I did want to.

Give her some time, don't address particular points, and make sure you sound--and actually are--a part of her interests and life. She feels like you don't share interests/values, but I'm sure there are still things you have in common. Let her be reminded of that in time. Maybe 1-2 weeks. Keep it off email, or if you do email, make it no more than 3 lines. Take this on the phone/skype.

She likely feels like an a-hole, so no need to dwell on it. If she does continue to dwell on it, that's another story.
posted by manicure12 at 6:54 PM on April 21, 2012

Completely in agreement with a lot of what's been said. I'd read it as a shell shock uncontained knee jerk reaction. The less attention you pay to what was actually said the better, treat it like...a funny story you'll get to have with your friend down the line (remember that time i told you i was getting married? ha!). As for your friend, despite the outrageous comments, the inklings that came through does sound like she is actually happy for you. If this is out of her own insecurity (likely), don't be cruel about it and pick on her for every unreasonable last detail. Don't apologize for yourself, but if her best friend's engagement is reminding her that she doesn't have what she wants, maybe it's also a good opportunity to reach out and support your friend. If she's so adamant about not marrying but so easily triggered by the idea, maybe she actually does want to marry, and maybe she needs her best friend to help her confront what she really wants versus a defensive mechanism. But definitely put her in her place for this email rampage first, have some self control for goodness sake.
posted by joannqy at 2:55 PM on April 29, 2012

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