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Dear Nina


Dear Nina,


A close friend of mine is getting remarried after her marriage ended last year and I think she’s making a terrible mistake. She moved on very quickly to a long-distance relationship that requires constant travel. This has been hard on her, her local family and friends, and her own children.


The bigger issue is that I don’t like her fiancé and none of her other local friends do, either. I’m ashamed to admit we’ve discussed this behind her back not to be cruel, but because we don’t know how to handle this dicey situation.


My gut instinct is to say it’s none of our business, but I know my friend trusts me and that she values my opinion. By saying nothing, I’ve given her the impression I not only approve of this choice, but that I like her husband-to-be.


If she follows through with her wedding plans, I’ll do my best to support her, but I’ll also be setting myself up (and my own husband) for an uncomfortable future. She expects us to continue a close friendship as couples and we have no desire to socialize with him at all. My total honesty would force her to choose, and I know she’d choose him. But it would also break her heart. I feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place.


Signed,

Against this wedding



 


Dear Against this wedding,

You’re clearly a dedicated friend, and I’m sure it’s been difficult to watch your friend get serious with someone you hardly know so quickly after her divorce. The constant travel and knowing it’s been hard on her kids doesn’t help either.


But, here’s my take: Don’t Interfere.


Unfortunately, my gut instinct is the same as yours that you should not interfere in a direct way. If your friend is indeed making a mistake, she will only acknowledge it as a mistake if she is forced to go through the process of seeing so for herself. I fear if you or her other friends try to stop the marriage and she ends up calling off the wedding, she will always have a “what if” scenario in her mind in regards to this man. He may take up a place in her imagination as “the one who got away,” making her forget his faults or encouraging her to idealize whatever virtues he possesses. (He must possess some.)


I want to also mention that my mother, who I often consult for my own advice needs, has always expressed a strong opinion about minding one’s own business in matters of the heart. But just in case, I asked her to react to your question.


Here’s what my mom said: “In my opinion, what this woman should do is stay silent. As she correctly perceives, her friend will choose the fiancé over her. There is nothing she can do to prevent the marriage and will probably lose the friendship if she says anything. If the friend asks her opinion, she can always say it is not her decision and continue to say nothing negative. If, on the other hand, the friend expresses doubts, she can always start asking questions about what is fueling the doubts while still not expressing her own opinion.


One last thought: I wonder if your friend already knows that you don’t approve of her engagement. It’s a good possibility since you’re close and she can probably “read” you. She is likely determined to set her own path whether or not her friends approve. As for having to spend time with your friend and her husband-to-be as a couple, I can at least give you some proactive advice for that problem. As you find ways to not spend time together as a couple, increase the time you spend with her alone so that the message is clear you want to keep her in your life, but it’s going to be more as a twosome than a foursome.


I wish I could tell you something that would alleviate your anxiety over the situation. Ultimately, for better or worse, I do think your friend’s fate with this man is out of your hands.


With warmth,

Nina



 


Dear Nina,

I’m unsure how to move forward from some serious arguments with my childhood friend of ten years. I live a state away from her, and over the years our communication has deteriorated. All of our discussions have become about her and her struggles. I don’t mind being a support system for her, but whenever we do discuss my life, she’s judgmental and mean-spirited. Therefore, I limit how much I see her and talk to her, which has angered her to the point where she believes I don’t make her a priority.


In our most recent argument, I had called her out for phishing for information. What really angered me was how I was trying to tell her how uncomfortable she made me feel; yet she took offense to me calling her out for bullying me and told me she won’t ever give me advice anymore — instead she wishes for me to fall on my ass. She told me I shouldn’t play the victim and she shouldn’t have to apologize all the time because she has been through so many problems.


Overall, I agree I’ve avoided her and made her feel like I’m not in her life. But I have apologized for this. Yet, I don’t like the way she makes me feel. I admit I have not been the perfect friend, but I also feel that she refuses to be accountable for all of the things she’s done and the way she’s talked to me that has made me distance myself from her.


I’m always afraid of hurting her feelings. How do I talk to her? Is it wise for me to take a break from her? Is there a way to for me to get her to realize it’s impossible to open up because I always feel like I’m walking on eggshells. I’m afraid of losing a friend, but I’m also afraid we can’t move forward. Should we even be friends?


Signed,

Not Sure I Can Continue This Friendship



 


Dear Not Sure I Can Continue,


The answer to your final question, “Should we even be friends?” is clear to me, though the method to get there will still be difficult. You and this woman should not be friends. You need more than a break. You need a breakup.


If you were describing a friendship worth saving, you wouldn’t be using words like mean-spirited, bullying, fall on your ass, and egg shells. Friendship takes work and compromise on both sides, but friendship should not be as much work as what you’ve described in your letter.


If you find yourself saying, "This is just too much," that’s because it is. It is too much. It’s too much pain, too much frustration, and too much effort. She should be telling herself the same thing. Because even if she’s the one who starts all of this drama, you have chosen to stay in a strained relationship, which set up an expectation that she can treat you this way.


You wrote a few times about the way she makes you feel, but she’s been given little reason to treat you any differently since you keep allowing her to stay in your life no matter how she speaks to you.


I rarely say concretely that a friendship needs to end because I like to believe there’s hope for people who’ve shared a history, especially from childhood.


But in this case, I don’t see any reason to keep putting yourself and your friend through this agony. She has blatantly told you she doesn’t wish you well. I can’t find anything worth saving here.


Here’s the bad news: There is no easy way to end a friendship.


I’ve received emotional letters from people who’ve been ghosted, meaning their friends simply disappeared. The readers on the receiving end of a breakup like that wish the friend ending the relationship had written a letter or offered an honest reason in a face-to-face conversation. I’ve also received notes from readers who received such a letter or direct conversation and wished the friend had found a way to fade away gracefully. Some people don’t want such a direct goodbye. My point is that there is no “good” way to sever these ties. From what you’ve described, a face-to-face conversation sounds like a bad idea as does a call. One choice is to write a letter explaining some of what you’ve written to me.


You know you haven’t been a perfect friend and you value your shared history, but the need to walk on eggshells has become so difficult that the good memories and good times are now too far in the past. Something along those lines.


You have my sympathy. The task ahead isn’t easy. Although I can’t tell you how to end the friendship, I do feel certain that you should end it. I’m wishing you as painless of a break as possible. If that’s possible.


I’m sorry you’re going through this,

Nina

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