NOTE: This archive only contains Carolyn Hax columns through March 2011. Her more recent columns are located here.

Tell Me About It

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By Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 2, 2007

Dear Carolyn:

How does one respectfully decline an invitation to be a bridesmaid without hurt feelings and permanent damage to the friendship? I'm afraid I'll be asked to be a bridesmaid at the wedding of my best friend (who stood as my maid of honor several years ago).

The problem is I really dislike her fiance; he takes advantage of her, is a pompous know-it-all and they are simply a bad match.

I can't get inspired to be fake and pretend how wonderful I think this event is (I think it's a mistake and will end badly sooner rather than later), so I'd like to respectfully decline. Is there any non-messy way out, or am I just a bad friend?

Soon-to-Be-Ex-Best?

Maybe there isn't, and maybe you are. But both are ancillary problems to the main problem -- that this is your best friend, and she's marrying someone you strongly dislike.

It raises a larger question than how to deal with her wedding: how to deal with her marriage. Will you tell her how you feel beforehand (if she doesn't already know), out of a duty to warn her, or a duty to be honest? Will you shut up and hope you're wrong about him? Will you try to socialize with her one-on-one? Or suck it up and endure them both?

Will you pull off a triumph of grace and bet-hedging that draws the best from all approaches, preserves your friendship and empowers her to make better choices? And if you do this, can we have what you're having?

I wish I could be more specific. But each of these approaches is "right" only when you believe in it. Like all losing campaigns.

There is one bright side, though. When you do find an answer you can live with to this big and terrible question, the maid-of-honor one will have answered itself.


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