Teenage drama never ends
April 4, 2007 8:41 PM   Subscribe

UnneccesaryInternalDramaFilter: I need some help letting go of ridiculous, but intense, hurt feelings over two best friends' impending weddings.

Short Version: I wasn't asked to be in either friend's wedding party, although I have been enthusasically invited to both ceremonies. I had been content with simply attending, until finding out today that Rachel IS in Phoebe's wedding. Yes, that makes me Monica. Yes, I know that's a dumb naming convention, but that was the first thing that came to mind as a shorthand for explaining our friendship trio. So now I am irrationally hurt, even though I had no right to expect to be asked by either of them. I just really want to let this completely useless feeling go before Phoebe's wedding in 3 weeks.

Looooooong Version: I went to college several hundreds of miles from home. I have known Rachel and her boyfriend for five years, and was close enough with both that we moved in together and lived in the same house for four years. We met Phoebe after she started dating a close friend before our junior year. The five of us (me plus the two couples) then lived together for the last two years of college.

I care very deeply about all four people, I truly consider them family. I miss them all desperately now that I have returned home, while they have stayed in College Town for continuing studies or to work. We have all made a very good effort, especially for me, at keeping up on emails, calling on birthdays, and so on. Since we all graduated last spring, the two couples got engaged (one within a month of graduating, the other in three months) and are getting married this summer. I am wildly happy for everyone, and I very much looking forward to attending both weddings.

So what the hell is the problem? Well, Phoebe asked Rachel to be in her wedding and I'm just irrationally jealous and hurt that I wasn't asked. I can talk myself through any number of completely legitimate reasons why (I do live far away, they probably got closer in the year since graduation, Phoebe has a future sister-in-law to include, and so on), but in the end I just feel left out and sad because I'm not a part of their lives any more, when we used to be so close. I'm now getting retro-actively upset about not being asked to the bridal shower or hen party or Jack and Jill, etc etc. and it just doesn't do me any good. Yes, I more than likely would have been unable to attend due to the distance, but I could have been invited. Maybe I'm just figuring out I have a different idea of how these sorts of things work.

I guess what I need is some help to act with some grace once I get up there for the wedding. I have lots of other good friends in town that I could stay with (Rachel invited me to stay with her, but I just feel like it would be weird when she and Mr. Rachel go to the rehersal dinner and I don't) and that I do also want to see. There are other mutual friends I know are invited to the wedding that I hope I will be seated with at dinner, etc.

The bottom line: Please tell me to grow the fuck up, and how to make that happen. Help me to be happy for my friends and not be so damn hung up on the fact that we're not as close as I thought we were. Rachel's wedding is still to come, I have no idea if Phoebe will be among her bridesmaids and I just don't even want to think about it. ARGH, when did I become such a GIRL? This is not my normal M.O. by a long shot.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Look on the bright side. Rachel will have to buy an expenisve dress that makes her look like a cow. She'll have to wear it in front of tons of people she knows and that she hasn't seen since college, while her friend Phoebe is all gussied up and prettier than ever. Then Rachel will be stuck with an expenisve dress she only wore once and can't return. You won't have any of this grief.
posted by mds35 at 8:51 PM on April 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

three years from now, will it sting as much?

Allow yourself now, to feel the way you will feel (about this situation) three years from now.

And go to the wedding and enjoy yourself.
posted by seawallrunner at 8:53 PM on April 4, 2007

Sorry. That's all I got. But I know some women who are "always the bridesmaid" and they're really just about sick of the expensive cow dresses. Not too mention the extra responsibilities of the bridal party. You don't have to plan or host a tea/shower/bachelorette party. Consider yourself lucky. You've been saved great expense and humiliation.
posted by mds35 at 8:53 PM on April 4, 2007

I just read this great magazine article about the power of interpretations and how to alter your own- and you should too. Then think about the plethora of other possibilities for reasons why the other girl was invited to be a bridesmaid when you weren't- ones that DON'T involve how they supposedly don't see your friendship as being as close as you do.

I'm not sure of the exact nature of the situation, but an example of a positive interpretation could be something like "Phoebe thought Rachel could handle the responsibilities with the bridal shower, etc. better since she lives closer." Get what I mean?

This would have upset a lot of people- it's not just you and it's not just girly-girls. If reframing your interpretations of the situation doesn't end up working for you, it might be a better idea to talk to Phoebe about it (after the wedding) just so that you don't bottle your emotions and then a) become depressed or b) explode.
posted by liberalintellect at 8:56 PM on April 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Could it be that, given the fact that you don't live locally anymore, that they were actually trying to be considerate of you -- that is, given the fact that you'll have travel expenses to attend the wedding anyway, perhaps they didn't want to add the expense of being in the wedding party. I mean, we hear so much about how people are so inconsiderate of out-of-town wedding guests/members, so is it possible that this was an attempt to do right by you?

In any case: looking for subtext everywhere, in every decision made the people in our lives is crazy making. So resist the temptation. Consider this: what if there really is no message intended for you to receive, no slight for you to manage? Just take the facts at face value: people you love are getting married, and they want you to be there to celebrate with them! That's all that matters.
posted by scody at 8:58 PM on April 4, 2007 [9 favorites]

scody, I just love what you just said
posted by seawallrunner at 9:06 PM on April 4, 2007

Some people expect a large time commitment from their bridesmaids -- actual labor in terms of helping create the ceremony, etc. You're too far away for this. It's not personal, it's practical.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:07 PM on April 4, 2007

Please tell me to grow the fuck up, and how to make that happen.

Seriously, and I'm not trying to be snarky here, one positive step would be to stop thinking about sitcom characters as a model for friendship and personal expectations.
posted by donovan at 9:07 PM on April 4, 2007

I doubt you're going to magically get over this inside your own head. If it was that easy, no one would ever have any emotional problems.

Why not talk to your friends about how you feel? It might be a little awkward, but they're your friends, right? I bet everyone will feel better if you talk it out.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:09 PM on April 4, 2007

I think the key thing to remember when it comes to weddings (whether it be the wedding party or the guest list) is that it really ought not be taken personally. In general, planning a wedding is a stressful thing and everyone places all sorts of expectations on the bride and groom to include certain things/people/whatever. Perhaps you are not the only person who expected to be in the wedding party and the bride had to limit her choices. Perhaps her parents expected her to include certain family members, who knows? Just try to think of it in terms of pressures placed on the person planning these things and realize it most likely has nothing to do with you and a good friend doesn't add stress in such moments.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:10 PM on April 4, 2007

I think this is less a "grow up" problem and more "stop imagining that you're so left out" situation.

I went through something similar recently when a close friend didn't invite me to be in her wedding party. I sucked it up, as some of the same reasons that you weren't invited were involved -- I live far away, we haven't lived in the same city for a while, her sisters made up the whole of her maids clan.

What I found when I was able to suck it up is that I was very much a part of the wedding, despite not being one of the named parties. I was invited to every function, we spent the wedding morning together and were able to have MANY special moments together as friends. Though I lacked an official designation, I was very much an important part of her day and will always cherish that.

My guess is that you weren't invited for reasons that have nothing to do with you personally. Stop undervaluing yourself and stop imagining that they are, too. You were invited to stay at their house during the festivities, which is a pretty big deal -- you are on the inner circle and are a welcome guest during a stressful time.

I really can't imagine that you'll be made to stay home while everyone goes off to the rehearsal dinner -- that just seems perverse and wrong. They've probably just assumed that you're coming, and it goes without saying.

If you're really worried about it and don't know where you stand, why not open a dialogue about the simpler topics? Politely ask if you can be seated with a specific friend at the reception, as a favor. Find out if there's anything you can do to participate in the rehearsal and/or the event itself.

An easy way to say it might be, "I know I can't be a bridesmaid, I live too far away and perhaps it didn't fit into the plan.. but I care about you and Mr. and I want to be a part of your day. Please let me know what I can do to help and be involved."

Chin up. These are your friends and they love you.
posted by cior at 9:15 PM on April 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

I doubt you're going to magically get over this inside your own head. If it was that easy, no one would ever have any emotional problems.

Why not talk to your friends about how you feel? It might be a little awkward, but they're your friends, right? I bet everyone will feel better if you talk it out.

I'm going to have to strenuously disagree and point back to the sterling advice of Scody who noted: "Consider this: what if there really is no message intended for you to receive, no slight for you to manage? Just take the facts at face value: people you love are getting married, and they want you to be there to celebrate with them!"

See the thing is that the only issue is the story you're making up about events. Is it "true"? Well if you spend all your time getting wound up about it sure and going out and talking to your friends about how they've made you feel bad is a great way to get wound up about it and to spread your drama.

How about a different idea? Just be happy people you care about are happy and leave it at that. How you "magically get over this" is by simply deciding that what has happened doesn't "mean" what you seem to want it to mean.

And I'd caution about getting all meta and trying to figure out why you want the thing to mean what you wanted it to mean blah blah. Just change your mind about the situation. Really, this works. It's been one of the most profound things I figured out (with help like this) years ago as I "grew the fuck up."
posted by donovan at 9:19 PM on April 4, 2007

I'm a guy, and I took a non-invitation to a wedding as an affront. I apologize for not reading all the other comments, but if you're in a situation where youre "not getting invited to a wedding but i thought we were friends" - guess what, you're not fucking great friends. this is clearly the immigrant in me. here, people act different, and they expect to react differently too - there's even a common language for pity, like "grow up" or "take the high road". hell, i believe in that shit too. but not getting invited to a marriage - i just feel that's just over the line. we're not talking birthday parties.

i'm very extroverted while maintaining these beliefs, and that causes me to get hurt some time by people i strongly connect to, that end of changing directions in their lives. so ive come to accept and not take offense to it.
posted by phaedon at 9:40 PM on April 4, 2007

phaedon: Anon has most certainly been invited to the wedding. She's just not been invited to be a bridesmaid in the wedding.
posted by scody at 9:44 PM on April 4, 2007

Here's a different take - all three of my now brothers-in-law felt obligated to have me as a groomsman. One of them, I'd only met a few times prior to the wedding (live in different states). I felt it was a waste of money for them to set me up in a tux, just to have a giant fuckin' wedding party. (I'd told everyone within earshot in no uncertain terms that I wasn't about to plunk down my own good money - I'm often broke- for a one-day tuxedo rental)
posted by notsnot at 9:44 PM on April 4, 2007

Right. Sorry for the typos.

I figured I'd scan the comments and find something like this somewhere:

I just read this great magazine article about the power of interpretations and how to alter your own- and you should too. Then think about the plethora of other possibilities for reasons why the other girl was invited to be a bridesmaid when you weren't- ones that DON'T involve how they supposedly don't see your friendship as being as close as you do.

Somebody said the trick of success was traveling magnanimously from defeat to defeat. I doubt the "look at it a different way" method will work, and you'll probably drift away and never talk - which is neo-speak for "everything turned out great".
posted by phaedon at 9:45 PM on April 4, 2007

a tip to the hat to whoever thought the idea "you see your problems in other people".

*bows, shuffles backwards to the nearest exit*
posted by phaedon at 9:49 PM on April 4, 2007

Seconding scody, mandymanwasregistered and cior. The overwhelming probability is that it's not about you at all.

Also, consider that a lot of people view an invitation to be in someone's wedding party as something that can't really be turned down, and so they were probably trying not to be demanding Bridezillas by putting you in a situation where you might feel obligated to do something you didn't have the funds or the time to do.
posted by AV at 10:03 PM on April 4, 2007

Don't let this be more than it is. This wedding thing is what is going on right now, it is rife with meaning, but in a few years it just will be another day of your friendships. There were people in my wedding party that 2 years later I couldn't have found a phone number for and people that are my best friends now that I didn't even invite. Personally, I could only have so many bridesmaids and I selected them primarily based on who was local.

Being a bridesmaid involves buying and wearing a dress that you didn't choose and participating in a lot of hoopla. It also involves helping out with things and in helping out getting to spend time with the bride and groom that a lot of other people don't get to spend with them.

It is normal to feel a little hurt that you weren't asked. It's also normal to question where your friendship stands in the middle of shifting geography and shifting lives.

My suggestion is this: If you want to be closer to your two friends, appoint yourself a bridesmaid in spirit. Ask about plans, call to check in on how the great centerpiece debate is going. Fly in several days early if you can and ask to be put to work. Make up a basket of snacks to be delivered to wherever the bride is getting ready [and maybe another one to where the couple will spend their first night]. People often manage not to eat on their wedding day so I always suggest snacks.

Whatever is going on with your friendships, it isn't something that is happening to you and all you can do is watch. You are a participant. You have power. If you want to be closer, act as if you are closer. Take steps. The worst thing is to decide this is a statement about your friendship and that you aren't good friends anymore.
posted by Mozzie at 10:57 PM on April 4, 2007

One thought that occurs, having watched my sister get married a few years ago.... weddings involve lots of practice and a ton of organization. Maybe they just figured it would unreasonable to ask you?

I was only peripherally involved with my sister's wedding, because I lived across the country, but I know she got together with all her bridesmaids three or four times, and they went over the ceremony repeatedly (it wasn't even that involved!), and had tons of problems with the dresses and what have you. They worked on that crap for MONTHS. Came off beautifully, and I really enjoyed it, but the amount of work to get it together was amazing.

If you're hundreds of miles away, they might feel if they ask you to participate, they're expecting you to buy thousands of dollars in plane tickets. I sure as HELL wouldn't ask that of anyone unless I was offering to pay for the tickets, and they probably don't feel they can afford to. Perhaps they're just trying to be kind? Maybe they don't want you to feel guilty because you want to help and can't?

Mozzie's answer, btw, is really good... volunteer to help as much as the logistics will allow. You may not be able to be a bridesmaid, but you can make a real difference for them.

Are you sure you're not invited t the rehearsal dinnar? It could be just 'family and people in the ceremony', but make sure, don't just assume. It sounds like that's a very central point of pain for you, so you might want to make sure you're feeling hurt about something that's really true.

To fulfill your "grow the fuck up up" request... it may help to remember that the wedding is really for them, not for you. Your sense of loss is painful, and you probably want to communicate it, but do so in a positive light. You care about these people a great deal and not being as close as you want really hurts. Make sure they know that, but don't phrase it to make them feel bad. No guilt allowed at weddings.
posted by Malor at 2:02 AM on April 5, 2007

I'm now getting retro-actively upset about not being asked to the bridal shower or hen party or Jack and Jill, etc etc. and it just doesn't do me any good. Yes, I more than likely would have been unable to attend due to the distance, but I could have been invited.

Ask what you want or need. It's that simple. So in this case, ask to be invited to these things, even if you do live far away.

I felt much as you did when I moved 700 miles away from family. After worrying over this and that and feeling irrationally abandoned, I admitted it was really bothering me and just ask'ed them to invite me to stuff even if they were pretty sure I couldn't make it.

You're in a long distance friendship. Both sides have to take steps to work a little harder or differently when to include one another.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:24 AM on April 5, 2007

I agree with Brandon - ask for what you need. So many of my friends live so far away now, but we still invite one another to things that we know the invitee perfectly well can't attend. Or at least call and talk about it and say, "wish you were here."

But that's for the long term. For the short term, I agree with scody, and also with the idea that you can be there to help/hang out. I would try to clarify if possible whether or not that's the plan, as one does not like to assume, but it would seem like such a thing would be par for the course with the friendship you describe.
posted by Medieval Maven at 4:33 AM on April 5, 2007

I think it's perfectly OK to be upset about this. Yes, I said it! People have feelings! Sometimes, they're irrational! Ignoring them will only make them fester.

Other commenters have given great advice. I just wanted to validate your feelings before you started feeling bad about feeling hurt.
posted by muddgirl at 5:09 AM on April 5, 2007

Second Brandon Blatcher to ask for what you need; ask to come to the showers, or to hang out with the bridesmaids while they get pedicures before the wedding. Also, offer to assist before and during the ceremony. Most weddings need someone not in the wedding party who can signal the musicians to start playing or answer questions from the caterer -- and that person usually ends up being more valuable than the girls in the foofy dresses anyway.
posted by junkbox at 6:05 AM on April 5, 2007

You are Monica! So what would Monica do?

I think she'd obsess about it but try to keep it in to avoid offending her friends. But then the frustration and hurt would be revealed anyhow, in some comedic fashion, there'd be a little argument, and then everyone would make up and have a group hug.

Knowing this, I agree with those who say to talk to Pheobe and Rachel. Short-circuit the drama by simply reminding them that they are your friends and you love them. You know you're far away and can't be as close and involved in all the wedding details. You wish you could have been a bridesmaid, too -- sure, come out and say it! But you know you can't. You hope you can be involved and participate as much as you can when you actually are back in College Town for the wedding.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:10 AM on April 5, 2007

When/if you have your wedding, then it will get to be all about you, and you'll get to make the tough decisions that may perhaps alienate your friends and keep them from being happy for you. But in the meantime, it's really just not about you. And since you're not even having a good time thinking it is, why are you so "married" to the sob-story version of these events in which you are left out and alone?
posted by hermitosis at 6:18 AM on April 5, 2007

scody and croutonsupafreak nailed it.

The wedding party serves a practical function as well as an honorary one. You're far away and participating would be a greater financial burden on you.

Yeah, if you're that close, they should've probably given you a call and told you why you weren't invited to be a bridesmaid. It's an awkward phone call to make, though, and can open up more cans of worms.

Tell them how excited you are about their upcoming weddings. Nthing that you should tell them that you want to contribute in some way and ask them what they need.
posted by desuetude at 6:29 AM on April 5, 2007

I do live far away

Are you sure this isn't the contributing factor in you not being chosen. As I understand weddings, people in the bridal party are supposed to help organize things, which won't be easy to do if you are not in the area.

Also, peoples bizarre reactions to weddings are one of the things that makes them so stressful for the couple in question.
posted by chunking express at 6:48 AM on April 5, 2007

Hi - this is anonymous and I just wanted to say thank you so much for everyone's kind thoughts and advice. I really needed to have some perspective and every comment has been a huge help.

I asked Phoebe this morning what I could do to help and expressed how sorry I was to not be able to be more involved from this distance. She said she knew I was there in spirit, "and of course I'll see you at the rehersal and dinner on Friday." Just like that, so easy if I had just started the conversation. I feel little silly for getting so worked up, I think it was just very much stemming from how much I miss being with them. Yeah, would have been nice to get a little more overt inclusion, but I should be flattered that my invitation was obvious enough to be unspoken. They have SO MUCH to be worrying about anyway. As a good friend, I should be doing everything to lessen stress not create my own. Of course the wedding is not about me! I can support them and show how happy I am for them in a lot of ways, even just showing up is enough.

I really appreciate what everyone who wrote in this thread, you helped me chill out and encouraged me to just ask and be as involved as I can be. Weddings are drama mine fields, thank god I've sidestepped this one!
posted by malacologist at 6:57 AM on April 5, 2007

If you want to know something from them or change something, ask directly.
If you want to stop feeling hurt, then just feel hurt for a while, take a walk, meditate, whatever, but just let the feeling wash over you--it won't last for ever if you don't obsess about it with thoughts.
posted by Furious Fitness at 7:05 AM on April 5, 2007

My guess is if you talk to Phoebe about her wedding plans, you'll feel more like an honored part of the proceedings even if you weren't selected to be a bridesmaid for whatever reason. Give her a call with some sort of "I'm so excited for you!" chat and my guess is she'll respond in kind and you won't feel like so much the outsider, you'll remember that she is your friend, that the world is complicated, that you're still in the picture and that her choices about the wedding and your part in it are not because of the wild reasons you think they are.

I know I'm an odd duck in these situations but I'm always happy to not be asked to be in someone's wedding, even close friends, because of the expense, time and effort involved in something that I'd much rather just be a joyous and gracious observer of. These evernts are not for everyone and while I know you wish you had a special role to play in this one, keep in mind that the fact that you have some free time NOT being a bridesmaid may free you up to do something else that winds up being equally important to your friend. Figure out what your role is and then go do it with grace and class.
posted by jessamyn at 8:15 AM on April 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

I need some help letting go of ridiculous ... feelings

Dan Savage says if you want to get over something, pretend you are, and you'll get used to it shortly. It sounds flippant but it is serious advice and my experience is that it does work.
posted by putril at 8:16 AM on April 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

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