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Carolyn Hax: After a breakup, being a bridesmaid is ‘painful’

(Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post)
3 min

Dear Carolyn: My almost-fiance and I broke up in January because we could not reconcile our futures. We had been together for more than three years and had planned on getting married for a long time. I have my engagement ring and everything. It has been really hard on me, because he was my best friend, and now we don’t speak.

This year, I am a bridesmaid in three separate weddings, and although I am happy for my friends, I often find the process painful. My friends have not been through serious breakups, so most of them don’t seem to understand (or want to understand) how I might be feeling. I try to put on a brave face for engagement photos, wedding plans, etc., but it leaves me feeling so drained and sad.

I am struggling to keep up the enthusiasm. Am I just bitter, immature and resentful for feeling this pain?

— Always the Bridesmaid

Always the Bridesmaid: Aw, no, you sound perfectly normal to me.

Actually … bitterness, immaturity and resentment are an unfortunate kind of “normal,” too, given how common they are, so I’ll try again.

You seem to be at a perfectly fine point on a major-heartbreak-recovery timeline that runs through 1,800 weddings.

Brave about it, too. So there’s no call for beating yourself up for having a hard time with all those weddings.

Don’t mentally beat up your friends, either. If they spontaneously figure out your valid need for compassion, then they might be ready to hear you and understand. But short of that, find others to confide in outside this wedding-minded circle.

You wouldn’t be the first to assemble a kind of grief team — maybe with a therapist, definitely with people already in your life who just get it. Listen for them; they’re the ones who say or do the right thing when you aren’t even sure what that is until they say or do it.

Sometimes your closest friends can’t understand or serve a specific purpose for you, at least right now, and that’s okay. You’ll also let them down sometimes. And that’s when others from more distant friendship rings often — even oddly — step in with what you need.

Again, listen for them. And mentally forgive the friends who simply don’t stock what you need.

Hi Carolyn: Our family makes donations throughout the year to various organizations. However, I resent it when friends, neighbors and family send out blanket emails asking for money for their trip/swim team/baseball team/etc.

I understand they need donations, but kids sending out emails asking for money just doesn’t sit right with me. I’d rather they do a little bit of work for their request, such as selling Girl Scout cookies or swimming one lap for every dollar donated.

How do I approach the parents/kids whom I’d rather not donate to for these “easy money” grabs.

— E.

E.: Not donating will do, thanks; there’s no need to “approach,” scold or correct.

Consider: Not everyone agrees with you about selling something. To some, that amounts to adding more junk to the world and subtracting (often most) proceeds from the cause, because the manufacturer of the cookies/wrapping paper/whatever needs to use resources and must be paid.

As for lap swims, etc., children often don’t organize fundraisers; adults do — adults who may agree with you but were overruled at some interminable fundraising meeting back in September.

And, in general, activities represent normalcy for kids after many have been through coronavirus-restricted hell.

So mercy would not go to waste.

If you don’t have any, then back to the top: Simply not giving money will do.