Little Black Dress
August 11, 2015 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Friend B wore questionable attire to a wedding reception. Is friend A right to be upset?

Friend A and her husband eloped last spring abroad. Two weekends ago, A and husband had a small party to celebrate with friends locally. It was a fairly casual affair at their house, about a dozen people, barbeque, cake and champagne.

Friend B, who is part of our group, arrived in a little black dress, tight, short, and with strappy black heels. Her outfit was definitely out of place among everyone else. Friend B has behaved inappropriately towards A's husband in the past -- asked him for a day-long favor "so she could take him out to dinner", flirting, getting him to drive her places, etc., and has talked to me and others about how much she adores him. She only knows A's husband through A. B made a beeline right for A's husband at the party, and monopolized him for a while. According to A, her husband actually dislikes B, but tolerates her for sake of his wife and the group.

A is not a fan of B, but includes and invited her as part of our group. A was upset at B's behavior at this party, and her choice to, as she said, 'dress to kill'. A knows she has no reason to be jealous, or wonder about her new husband, but she feels offended that B isn't respectful of her home and her marriage. A wants me to tell B she was inappropriate, again, and she wants to exclude her from future events. I'm inclined to agree with A, but I think she could be overreacting. What do you think, wise AskMe?
posted by Dashy to Human Relations (59 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would stay out of this mess. Let A deal with B on her own. There's no reason why you should get placed in the middle of this squabble.
posted by Fister Roboto at 10:27 AM on August 11, 2015 [73 favorites]


I think A's behavior is really inappropriate, but the outfit was not.

I mean, that's not what I'd wear to a backyard BBQ but we've all made sartorial mistakes or only had one clean thing in our closet
posted by lalex at 10:27 AM on August 11, 2015 [65 favorites]


I think you should stay out of it and let A deal with her own problems with B like a grown-ass person.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 10:27 AM on August 11, 2015 [47 favorites]


I think you should stay out of this. This is between A and B, and if A wants B to know she dressed and behaved inappropriately, she needs to tell her herself.
posted by something something at 10:28 AM on August 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


To exclude someone from future engagements because of the person's dress is crazy and petty and plays into stereotypes about catty women.

To exclude someone because one just don't like them or value the relationship is one's prerogative.
posted by girl flaneur at 10:29 AM on August 11, 2015 [12 favorites]


I have never before seen such an illustration of the line: "This is an A and B issue, and you should C yourself out of it."
posted by Etrigan at 10:29 AM on August 11, 2015 [146 favorites]


I think she is not overreacting and if I were A, I'd definitely stop hanging around B. She is disrespectful, boorish, and a bad friend. However, you don't really seem to be involved-- so if I were you, I'd commiserate with A about how obnoxious, rude, and selfish B is, but do nothing else. (Possibly I'd say "you know, you're a little touchy feely with Mr. A, it's kind of awkward" to B if I were hanging out with her socially and it came up.)
posted by easter queen at 10:30 AM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


The lede is a bit buried as it sounds like the outfit is maybe the least of the problems A has with B.

If A wants to exclude B from social events for whatever reason, A should tell B, not send you to do it for no discernible reason.
posted by griphus at 10:30 AM on August 11, 2015 [12 favorites]


This has nothing to do with how she was dressed. A would probably be miffed if B came dressed like one of the FLDS polygamist compound ladies and acted the same way.

If A is really pressing you to be involved in this, I think your role should only go so far as to redirecting A to focus on the behavior she finds unacceptable (and not the clothing) and encouraging her to make her own decisions based on that alone.

Otherwise, stay out of it for your own sanity.
posted by phunniemee at 10:30 AM on August 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


DEFINITELY not your problem and you should DEFINITELY stay out of it. Seriously, if A wants this address she should do it yourself.

I'd be pretty irritated with A for trying to drag me into this. This all feels very junior high with the "I'm not talking to Julie, so Alice you tell Julie I'm not talking to her!" all within earshot of Julie. I mean, seriously... Why is this your responsibility? On what planet should you be the one to go tell B that A is upset with her and doesn't want to be friends with her anymore?! The only other possible person this could fall to would be her husband since she is behaving inappropriately towards him. If A wants to kick up the dramz to the point where she wants to exclude someone she needs to be the one that kicks up the dramz, not assign that task to someone else. Honest to god.

That said, I had a woman behave seriously inappropriately towards my husband when we were engaged, and she was a woman who had been extremely flirty towards him and even actively said things against me to him, so I know how much it sucks to be in A's position. Know how I solved it? My fiance put a stop to it by telling her to stop speaking against me and told her she was being inappropriate.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:31 AM on August 11, 2015 [10 favorites]


Anna wants me to tell Barb she was inappropriate, again, and she wants to exclude her from future events

This is Anna being inappropriate. This is her business not yours. Why in hell and creation would you be the messenger here?

also Obviously the dress wasn't the problem.
posted by French Fry at 10:32 AM on August 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yep, joining the chorus of stay out of it! If A wants to let B know that her outfit and behavior were inappropriate, let her be the messenger (and change the subject if/when either one brings it up with you)!
posted by Blissful at 10:32 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


to be clear, I'm trying to figure out how to advise A -- whether she has grounds to be upset and, as is well said here, deal with it herself.
posted by Dashy at 10:32 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's really up to her. It's her marriage, her feelings.

I wouldn't have the reaction she had but I'm not her so it doesn't really matter. She needs to talk to this person. Not to you or anyone else.
posted by French Fry at 10:34 AM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


A can stop inviting B places all on her own.

Do you like B? If you like B, you should continue to interact with her. If B ever asks you about A, you can answer ("You flirt too much with Mr. A") or evade ("You should speak to A about this"). You absolutely should not tell B that A thinks she dresses and acts badly.

A has grounds to be upset, but she doesn't seem to like B anyways, so why wouldn't she just slow fade instead of starting a big thing about how inappropriate B is?
posted by jeather at 10:34 AM on August 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Friend B has behaved inappropriately towards A's husband in the past -- asked him for a day-long favor "so she could take him out to dinner", flirting, getting him to drive her places, etc., and has talked to me and others about how much she adores him. She only knows A's husband through A. B made a beeline right for A's husband at the party, and monopolized him for a while.

People seem to be ignoring this. If a woman acted this way towards my husband, I'd tell her to knock it off pronto, and if she continued, buh-bye. OP is right to tell B, you were acting completely inappropriately to A's husband, knock it off yesterday.
posted by Melismata at 10:35 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's sort of unclear what B did at the party save for monopolize the dude "for a while" and also wear some event-inappropriate clothing, but it sounds like A has long-standing beef with B on some pretty solid grounds so I don't see why this can't be the last straw.
posted by griphus at 10:36 AM on August 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


For the record, it does and doesn't have to do with B's dress. It seems B dressed up way more than necessary so she could come to the reception and be sexy and flirt with A's husband. But there's no way to know-- maybe she just liked the dress. If she had dressed that way and behaved respectfully, it wouldn't have mattered what she had worn and it's unlikely anyone would have been offended (though there's always one). I think focusing on A's distaste for B's dress (as if it's all about the dress and A is being irrational) is sexist.

Being nice to someone who disrespects your marriage is very draining, especially when they seem to be hitting on your spouse. If you've seen the movie Young Adult, it paints a good picture. I might not ask my friend directly to intervene, but if my friend had my back and started phasing the offender out of group events, I'd be eternally grateful.
posted by easter queen at 10:36 AM on August 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


According to A, her husband actually dislikes B, but tolerates her for sake of his wife and the group.

This isn't the core question, but I did actually laugh out loud at this, because of course he said that. That response is a deep orange flag, maybe red-ish in the right lighting.
posted by French Fry at 10:37 AM on August 11, 2015 [27 favorites]


It seems like people are still including B for the sake of the group, but if several members of the group don't care for B, why is she invited to anything? Inviting someone to events because you feel sorry for them (etc.) doesn't do anyone any favors. Just quietly exclude her in the future.
posted by witchen at 10:37 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, A is in an impossible situation. If she does nothing, she watches her "friend" hit on her husband. If she says something, she's the catty jealous bitch who won't let her husband have friends. So maybe she shouldn't be asking you to do her dirty work but it is probably much harder for her to do it successfully (where success is defined by getting B to lay off and not getting a horrible reputation) than a third party.
posted by easter queen at 10:38 AM on August 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


I can think of so many explanations for B that are innocent based on the small amount of info we have.

But if you feel threatened or offended by anyone you NEVER have to invite them to your home or to your parties.
posted by janey47 at 10:39 AM on August 11, 2015 [13 favorites]


Forget the dress. A should focus on the other questionable behavior exhibited by B toward her husband and would not be amiss in addressing her feelings about those things.
posted by cecic at 10:39 AM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


According to A, her husband actually dislikes B, but tolerates her for sake of his wife and the group.

This isn't the core question, but I did actually laugh out loud at this, because of course he said that. That response is a deep orange flag, maybe red-ish in the right lighting.



I don't think that's fair. I've been in this situation on both sides and there are times where you really do have to put up with a tacky person for group harmony. Maybe the husband likes the ego-petting, and maybe he could be more pro-active about putting the kibosh on, but men and women both put up with uncomfortable behavior from "suitors" because they're too ashamed.
posted by easter queen at 10:41 AM on August 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


Only she knows if she has "grounds to be upset", and really it is sort of moot because she IS upset and clearly wants to do something about it. If both she and her husband don't like her, and if her husband agrees that B's behaviour has crossed a line, then she and her husband need to draw boundaries. Her husband, for example, could point out that her behaviour is inappropriate and ask her to stop when she starts being flirty with him. A's husband is the one that has the power to shut this down, and it wouldn't take much. The question to me is why he hasn't already. This whole "For the group" thing is silly and sounds like an excuse to me. Him drawing boundaries with B doesn't need to be a big public humiliation of B, he could do it discreetly allowing her to save face if need be. And frankly, the fact that he HASN'T shut it down yet is probably making B feel like A's husband is interested or at least enjoying it on some level. Know what I mean? I'm not saying he is actually enjoying it, but I can see why B may think that he is. He is failing to draw appropriate boundaries, so she is probably seeing that as permission to continue.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:41 AM on August 11, 2015 [24 favorites]


Neither A nor Mr. A seem to like B; let that be the end of it. (Unlike French Fry, I'm taking Mr. A at his word.) People dislike people for all sorts of reasons, and for no reason at all. They don't need to justify their dislike.

I think A has good reason to dislike B, but I also think it's petty, tedious, and drama-baiting if A's dwelling on B's outfit and attempting to rope you into her beef. None of this is your problem and you are free to wash your hands of it.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:43 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm in Camp A.

What this woman B is doing is rude and inappropriate. A can't call her out because of plausible deniability. ("Oh this old thing? I just threw it on! Oh your husband? He's just my BFF!")

Yes she has a right to be pissed and if you enjoy A, and respect A's marriage, I'd agree with her and at least keep B away from events with A's husband. You don't have to "get in the middle of it" more than that. Surprised people aren't more sympathetic to A as she seems more sensible, like a better friend anyway, and has more to lose. (Husband, vs "Total BFf" who may not even like her.)
posted by quincunx at 10:43 AM on August 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


... as an addendum to my last comment, A's husband SHOULD be the one doing the dirty work. But he might be too ashamed/awkward/creeped out. (But he also has less to lose than A. But after the emotional labor thread, we all know how this is.)
posted by easter queen at 10:46 AM on August 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


In my marriage, this would be an eye-roll at best, but I am not A and of course she has the right to her feelings.

What puzzles me is that neither A nor Mr. A seem to like this woman, so why was she invited? Group dynamics be damned, I wouldn't invite a "friend" that I didn't like to celebrate my wedding. Family maybe...

I would advise A to ditch B. If you, OP, like B on her own merits, then keep hanging out with her, but I wouldn't blame you if you didn't.
posted by chainsofreedom at 10:47 AM on August 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


OK, A doesn't like B, Mr. A doesn't like B - why on earth did they invite B to their party in the first place? (On preview, I have been beaten to the point by chainsofreedom.)

Is this a Geek Social Fallacies thing? The moral here seems to be "don't invite people who you don't like over to your house to celebrate things that are very important to you." Let everyone decide how they feel about B on their own; A and Mr. A don't like her, and that's FINE.
posted by mskyle at 10:50 AM on August 11, 2015 [15 favorites]


Definitely a "who cares" situation. Stay away from the drama.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:55 AM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


A's husband is the one that has the power to shut this down, and it wouldn't take much. The question to me is why he hasn't already.

This is where I come down. This is not about a dress. And it's only sort of about Bs behavior. I don't mean to be all Eleanor Roosevelt about this but no one can monopolize you at a party without your consent. So if the issue is that Mr. A somehow not being able to manage this on his own and needing help (we've all been there) then A needs to give him the TEAM US lecture and they can work on this. But it's got nothing to do with you except to be a supportive sympathetic friend "Yeah that was uncool." to A. People respect other people's marriages in different ways. A charitable interpretation of B's behavior is that she is clueless and lonely or awkward. A less charitable interpretation is that she is either trying to get something going with Mr. A or that she's got some sort of issue with A that is manifesting itself in this way. So either A needs to hand out an olive branch but also some straight talk to B or just take the higher ground and ignore it if she's really got no issues with her marriage and her feelings about Mr. A and B.
posted by jessamyn at 10:55 AM on August 11, 2015 [32 favorites]


Woah. Nobody's coming out of things smelling like roses. Not A, not A's husband, not B, and not the OP's intention to advise A on how to proceed. In my world, this situation would be all about de-escalating, letting other people sort out their own drama*, and remaining the Switzerland of friendships (neutral, in case you are wondering).

(*if they're married, they are grown-ups, grown-ups deal with their own crap and do not engage mutual friends in their drama)
posted by kariebookish at 10:59 AM on August 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


Is friend A right to be upset?

If she's upset, she's upset. I'm always suspicious of questions about how it's OK to feel about someone else's behavior. People feel the way they feel. But does her feeling of being upset entitle her to make demands on you? No, it does not. She needs to work this one out for herself.
posted by BibiRose at 11:04 AM on August 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


I once went to a friend's super casual engagement party wearing my best dress because she I interpreted her "wear whatever you like" to mean that she and her fancy friends would all assume that that means to dress fancy. I had forgotten that super casual is the new cool.

That said, I didn't hit on the groom (what the heck?), and if I did, I'm pretty he or she would have told me to knock it off. How hard can it be to be like, "sorry, gotta go check on the drinks/grill/wife" and leave?

I get that A is upset, I would be as well - at the husband.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 11:17 AM on August 11, 2015 [13 favorites]


to be clear, I'm trying to figure out how to advise A -- whether she has grounds to be upset and, as is well said here, deal with it herself.

She has every right to be upset (about B's behavior, I agree the black dress is a red herring). B is disrespectful to A, A's husband and their relationship. That is not how a friend behaves.

She should handle it in any way she sees fit. It is her life and as an adult she can choose to associate with who she pleases socially. She doesn't really need a "good reason" for this, just not liking B is sufficient.
posted by Julnyes at 11:27 AM on August 11, 2015


How to advise A? "This is an A and B problem; I'm gonna C my way out."

I can see being annoyed, but I also think that A will probably be happier if she drops it and moves on, and further involvement only prolongs the process.
posted by klangklangston at 11:27 AM on August 11, 2015


I think A is probably "right" to be upset, but I can't see any way that making it about the dress isn't straight-up slut shaming -- what she wore isn't the point.

Since it seems like no one likes B, the solution looks clear: A should stop inviting B to things, maybe OP should too, but that depends on how you really feel about B, OP.

Given that the rest of the peer group is free to keeping inviting B, she may not just go away. So I think it really falls to Mr. A. Mr. A should be under instructions to not interact with B anymore, even to the point of rudeness. If B tries to corner him at an event, he should say "oh hey, I gotta go find A" or "Sorry, gotta run!" or even just an "excuse me." He should be doing everything in his power to avoid interacting with B without A there -- and that should be easy enough, they are newlyweds after all, people should expect them to be pretty inseparable.

I think that if A wants to confront B about her behaviour, it would be ill-advised, but not the worst thing ever to happen between people. Under no circumstances should OP be the one to deliver any such message though.

So OP, I don't agree with people saying that you shouldn't give A advice about this situation -- that's what friends are for. What you shouldn't do is actively insert yourself into the drama by being a communication conduit between A and B.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:37 AM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Middle school seems awfully young to be getting married.

Grownups don't order emissaries to the other lunch table to inform Betty that she's not allowed to hang out with the cool kids anymore because her skirts are too short. Who crowned A the arbiter of everyone else's behavior?

A shouldn't have invited B to the party if she doesn't like the way B acts. A doesn't get to scold, she doesn't get to send a message, she doesn't need to tell B anything for her own good. But she does get to control who she invites to her parties.

What you should tell A is to grow up and manage her own feelings instead of trying to rotate the world to accommodate them, and then you should consider a) what A says about you behind her back b) why she thinks you're supposed to do her dirty work.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:38 AM on August 11, 2015 [32 favorites]


A wants me to tell B

Since A is married and therefore presumably a grownup, A can talk to B herself. Because that is what grownups do.

Even better would be B's husband shutting this shit down because it's being targeted at him. "A, I am a happily married man and I do not appreciate you behaving in a flirtatious manner towards me. I need you to stop this behaviour immediately, or we will no longer be able to invite you to any gatherings. No, this is not open to negotiation, yes I feel your behaviour is inappropriate no matter what you think of it. Are we crystal clear?"
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:05 PM on August 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Some people really are harmless flirts, and just enjoy wearing tight and short dresses. They usually deal with everyone the same way, though, and often have a sense of humour about themselves. So it's easy to just be all right with them as they are. With flirts like that, men who respond to them inappropriately are indulging in stupid and harmful vanities. But if it's clear B here is really targeting Mr A, that's something else, and yes of course fine to not invite her. And in that case, Mr A should definitely be the one doing the blocking of any untoward behaviour by Ms B.

However, if he's like some men I've known, he may not even really appreciate what's happening. He may think he's just "having a conversation", somewhat enjoy the attention (without really knowing that he is), and subtly respond to it without an awareness that he's encouraging it. Which if she's really pushy, might just happen by way of his behaving like a normal and polite human being. In this sort of situation, he really needs to keep verbal responses to Ms B to an absolute minimum, minimize eye contact, physically stand back from her, and show solidarity by focusing attention on his wife (including nonverbally, by e.g. touching her more often in B's presence).

The difficult thing might be Ms A convincing Mr A that this is a problem. I've seen clueless partners of friends say things like, "why are you being so [catty, defensive, unreasonably jealous, etc]" and "if you were secure, B wouldn't bother you". This is a red flag, but I have seen it happen so often I almost think it might be par for the course with a lot of M/F relationships, especially when the M are young, or not tuned into subtext or emotional dynamics, for whatever reasons. That said, most men figure this out at some point.

So on some level he may 1) as mentioned, enjoy the attention and not really want it to stop, and/or, 2) may understand it in some way, but feel that it's harmless, and feel that he'd never do anything about it anyway. This is a red flag, because he in that case is not prioritizing his wife's feelings over momentary flattery.

Or, 3) he may feel attacked for being accused of having ulterior motives, and resent this. He may not have any ulterior motives - he just may not understand that part of his job as a husband is protecting the relationship. This is also a red flag, in that it places the onus on women to police men's behaviour and reflects beliefs about women and people that are, well, worth examining.

If he doesn't get what's going on intuitively, that is going to be a tricky conversation. He might understand it better if it comes from another man, honestly (and sadly). If you really want to get mixed in (and I agree you mostly shouldn't), maybe you could suggest that some other person's husband sit him down and explain all this to him.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:06 PM on August 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


This sounds so impossibly "Real Housewives of (Insert City)". Why bother? If A doesn't like B flirting with A's husband, stop inviting her to events. (But this is something that an adult should be able to decide for herself, not with "counsel" from someone who has no dog in this fight.) tl;dr: Drama. Stay out of it.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 12:12 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to figure out how to advise A -- whether she has grounds to be upset...

In my world, this is kind of a nonsensical question. It's one thing to ask whether you have grounds to breach a contract or get a refund on a broken gadget. But if B has made A upset, nobody -- not you, not us, not anybody -- has the right to tell A "you are not upset," or even "you should not be upset." A is apparently upset and her emotional reaction is valid in the same way anyone's emotions are valid. They are what they are. It's how they react to those emotions and put them into action that distinguishes people.

If you're trying to decide how to advise A to react to her emotion, my advice would be that she should stop inviting B to events if B's presence makes her unhappy. But that's my go-to general relationship advice -- if you've told people that when they do [x] it makes you unhappy, and they continue to do [x], then they're not worth being around because they do not respect your feelings, so long as [x] is a reasonable request. If A has told B this type of behavior and B persists in the behavior, I think it's a reasonable ask and a reasonable reason to stop hanging out with someone.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:19 PM on August 11, 2015


stay all the way out of this.
posted by nadawi at 12:30 PM on August 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


A doesn't like B or B's flirting with A's husband.
A's husband doesn't like B or B's flirting with him.
Question: why in the heck does A invite a person neither she nor her husband like, to their home?!?
Conclusion: A should not invite B to future events.

And C (that's you!) should keep as far out of this mess as you possibly can, because you'll only end up getting burned by both A and B.
posted by easily confused at 12:33 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


A needs to step up and deal with the problem that she has with B herself. She's a grownup and she needs to put on her adulthood shoes and deal with an unpleasant situation herself. If she doesn't want B around, then she can stop inviting her to events. If she wants her husband to stop spending so much time with her, she should tell him that.

What she shouldn't be doing is dragging you into all of this. If you're throwing a party, you get to invite who you want to have there. If you value having A there more than B, or vice versa, that's your choice and you get to deal with the consequences of that. It's not OK for A to ask you to take sides, but you do get to take whatever sides you choose to. A might not come to a Thing if she knows B is coming, but that's her choice to make.

It seems that B is only in the picture because of A's husband, so if he cuts her off, the problem will go away. It doesn't sound like they're that close, so saying he can't drive to [place] shouldn't be too much of a problem. It seems like he's the capstone of all this fuss. He could solve this problem quite neatly by just refusing to have anything to do with B.
posted by Solomon at 12:50 PM on August 11, 2015


1. A should have a "come to jesus meeting" with her husband about what he's doing to discourage her attention. Tolerating her for sake of the group means you smile and be polite without engaging her too much, not spending the day helping her, going to dinner with her, driving her places and then being monopolized by her at a party celebrating his marriage. As someone noted up above, you don't spend that much time around someone you dislike unless they're a relative. He's enabling a huge problem for the group.

2. Somebody should have a "come to jesus" meeting with B about her behavior and how she needs to cut that shit out, right now. She's creating a huge problem for the group.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:02 PM on August 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Based on your update, it sounds like A is (justifiably, in my opinion) upset about B's behavior but is second-guessing herself because women are socialized to downplay their "jealousy" and "overreaction" to these things. I think it would be a kindness, as a friend, to validate her observations about B and help her think of ways to take action.

When it comes to actual conversations with the parties involved, though -- that's on her.
posted by delight at 1:09 PM on August 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


The dress is the tip of the iceberg really. If she dressed like that but didn't act like a tit I'm sure no-one would care. I think A needs to read B the riot act (or better still, her husband does), but it sounds like she is being a bit gutless about it and hoping you will do it for her. Unless you actually want to get involved I would decline to do this. Tell A you absolutely sympathise and will back her up in whatever she does, but that it's not your issue to deal with.
posted by intensitymultiply at 1:38 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


This isn't the core question, but I did actually laugh out loud at this, because of course he said that. That response is a deep orange flag, maybe red-ish in the right lighting.

As a husband who has been in this situation, it read as all too true, and not a warning flag. There are times when husbands and wives will have to put up with people they dislike to please their spouses. Goes with the territory. And yes, there are people in this world who really do not know how they should deal with aggressive flirts who know that they're married and off limits, when they are socially obligated to be polite.
posted by zarq at 1:43 PM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


There are times when husbands and wives will have to put up with people they dislike to please their spouses.

I totally agree! However this is a person his spouse openly dislikes. Jumping right to "Oh I actually hate her" instead of "She is super awkward I don't know how to handle her" is a classic, classic line.
posted by French Fry at 2:26 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh God this is so cultural! I remember when I had just left NYC and was in the Midwest and people were freaking out when I wore my little black dress to weddings because I was used to them taking place with cocktails and dancing. If you can't stay out of this, tell A she needs to self examine. What you're describing doesn't sound beyond the pale at all.
posted by corb at 2:39 PM on August 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Hey, A, since you've asked me to help you problem-solve here, and you aren't just wanting to vent about this (-- oh, and by the way, that's still the case, correct? Ok just checking.) I honestly think you and Mr. A need start having tighter boundaries around Ms. B. Nobody can do your own boundary work for you-- not me, not Ms. B. This is on you. You both deliberately made the conscious choice to include Ms. B as one of your 12 most special local friends who you invited to your wedding reception in your own home, but yet B is someone you say you've both actively disliked for awhile now. You both have clearly known for ages now how B has flirted with Mr. A in ways that you both keep saying have made you feel uncomfortable on multiple occasions. In the future, do not invite Ms. B to events, nor anyone else who makes you feel like shit across multiple interactions. And no, I will absolutely not "tell Ms. B she was inappropriate" because I am neither her mother, her etiquette coach, nor her therapist, and she did not do anything to me which would in any way make this my business. Sorry. I hear you that you are upset, and so correct thing for you to do from here on out is for you and your husband to really just focus on yourselves, and do a "slow fade" away from socializing with Ms. B in the future, since you already know you do not enjoy your interactions with her. There is no need to say anything to Ms. B, and gossiping about Ms. B will only reflect poorly on you. Let this go."

"B, who is part of our group, arrived in a little black dress, tight, short, and with strappy black heels. Her outfit was definitely out of place among everyone else."

Yes, sparklemotion is quite correct: "slut-shaming" is the right word to describe the dynamic here, where the women in the group are still critiquing Ms. B's outfit choice 11 days after the fact! Yikes. So maybe Ms. B is more fashion-forward than the rest of the group's norms. In my circle, what she wore would be totally appropriate for a "post-elopment reception."
posted by hush at 2:49 PM on August 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


So this woman essentially hit on the groom at her friend (the bride's) wedding reception? Wow, super tacky. What was she thinking he would do, dump his new wife and get a hotel room with her?! And I agree, this has nothing to do with a dress, that just sounds like a tool in her arsenal.

I think there is a type of person (person, not woman, as I believe anyone is capable of this) who get a kick out of the power of being able to, say, flirt with your partner on your wedding day, as if to say, LOOK, IT'S THE HAPPIEST DAY OF HIS LIFE WITH YOU AND I COULD STILL TAKE HIM AWAY FROM YOU IF I WANTED TO!

What I don't get is what has been mentioned already, if the couple don't like her, why was she there, and why didn't the husband do something? It's not for the OP to do it, the wife shouldn't have to be scratching her eyes out telling her to stay away from her man. A raised eyebrow from the husband "On my wedding day? Really... " would have been enough. Other women telling her off means she would get a kick out of knowing she's got under their skin. The husband laughing at her delusional antics on the other hand would be humiliating enough to shut it down.

I don't even think a slow fade is necessary. Just cut this person off. She will know exactly what it's about, she doesn't need a conversation about how it was inappropriate - she acted this way deliberately BECAUSE it was inappropriate. No need to gossip behind her back at events, just don't invite her. She's trouble and has no boundaries and clearly enjoys drama. Who needs it, life is too short.
posted by Jubey at 3:49 PM on August 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


Sooooooo not your business, and inappropriate for A to ask you to talk to B about it, unless B is your life-long best friend or sibling or something. Since I get the impression she is not, then why on Earth would A expect you to talk to her? Leave it alone. A and her husband are grownups, and can figure this out themselves. (The simplest solution seems to be to just stop inviting B to things.)
posted by sarcasticah at 5:30 PM on August 11, 2015


The conversation that needs to happen is between A and her husband. Once they're in agreement about how to handle B, this should all get cleared up smoothly.

Weddings are hard to dress for, and this reception sounds more ambiguous than many events. I get that there's a larger context, but I would still refrain from interpreting her as being "dressed to kill."
posted by salvia at 6:03 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


A should not say anything to B, she should just stop inviting her to things or being friends with her except in passing at group events.

A's husband is an adult married man who can surely handle deflecting attention on his own, as well.
posted by amaire at 6:44 PM on August 11, 2015


"to be clear, I'm trying to figure out how to advise A -- whether she has grounds to be upset and, as is well said here, deal with it herself."
The real conflict here is between A and Mr. A, and A is putting both you and B in the middle of it rather than come to an adequate solution with Mr. A. A interfacing with B directly puts B in the middle of A's marriage in a way that is truly awful for A, marriage is all about becoming a corporate unit with a united front - and they are currently very much not united about how to deal with B. You can advise A that this is the real problem that she needs to address.

It sounds like A's concerns are valid and worth respecting, and so Mr. A has a duty to A to shut down B's advances on their marriage, either real or imagined, by setting and maintaining appropriate boundaries with B. This conflict isn't about B's behavior, much less her dress, but about Mr. A and the position he has put A in.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:23 AM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty late to the party here, but I'm going to answer anyway because I currently have a "B" in my life, and the way my husband and I dealt with it has turned out pretty well.

My "B" is not an especially active one, at least not now. My husband and I have discussed her consistent attempts to, uh, ingratiate herself with him, and while he finds her just mildly irritating and kind of goofily toxic, he understands that her behavior drives me right up a tree.

To be clear: It is not at all easy to drive me right up a tree. Hers is one of the the very few friendships I have intentionally walked away from in all of my forty-plus years.

After I reached my breaking point, my husband volunteered to give me control of all of our social interactions with "B," and I took him up on it. That means I got to decide what "B" got told about our withdrawal from her orbit (very little), which of her invitations we accept (basically none) and how (and whether) we attend events where B is likely to be present. He also hangs back and lets me set the tone for each interaction.

It helps a lot. The fact that he has (lovingly) handed me the reins on this means that every time I deal with her, I feel like I am solidly supported, loved, respected, and understood by him. That makes it easier to keep my affect cordial and friendly during the two or three parties or dinners per year when we see her. And the fact that we've discussed this thoroughly also means he's a bit more guarded with her, so he's more prepared to (for instance) quickly but gracefully step back when she thrusts her cleavage at him. (She is a cleavage-thruster.)

I have made very guarded disclosures about this stuff to a select few of our mutual acquaintances, on the grounds that they needed to understand the change in social dynamics-- but I did not (and would not) put them in the position of choosing between us. By and large, they haven't, and that's a fine thing: Starting that kind of a cold war would, I'm sure, mean that I would end up being far more invested in my B's life, loves, and comings and goings, than I am now: I'd have to continuously worry about loyalties and justifications and who's at brunch with who and blah, blah, blah, blah. Not only would that be exhausting, it could also very easily introduce sour notes into my friendships with many blameless, unrelated, non-cleavage-thrusting people I care about.

I will admit that, earlier on, it would have been really satisfying if all of my friends had risen up on my behalf, confronted her in a chorus, and flounce en masse out of her life. The level of disrespect and insult I felt from her was positively searing. I wanted justice. I wanted to bite her in the eye.

But that was years ago. Now she's just a vaguely noxious name on a very occasional EVite, and that's exactly how it should be.
posted by Harrogatha Christie at 12:06 AM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


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