The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Carolyn Hax: How to end estrangement after skipping best friend’s wedding?

(Nick Galifianakis/For The Washington Post)
3 min

Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: My former best friend, “Annie,” was my maid of honor when I got married about 20 years ago and did a lot to make that wedding a success. When Annie got married 12 years later, I had two young children and couldn’t be as involved as she had been for my wedding. Since her wedding was child-free — no children younger than 12 — and babysitters were scarce, in the end we couldn’t even be there.

I had asked Annie to consider a more child-friendly wedding, but she took offense and pointed out that my own wedding had been child-free. I tried to explain the difference — most of her friends now had children younger than 10. But she couldn’t see reason and froze out three of us, all with children, who missed her wedding after she’d done so much for us. And I admit she did a lot: threw showers, ran errands, made centerpieces, decorated receptions, the works.

Our friendship didn’t really survive her hurt feelings, and other than social media, we don’t interact these days. I miss her and would like to renew the friendship. Where do we even start? Can I just say I miss her and go from there, without rehashing the past?

— Missing My Friend

Missing My Friend: “But she couldn’t see reason.”

Sweet deity.

Call her when you recognize why you owe her an apology and can give one for the sake of it, without wanting anything from her in return.

I had a million babies all at once, so I know of what you speak. But you didn’t even acknowledge the unfairness of timing that meant you couldn’t return all the wonderful and greatly appreciated favors she did for you. Instead, you greeted her turn for friends to celebrate her by … asking her to sacrifice herself for you again. Awful. And when she said no, as she was fully entitled to, you didn’t take no for an answer and tried to correct her thinking to your advantage. Then no-showed her.

Don't blame her hurt feelings. The friendship failed to survive your choices.

And there is nothing to “rehash” because you were so out of line to bring it to the point of hashing in the first place. Big apology, wrapped in humility and the wisdom of the ensuing years, or leave her be.

Re: Annie: I’m sensing a little bit of a “people who aren’t parents can’t understand” angle. I encourage “Missing” to not go that direction. I have three very young kids and my first thought was, what did they try? Any creative solutions? Mom goes solo? If breastfeeding, other parent joins but stays behind at hotel? Searching harder for a sitter? Parents don’t have to do those things, but when a friend goes above and beyond like Annie did, it’s worth remembering.

Frankly, it sounds like a bunch of friends boycotted the wedding because it was no kids, and I find that unpleasant. My toddler would be freaking adorable at a wedding. For five minutes. I fully understand “no kids.”

— Anonymous

Anonymous: Yes, I sensed that, too, and was thinking of similar solutions. And even if they weren’t possible, trying like hell to accommodate the best-friend bride before giving up on the idea is as strong a message as any. It’s, “I tried everything to be there for you as you were for me,” vs., “I tried everything to make you accommodate me.” Thank you.

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