Adam, a good friend of mine, who also happens to be an ex-boyfriend, has invited me to his upcoming wedding, but I have no desire whatsoever to go. Adam and I dated about five years ago and broke up because I was 19 and not ready for the type of relationship that he was looking for. We remained close friends, and shortly after, he started dating Debbie, his now fiancée. For a while, we all got along fine. Debbie knew Adam and I were friends, but I only saw her a handful of times over the next couple years while I saw Adam on an almost weekly basis. At first, she was never anything but friendly, but after a while, things got ugly: she sent passive aggressive messages on Myspace and wrote nasty blog posts about me, calling me a whore and a drug addict, and accusing me of trying to steal her fiancé, among other hateful things. I was upset, and confronted Adam, but he took her side and we didn’t speak for three years.
Last June, Debbie unexpectedly dumped him, and he and I began talking again, becoming very close. Two months ago, they got back together and eloped in December. He and I still talk occasionally, but not nearly as much as we did when they were broken up. Yesterday, he sent me a nonchalant text message asking for my address so he could send an invitation for the ceremony they’re having in March. I absolutely don’t want to go because I think it would be totally awkward (my first meeting with Debbie after all the time should not be at their wedding). I called him to say I wouldn’t be in attendance and he was very hurt and said I was his best friend and the first person he thought of to invite. He said if I wasn’t a girl I’d be his best man, and he didn’t understand why I don’t want to go. I’m from the school of thought that exes aren’t invited to weddings unless everyone is very friendly. I mean, isn’t that the norm? I told him I would give it some thought and let him know in a couple weeks. I’m considering going because it means so much to him, but I’m dreading it. Am I being awful if I say that I just don’t want to go? Or should I suck it up and go for his sake? — The Friendly Ex
No, you’re not being awful. If your relationship with Adam is only strong when he isn’t with Debbie and you haven’t actually had anything to do with her since she wrote nasty things about you on her blog, then Adam is the one who is a little out of line by putting a guilt trip on your for skipping the wedding ceremony. It would be one thing if you and Debbie were on good terms, but you aren’t. If Adam truly sees you as a best friend and wants you in his life, his first thought should not have been to invite you to his wedding, but to foster a healthy relationship between you and his soon-to-be new wife.
He dropped the ball and there’s no reason you should feel bad for not bending over and picking it up. But if you’re interested in remaining friendly with Adam, you could tell him you’re sorry you won’t be able to attend his wedding, but you’d love to take him and Debbie out for a celebratory dinner some time after their ceremony. This way you get to reconnect with Debbie in a neutral setting, and you get credit for supporting your friend’s happy occasion.
But there’s a flip side to this situation and it’s that you aren’t really interested in being “just friends” with Adam. You say you broke up years ago “because you were 19 and not ready for the type of relationship he was looking for.” If that was the main reason for your breakup and you’re five years older now, maybe in your mind you are ready for the kind of relationship Adam was/is looking for and you are disappointed that instead of giving you another shot, he went back to Debbie. After all, until a few months ago, you were both ex-girlfriends of his and you were the one he was spending all his time with. If there was any part of you that hoped for a romantic reconciliation, it has to hurt that he reconciled with a different ex instead. You need to be honest with yourself and if that’s your frame of mind right now, it’s probably best that you gracefully distance yourself from Adam and his new wife and give them a chance at happiness without the complication of a messy love triangle.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.