My BFF is engaged and so happy. Her fiance is a thug, cheater and liar. I don't support ratchet, so I hadn’t planned to attend the wedding. I was just going to claim work responsibilities. Now BFF wants me as bridesmaid and for me to pay for my dress. How can I tell her that I will not be attending and won't be a bridesmaid? —Anonymous
You don’t tell her that. You buy the dress and you be a bridesmaid.
I skipped my best friend’s wedding when we were 22 because I didn’t approve of her mate. Really, I didn’t approve of her getting married. Like your friend, she had asked me to be a bridesmaid.
There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with being a bridesmaid, and she was incredibly happy. But there was something going on with her, and she was, in my opinion, in no position to get married. She was coming off a particularly eye-opening experience she had as an adult, and she was still reeling. And by reeling I mean she made one bad decision after another, each progressively worse. Her marriage was her first time any of the decisions would be life-altering.
That was part of it. The other part was I’d known her since she was 12, and getting married at 22 was not the plan. She was supposed to graduate and move to New York. And then she was 22. “Who gets married at 22?!” I thought. None of our friends nor I knew the guy. She didn’t know him. They dated for only three months before they got engaged. There were a lot of reasons, I thought, for her not to get married.
I asked her if I could speak freely, and she said I could. So I said all that, and she thanked me for my opinion and said she was getting married anyway. So I started badgering her about it to the point that I even annoyed myself. Then we got into a huge argument about me badgering her, and I declared I wasn’t going to her wedding because I wasn't supporting bad decisions.
The result was she got married anyway, and for two years we didn’t speak. Her kid was born, and I didn’t meet her oldest child until his first birthday and missed out on being his godmother. We’ve long since “mended” our relationship, at least to the point that we talk, mostly on Facebook.
I still haven’t met her second kid, and one morning this year, I woke up to a 1,000-word, out-of-the-blue email telling me more than a decade later how much I had hurt her by not coming to her wedding. “If you didn’t want to support us,” she wrote, referring to herself and her now ex-husband, “then you should have come to support me.” I ruined a great friendship from my high horse. A decade later, I am still mending it. Missing her wedding was not worth it.
I tell you that to tell you this (again): Go to the wedding. Stand in line with the other bridesmaids in a dress you’ll probably never wear again and support your friend, even if you don’t support her union or her “ratchet” boyfriend or whatever else you don’t support. Stand there and smile and say “I’m happy for you” at the reception, because even if you don’t like her man, she does, and she has to deal with him. You don’t. Your opinion on this here doesn’t really matter.
She’s in love. Maybe he’s right for her, maybe not. But she wants to marry him. That’s her choice. You don’t have to approve of her man. It’s not your man to approve or disapprove of. You’re not marrying him. She is. Stand up at her wedding and support her. And if it all goes to crap, support her. That’s what good friends—and she perceives you as such if she asked you to be in her wedding—do.
I get it: You have standards. One of them should be to treat your actual friends the way you would want them to treat you.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life and the upcoming Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.