When you’re young, you’ll watch your best friend date a lot of duds. She’ll watch you do the same. Every year, you’ll laugh and reminisce about the previous year’s failed relationships. Maybe when you’re 12, you’ll have those crushes, and the whole relationship will be texting, meeting behind the bleachers to share one kiss, and having the whole thing blow up because he invited someone else to the dance. In your teen years, you’ll feel devastatingly in love. You may start, um, exploring some adult activities. You’ll have that first huge heartache, from which you believe you’ll never recover. And you and your bestie will be there for each other through it all. When you get into college, you’ll believe that now you finally have “real” relationships. You’ll have those first boyfriends with whom you have lots of sleepovers and spend plenty of time, without parental supervision.
With each passing phase of your life, you’ll say hello and goodbye to new stages of romance. You get used to the idea that, even if you don’t like your friend’s current boyfriend, he won’t be around for long. None of them are! Until one of them is. Forever.
What happens when your best friend announces she’ll be marrying her boyfriend you do not like? Maybe he’s fine even but, he’s just all wrong for her. Everybody knows it. The other friends. Her family. It’s starting to look like you won’t just be laughing about this relationship in a few years, the way you have about every other one. This dude may be sticking around. This is a tricky spot to be in. Do you let your friend make this mistake? Would she change her mind if you said anything, anyways? Would she stop talking to you? It’s a very different experience from having your best friend engaged to someone you adore. So, your best friend is dating someone all wrong for her. Here’s what that’s like.
When this happened with my friend, I was so grateful she told me over the phone. Well, first she texted a photo of the ring. And I panicked, ran to my boyfriend, told him this was a huge mistake, and tried to figure out what to do. Luckily I was able to pull myself together to call her and give a fake, “Oh my gosh soooo exciting!” Imagine if she’d told me in person. I would have been screwed.
You’re an imposter bridesmaid
This is your bestie, so you’ll be a bridesmaid. You may even be the maid of honor. That means that you don’t just have to pretend to be happy for her when you occasionally talk about the wedding. You will talk about the wedding almost all of the time. And you’ll start to feel so fake, and guilty, for participating in this thing you don’t believe in.
When others ask you about him
In group settings—like with your friend, and her coworkers, or extended family—people turn to you and ask, “So, what’s the guy like? Do you like him?” You can tell from their smiles that they assume you’re going to say, “Oh my gosh yes he’s wonderful.” So now you have to put on a fake face again.
You try to set her up
Not in any official way but, you might try to just expose your friend to another guy you think she could hit it off with. I’m guilty of having done this with my friend who is engaged to the wrong guy. I keep inviting her to small parties I have with this other dude I know who I just think would be way better for her. I think if she could just realize she gets along so much better with somebody she’s not engaged to, she might realize she’s making a huge mistake.
Trying to push that date back
My friend has been trying to choose a wedding date, and I’m just convincing her to postpone and postpone. I’m saying, “Well, it can’t be this summer because everybody has probably already booked their summer travel. Then fall and winter is too cold. Then it’s spring, but it’s hard for people to get time off then. So maybe next summer? But what’s the rush?”
You just wonder, why?
I can’t help but wonder if my friend has some issues that I don’t know about. Does she have some stuff she needs to work out in therapy? I thought she was well-adjusted, but it’s hard for me to believe a well-adjusted person would marry the guy she’s marrying. Did I miss the signs, all these years, that she was crying out for help?
It’s too bad it’s like this
Of course I always imagined what it would be like to participate in my best friend’s wedding. We talked about it as little girls! I guess I sort of forgot that it would A) Require a groom and B) that I might not like that groom. I always thought about what a fun time this would be—helping my bestie plan her wedding—and now it’s totally tainted by this factor.
If they split, it would devastate her
Realistically, she probably wouldn’t leave the guy, all because I said something. But even if she did, it’s not like I’d be happy about it. Can you imagine breaking off an engagement? It’s better done sooner rather than later (like on the wedding day), but it’s never easy. That kind of life event changes somebody. I know she’d be completely destroyed for months or years. I feel like, in some weird way, I’m wishing that pain for her by hoping this wedding doesn’t take place.
Her parents know
My friend’s parents know the guy isn’t quite right for her either. But, what’s normal here? Is it weird that none of us have outright said anything? Maybe there are those families who just say that stuff. My feelings on the matter are that if anyone was going to say something, it should have been her parents! They already have that life-long dynamic in which they give her feedback and constructive criticism. I’m a bit upset with them for not speaking up.
It’s our dirty secret
Of course her parents talk to me about it. They pull me aside when she leaves the room and ask in hushed tones, “What’s going on? Is she moving forward with this? Why do you think she’s doing this?” And I feel so guilty talking behind her back with her parents about it. She’d think it was such a betrayal of trust.
When she gets high and mighty
My friend never thinks she’s above me, but she’ll say things to me like, “I just can’t wait for you to experience this,” or “I want you to get to have what I have.” And I see her looking at me like I’m some little sister who doesn’t understand this joy yet. I’m thinking, “Um, excuse me, I don’t want what you have. You may feel sorry for me, but secretly, everyone else feels sorry for you right now.”
I try to remind her who she is
My friend’s fiancé kind of puts out her light, so to speak. She’s usually so adventurous, a little rambunctious, kind of a troublemaker, and so fun. But she’s so…subdued with him. So I’ve been trying to get her to come out with me more, go on girls’ trips, and A) remind her who she is and B) make her realize that she isn’t herself around her fiancé.
Why haven’t I said something?
I’ve seen it go so wrong when someone speaks up about these things. In fact, I have lost a friend because I spoke up about her partner. I had a dear friend for about five years—we even lived together—who dated a terrible, controlling, manipulative man. I tried to say something and…she chose the guy over me. So, yeah, I’m a little afraid of that happening.
I’m not perfect
I don’t know what it would be, but I’m sure there is something I do that my friend doesn’t approve of. I probably don’t even realize she gives me the luxury of not saying something about some of my life choices. I’ve also seen how, calling someone out can open Pandora’s box, and you both just start listing all the things the other one has been doing wrong for years.
Life is long and unpredictable
Honestly, maybe they’ll divorce. Maybe they’ll call off the engagement. Maybe he’ll break up with her. Maybe she won’t show up on the wedding day. Maybe they’ll have one of those distant marriages where he has his own separate life and I barely have to see the guy. I’ve seen, through family, how life rarely goes as expected. Sometimes, it has a way of working itself out, without anybody having to say anything.