I'm in a really tight spot and would appreciate ANY advice you could provide. I have had two friends, A and B, since elementary school, but we went our separate ways after high school. A went to college, B partied and worked various jobs, and I went on to complete undergraduate and graduate studies. Shortly after, we happened to all live in the same city, started hanging out again, and had a great time. I got engaged with my boyfriend of 8 years, and it just seemed fitting that A and B would be my bridesmaids.
The trouble started during the year leading up to my wedding. We all spent tons of time together and I started feeling self conscious, saddened and emotionally drained after spending time with A and B. I just couldn't figure out why I had these negative feelings. I would come home to my fiancé and all I would do is complain about them, which is totally out of my character. As the wedding date approached, it hit me! I realized that I hardly had anything in common with A and B anymore. They are superficial, and obsessed with appearances-weight, dieting, plastic surgery and gossip, whereas I'm more down-to-earth and laid back.
On top of that, I realized that B does not respect me very much. She is judgmental, critical and totally unsupportive. When I talked about the trouble I was having at my new job, she would have no sympathy and tell me it was my own fault. She would often say, jokingly, that I was lazy because I did not exercise, but when I finally signed up for a fitness program, she told me I was wasting my money. She never misses an opportunity to point out that I am the "prudish" one of the bunch. (Does that even matter?). And I have reason to believe she is a compulsive liar.
After this, I started feeling really down about how my "closest friends", who were to be my bridesmaids, turned out to be toxic friends that I share little in common with. I was distraught to the point that I became physically ill with bad stomach aches. I actually struggled with the idea of kicking them out of the wedding party, but decided against it because I thought that would be too mean and drastic. It would have created too much drama, considering we all have many common friends. And it's not like I want to completely cut all ties with them, we do share a lot of history.
So I decided to go ahead with the wedding as planned, and after it was over, concentrate more on my own well-being, and on friendships that make me feel happy and good about myself. I do still spend some time with A and B, but nothing compared to how it was before. But the fact is that I keep feeling so guilty for distancing myself after the wedding. Another of my faults is that I have never talked to either one about my negative feelings, because it took me so much time to put my finger on what was bothering me. Now it seems like it's too "after-the-fact" to have a talk with them. I really feel like a bad friend and a bad person.
To complicate things further, my new brother-in-law (who lives with me and my husband!) is now seeing B. He actually asked me if I felt awkward about him dating her, and I explained to him how I feel about B, how she's hurt me, and how I was actually hoping to distance myself from her. But he's head-over-heels for her and maintains that she doesn't have a bad bone in her body. I feel so helpless! And I feel bad again because I am not being supportive of his new relationship, I do want him to be happy, but this is hard! B is a person that I really want to distance myself from, and she's now going to be part of family events!!
So the big questions are: Do I owe anything to my bridesmaids? Should I feel guilty for wanting to distance myself from them? And how should I handle the brother in-law situation? How can I be supportive of my brother-in-law when I have these negative feelings about B? Should I tell my friends how I feel, even if it's so after-the-fact by now? Again, ANY advice will be greatly appreciated! I've been struggling with this for too long!
Emotionally Drained Newlywed
Dear Emotionally Drained Newlywed:
It sounds like you have a great deal of insight. You made a wise decision to not "rock the boat" at the time of your wedding and to include A & B as bridesmaids. They were an important part of your past and helped you become the person you are today.
I doubt any good could come out of telling them that they are superficial and/or judgmental or such-either before the wedding or now. It's good that you recognize what feels toxic about your relationships with them because it has helped you establish some healthy distance.
With your marriage, you have embarked on a new life and it's not unusual that the nature of some of your female friendships might change or even go dormant. Having a change in heart about your feelings towards your friends doesn't make you a bad person! You need to get over that irrational thought. People change over time so it's natural for friendships to change as well. You are being true to yourself and your own feelings.
The real fly in the ointment, as I see it, is living with your brother-in-law. Is there any way that he can find another place to live? That would simplify your life greatly-probably in more ways than one.
Short of that, if he remains under your roof, things can go one of two ways: Either he will remain involved with B-or break up with her.
- If B and your brother-in-law remain connected, you will probably want to maintain a friendly relationship with her, as the girlfriend of your brother-in-law (although it may be more distant than the one you had before.) Don't be surprised if he already leaked some of your feelings to his girlfriend. Many of us tolerate people because they are related by marriage.
- If the brother-in-law and B break up, it may be a perfect opportunity to allow your relationship with B to fade away. At that point, B might feel the same way too.
Don't get too stressed out. You married your husband, not his brother. I think your instincts are good ones. Trust your gut!
Best wishes, Irene
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